As we’re constantly crafting our lives, we all make mistakes, change our minds and are just plain wrong sometimes. Although I believe there is no “right” and “wrong” in life because everything is part of a lesson to be learned. Regardless of our view of rightness and wrongness, we all deserve forgiveness for any missteps or “sins”. I once read that the true definition of a sin is simply to miss the mark, as if you were aiming for the bullseye and you missed. Not nearly as heavy and devastating as the sting that the word “sin” normally brings.
I recently committed a huge “sin”, in my mind anyway, when I screamed at my son for leaving his lunch bag and uneaten lunch in his backpack over the weekend. The lesson was triggered after writing, Saves or Goals, You’re Always Loved, for my mental coaching blog designed for youth hockey goalies. I discovered that I had been repressing feelings of self-hatred and questioning if I am loved after I make a mistake. It may seem silly, but we all have emotional habits that we’ve created in our lives by observing, and trying to figure out how to be in this life. Many times our perceptions are fear based and never fully mature because they are too difficult to face. So we find ways to deal and stick with habits without thinking about them. It takes a mindful approach to discover what’s really going on in your soul.
Anyway, I fell apart that morning. Out of the blue, I became possessed with rage, I screamed, I cried, I threw a plastic lunch box on the floor and all in front of my son. I am not proud of this but somehow it had to happen for him and for me. I immediately hugged him and apologized while deeply sobbing. I reassured him that it was not really about him. Still, I had a tough time shaking it off all day. I wanted to hate myself. What kind of monster would blow up over a lunch box? I feared that I had scarred my son and hoped that my apologetic words eased his pain. Fortunately, my practice of mindfulness helped me to understand that it was a deep release of repressed anger. I finally figured out what came over me and discovered that I had to make this huge mistake to truly understand that I am still worthy of love regardless of my “missing the mark”.
I realized that I’ve always been hard on myself and have not really allowed myself to make mistakes for fear of disapproval and shame. I usually avoid confrontation because I can’t handle being wrong or telling someone they are wrong. It hurts too much when I believe that I am no longer loved because of my wrongness or my accusations. Wow! I have been holding onto that belief for a very long time and I have allowed it to hold me back in life. No wonder I was so rattled by the experience. It wasn’t about that moment of rage over a lunchbox but about a lifetime of repression and fear of being unlovable.
Unfortunately, our kids pick up on these energies and try them out without fully knowing it. And we, as parents, wonder, “Where did he get that from?” You want to face your flaws and embrace your majesty, look at your kid and you’ll see what they picked up from you without you realizing it. I have seen this harsh self-judgement in my son from an early age. I finally realized that he picked it up from me even though I worked hard to encourage and compliment him being careful not to criticize harshly. I’ve worked with him to help him understand that life is a journey of learning. No one has to do anything right the first time. Failure is a necessary gift. But I didn’t realize until now that I have been subtly and continuously beating myself up for being “wrong” or failing.
I opened up to my son and my husband at the end of that day over dinner. I told them what I was struggling with and that I realized that they still love me when I make mistakes and that I love them regardless of any “sin” or misstep. I cried and they hugged me with sincere love and compassion. Without my outburst, I would not have unveiled such a deeply hidden obstacle in my life and I would not have created the opportunity to teach my son that he is unconditionally loved in every moment of his life.
Today I unleashed a deeply hidden monster that has been ingrained in my psyche for decades. I revealed the illusion of self-hatred and have proven it false.
I’ve pondered the concept of unconditional love for a very long time. I believe that I have finally learned that I am unconditionally loved. That means that under NO CONDITION am I unworthy of being loved by myself and by others. At the surface one might believe that there can be hatred and that it is valid. But when you dig deeper and all of the perceptions and illusions dissolve away, I believe that we all love each other from a place of deep human kindness.
It’s an immeasurably valuable gift to realize that you are worthy of being loved under all circumstances and so is everybody else.