Are You Honoring Yourself or Monitoring Yourself?
When Self Reflection Becomes Too Much
Honoring your authentic self takes courage. If you're on any kind of spiritual path you’ve already taken action towards honoring yourself. Living an authentic life takes work, but how often do you find yourself monitoring your actions? Is micro-managing every move you make authentic?
What about the times you lose all control? Like an exploding soda can that sprays everything in sight with a sticky bubbly mess. Is that authentic? Or, is that the result of not monitoring yourself?
The roads we take in life are never as straight as we’d like and sometimes they lead to a dead end. The journey is designed to help us communicate better. Often we experience our authentic self in the most unexpected ways.
This morning my alarm came in the version of my son. He was excited about a graphics card he desperately needed that just became available online. I had told him that I would get it for him the next time they came around.
For those of you without a 13 year old gamer at home, a graphics card helps support his gaming. It’s also a great tool for graphic designers, and usually they go pretty fast. Like a circa 1993 teenager who desperately calls the radio station over and over again for days on end to win tickets to Madonna’s Sex tour because the tickets all sold before they even went on sale fast.
Not even really awake to understand what was happening I told my son to grab my credit card and he went flying out of the room.
As I lay there now half awake considering if I get up or give myself the 20 extra minutes before my actual alarm went off I can hear him in the other room letting out moans of frustration.
Okay, I'm up.
I throw some water on my face and head out to see what’s up.
Through a frustrated voice he explains how he needs to open an account and it keeps wrapping him in circles because he's not legally old enough to do that.
Okay okay, move aside son, Mom’s got this.
But I didn’t.
I spent the next hour in a loop myself getting more frustrated with every passing moment. I’d hover over the Add to Cart button waiting for the moment it lit up, push it immediately and then frantically enter my info, yet each time the site would say: SOLD OUT Try Again in a few minutes.
I was spiraling. My rage had to go somewhere so I spread it all over the house. I woke my daughter up screaming for something I needed and I blamed my son for throwing my day of track.
The graphics cards were completely sold out and selling for more than double on Ebay and other (illicit) reselling sites. No one was happy.
I took a shower.
The water washed over me and cleared all the angry from my body.
Guilt now the lingering aftermath that left me questioning: What kind of Mom was I?
See I grew up with this belief that if I was just hard enough on myself I wouldn’t make any mistakes. But here I am still being hard on myself and still making mistakes.
A typical me would be monitoring myself so a situation like this morning doesn’t happen.
I’m good at communicating with my kids. I’m clear. It’s easy for me to pause and let them know I'm approaching my limit.
So as I overthink this morning's incident it hit’s me…
Am I monitoring myself more than I’m honoring myself?
This hit me so strongly. What a great lesson in being authentic.
I began to see a fine line between a feedback loop, the act of honoring myself as being human, and a sense of monitoring my actions like a prison guard.
When I step into feedback I can note that I went off the rails. I can step away from the emotions that controlled my morning and see that this was an unusual incident, a rare occasion.
Then the monitor steps in and asks “What's the percent of my over-reactions?” The monitor in my mind says around 10%. Which means that 90% of the time I'm monitoring myself really well. Which means there’s room for improvement.
But that monitor isn’t letting the situation be what it was. It’s judgment.
Then there’s the spiritual side of me that understands that anger is better than depression, but it also tells me to not get mad. Then I feel trapped.
I attempt to spiritualize my experience, when the truth is I just had a raw human moment.
We need to stop making our feelings wrong.
It’s a practice of Non-judgement. For others and myself.
I see parents struggling all the time. There is no judgement there because I get it. We all need a little more understanding here. I remember once at swimming lessons, I saw a mom in the locker room with three kids under 5 trying to get them showered and dressed with the slim hope that she might not be soaked and cold in the end. I could see the frustration building in her body and on her face. The kids were being kids, but it was too much for one person. I'd been there, on the verge of anger, not wanting to show other strangers that. As she got the last one dressed, our eyes connected. I looked at her and said: You're doing a good job. She burst into tears. And so did I.
I’ve been monitoring myself for a long time. I think lots of people on a spiritual path do.
The idea of monitoring yourself instead of honoring yourself is so valuable to think about right now in the season of giving.
It’s an act of giving yourself permission to be human.
I messed up this morning and displayed some serious acts of displaced anger. And although I am usually really clear in my communications I was never really taught how to communicate.
Who was really?
Dr. BJ Fogg says to view your mistakes as discoveries. Remembering that failure is just feedback. So stop judging yourself. That is the only way to move forward.
Getting yourself in a feedback loop to evaluate your discoveries is healthy. Just don’t stay there too long. The point is to recognize your actions and move forward with the intent of doing better in the future.
That’s the problem when you get stuck in a monitoring habit. Monitoring yourself is not authentic. With the truest intentions we place these restrictions on ourselves and others. We evaluate our actions against those actions and behaviors we see around us forgetting the human element.
Humans mess up, and whether you’re hard on yourself or not it will happen.
Honoring your growth and the growth of others is necessary for us to progress.
This is one of the areas I am actively working on. By honoring my own discoveries about my behavior and actions and the triggers behind them I can grow. I can see others as works in progress too. Because let's face it, we’ve all got something going on behind the scenes and sometimes it creates fire.
In an act of honoring my authentic self I am looking for discoveries to help me grow, and in doing so I offer you space to do the same.
What areas of your life are you monitoring yourself more than honoring yourself?
Why is it important for you to show up more authentic in your own life?
When was the last time you blew your top? Are you judging that experience or using it as a discovery?
How would your life change if you started looking at mistakes as discoveries?
Can you identify any places where a new tiny habit could be created to help you succeed in these areas?