One of the best pieces of advice I ever heard came from a throwaway comment by a friend I’ve known for nearly two decades but only recently got to know on a more than a superficial level. I don’t even remember what prompted the remark but it was solid. She said:
“Stop being so hard on yourself”
If being hard on oneself were an Olympic event, I would be a repeat gold medal winner. The Michael Phelps of that event. It seems I’m always playing back old memories on my Pensieve in HDTV-esque quality where I relive every mistake, mishap, and faux pas of my 20s and 30s and even last Tuesday.
Because sometimes, despite your best efforts, things just don’t happen — you could have been in the right place at the right time but weren’t, or you were and you didn’t capitalize on the moment. Things happen for a reason. Sometimes the reason is dumb fucking luck.
Just like the ghosts in The Sixth Sense, people don’t realize how hard they are being on themselves. That’s right, I’m using a 17-year-old movie as a way to bind an analogy.
“I’m not saying you can’t think about your tax bill or your leaky faucet. I’m saying you can’t let these things, which you consider negative, dominate your thoughts. Of course you have to think about them. You need to give them the time and attention they deserve so you can address them and fix them, but once you’ve made as much progress as you can toward solving the issue at hand at a particular point in time, then, when no further forward progress can be made, you should redirect your thoughts to something else. Keeping your focus on your worries, all the negative situations over which you have no control, or which you cannot control at the moment, will only attract more negativity to them and therefore to you. It’s the law of attraction. The law of creation.” Down at the Golden Coin by Kim Strickland
Instead of being so hard on yourself, you have to learn to be where you are, and be okay with that.
So the next time you are at a dinner party and someone says starts beating up on themselves, say to them: “Hey stop being so hard on yourself!”
And be sure to give them the link to this post. That’s how dinner parties work, right? I don’t get invited to many.