In an age of viral videos, depicting the memorable moments of thousands of apparently happy, fashionable, talented and successful people, do you ever find yourself slipping into comparison mode? And if so, is the next thought that enters your head something like, “I should be more…,” or “Well, I could do that too if only I didn’t ____.” (fill in with a choice, decision or mistake you made, or a shortcoming that you believe you have)?
We in the modern age are tough on ourselves like no one who came before us – because no one ever had so many Photoshopped, perfectly posed role models in our faces all the time! Not just in advertisements, as has always been the case, but in an endless stream of carefully curated social media posts as well. The more impressed we are by what we see, or wowed by their brilliance, or entertained by their cleverness, the more likely we are to think, “I could never do (or accomplish, or BE) that!”
We may notice it’s a moment of self-judgment, but we might not realize it’s also an important opportunity to forgive ourselves – for everything in life that we are never going to do, accomplish, or be!
I would argue that we really shouldn’t need forgiveness for that, but it’s unrealistic to think that most human beings won’t judge ourselves, at least a little bit, in at least some of those moments. We should be applauded for wanting to strive for excellence and setting the bar higher whenever we see someone or something that moves or inspires us! Then if our thoughts move on to the nearly inevitable next step of self-judgment and self-criticism, it’s not surprising.
There are plenty of other more important moments in life when self-forgiveness is needed, such as when we have unintentionally hurt someone we love. There are also times when we give it to ourselves when perhaps we don’t “deserve” it as much, such as giving ourselves an automatic pass for indulging an urge to Tweet something “funny”/mean about someone else – politician or otherwise – and don’t even question if we need forgiving. Those are more challenging circumstances.
Forgiving ourselves, instantly and completely, for “failing” to live up to a perceived high standard that we experience in a given moment is essential to keeping ourselves on our own trajectory of growth, development and achievement. We need to love, accept and forgive ourselves completely, without judgment about “what we’re not,” so we can devote ALL our energy and attention to accomplishing the mission of our own lives first!
Then a BONUS: think what appending the following to your “That’s awesome!” admiration of another would mean if you did it EVERY TIME you felt “lesser than” someone else:
“…and I’m happy for them that they are doing something just as FABULOUS as what I’m creating in MY life!”
The combination would be like rocket fuel, intensifying your excitement about your own goals, and celebrating your commitment, progress and success!
Susan Greif (www.ArtMendsHearts.com) is a Creative Transformational Expert and Healing Arts Professional who uses the expressive, creative and healing arts to help women and children find emotional freedom from anxieties that kept them feeling paralyzed, panicked and in pain. Her clients learn how to let go of anxiety, depression, trauma, abuse, relationship issues, eating disorders and learning disabilities. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org