You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.
That is from the poem “Wild Geese” by Mary Oliver. [The image is Six Wild Geese, woodblock print by Ohara Koson (Shoson), 1926.]
But we want to be good. Isn’t that the point of personal development, of striving to be better – even excellent?
Mary Oliver’s thoughtful lines refer to a feeling about ourselves when we aren’t what we think we should be, a self-criticism that, we presume, demands repentance, rather than acceptance.
Part of what leads us to think we are unacceptable is comparing ourselves to others who are “better” – and there are always examples.
In her article Practical Steps to Enchantment – Improving Your Self Esteem, Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein notes, “Often in our society, we are bombarded with the lives of celebrities. We can end up feeling that if we are not part of the rich and famous, our lives are insignificant.
“Our society also sends a message of competition and achievement. We watch sports, we always hear about profit and the bottom line being the dollar, we see large companies competing and constantly buying each other out.
“The result often is that we are taught to see how well we are doing, in terms of how pretty we are, how bright we are, what kind of house we have, how well we do in sports, what rewards we receive.”
But, she points out, these are external measures, and “Each of us needs to develop a sense of self-worth, a capacity for positive self-regard that comes from within.”
Part of what we may need to do in order to encourage that positive self-regard is to forgive ourselves for being “imperfect” or making mistakes — or even for being gifted and exceptional.
In her post Forgiving Ourselves: Name it, Claim it, and Let it Go!, Gwendolyn M. Duhon, Ph.D. notes “The nature of being human is being imperfect. We, as human beings, make mistakes every day. Making mistakes can be a great learning experience.”
She points out, “Finding out how not to do something can be as important as discovering the correct way to do it. Some of the worldâ€™s greatest discoveries and inventions were the results of mistakes.
“The critical part in learning from our mistakes lies in how we deal with ourselves in relation to our mistakes. Forgiving ourselves tends to be very difficult for some of us. Often, we will beat ourselves up for doing the very thing that human beings are famous for- making mistakes.”
This “beating ourselves up” can have wide-ranging consequences.
In her article Remembering the Best, Restoring Yourself, Rapture, Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein notes, “Grudges, negative thinking, disappointments, and not forgiving all get in the way of what can be done with the present. We need our psyche energies to seize opportunities we can take advantage of. This can’t happen, if our energies are used up ruminating.
“Besides, there is beauty in our own story and most, if not all disappointments we’ve experienced have strengthened us.”
Seeing the potential value of her ordeals – and appreciating her culinary talents – is hard for the title character Jenna (played by Keri Russell) in the poignant movie “Waitress.”
She creates a number of award-winning pies with names reflecting her emotional turmoil, such as “Pregnant Miserable Self Pitying Loser Pie… Lumpy oatmeal with fruitcake mashed in. FlambÃ© of course.”
Mary-Elaine Jacobsen, in her book The Gifted Adult declares “To effectively reformulate our personal lives, we must stop feeling guilty about our gifts. Guilt is destructive, corrosive, and an incredible misallocation of energy… As long as we allow guilt to weigh us down, we can’t fully experience freedom and joy, and self-realization.”
Michael Angier (founder of SuccessNet) thinks “by forgiving ourselves and by not taking ourselves too seriously, we can move out of self deprecation and into self confidence.” [From his article How to Lighten Up and Not be So Hard on Yourself.]
In her article How To Forgive, Michelle Beaudry advises starting with our earliest years and ascending: “Newborn, three year old, five year old, ten year old, teenager, 20s, etc., and on up to your current age, forgiving yourself thoroughly for absolutely everything as you go.
“Once you get to your current age, forgive yourself for your whole life. Remember, all humans are flawed. No one is a perfect son or daughter, man or woman, husband or wife, student or teacher, worker or boss.”
“You are allowed to make mistakes and learn from them. Forgiveness is an optimal method to process your learnings.”
In her post Forgive Yourself, Nneka reminds us that our imperfection is very natural: “See, try as we might to manipulate our world, first by external force, now through the influence of our thoughts, we may still make mistakes. You may turn right when every fiber of your Being told you to turn left.
“You can spend a good bit of time sitting at a crossroads, beating yourself over the head saying that you should have turned right back there. What you miss is the opportunity to choose again, the opportunity to go a different way.
“Forgiveness allows you to take from the mistake what you need and leave the rest. It allows you to move past the ‘mistake’ and into a state of grace…. Better than that, it allows you to move into action.”
Article publié pour la première fois le 26/04/2015