If You Can Laugh at Yourself, You’re Doing Okay

The other evening, my lovely wife was lying by my side. It warmed my heart to feel her close to me, and her touch was comforting after a good but challenging day. Our little dog was next to me, and Mrs. Goldsmith’s head was resting on my chest as she gently pet the dog. She told me how much she loved me, how happy she was that we are together, in the same way she has done a thousand times, and I just took it in.

I was being hard on myself for no good reason, because that’s my fallback when I’m overtired. I know this, but it still happens. It’s called being human. Hearing my lover’s voice helped to calm my nerves, and I continued to bask in her words and hugs and our little dog too. Then again, she said, “I love you,” but this time it was followed up with, “You’re such a good doggie.” I realized in that moment that the entire time we were together, although she was embracing me, she had been talking to the dog! And I totally lost it, but in a good way.

I have never been that tired and laughed so hard in my life. I actually had to sit up and have a cup of tea to calm down and catch my breath. Life and love are my best teachers and healers. If my head wanders someplace uncomfortable to my being, I seldom get to stay there for more than a moment. As I explained what had happened, my wife cracked up too, and it made us a tiny bit closer because it’s such a great story. So great that I had to get up and write about it.

Having a revelation is no small thing, though using what you’ve learned may come less easily. Here’s what I’ve learned: If you tend to be hard on yourself, it is probably taking up precious time that could be spent doing other things that are far more productive and pleasant.  

No one can make us feel worse about ourselves than we can, especially when we feel like we’ve screwed up. Most of us know this already, but it’s hard to not go there if it has become a habit. The good news is that you can break this one. All you have to do is notice when you’re feeling bad about yourself, and make the decision to not beat yourself up. Once this actually works a few times, it will become a new habit. Just remember that “you can analyze, but not penalize” yourself. Make that deal with your brain, and you’ll sleep better.

I’ve made a choice to not dwell on negativity. But this is real life, and there is no light without darkness, so, yes, bad things happen, and that can throw us off. But the things that keep us up at night are usually self-inflicted. If you can realize that and then step back for a moment, you might see yourself acting in a way that will make you chuckle. And if that happens, you’ve made a change, and you are okay.

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