Monday, September 7, 2009

remember who you really are . . .

Sometimes when we feel weak, or we make a mistake, or we fail at something we can think we are therefore weak, a mistake, a failure - broken.  We seem to have short-term memories and we forget that we are more that our current feelings, actions or accomplishments.  We are multi-dimensional.  We can be strong and have moments when we feel weak;  we can be prepared and still fail;  we can be wise and still make a mistake.  This is part of being human.  Don't label yourself, forever and always, on the basis of a failure or mis-step. 

Don't buy into the "story in your head" that you are just this or that.  You are multi-faceted, multi-skilled and multi-dimensional.  Imbedded in those dimensions is the possibility to have an "off" day, to not always be "on top" of things, to not always know what to do next.  Just stay abreast of who you really are, all your life experience, all the compassion in your heart, all your ability to learn and grow.  Don't sell yourself short!  Remember this beautiful quote by Wayne Muller from his book "Legacy of the Heart".                           Posted by Picasa


  1. Great encouragement, Bonnie, as always. I find that there is such a dichotomy between our good and bad perceptions. There have been times when I have felt "on", and come across arrogant and cocky. Not really "on" after all. On the other hand, I remember once being sick as a dog, and having people say it was the best speech they'd ever heard. Think there is possibly something good coming out of all that pain?

  2. hi bonnie, i like what brian eno has to say about mistakes - treat them as hidden intentions - there's lots to learn from failure, mistakes, bad days, bad decisions, moments of weakness. the trouble is, people only want to value what is right or good or strong about themselves and learn to treat anything other than those conditions as "other" or to be pushed away, hidden, forgotten, to be put behind them. there's lots of knowledge wrapped up in all of our experiences that only adds to our understanding of ourselves as whole. steven

  3. Expat: I've had similar experiences. Of course, good can shine through when we persist throught our pain. I think that is what Muller is saying - you may feel broken, but that is not all you can summon up or bring forth.

    We cannot control how other people perceive us. What matters is that we treat ourselves with respect and loving-kindness even when we are not at our best. And that we remember we are not god and can always do better.

    The thing is not to label ourselves based on a feeling or performance. To know when we 'wow" 'em that we are still human and flawed. To know when we disappoint others or ourselves that there is more to us than that event or feeling.

  4. Steven: Those are good points. And I think Muller would agree, I know I do. We learn from our mistakes and from what goes wrong - and that is where we should be "curious" in order to cull out the learnings. I think what Muller is saying is not to permanently label yourself as broken, or weak or whatever, based on a mistake.

    I think it is wise to own all our actions, which would of course include viewing mistakes, moments of weakness as failed intentions.

    So one good way to reap the learning out of our mistakes would be to ask ourselves:
    * what was my intention?
    * does the mistake reveal an intention I was not aware of?
    * how would I do it differently next time based on what I have learned?

  5. My maxim has always been "To thine own self be true" - of course we have off days and of course we do or say the wrong thing - but if we stick to our principles, apologise when we are in the wrong and - if we have an off day - rise above it, then we can't go far wrong.

  6. Bonnie this is so life-affirming.

    I have too many times to count, because of cancer, felt like a total loser.


  7. Bonnie, Thanks for these words, this day in particular. It's a reminder that I need to keep my stories in my head clear from what really happened. God, why do we always do that to ourselves? If our own self-talk was half as kind as how we speak to our good friends, we'd all be so much happier, wouldn't we? But sometimes, I'm exactly the person I don't want around me... Ironic.

  8. I love the saying...If you aren't making any're most likely not doing anything.
    Some forgive others, but yet find it so hard to forgive themselves...

  9. Hi Bonnie

    One of my much used quotes is:

    There are no mistakes
    Only divine redirection...

    Happy days

  10. The older I get, the better I become at doing this. However, a reminder is always welcome!

  11. Bonnie, this is a wonderful post. I agree with all you've said and I also add to that, if I may, that we also need to embrace the side of us that may be darker than other days, not necessarily due to mistakes, but maybe due to heart pain and other things that we deal with in life, illness, loss of a love, challenges, etc.

    We need to learn to embrace all of who we are.

    lovely, thought-provoking post and love your art!

  12. Weaver:

    Yes, a good motto to remember. And good to know what your values and principles are and stick to them.

    I think, though, if you come from a background of abuse, it may take longer to develop a strong, ego self. And weaker egos need a lot of self-encouragement to build strength and to see oneself in a new light.

  13. Renee: You are not your cancer. You did not cause your cancer. You are not at fault if your cancer does not go away. There are some things that are in our control, and sometimes, no matter what we do bad stuff happens - and to very good people. I doubt very much if any of your many followers have ever seen you as a 'loser' - ever.

  14. Barbara:

    Yes it seems that way doesn't it. It's our thinking that can bring us suffering. It's our thinking that can be hurtful. I don't think you as a person are hurtful as your last comment might imply. But I know what you mean. :)

    That's why I love the work of Byron Katie. She says we should love these hurtful thoughts because they are a signal to us to get "curious", inquire and discover the reality or truth of the matter.

  15. Delwyn:

    A lovely thought. Like feedback or a nudge from the universe.

    I often use the example of old radios (for those who can recall) that had those round dials we had to turn to find the station. If the dial was not adjusted perfectly, we would get a horrible static noise. The noise could drive one crazy. All we had to to was reach over and adjust the dial a bit, until we were on the station and getting the beautiful music we wanted.

    Muller is saying that thoughts like "I'm broken" are unhelpful noise - and it is our job to adjust the dial (our thinking) to get on the channel that produces the truth - that we are fundamentally good, deserving and lovable.

  16. Jazz: Yes, so many of us have done this work already. Muller's nudge is for those who might not have been fortunate enought to get there yet.

  17. Calli:

    An important point - beautifully made. Stephen Levine says in a similar vein: "Love yourself as if you were your only child." We would not tell a child who has made a mistake she is broken; we would not add to a child's suffering by berating her; we would embrace her, mistakes, pain, failure and all and give her unconditional love. Levine asks us to do that for ourselves too - with all our shadow elements.

  18. A very useful lesson I learned from a first grader was this:

    "Only God is perfect."

    From that moment I let go of the need to be perfect. I embraced my humanity and learned to appreciate my imperfections and mistakes as instructive opportunities. Very liberating.

  19. Hey Dan:

    Sounds like the makings of a great book! "Lessons from My First Graders" . . .

    Yes - embrace our humanity
    appreciate our imperfections
    view mistakes as an opportunity to learn

  20. These are very encouraging words. Since I retired though I no longer have these bouts of discouragement - working amongst some critical people is difficult sometimes. Now that I am free with my time life is so much simpler. I think everyone feels better once they retire.

  21. We beat ourselves up much more than the world does, and truly we are the ONLY ones who allow the world to do that to us. A wonderful reminder to love, appreciate, and nurture ourselves Bonnie. Have a beautiful day.

  22. I've learned to have no story in my head, other than the ones I create from scratch. I've been broken and I've healed. I've learned that the mistakes and failures I've made or had have been necessary for me to grow. I've learned that the stories others have or will tell about me need not be MY story. Wonderful post!

  23. Beautiful post. Our mistakes only help us to grow into better and stronger people. We are not losers, we are only humans traveling and learning as we go.
    Thank you again for another beautiful post!


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