“Kindness is choosing love over hate, light over darkness, compassion over judgment.” ~Raktivist
One of the things about being “good” (and for me that includes things like patience, kindness, and being agreeable) is that people assume things about me. They think I’m always patient, I always make the right decisions, and I’m an all-around great person.
Well, I’m not always anything—except human. And that means I make mistakes, big ones even. This week I did NOT set an example of perfection. I had a moment when I became the exact opposite: loud and emotional. I melted down.
Why did this happen?
The answer was my lesson.
It came to me during my apology: I didn’t take care of myself. I made no time to decompress, to slow down, to breathe and recenter.
When I’m run down, everyone feels it. And when I’m full, everyone feels it. It’s not an excuse for my behavior; it’s awareness that is teaching me how my needs fit into the equation of life.
That one question led me down a rabbit hole. All week I stayed curious. Why did this happen?? And all week, I kept getting answers.
It happens because when you’re perfect, good, and strong, other people think you can handle anything because you normally handle everything. But the truth is that being seen this way makes it hard to ask for help.
It happens because you don’t want to let people down.
It happens because you’re taught that if you’re not giving, you’re taking.
It happens because you’re taught to believe that everyone else’s needs are just a little more important than yours.
It happens because you believe that you need to do it “all” because it’s proof that you’re worthy (of love, space, time… you name it).
It happens because everything your family, culture, and society teach you revolves around giving.
And there’s nothing wrong with giving. But if you don’t learn how to receive, you’ll end up burned out, overworked, and underwhelmed with your life. Instead of giving with love and joy, you’ll give from a place of frustration and resentment.
Receiving is how you get to keep giving. It’s the part of the puzzle no one teaches us about. It’s the missing piece that we beat ourselves up over, judging and criticizing ourselves for not being able to be everything for everyone.
Whether it’s boundaries, food, sleep, work, or family, we believe we’re lacking some quality that’s the answer to how we can meet our own needs without guilt. Like the ability to be nice to ourselves is a personality trait we don’t possess.
But there’s nothing wrong with any of us. We’ve all just been practicing some old, unhelpful habits.
Lately, I’ve been wondering what happens when you start practicing constructive habits instead of destructive ones.
So I gave it a try.
This time, after my meltdown, I caught myself mid-act and saw it as opportunity to take care of myself by being kind to myself.
I paused, picked myself up, and turned things around. I apologized, checked-in, and even found a win. Imperfection, as ugly as it can look, holds the chance for connection when we accept ourselves instead of judging ourselves. All that judging and shaming is so distracting from the one goal we all want—to be happy.
I’ve noticed constructive habits keep offering me insight from somewhere deep inside. I don’t know if it’s intuitive knowledge or universal wisdom. Either way, it supports me and my loved ones. My response to my own actions ended up being the example I want to set.
What if this could happen every time we messed up or mis-stepped? What if instead of telling ourselves something like, I always yell or I never say the right thing, we ask ourselves a question? Instead of being mean to ourselves, we get curious…
Ask, why did this happen?
What kind of insight might this lead to? And what doors does it open up for us? Certainly, we will make mistakes again in the future, but what if we made new ones instead of the same ones over and over again? What if our compassion allowed us to evolve?
It’s taken me a long time to feel like making mistakes is acceptable and even longer to feel comfortable sharing them. But of all the lessons, this is one of the biggies. Take good care of yourself when you do well AND when you fall short.
You will make mistakes. You will be wrong sometimes. But you can say sorry. You can forgive yourself. You can learn. You can hold the lesson close to your heart and still move forward.
You can stop judging yourself and replaying your lowest moments. Guilt, embarrassment, and self-loathing are not great motivators, but great ruminators that keep us stuck.
Getting unstuck is our greatest challenge and how we evolve. Imperfection isn’t your flaw. It’s your opportunity to grow.
We’re all better at celebrating our wins than we are at finding the gold buried in our losses. But I believe that’s a new habit worth developing. Building this new muscle has the power to move us away from the toxic and lonely nature of perfectionism, people-pleasing, and regret.
Take good care of yourself.
It’s how to experience the life you want.
It’s how to have deep, meaningful, and lasting relationships.
It’s how to achieve and feel good.
Take good care of yourself—so you don’t get burned out and so you don’t waste your limited energy getting down on yourself.
It has the greatest positive ripple effect you can create in the world.