I made a mistake this afternoon and ended up inadvertently causing frustration and inconvenience for someone I care about. As we had lunch together, she mentioned her frustration and the inconvenience I had caused her and I felt my stomach twist into knots. As she left, and I sat there alone at our table, I began to berate myself and felt a wave of shame as my inner critic started her tirade "I can't believe you always do this! Why can't you just get it together for once" and so on.
As I sat there, my first reaction was to head straight home and think about what I'd done as atonement for causing my friend so much discomfort and harm. As I took a breath and sat with all the feelings and ick, I decided to do something a little different. I forgave myself for making a mistake and causing my friend harm. I felt a feeling of warmth and spaciousness across my chest.
And then I thought instead of punishing myself for making a mistake, what if I chose to be kind?
What if I did something soothing and comforting and acknowledged my pain in this moment? I took another breath and walked outside into the sunshine and decided to take a walk through the farmer's market and to talk to vendors--something that always lifts my spirits.
Although taking care of myself and practicing kindness, didn't erase my mistake, I felt more relaxed and noticed a softness in my heart and a greater sense of compassion for me and my friend. I could see my actions and how I had effected him without beating myself up or feeling tied up into knots.
This is what self-kindness in action looks like. By treating myself with tenderness and care, I could show up more fully with an open loving heart for myself and others. I think this is what we all (especially big-hearted folks) strive for, but it's hard to do when you're beating yourself up or treating yourself more harshly than those you care about.
You deserve kindness and it begins with how you treat you.