How To Not Be So Hard On Yourself

I have a dear friend who gifted me the book, The Wisdom of Forgiveness by the Dalai Lama. It sits on my shelf, and every now and then I take it out, flip through it, and without fail a note written in purple marker pops out.

The words on these pages are so heartfelt and special, and every time I get hung up on this one sentence: ‘I love that it’s called ‘the art of forgiveness’ since I am always telling you that you are way too hard on yourself.’

Just the other day I had someone tell me the exact same thing.

Really, I am?

Then, I remembered a funny moment that happened last month over a conversation with a couple girlfriends from high school. One of them said to me, ‘I remember you wrote an essay in our English class senior year about having to be perfect.’

Eeek! I guess I’m starting to see a pattern.

‘Nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know.’  Said the wise Pema Chödrön.

I like to think that we all have unique lessons to learn in our lifetime. Clearly, I know what one of mine is. While I’ve gotten way better over the years (it’s how I healed my disordered eating), lately I’ve been feeling this ‘hard on myself’ energy in other areas of my life. If I personify this feeling and give it a visual in my head, I see a mean, bossy girl with her hand on her hips tapping her foot and shaking her head in utter shock and disappointment.

She says things like, ‘You did this wrong and you did that wrong and oh my gosh I can’t believe you let that happen. What is wrong with you? Get it together.’

She’s mean. And, I think we’ve all had her in our head at one time or another.

Being hard on ourselves gets us nowhere. It keeps us stuck, down, and low. So, how do we be easier on ourselves? Well, the good news is, I like to think that we also have an inner kind girl. When I envision her, I see a warm, loving, angelic-looking girl wearing white and sitting next to me with her arm around my shoulders.

She says things like, ‘It’s okay. It’s going to be ok, don’t worry. You’re learning. You’re doing the best that you can. There are no mistakes, just lessons.’

That feels so much better, doesn’t it?

We all have the ability to choose the kind girl over the mean girl. To me, this is choosing to live a life of grace, forgiveness, compassion, and love. I think making this choice is one of the secrets to living a truly happy and fulfilling life.

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