How can I accept my mistakes?

accepting-your-mistakesThere’s something in Psychology called the Ideal Self. It’s basically an image in your mind of the person you think you’re supposed to be.

Your Ideal Self speaks to you through the voice of your conscience. I say “voice” because its tone is never one of discussion or compromise. Your Ideal Self sits an infinite distance above, thundering down black-and-white judgments about all the ways you see yourself falling short of perfection.

One reason you might not admit your mistakes or accept honest criticism is that you don’t want to believe what your Ideal Self and conscience work tirelessly to convince you of about yourself.

Your conscience wants to be the only inner voice you hear. If it succeeds, then nothing you do will ever be good enough. You’ll see yourself incapable of making progress or growing as a person. You’ll interpret every mistake as evidence that you’re fundamentally flawed on the deepest level.

The answer is not to resist or run from the voice of your conscience; neither is it to give up and let that be the only voice you hear until you see yourself as worthless.

The answer is to hear everything your conscience tells you about who you want to be, but to hear it in context with every other inner voice that makes up you who you are.

See each area in life where you want to do well or grow as separate. See each value you hope to bring to the world (your purpose or art form) or live by (your character and behavior) as its own entity wanting to exist through you; and see whatever’s hindering each of those values . . . perhaps some compulsion, addiction, or immature tendency.

Then find a way to make each of those individual aspects of your journey public. This disables your conscience from shaming and belittling you to your core with sweeping judgments. You won’t be able to ignore the progress of each value bringing itself to life (against each specific resistance) through you.

Going public also holds you accountable to that progress. Instead of seeing only an infinite distance above (which you know you’ll never reach), you see only your next steps forward from exactly where you.

When you hear all your own inner voices together, you know your progress will never be undone.

I struggled with addiction for years, and eventually gave up believing I’d ever be free. Then I started preparing to share the story, and my life has never been the same.

Amongst the chorus of all my inner voices, I can now actually lean in and listen to my conscience to know just who and what I want to be. But instead of seeing only failure and feeling ashamed and useless, I know how far I’ve come and see only what must come next.

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