Why is it that we tend to be the least kind to ourselves? Why are we willing to extend forgiveness to others and not to ourselves? I don’t have the answer to these two questions, but I do have a suggestion on how we can refocus how we see and treat ourselves. First and foremost, say what you mean, mean what you say, and don’t say it mean. We all have that constant narrative in our heads causing us to worry about whether we should or should not do something, how others may see us, or that we will fail. Now, what if we changed that mental movie to play something different? What if we saw ourselves as being born with “original blessing” instead of “original sin?” What if our only “sin” is seeing ourselves as separate from our fellow human beings? So if we treat ourselves and everyone else with kindness, our negative commentator will go away because we understand that there is no difference between us and the next person; we are all deserving of the same acceptance.
Furthermore, what if everything we said to ourselves and others was in perfect alignment with our behaviors? This is called integrity. When we tell someone we will meet them at noon and we show up at 12:15, we are out of integrity as our actions do not match our words. The great thing about integrity is that we can easily re-align ourselves with it. In the previous example, it would be as easy as apologizing, reaffirming to ourselves that we are people of integrity, and ensuring our further behaviors support that. This is a much kinder story to tell ourselves as opposed to beating ourselves up over being late or throwing integrity out the window because we were late one time and therefore, we may as well continue being late in the future because no one is going to trust us.
In a book called White Hot Truth, the author says, “We think contradictions indicate hypocrisy. Sometimes hypocrisy is a lesson in strengthening our integrity.” What she means is that when we change our behavior, it doesn’t make us hypocrites, it means we are growing and we change our behavior accordingly. So, next time you do something that you know you never would have done 5 years ago, don’t label yourself a hypocrite, praise yourself for having a growth mindset!
I hope we can all see how small changes in thinking can create big changes in outcomes. So the next time we think back to our previous actions, let’s do ourselves a favor and be kind, give ourselves grace, and acknowledge ourselves as the learning, loving beings we are.