When I worked with folks coming out of Federal Prison I had a sign in my office that said something like, “courage is the strength to start over again.” It really does seem to be a superpower…the willingness to begin again AND to give ourselves grace while doing so.
I firmly believe that success is summed up in the Japanese proverb…
“fall down seven times get up eight.”
“A “do-over” is a chance to repeat what someone did wrong (in the hopes of not making the mistake again), as though he/she had never made the mistake in the first place. Saying that somebody is a “walking do-over” is akin to saying that person is a “do-over waiting to happen”. In other words, it won’t be long before he/she makes a mistake that they’ll want forgiven…ignored. If that’s the case, we must ALL be “walking do-overs.”
Sometimes we stay so stuck in regret, over past mistakes, that we find it hard to move on and try again. But when we are able to cut ourselves some slack and accept that we are human, and not nearly perfect, we have MORE energy. Energy that is needed to notice “lessons learned”; energy needed to ask our beloveds (and ourselves!) for forgiveness and energy needed to dust off our britches and try again.
It is courageous to acknowledge our humanity in this airbrushed world of faux perfection. It’s courageous to be on our own side after we falter. It’s courageous to figure out what’s important to us and to show up again and again and again…getting it a little more right with each pass.
It’s not only courageous, it’s contagious! When others see that we don’t need to hide our need for do-overs, they are more likely to be able to meet their own mess ups with a measure of compassion and willingness to try again.
We become safe for ourselves and for one another.
Give me someone with skinned knees and raw elbows…every time! It’s so often these folks, who’ve practiced anointing their own scrapes and bumps with tenderness, are trustworthy to have near our own.
When one of our sons was little he went to preschool with a kiddo who would meet classmates’ bandaged boo-boos with a poke or a punch. Not sure what was up with him, but he was NOT safe to be injured around. It’s the same in our grown up world; there are people who tend to poke and prod at the places where we’re scraped.
And sometimes we’ve been our own preschool bully, maniacally poking at our own scraped knees.
What’s up with that?
We must know that this makes the pain of falling worse and and the act of getting up again harder. Let’s be a bit more on our own side by cultivating relationships with folks who aren’t bandage pokers. And let’s be a bit more on our own side by meeting our own falls with coos of comfort and salve and then encouraging words of “do overs” and trying again!
Today, may you breathe more deeply, smile more often and feel more at home (and safe) in your own beautiful (and imperfect) life….