In the search for freedom from “shoulds”, and in pursuit of a delicious life, we’ve looked at our money, our calendars, and our relationships. Now it’s time to turn our honest eyes inward.
We all fall prey to two classic mistakes when it comes to self assessments.
First, we don’t give ourselves enough credit.
We look at the amazing things we do and shrug them off. “Oh, it was easy, anyone could have done it.” “I had no choice.” “Yes, but I can’t do this other thing.” We consistently fail to appreciate our gifts. And it’s something that our entire culture teaches us to do. When you get a report card, the lowest grade is the one that gets attention from the teacher. Commercials tell you to find your flaws. Fashion articles teach you to identify your ugly areas and hide them. Workplace reviews focus on areas for improvement.
When was the last time you accepted a compliment? Do you even know how to do that? You smile, nod, and say “Thank you.” Try it! The next time someone compliments you, smile, nod, and say “Thanks.” Notice how it feels. Pay attention to the voices of protest that rise in your head. They are lying to you.
We cannot be honest with ourselves until we give ourselves credit for our gifts and talents.
Second, we excuse our actual faults.
I know kind loving people who hold racist attitudes and don’t even realize it. I know people who advocate for tolerance and viciously attack those who disagree with them. I know people who are unable to arrive any where on time but would call themselves totally dependable. And you know these people too. But we need to consider that we have those same blind spots. There is at least one area in your life where you cannot see your failings.
But there’s a darker reason that we are blind to our faults. Even when we can see where we are wrong, it is just too painful to admit it. We’re already spending so much time and energy trying to address our imagined faults, and we are so starved for praise because we won’t accept compliments, that to honestly face our darker, more shameful failings is simply impossible.
We beat ourselves up for the deficiencies that the world throws at us, fail to acknowledge our strengths, and then when we see a true mistake, we can’t bear it any more.
So how can we face the reality of ourselves? With grace and humility.
Grace is giving ourselves credit for our successes and forgiveness for our failures. When we fail, we admit it, make amends, and then forgive ourselves. That’s grace. When we succeed, we rejoice in our success and include others in our celebration. That’s grace.
Humility is seeing yourself honestly: the good, the bad, and the ugly. Humility is NOT, as so many of us believe, beating ourselves up or refusing to admit our good qualities. A humble person can state her talents without arrogance and can admit her weaknesses without shame.
Want to begin to see yourself honestly? Start with grace.
- Keep a journal every evening, writing down everything you did successfully. Items such as: Got kids to and from school, provided food for the family, styled my hair, encouraged a friend, did 3 things from my to-do list, etc.
- Accept every single compliment you are offered with a smile and the words “Thank you.”
After a week of acknowledgement, let yourself spend a little time with your weaknesses.
- In the evening, write down just one thing that you wish had been different. Allow yourself to feel sadness or shame or guilt for a few minutes. Then say out loud, “I forgive myself.” Accept that it happened the way it happened, and that tomorrow will be a fresh beginning.
- Schedule a Breath of Fresh Air with me. We can talk through your concerns. I would love to help you see yourself clearly with grace and true humility.