Bringing humor to my mistake

This week I flew to NY for a friends wedding. I coordinated the rental house for myself and five friends, bought a dress, packed efficiently to avoid checking a bag and booked my flight. Or so I thought! I missed one important detail.

As I embarked on my journey to the NY wedding, it dawned on me on the way to the airport, that I never received the automated check-in for my flight 24 hours prior to departure. This was immediately followed by a surge of adrenaline and pit in my stomach. I searched my email and attempted to check in online, only to find the message: “You have no upcoming flights”. This was followed by a stronger surge of adrenaline.

To my surprise, I never actually booked the ticket. I fly at least six times a year and have my system down. I booked three tickets that day and obviously got sidetracked along the way. This so called efficient process was thrown off by a series of distractions.

We can’t always be in a state of balance or be mindful 24/7. However, we have a choice how we meet our moments of self-created chaos. We can choose to activate that inner critical voice and berate ourselves or we can find the humor in the situation and meet it with self-compassion. I chose the latter.

Remaining calm, I searched discounted web fares (there were none to be found), walked into the airport and bought a ticket at the counter. While I twinged paying twice the price of the original fare, I celebrated my goof over a bloody mary and called a friend to share this hilarious story. Later that day, I discovered that two people in my house-share miscommunicated and arrived at different airports, which made their car rental share a bit challenging. Like me, they didn’t waste anytime in blame or judgment. They found a way to see the humor in it and subsequently problem-solved their way to a solution. When you goof up, which pattern do you fall into? 

Self-Compassion: Piece of cake or a hard nut to crack? You be the judge.

Last week I guided nurses in a self-compassion exercise during my keynote address at the 24th annual Med-Surg conference held in the San Francisco Bay Area.  For those of you that couldn't attend, here is the inside scoop so you can do it at home (or in the break room, on the bus, or standing in line at the DMV...). 

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Six easy steps to self-compassion

1)  GET QUIET - Find a quiet room or go outside, so you can be uninterrupted and away from distractions, such as other people, pets, phones etc.  Turn your phone off completely for 10 little minutes.

2)  FIND YOUR UNCONDITIONAL LOVE PERSON- I hate to break it to you, but it's not your spouse.  Chances are that partner does things or doesn't do things, that hamper that unconditional love feeling.  Try grandma or grandpa on for size.  Young children, babies or pets are also a good source.

3)  REPEAT THESE LOVING-KINDNESS AND COMPASSION PHRASES FOR 5 MINUTES- (imagine this person you love, in front of you while doing this).  

1.  MAY YOU BE HAPPY AND PEACEFUL.

2.  MAY YOU BE KIND AND PATIENT WITH YOURSELF.

3.  MAY YOU HOLD YOUR JOYS AND SORROWS WITH AN OPEN HEART.

4.  MAY YOU LOVE AND ACCEPT YOURSELF EXACTLY AS YOU ARE, IN THIS MOMENT.

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Notice this expansion of love in your heart after sending these phrases to your loved one.  Now it is time to turn it inward, toward yourself.

5)  REPEAT THESE PHRASES TO YOURSELF FOR 5 MINUTES

1.  MAY I BE HAPPY AND PEACEFUL.

2.  MAY I BE KIND AND PATIENT WITH MYSELF.

3.  MAY I HOLD MY JOYS AND SORROWS WITH AN OPEN HEART.

4.  MAY I LOVE AND ACCEPT MYSELF EXACTLY AS I AM, IN THIS MOMENT.

 

6)  REFLECT- Each person will have a different experience.  It is important to honor your own experience and not try to get it "right".  There is not a "right" way.  These reflections may bring up emotions for you.  At the conference, many nurses reported tears of joy, while others described challenges with loving and accepting themselves.  

The simple act of repeating the phrases, even without an emotional feeling attached, can bring progress.  This process requires practice and cultivation.  Just like a plant - what we cultivate, will grow.  If we feed our bodies self-criticism - we strengthen those harmful neural pathways.  

If we dedicate a little time to develop self-compassion, we will reap those benefits.  We all can agree that we are challenged by increased acuity, advancing technology, challenging co-workers and as one nurse added, the occasional hot flash!

 

Every once in awhile we need to take our superhero cape off, pop a squat and give ourselves some loving. So, how about now?