I locked myself out of my house the other day. I wanted to give my new neighbor a key since we were going away for a week, so I grabbed a fistful of keys, stepped outside to make sure I had the right key, and…. You guessed it! I locked myself out! Fortunately, it wasn’t that cold (it is February), and the rain had stopped. Laughing at my own stupidity, I walked to the neighbor and called my daughter to bail me out.
The amazing thing about this experience is that I didn’t freak out. Not even a little bit, even though I have a great capacity to do a number on myself. I’ve rarely needed anyone to criticize me for doing thoughtless things, as I’ve been good at doing that myself. Years ago, a friend suggested I use a crude but descriptive mantra when I start beating myself up… like the time I left the car in neutral, and it rolled down the hill and into our neighbor’s barn. This time, however, I didn’t swear, put myself down, or even repeat over and over, “I am not a s*#! I am just a fallible human being.” I just laughed at myself and apologized for inconveniencing our daughter.
Our little Coda group often discusses self-care and affirmations, as it seems to be human nature to be hard on ourselves. In spite of the many negative messages we receive as youngsters and adults, we are allowed to make mistakes and be fallible human beings. It’s no crime to goof up. In fact, failure is one of our most effective teaching tools. Nor is it proof of our being stupid when we repeat mistakes before learning the lesson. For instance, this was not the first time I locked myself out of my house, but this was the first time I didn’t do a number on myself. I consider that a real victory.