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“View your life with kindsight. Stop beating yourself up about things from your past. Instead of slapping yourself on the forehead and asking, ‘What was I thinking?’ breathe and ask the kinder question, ‘What was I learning?’” – Karen Salmansohn
I love this concept of kindsight, of viewing my past mistakes with compassion, but I’ll be honest, it’s soooo hard. Far easier for me to beat myself up for eternity. For instance, I still think about a mistake I made in 7th grade and burn with shame and embarrassment. I think it’s because in a weird way I believe by beating myself up about it over and over again I’ll keep myself from repeating it. Like that saying, “If you don’t remember the past you’re doomed to repeat it.”
Well, I’m so desperate not to repeat the past that I remember it and remember it and remember it . . . I have the “remembering the past” thing down pat so perhaps it’s time to move onto, “What was I learning?” If I ask, “What was I learning?” that means I can cut out the self-flagellation bit and focus on the lesson. Although, I have to be honest, at the moment I’m self-reflecting and beating myself up. One step at a time I guess.
On Friday, a friend asked me to speak about self-compassion (go figure) and it occurred to me the most compassionate thing I do for myself is let the mistake go. Not justify, not say, “Mistakes are human,” not remind myself I didn’t know better or nobody’s perfect, or any of the million things we say to ourselves and each other when we make a mistake. Just let it go. Say to myself, “OK. That happened. Let’s move on.”
To me, kindsight is about integrating the lesson to a degree I don’t have to constantly remind myself what I did wrong because I’ve already taken corrective measures. And it’s about trusting myself that I won’t make the same mistake, or at least I won’t in the exact same way, and if I do, I can forgive myself.
Ah forgiveness. That’s another tough one. I find it about a bajillion times easier to forgive other people, even people who’ve been mean to me, than to forgive myself. When I look at my character traits I see that lack of compassion for others isn’t one of them, but I certainly lack compassion for myself. I have such a big heart; perhaps it’s time to turn all that love, affection, forgiveness, and compassion inward. It sure beats the alternative.
I dream of a world where we have more compassion for ourselves. A world where we practice gentleness about our past mistakes. A world where we integrate the lessons we’ve learned and let go of the harmful deeds. A world where we view our past with kindsight.
Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.