December 24, 2014

When you screw up, do the next best thing

Have you ever caught yourself saying, "Where has the year gone?" I feel this way at the end of every year. I don't know what happened to 2014. A full year gone. What have I done in that time? What do I wish I had done? This can be a pretty reflective time of year--the passing of one year, and the beginning of the next.

If you can find even one quiet moment to sit and reflect on your year, what comes to mind? For some of you, it will be the mistakes and regrets that haunt your thoughts. For those mistakes, you beat yourself up emotionally. For some of my clients, this might include a small chiding: "Why did I say something so dumb?"

Or a more cruel voice:
"I don't deserve to be loved."
"My family would be better off without me."
"I will never get better."
"I am a loser."
These words are soul crushing. If you really believe them, it becomes hard to change anything about your life. Imagine feeling you really are a loser, unworthy of love. There is not much motivation to change. It would be pointless. Even if your self criticisms are less harsh, they will still hamper your ability to make positive changes, or feel good about your life.

We all make mistakes. Sometimes, we make big mistakes. That is part of being human, and it is okay. But we are not defined by our mistakes (unless we fixate on them and continually define ourselves this way). My recommendation when you feel bad about a poor choice you have made is to pick yourself up and then make the next best choice. In other words, if you make one bad choice, focus on your next choice and make it a good one. It is very difficult to change the past, but you can have a lot of control over your present and future choices.

So, today, resolve to make the next year one in which you won't engage in shaming self talk, but instead grant yourself some grace. And when you make a mistake, make the next best choice.

Happy Holidays & Happy New Year! I hope 2015 brings you many blessings.