You’re so stupid! That’s what I say to myself on occasion. Monday morning was one of those occasions. I was two miles down the road when I realized I had left paperwork and mail sitting on the desk, back at the office. I had a large cup of coffee, purse, banana and protein bar in the vehicle, but not the paperwork I would need for the job at hand at another office. The vehicle turned around while I verbally slammed myself. “Mary, you are so stupid!”
Have you ever done that to yourself?
I would guess that you are nodding your head up and down in response. I would also guess you are in agreement – this kind of behavior is negative and unkind to self. And, yet, we do it. Why do we berate ourselves over such silliness? Are we the devil incarnate? The evil twin? The person who does nothing right? Has the world ended due to what we perceive as our stupid, idiotic moments? As wise friend Natasha once told me, we should be looking in the mirror every day and proclaiming, “I am beautiful (or handsome)! I am strong! I am smart!” It’s a difficult task for me to accomplish without feeling a bit egotistical, but it’s certainly a task that is far better than looking in the mirror and announcing, “Hey you! Dumbass! You suck!”
And, so, I chuckled Monday evening while grocery shopping with Natasha. She scolded herself for being in the wrong section of the produce department (or something of the sort) and called herself a name. Interesting human nature…nature we can’t always control (unless it was a rotten avocado giving off negative vibes as Natasha walked the produce aisles.) Instead of yelling at a piece of paper or an avocado, of which there would be no harm, Natasha and I yelled at ourselves, to make our emotional selves feel worse.
Why would we do that?
To add to the assault, human nature can fail miserably at healthy self-forgiveness. I was reminded of this recently after a phone conversation with a long-time friend. She was severely beating herself up over a decision she made 30 years ago. In her mind, it was the “wrong” decision, somehow leading to her current unhappiness. I actually believe this friend was wringing her hands about what she considered “wrong” decisions over a 30-year time span, not realizing that they were the “right” decisions at the time. We make our decisions believing they are “right,” or the best decisions for us, and we can never know how life would be different if the decision had been different. We may think that going back 30 years to correct an error in judgment will change our life for the better, but will it?
I was close to my friend’s world as I began the process of divorce almost five years ago. It was a time when I started to question everything I had done for 30+ years, the choices I made, and what I had to give up (to find happiness) due to those personal decisions. The self-questioning was short-lived when it became overwhelming to me and I realized I could not move forward with ongoing queries and doubts about what cannot be changed. I had not hurt anyone during those years and, in truth, I had wonderful experiences and met new friends that I would not want to lose over one changed decision. Coming to know and marry the former Mister meant I had life-long friends that I would have never met in another life. I know how to ride a motorcycle because of him. I came back to faith because of him. I can sharpen a kitchen knife with a steel because of him (and a Gordon Ramsey video). I know of respect and disrespect because of him. My life may have been different, may have been better, with a decision not to marry the former Mister, but how do I know that? Do I forgive and let go of the past or do I continue to beat myself up for years afterward?
Do I call myself stupid?
The answer would be “no,” but with certainty I will do it again – for silly reasons – call myself stupid, insane, idiot, weenie, or just plain dumb. It’s difficult to break something I have done for most of my life. It’s habitual, much like a daily cup of coffee or a morning get-ready-for-work ritual. The key, the caveat perhaps, is to not take our own verbal or emotional self-lashing seriously; to know, in the end, that “you’re so stupid” moments are human moments; to know that decisions are always meant to be right; to know that as a fallible human being, you will never be perfect (the perfectionists out there just gasped); to know, finally, that you are wonderful, smart you. Always. Isn’t that what we can all tell ourselves?
We are NOT so stupid!