Your Best Friend
Whenever something keeps showing up in my life, I know it's trying to get my attention and I'd better notice. For the last several weeks I've been directed many times to YouTube videos about failing being a virtue. I've also been reminded, repeatedly, to watch how I speak to myself. One and then, the other, keep pushing their way into my consciousness. They will not be ignored.
Ah, failure. For all of the successes in my life, and there have been many, failure is like the drop of ink that falls into a bucket of water and colors all of the rest of the liquid. Perceived or real defeat leaves a bad taste no matter how many victories surround and flavor it. It creates a kind of amnesia that makes it hard to remember the good deeds. It hogs my attention and puts the focus on anything (and, everything) I've ever done wrong and leaves no room for my successes and accomplishments. I could wallow and drown in it if I let it have its way.
Then, there are the things I sometimes catch myself saying, under my breath, directed at ME! Criticisms and attacks on my character ... things I would never say to another person because they are so unkind. Adding insult to injury, they often aren't true. They also frequently partner with failure. My thought process and actions break down which leads to a fiasco which often feels like a catastrophe and which is made worse by my blow-by-blow commentary on how horribly I've failed to succeed.
My ex-husband's recent and sudden death was a painful loss. It also brought back old, buried feelings of being a loser. I couldn't make my marriage work. Worse, I didn't let it work. I didn't know how to reframe our points of disagreement. Wayne Dyer used to say,
"When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change."
I kept looking at my situation exactly the same way and hoping it might look different. This was just another way to experience the definition of insanity. I know better now and I wish, with all my heart, that I knew it then, but I didn't. This is not an excuse -- it's a reason for my behavior AND, when reminded of that time in my life, I may always have at least a tinge of grief around it.
Along with a sense of inadequacy and deficiency often comes the trash-talking, bashing side of my self. I'm not helping myself or contributing anything positive to society if I stay in this mess with my two, negative companions.
In these circumstances, there is only one thing to do: imagine that I am talking to a friend, and not only a good friend, but my best friend! Would I judge her and beat up on her when she was already down? Hell, no! I would let her get whatever she needed off her chest and I would just listen. Then, I would help her find different angles to the "story" and I would probably remind her that a life without its upsets is a boring life. It also doesn't build character or allow us to learn from our mistakes and do better the next time. It doesn't allow for acknowledgement of the other person's part. Finally, I would find soothing, comforting words to help ease her sad, aching soul. How easy to imagine doing that for my best friend. So, what am I -- chopped liver?? Asking why it's so hard to have compassion for ourselves isn't the point. It's about recognizing that it's so and finding a way to have tenderness and kindness and some understanding, just like we would have for our best friend. It's time to stop turning against myself and begin treating myself like a really good friend. The more I do this for me, the more I can do this for someone else and I wish that for you.