As the stressors of every day life increase, it seems the judgment or criticism of making a mistake, forgetting something, having an off day, also, is increasing. Some of the negative feedback is in the form of our own internal critical voice making us feel lesser; and some of it comes from the people around us, at work, at school and even in our own families.
This moment in time feels harsh and we each need to take part in softening it. We need to lower the volume on self-judgment, criticism or blame. I am talking about the every day 'little' things we experience; the things that are in our control. Let me share a couple examples....
I cringe when I hear the words, "I already told you ..." Oh my, this seems to be a verbal epidemic these days. Adults do it, and so, their children learn to do it. I am in a new work position, and my office is near the entrance and business areas. I frequently hear someone who has asked a question for a second time, get this response: "I already told you....!"
There is a subtle blame in that statement. Yet, there are many reasons a person may not understand something, not the least of which is it may not have been explained well, or the system is undergoing a big change and people need repetition to adjust to change. But, we too often are quick to judge and blame the other person as if they are incompetent.
Another common one is: "I have been waiting for you, I can't stand tardiness." I have heard people say this to others who are rarely late, without even inquiring about the reason they were late. But, here again, is the critical voice.
The most recent time I heard this type of comment, the person who was late had been driving behind a truck that dropped a large piece of scrap metal onto the highway. Being in the center lane, this individual had no choice but to drive over it. Imagine being late because of that potentially catastrophic incident and then greeted by an accusatory statement.
There are many others: "you already told me that;" "I knew that before you told me;" "You are so forgetful;" all condescending statements. Making mistakes is natural to our human nature, faking perfection is not! Yet, I see all kinds of people from kids to the elderly, seeking the unattainable goal of being perfect. This is causing a lot of pressure, distress and associated anxiety and depression in people. Losing ourselves to the unattainable is too high a cost to pay.
I am learning to laugh at myself, especially, my imperfections. I told one of my daughters recently, I am going to have a good time with my forgetfulness. She laughed at my comment, but here's the deal: when we lose something we gain something. Don't get stuck on the loss, look at what you have gained. I have gained so much wisdom and it is truly the gift of aging. I would not trade this gift for better hearing or memory. If I can have them all, great! But, that is not in the cards for me, and I am okay with that; and, I will not let others diminish my "okayness!"
Gifts come with making mistakes: new opportunities, new knowledge, creativity, humility and more. I will take those any day over the cost of trying to be perfect, which leads to a sense of failure, a disconnect with the self, and constant disappointment. I have never been happier with myself and I am quite im-perfect! Can you relax enough to give yourself permission to make mistakes, and also, to allow others the same privilege? Is it possible we are all living imperfect, yet complete, lives? We are already 'good enough!'