Last week in my art class I mistakenly took a swig a deadly poison. I had put paint solvent (a colourless liquid) in a beaker and placed it to the right of me. Unfortunately I had also filled a similar beaker with drinking water. I had placed that one to my left so I wouldn’t confuse them. But of course I did. And as a result, ended up in the Accident and Emergency department at our local hospital.
The medical service I received was speedy and faultless. After various examinations and observations I was discharged home a couple of hours later. It seemed that, although I had only swallowed a minute amount I must have instinctively spat the vast majority out. On realising what I had done, I went into shock and so my brain had not recorded a memory of what happened directly after that.
Of course I was very relieved to find that I had done no major damage to my internal organs and would survive! But my pleasure at receiving this news was short-lived. Instead of celebrating, I started poisoning my self-esteem. My mind filled with a constant stream of self-accusations:
- how could you be so stupid?
- just think of the shock and grief you could have caused to your family
- you totally disrupted the art class and shocked your teacher
- the person who had to take you to A&E was already having a very stressful day
- the health service is desperately short of cash, you gave it unnecessary expense
…and so on and so on.
Does this sound a familiar reaction to you?
I wouldn’t be surprised. Bashing our self-esteem is a common reaction after making a mistake or doing something that with hindsight seems very stupid.
Luckily because I happen to be in the business that I am in, I realised what I was doing. So I started quickly doing some confidence repair work.
Your Confidence Challenge this month is to watch out for poisonous self-reproach in response to making an error. Unless you are a saint you should get some practice in confidence repair work.
Here are some tips:
- Don’t tell yourself to stop this kind of toxic self-talk – that wont work. Instead, distract yourself with positive action.
- Contact a friend or family member who loves you and is likely to comfort you and say encouraging words.
- refrain, if possible from telling your story to anyone who is likely to add to add to your own self-esteem bashing (e.g. How could you?! Why didn’t you … etc ). You may need to inform some people who will react this way. Apologise but don’t join in with unnecessary self-reproach.
- Look at a photo or video clip of someone you love – preferably one that makes you smile. (I looked at one of my grand-daughter Her face was covered with the avocado she was attempting to eat.)
- Make, (or promise yourself) a self-nurturing snack. Physical treats are good because we often feel like a naughty 3 year old.
- Put on some music that evokes good memories for you
- Note what you have learned from the experience. Also think about how you could put this learning to use.
Don’t forget you make a comment on my blog below. I would particularly welcome any other tips you may have to share.
Have a good month