I screwed up today. I won’t try to make this pretty. My daughter, who was severely over-tired and unresponsive to any action or words coming from me, pushed my buttons. Rather, it felt as if she stomped on them with a force that – at the moment – felt greater than me.
I’ve made many mistakes as a mom. And I’ve found them to be more painful than a mistake in any other area of my life. My children are so precious to me. And I want nothing more than to raise confident, secure and happy people.
So when I told my daughter today how disappointed I was in her, when I would not let it go, when I walked out of the room again and again, I knew that I had hurt her.
I know that in her six-year-old mind there is little difference between that and “you’re not good enough” and “you are not lovable as you are.”
I had lost perspective. I felt out of control. I was exhausted and hungry and frenzied, as my 4-year old pleaded for me and my youngest cried out in the background.
But it doesn’t matter what the story around it really is. And it does no good for me to rehash it over and over, or wish for it to have been different.
It was. And now, here I am.
And I know that I am not alone. I hear my clients on the other end of the phone confess what no-other-sane-woman might do. Except they do. We do.
And so, as I sit on my seasoned sofa (the one with a stain on it over which I over-reacted. Sigh), I am reminded of this:
The way out of any screw-up begins with self-compassion.
While I sometimes wish to be of super-woman character, I am not. I am a human being who makes mistakes and sometimes hurts others – people that I love – with my words or actions.
And yet, heaping guilt, blame or shame on it is like pouring acid onto the wound. It only exacerbates the pain.
Self-punishment does nothing towards helping us repair, heal or clean up our mistakes. It serves no purpose other than diminishing our power to make things right again.
And that’s exactly what needs to happen.
But first must come the empathy and compassion for what’s going within me.
And then, I won’t need excuses or long-winded explanations. I will have already forgiven myself. And when we do that, we need no justification.
Because justifications just muddy the offering. They take the power away from the apology. They make it about us, rather than the person who needs our love.
I have no doubt that I will screw up again. Heck, it may be before dinner. And you might, too.
So remember this – be compassionate with yourself when you do.
Heap THAT on instead and notice how much quicker your journey is from I-screwed-up to all-is-well-enough-again.
And so it shall be.