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Moving Beyond Your Mistakes

August 30, 2013 by  
Filed under blog

So how have you been coming along with the self-compassion and forgiving of self?  Shortly after I wrote last week’s post on that subject I was playing doubles tennis with friends when I heard my partner chastising herself over a flubbed shot.  It didn’t stop there, though. She went on to berate herself on her over all  play even going back to several previous points and into mistakes she’d made in the previous game.  Wow, and that was just what she was saying out loud for everyone to hear.  I’m pretty sure her internal dialog was even more severe.

Suddenly, at that moment, I realized I was doing a bit of that “self-criticizing and beating myself up on my missed shots and mistakes, only I was doing it “inside my head”.  Yes my ol’ chatterbox was sabotaging my tennis game too.  Recognizing that, I immediately forgave myself for such thoughts and quickly started playing much, much better and we went on to win the set.

Strangely most of us are tough on ourselves but generous on others. Every time my partner made a mistake I would immediately tell her “Hey, no problem. We’ll get the next point.” Of course my positive words of forgiveness and encouragement should also be the words and thoughts that she should be saying internally and externally.

As I mentioned last week, studies have shown that self-criticism and beating up on yourself when you make a mistake leads to more mistakes and forgiving yourself leads to more success.   Kelly McGonigal makes that point over and over in her great book “The Willpower Instinct”. When she mentions self-forgiveness while she’s teaching a class she says “the arguments start pouring in. You would think I had just suggested that the secret to more will power was throwing kittens in front of speeding buses.” The students generally say “If I forgive myself, I’ll just do it again.” or “My problem isn’t that I’m too hard on myself–my problem is that I’m not self-critical enough!” But again the research pretty much proves that the more we forgive ourselves the more success we will have in the future.

What research was done and how it was done has a bit to do with the so called “What the Hell” effect. Come back and read next week’s blog and I will lay that out for you.

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