Here is just one example: I am hurrying to send an e-mail to an important person in my life (it can be business related or personal) and I read it through thinking it is ready. I push “send”.
As soon as the e-mail leaves my outbox, I realize that the wrong person was CC’ed, or a word in the e-mail was unintentionally harsh, inappropriate or presumptuous.
The feeling in my gut is almost unbearable at this point. Various expletives (not for print here) dance around in my head!
Why did I not wait to send it?
Why did I not think of this before I sent it?
How can I be so thoughtless/stupid/inconsiderate/….?
And no matter how much I wrestle with myself, I cannot undo the action. Done is done – there is no way back. And then comes the self-blame.
Self-blame is like fire – if left unattended it consumes everything in its path!
My day is now shaped by it. It casts a long shadow over my relationships with innocent bystanders such as business associates, and (especially) husband and kids by a sense of dread that I carry with me. I feel bad about me – therefore I have much less attention to give to other areas of my life. I am moody and short-tempered.
Isn’t it interesting that when we beat up on ourselves, we are really taking away attention from what we could be doing? We are less likely to have any excess energy, which means we won’t help our own situation or that of others, and we are less likely to reach out and be of service. Much of our energy goes towards listening to that critical voice in our heads that is busy beating up on us!
Being in the throes of self-blame is a selfish act.
Think about it…
My daily practice has turned towards separating self-blame from self-reflection. It is necessary to learn from our mistakes if we want to grow. And spending a little time and deciding what could be done better or more thoughtfully is usually beneficial (even if it is just to let a few minutes pass, do something else, and then read the same important e-mail with fresh eyes).
Yet to self-blame is completely useless!
Perfection is a town in Russia – but we can strive for excellence by learning from our previous actions!
We can free ourselves from the self-imposed prison of thinking we need to be perfect by celebrating that we learn from our mistakes. In a sense, if we learn from our mistakes, then they are indeed our greatest teachers and therefore causes for celebration!
For me, this helps to minimize of the guilt, shame and self-blame that I normally treat myself to when I screw up – and I get more done!
And still…. right now I kind of dread pushing that “publish” button over to the right….. And I take a moment – do something else – read it again. Then I push that button and move on!
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