Day Four: Self Kindness Mini-Course
When I was twenty, I went to Northern Ireland where my family is from. It was in the middle of the troubles. I bumbled along there. As an American, it was hard to find real, true information about what was going on. I made mistakes.
At one point, I went to a bakery where I said something -- I'm not even sure what. Everyone in the bakery cleared out and this man appeared. He was terrifying. He told me to leave and not come back. He was not cruel or mean. Just firm -- and terrifying.
On my way back to the states, I learned that he was one of the big wigs in the PIRA, if not THE head of the PIRA.
For more than twenty years, this story brought me incredible shame. I was so naive, so stupid. How could I have been so stupid?? How could I have possibly so stupid? So humiliating.
I know that you have stories like this.
You misfired. Screwed up. You were awkward. Stupid even. You aren't even sure what you wanted but you bumbled into something and, while it didn't kill you, you make damn sure you remember that you did this thing.
We can spend a lot of time talking about shame but people like Brene Brown do this much better. She unwinds the entire process. If you haven't read her books, they are good.
We're here to feel better, to find what works, and to learn how to be kind to ourselves.
HOW CAN WE BEGIN TO FEEL BETTER?
The first thing to remember is that your brain is in a loop. It's not healing or growing from this experience. You need to stop.
Here are somethings that help:
1. Earlier this week, Lindsi Simicich Dennis shared that she says out loud "NO!" to stop her mind loops. This is a great time to use this technique. A hearty "NO" will stop your mind from unraveling.
2. What is the statue of limitations on that event? No really. Murderers get 25 to life. MURDERERS. There is no life sentence on being naive. There's no life sentence on any of the things you continually hold against yourself. Ask yourself -- how long have I going to held this against myself? Be honest. It's likely to be more than someone would be sentenced for murdering someone. Isn't it time to let that go?
3. Forgive yourself. Being human means we do a lot of stupid things. We try but we screw up a lot. Every single one of us messes up on a daily basis. It takes a little work, but the easiest way I've found to learn to forgive yourself is through Jack Kornfield's Forgiveness Meditation. You must first forgive yourself before you can start to forgive others.
We cannot be kind to ourselves while we continue to crucify ourselves for being human. Self kindness comes from embracing our humanity and realizing, as Maya Angelou said, "When you know better, you do better."