Dr. Mike Obsatz, Professor Emeritus at Macalester College
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I am Not the Mistakes that I Have Made
India Arie has recorded a beautiful song called "I am Light." One of the lines in the song is "I am not the mistakes I have made.... I am light."
This week, I talked to a friend who was feeling down on himself and very depressed. He was reminding himself of all the mistakes he had made in his lifetime. I tried to console him, pointing out how much good he had done in the world, how many people he had helped, and it is remarkable that he survived his childhood abuse and neglect. I told him he was a "walking miracle." He didn't know how to respond to my comments and support. I just let it go.
I believe that we have all suffered in our lives, been hurt and abandoned, and made mistakes. Hopefully, we have learned from them, grown in deeper understanding and consciousness.
Falling down is inevitable in this lifetime. It is how we choose to pick ourselves up and move on that is the miracle. For many of us, we get second and third chances. Another song: "Nobody is going to rain on my parade." Self-compassion means that we don't rain on our own parade.
Many of us have had numerous emotional and physical relationships that did not work out for some reason. We can move into the shame/blame game, or we can just understand that our choices were made to teach us something. We can ask ourselves: What have I learned from this disappointment, loss, change, betrayal, or injury?
What a joy it can be to know that we are perfectly imperfect. God loves us just the way we are. Our lives are continuing to unfold, with surprises and challenges. It is helpful if we are have spiritual and emotional support. Another song: "We can pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and start all over again."
Here's to appreciating our resilience, and our forgiving ourselves for being human. Self-compassion is a spiritual practice. It requires conscious effort to forgive ourselves, and know that ultimately we are loved, supported, and