Here’s a glimpse into my life. It starts with sitting in an airplane in Chicago for two and a half hours while they fix something related to one of the engines. I am actually not resentful about this because I want to feel confident about the engines before we launch this metal tube through the air at 35,000 feet.
When we land in Los Angeles, my connecting flight to Santa Barbara has been gone for more than an hour. It was the last flight for the night. So, I rent a car and drive the hour and a half home. The next morning, I drive a half hour to drop off my rental car and pick up my car that I had parked at the airport at the beginning of the trip. It is as I am walking away from the rental counter that it happens. This is when I realize that I have not remembered to bring my car keys.
My next thought is that I will get an Uber home to retrieve my keys. This is when I realize that I have not brought my cell phone either. At this point in the story it is helpful to know that I have, on more than one occasion, melted into a self-blaming ball of rage in circumstances such as this one. But not this time.
I walk back to the rental counter, explain the situation, and get renewed custody of my recently returned white Nissan Altima. I then drive home and get my keys so that I can drive back and take my car home for once and for all. This was not how I had planned on spending my morning. This was not how I wanted things to go. And yet, there I was.
I have been teaching and practicing mindfulness and self-compassion for quite a while. Moments like these are such stark reminders of the value of both of these. No, these practices did not keep me from forgetting my keys. Nor did these practices make my plane fly on time. And I was not blissed out as I drove back to get my keys. But, I did meet this minor life challenge without wasting energy on beating the snot out of myself with harsh judgment and criticism.
You are not perfect — none of us is. We are human. We are going to blow it. We are going to find ourselves in situations we do not want or expect. Being unkind to ourselves does not enhance our ability to deal with or learn from these situations. There is no research to support the argument that we perform better when we are cruel to ourselves.
So, the more we practice paying attention and having our own back, the more likely we are to rebound gracefully from setback and the more quickly we are able to pivot toward a solution. And there is good reason to believe that you are just as worthy of your love and kindness as anyone else.