Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Have You Paid Your Dues?

Mistakes are part of the dues one pays for a full life.
~Sophia Loren, (1934 - ) Italian Actress~
Some of us are a little more paid up than others. One thing for certain--if this is the measure, then my life is full indeed.
I had a client years ago who was very hard on herself. (Come to think of it, I still have a number of clients who are hard on themselves. I think it is the American way or something.) I explained to her that with very rare exceptions, people don't set out to fail. They don't start working on something thinking, "If I mess this up my day will have been a success." Most of the time, all day long, most people want to do good things, complete their work, finish their projects, and have something to show for their efforts. Most people really want to do a good job. So when it doesn't work out that way, giving oneself a verbal berating isn't called for.
Does it help or make you feel worse about yourself? I always felt worse and fell into a pocket of shame so deep that I didn't think I would be able to get myself out of it.
What I suggested to this woman was saying to herself, "Oops. I made a mistake," and cut herself the slack to have a do-over. She laughed. She tried it.
She finished her work with me and I didn't see her for months. Then something came up and she called to make another appointment. We talked about the progress she had made in her life since we last talked. One of the first things she mentioned was the change in her self-talk. She said, "Now when I screw something up, instead of swearing and getting angry, I say, 'Oops. I made a mistake,' and I try again." As she told me this, she laughed.
Simply changing one response--her internal reaction to a mistake--made a huge difference.
Do you have one line of internal dialog you can change? Is there something you wish someone would say to you instead of what you say to yourself? You can do it. Make the shift...and when you do, please tell me about it. I'd love to hear.
Wanda Tucker, Coach


northstar100 said...

This is great. A few years ago, I had a similar realization about how hard I was on myself. I also knew that I would never tell my son the things I said to myself - no matter what. I knew I would say to him something like, "ouch...I'll bet that hurts," or "oh, honey, it's okay." I then began applying those thoughts to myself when I made a boo-boo. The change was almost instantaneous. I now (almost always) have the presence of mind to do the gentle acknowledgement and validation; then I give myself a mulligan.

Wanda Tucker said...

That's what I love about you--you let me have mulligans, too.