Ever since I can remember, I lived with a lot of guilt, always overthinking and overanalyzing every word and action. I wanted to do the right thing and I hated when I fell short of my high moral standards. Although I admire my desire to positively affect others, it also caused me to be less open to criticism and scared to admit my mistakes. I would end up hurting people more by becoming distant from them and failing to take accountability. I was already so ashamed of myself that I couldn’t bear to see someone else’s disappointment.
Being kind and more forgiving of yourself may seem selfish on the surface, but it’s the opposite and it’s made me a much better person. Why? Well, since I am not afraid to see my imperfections, I am more conscious of how they affect others, and I am able to take responsibility for my mistakes. The truth is no matter how good our intentions or how careful we are, we will hurt other people. What’s Important to me is that I can take the blame for any pain or sadness I cause and apologize with not only a “sorry” but a change in my behavior.
Guilt and shame are feelings of the ego. They are all about “me” and they often take us away from the bigger picture. In a weird way, they protect us and help us control situations like “well if I just feel so badly about myself, no one else can make me feel any worse.” But that is just not true. Guilt and shame have a purpose and it’s to teach us that it doesn’t feel good to do the wrong thing. The only way to get rid of the feeling is to face it, own up to it, and learn from it. If we try to avoid the feelings by not engaging in conflict or never making mistakes, we are setting ourselves up for failure.
We need to be vulnerable and honest to have healthy relationships. I don’t want people around me who think I’m perfect, I want people around me who see my flaws and love me anyway. I want people around me who will call me out on my shit. I also want to be very forgiving and accepting of others and love them unconditionally (while setting boundaries and protecting my peace of course).
If the past few years have taught me anything, it’s that the people in your life and the relationships you have with them matter immensely, maybe more than anything else. Let’s stop expecting everybody(including ourselves) to be perfect and just admit that we're not, so we can deepen our relationships and grow together, not apart.