It happened again. I messed it all up. I let down some of the people I care about most last week by not paying attention to the details. It wasn’t that I intentionally blew my husband or my friend off, but I didn’t execute tasks with the kind of precision they required and I ended up putting more stress on people I care about. Ugh. I don’t want that. I don’t want to be the wife and friend you can’t count on.
Man, it’s tempting to let the old self-shaming talk drive me into a hole.
“He would have been better off with a woman who wouldn’t screw up like this!”
“Why would she want me around if I keep letting her down?”
I’ve said these things before. But as soon as those thoughts started to enter my mind this time, I shook my head and said, “NO! I am exactly the wife Aaron needs. And I am a good friend in other ways. I’m not going to shame myself into hiding and resentment. No. I’m going to keep engaging with them because I care about them.”
The first goal when stepping out of self-shame is to step into the light of love and see the situation for what it is as I described in Part 1 (Click here) but what do we do next?
2. Take responsibility for your short-comings. Ask forgiveness when forgiveness is needed and help when help is needed.
Do I need to ask for forgiveness or do I need to ask for help in a situation like this? Honestly, I’ve studied and analyzed this stuff for years and I’m still not completely sure. Some people pay great attention to details and they follow through with intense commitment. I put my intensity in other places – like working through relational and theological issues and being incredibly present with people in their pain. Do others need forgiveness when they aren’t there for me in these ways that are important to me?
Maybe we all need to be more free with our apologies, less offended by others and lavish grace on each other even when we don’t deserve it.
My struggle with the lack of discipline when I am distracted feels like a never-ending battle.
I can’t promise I’ll do better next time, but what can I do?
I need to help my future self. I can’t just assume I’ll do better next time because as leadership and strengths coach Laurie Hock says, “You’ve got to have a plan. You can’t just say you’ll respond differently because it’s unlikely you will without a plan of an alternative positive action.” So how can I take responsibility in a proactive way so I really am less likely to put undue stress on others next time? I can think of two important points:
- Live within my limitations. We all have limits to our time and energy and I am no exception. I am not able to do everything I want to do or think I should do. I should offer to do only what I am willing to invest my time and energy in doing. Saying yes to one thing means saying no to something else. What will I say yes to?
- Manage my weaknesses. We all have responsibilities and we don’t want to write them off by saying “I’m not good at this, so I can’t do it.” After I get specific about what I will and will not commit to doing, I need to figure out how to manage my weaknesses. When I choose to take on a responsibility, I need to own it. Then I can plan ahead and figure out what safeguards I can put in place to try to head off the mistakes I made last time.
This time I decided I needed to apologize to both people. And in the future, I need to be more aware when I feel distracted while discussing details. If I’m distracted I need to choose which thing to think about in the moment and figure out when I will give my attention to the other thing. I simply cannot multi-task my thoughts because then I end up multi-tasking people. And that is not acceptable.
I am so grateful for the people who allow me into their lives. And I am grateful that we can have hard conversations when I need to take responsibility for my wrong-doing and my mistakes. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times – relationships are messy! Life is messy. I am messy.
But I am loved. I have a lot to offer the people I love and I’m going to keep offering it, even when I mess up. More on that next time…
How do you know when to ask for forgiveness and when to ask for help? What safeguards do you put in place around your weaknesses? Answer in the comments below or on Facebook.