I just got a call from our daughter’s school. Amelia forgot her glasses. Ugh. Those glasses are special glasses to help her eyes focus so she can read. Reading is pretty important in elementary school, so I hear. Immediately my heart sank and I began thinking on the dark side…
How did I not notice she didn’t have her glasses this morning?! I always screw stuff like this up!
And as I tracked down her glasses and ran them to school, I thought of all the things I forget – every meal that gets thrown together because I didn’t plan well…every piece of trash that was apparently lying around somewhere so the dogs could get to it and rip it into pieces…the dirty floors…the pants that need ironing…and on and on. By the time I got there, I felt worthless.
When I Put Myself Down
When I feel worthless, there are a few things that I automatically start doing:
- I start saying really mean things to myself.
- “You never remember the important things.”
- “Why can’t you be like ____?! She would pay attention to whether her kids have their glasses on or not.”
- “Oh good grief, Andrea. You’re setting your kids up for disaster!”
- I show my attitude with my facial expressions and body language so everyone knows what a jerk I am.
- I begin to feel and act resentful toward others for judging me. Because if I can’t say anything good about myself, surely no one else can either.
But I’m pretty sure self-deprecation never made anyone more loving. And it certainly doesn’t make me any better at remembering things. My self-shaming comments make it nearly impossible for me to love others well. In fact, when I’m mean to myself, I’m mean to others.
I’ve heard a lot of people say that the answer is that we need to be kind to ourselves and stop feeling so bad for when we mess up. But I believe the process is incomplete if we ignore or deny the impact we have on others. When we mess up without acknowledging those we have hurt, we diminish the influence we have with them.
Humility, Not Self-Deprecation
If you want to love well and offer your gifts to others, it’s time to stop putting yourself down. It’s time to stop the self-shaming internal dialogue and start believing in something more true. How?
By stepping into a beam of light that exposes the reality of your situation, while warming your heart with love. This is the kind of love John talks about in 1 John 4 of the Bible. It’s the kind of love that says,
“I see you for who you are: all of your mistakes, all of your wrong-doing, all of your short-comings, and you are forgiven. Now live in the humility of knowing that you are not perfect, but you are loved anyway. Then go and invite others into the light of love.”
If you want to empower your kids or your friends or your students to become all they can be, stop putting yourself down. Walk humbly, with an honest sense of the reality of your situation.
- Step into the light that exposes your weaknesses. See them for what they are.
- Take responsibility for your short-comings. Ask forgiveness when forgiveness is needed. Ask for help when help is needed.
- Enjoy the freedom from your burden. Bask in the warmth that love provides and say kind things to yourself and those who forgive or help you.
- Boldly go and display this light of love by inviting others to be honest, allowing them to take responsibility for their mistakes and then demonstrate your forgiveness and love for them.
The fact is, it will always be a struggle for me to keep up with daily life. I will always be better at things that have nothing to do with keeping our family well-dressed, well-fed and on-time. But if I give my mistakes and failures more air time than asking forgiveness and/or help, then my little snafus will turn into a deflated Andrea, who ends up deflating others.
What unkind things do you say to yourself? Perhaps it’s time to expose the reality of your situation and walk humbly into the light of love.
Do you want to empower your team to empower others?