By Melissa Ford
I hate making mistakes. I'd much rather be right, exuding confidence, BEING that power woman in the know. Wouldn't everyone?
When it comes right down to it, mistakes aren't my real problem; it's the complicated, uncomfortable feelings I experience afterwards, particularly when my blunders are public: embarrassment, humiliation and sometimes, shame.
Generally, I much more forgiving of mistake-making when I'm not the cause.
This amazing proficiency to express empathy even in the most trying of times is the by-product of over twenty years of parenting, replete with endless opportunities that grew my compassion muscle.
My learning started early with those typical toddler mistakes such as spilt milk, art work on walls, graduating into the more costly teenage errors - fender benders. One of my offspring, who shall remain nameless, strategically maneuvered our car into our two-car garage, rolling up and onto our second car safely parked inside.
On another occasion, my other child ran a quick errand in our brand-new, shiny hybrid, returning home with a major crease sliced into the vehicle's right rear passenger door. In both instances, compassion came a few days later (but it came) after much inhaling and exhaling, gritting of teeth and the continued reminder that This too shall pass.
Shockingly, mistakes didn't stop with my kids; my husband had his fair share.
I confess; I kept a mental scorecard. But I was evenhanded, maintaining a running tally of my own failings. As best I could I kept my faux pas undercover so while my kids were making mistakes, learning and thriving from compassion, I was blundering, stumbling and suffering from self-criticism. Then I wondered . . .
How could I so lovingly remind my son and daughter that slip-ups happen, life goes on, everyone's doing their best, but exclude myself from this circle of compassion?
Because I didn't trust compassion for myself, betting instead that a tongue lashing or swift kick in the pants was more suitable, more motivating.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Extending compassion to ourselves and others engenders kindness, goodwill and connection. It's necessary not only for learning and growth, but peace of mind. Compassion is the doorway into humanity, teaching the one vital lesson we all need to learn:
I'm consciously widening my circle of compassion. Come join me.