Archive for September, 2009

Figuring out fallibility.

How do you handle mistakes? 

Are you kind?

Are you aware of how you treat yourself when you’ve proven the possibility that you’re fallible?

I made a big mistake this week.

Making mistakes, especially public mistakes, is one of my biggest stumbling blocks.

Or learning opportunities.

The mistake affected other people and really was an opportunity to lose face with a group I’m committed to for a cause greater than myself.

As soon as I realized my mistake, my mind started furtively looking for ways to escape the discomfort. I reminded myself that what is…is. No need to escape. I started breathing and checking in with myself. I found tightness in my chest and a sort of sick feeling in my stomach.

Old habits of self-deprecation attempted to make a foothold.  Monkey mind chatter wanted to remind me of my own irresponsibility, my inability to follow through on my commitments, my general lack of aptitude. Nasty, repetitive, disparaging thoughts.

This is an old habit.

None of these are general truths. There is plenty of evidence to the contrary.

This is not kind behavior.


Breathe some more.

Fear prompted the escape mode.  Fear of having the conversation where I had to apologize for dropping the ball. As soon as I started racing ahead to the possible outcomes of that conversation, the fear and tightness and anxiety grew.  I was not in the moment.

This caused a frantic search for socially acceptable excuses. This did not create a feeling of calm. It created more disconnect and feelings of anxiety. Trying to put slightly untruthful spin on a simple mistake just made the mistake bigger.

I returned to breathing and consciously shifted to soothing self talk. Since it was obvious I was really working hard to maintain equilibrium and stay clear, I called in outside support. Enter my darling husband, who has an uncanny knack for staying level and clear about what’s going on. This alone helped me shift out of the spin mode and focus.

It’s good to have friends that can help you stay grounded. It’s also good to  call on them when needed instead of second guessing yourself or thinking you should just be able to go it alone.

Finally, through breathing, a short grounding conversation, and stating a clear intention:

“Grace is always present. Grace will allow this upcoming conversation to flow as it should and all will be well.”

 I was able to just settle and stay in the moment.

My colleague called shortly after that. I spoke authentically. I apologized and briefly told her what happened. I conveyed my deep regret and stated what I would do to take care of my responsiblity. I was not frantic. I was not making excuses. I was speaking clearly and truthfully.

My colleague assured me all was fine; that we all make these kinds of mistakes. It was no big deal. All tension was gone because I chose to stay present and clear.

As described, I’m still not an expert at it. It took a lot of work and energy to stay on course. I’m still in the training wheels phase of handling public mistakes with aplomb. But each time I handle it well, it gets easier.

It was an excellent lesson in trusting myself.

It was an excellent lesson in being kind to myself.

I will be most curious to see how my next public mistake goes. I’m still figuring it out, but I’m betting it will be a wee bit easier.

How do you care for yourself when you’ve fallen?

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Isn’t this lovely?

Standing in Line

As an experiment, the next time you are doing an errand, stuck in traffic, or standing in line at the supermarket, instead of being preoccupied with where you’re going or what needs to be done, take a moment to simply send loving wishes to all those around you. Often, there is an immediate and very remarkable shift as we feel more connected and present.

– Joseph Goldstein, from “Triumph of the Heart,” Tricycle, Spring 2008

Read the complete article on tricycle.com

What a great reminder arrived in my mailbox to kick off the day.  It also feels like a lovely validation of my experience with releasing ego chatter last night.  Does anybody else find there is sometimes a magic going on in the inbox?  Along with this there were at least two other articles this morning that fit the same theme.  It could probably be waved off as coincidence or selective attention on my part, but it makes me happier to assume this is another sweet way that the universe supports me and gives me what I need.

I hope your day is filled with peace and connectedness.

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I often find in theory I really dig the idea of not getting stuck on ego stuff.  It sounds like such a great idea when I read people like Eckhart Tolle, Dr. Wayne Dyer, you know the stuff.
Then, in the moment, it somehow seems impossible to practice.
But tonight, somehow it was all different.  The initial stimulus is not important, but simply put, I found myself angry.  I noticed the physical symptoms; a flush to the face, shallow breathing.  The story started rolling in my head; how I’d retort if I were going to retort, which was not going to happen because I would be in the same room with the person for another length of time.  That, and the fact that I didn’t want to spend my energy that way.  In recent history, I would have continued to sit and rehash this deal in my head, which certainly wouldn’t have made me feel any better.  But something switched.
I remembered those things I’ve read.  I took a deep breath and left the room for a bit and breathed some more.  I reminded myself of what is truly MY business and how I choose to conduct myself.  That’s all I’ve got to control, right?
I experienced the sweet feeling of mastery of self.  I was not a victim of the whims and writhings of my intellect.  The struggle left me and I was able to change my energy.  I let go of that which was not serving me and continued on my way.  I took away lessons about how I want to spend my energy with this particular person.  I learned that my abilities are growing.
Prior to this, I was pretty sure mastery of this skill was still a long way coming on my road of personal development.  Tonight I got a glimmer.  This is within my reach.
I’m closer to figuring this one out.

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Lately the big U has been sending articles, people, blog posts and opportunities for action that allow me to release fears.

I just finished completing one of those tasks. I had allowed it to fester in a pool of dread. Experience has shown that most tasks such as today’s appear much worse prior to doing them. Upon completion they are most consistently not dreadful and often quite pleasing. If not for the action itself, but for the feeling of mastery having done the dreaded deed. Today’s was no exception.

Afterwards, I moved on with my day by clicking over to the inbox, which contained this from Chris Guillebeau. How timely.  Thank you, Chris, for validating my thoughts today.

And much gratitude sent out to the Universe, which gives me just what I need when I need it.

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What’s up first?

Just a few words and clicks to see how this website ticks.

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