We live in a society that thinks in extremes – black and white, good and bad, right and wrong. We don’t have to look any farther than the current Presidential campaign to be reminded of this. Each candidate takes the position that he is absolutely right, and that his opponent is dead wrong – not a little off, not missing an essential piece – dead wrong. Elections in this country resemble competitive athletic events more than intelligent exchanges of ideas. Go team!
We tend to treat ourselves with the same all or none approach. If I make a mistake, then I am a mistake. If I feel dissatisfied about something in my life, then I am an ungrateful so-and-so. If I fall short of my goal, I am a failure.
This is a highly inefficient way of thinking, wasting no telling how much of our valuable mental energy (and time) beating ourselves up. This is energy that can be put to much better use when we practice combining self-confrontation with self-compassion. Don’t let yourself off the hook, but don’t sentence yourself to hard time for a misdemeanor. When you make a mistake, recognize it, correct your error, make the appropriate amends (genuine apology, not shame), pat yourself on the back, and get back in the game. Go team!
In a Nutshell
are two sides of the same coin.