What I mean by that is that we are often first in line to report where we messed up but we're not always willing to transmit that mistake into positive action in our lives. Making us better, rather than wallowing in the circumstances and regret around what's gone down. Note: I'm not talking about bullying ourselves into action, I'm talking about uncovering what the mistake represents.
I was recently listening to a "Sunday Sermon" from Elizabeth Dialto's "Untame The Wild Soul" Podcast. In this particular episode, Elizabeth discussed when anger can be holy versus destructive. When we do the work to make sure our anger is holy, not destructive, Elizabeth says "we [are] observ[ing] it, feeling it all the way through. Transmut[ing] it [into] beautiful expression. Travel[ing] it as a bridge to our pain and ultimately, releas[ing] and rebuild[ing] what has been lost, violated or tainted. Anger is holy when we know how to treat it".
This is also true with our mistakes.
Often, when we've made a mistake and we've acted in a way that either doesn't serve us our loved ones or align what we want for ourselves, we can feel pain in the form of regret and shame. And, holding on to that pain, can hold us in a quicksand of inaction. If we stay there, I fear, we give over to self-loathing and we slowly begin to start concocting more stories about why that mistake perfectly represents us. How it defines us.
I'm not talking in code, by the way. This exact situation has come up for me recently.
Last Saturday, I brought my son to the soccer field where all the small kids in town gather to play on Saturday mornings. Ben was resistant to soccer sign-up from the start, only interested in acquiring the equipment but super hesitant about actually meeting the coach and getting out on the field. He's a brave soul, but careful, and has always been slow to jump into new situations. Sometimes, I feel that if I get him to try something, he'll love it and all the nerves will wash away. But, other times, if it's not his idea or if he feels forced, he'll put that wall up real fast.
Me, on the other hand, I like things to go the way I've planned and when they don't and I have to flex my go with the flow mom muscles, I get real uncomfortable. This, for me, is a work in progress. If I'm stressed about other things and then kid resistance comes on, watch out! Long story short, I'm really bummed about how I reacted to Ben's nerves around soccer. I made him go to the field, watch the other kids and stuck to my guns for far too long when really, I should have listened to how he was feeling. This wasn't a time for a lesson in following through on our commitments or trying something because we may have a lot of fun. His idea of fun on his Saturday morning was NOT being out on the soccer field. It's also not lost on me that he didn't want to sign up for this anyway so a lesson in following through is a bit disconnected here. Also, he's 5. So.
Introspection though, is my jam. I've done a lot of work since Saturday to unpack what was going on for me that morning. A call to a confidant who could tell it like it is (my sister), made me realize how I misstepped and that ultimately, Ben needed my compassion and not a push to get out on that field. As I replayed how things went down, I was FULL of regret. How could I have missed this opportunity to support him? In my introspection, as Elizabeth Dialto mentioned, I traveled the bridge to the pain that I was feeling from not being the Mom Ben needed then and I worked to explore why I felt so personally triggered by his resistance to follow through with the plans.
I don't know, maybe I felt a lack of control that morning with the boys? Maybe I was worried about Ben never liking soccer and not becoming Norwell's next soccer star (eye roll). Maybe I was wishing it was just easier to arrive and have him run off happily like some of the other kids do (the parenting comparison trap is real, yo). Maybe I worried that I'm a trainer, and obviously he needs to like all sports, right? (cue another eye roll)
Here's what I could have done. I could have felt regret for not being tender enough with Ben and layered on another story about how my temper always get the best of me. "'I'm just fiery, I can't help it", I could say. Obviously, this gives me no tools to not recreate this type of situation again. I also could have labeled Ben a resistant child or a kid that doesn't like new things, ever. And that would suck because he needs freedom and room to grow and the ability to be his authentic self in any situation, without labels.
In many coaching situations, my clients are exploring past mistakes they've made around their health. They've gotten into poor patterns with their nutrition and inactivity and they've built up stories that they're just not someone that can become in shape or choose healthful foods that nurture their bodies with consistency. They've taken on the identity from their mistakes and in doing so, have lost their will to try to become a person who actively chooses a healthy lifestyle.
When we feel that we've been telling ourselves those same old stories, built from past mistakes we've made, we need to know that we have an opportunity to reclaim how we want to move forward. We don't need to stay in that place of shame, regret and dissonance.
I love the visualization Elizabeth describes when talking about traveling our anger like a bridge, feeling it wholly, then actively doing something about it. Can we also do this with our mistakes? I think so. The mistakes are done. Now, how can they become holy and not destructive?