This was a family weekend. Children, children by marriage, grandchildren, extended families, and, certainly, lots of friends. And, it does make you wonder. Which of the patterns I displayed as my children were growing up will be the ones that they have vowed not to repeat with children of their own?
We all endured, or simply noticed, our parents’ habits or patterns of behavior and promised ourselves that, when we grew up, “I’ll be different. That’s something I’ll never do!”
And, maybe we’ve been true to our word…or maybe not. But, whatever we’ve done or not done, whatever patterns we repeated or deleted, I do think, for the most part, we’ve done our best. And if we’ve done our best, then, even when we know we weren’t perfect, maybe we should give ourselves the gift of compassion.
We weren’t perfect; we admit it! We made mistakes, we let our hopes and dreams overrule our common sense, we compromised ourselves, and we compromised others. We pushed the boundaries until they broke, or broke us.
For myself, I know I have made some really poor choices throughout my life. But I also know no one benefits from my beating myself up over what I coulda or shoulda done because, the truth is, I can’t go back and change anything. Nothing I regret from high school or college can be undone, nor can anything from when my children were young themselves. But I can move forward with more care. I can speak and act with greater mindfulness. And when I make new mistakes, since I feel certain my words and actions will not shine with perfection from this point forward through the rest of my life, I’ll take a deep breath, apologize and try to right whatever wrongs I have committed, and, then, simply move on, one step at a time.
And, because I have given this gift of compassion to myself, I will give it to others, as well. Because, you see, I know how they feel. Even if their errors weren’t the same as mine, even if I can’t imagine that I would do what they have done, I will try to remember what I have learned: hurt people hurt. And, for the most part, we are all doing our best.
- If someone said or did something thoughtless, I will try to offer extra patience and kindness, remembering that, at the heart of things, they didn’t really mean to be unkind.
- If someone does something that I find helpful, I will go out of my way to let them know I appreciated their kindness, and that it made a difference in my day.
- When I notice someone looking sad or lonely, I will make an extra effort to offer a smile, a kind word, just anything to let them know that they are not invisible to others, and people, even strangers, care about them.
These are the things I can do to show a more compassionate side to myself, and to others. Because, the truth is, I will benefit from every kindness I show… for myself or for others.
And may you offer the same level of compassion, kindness, and care in your life, as well.