No Sense Arguing With Myself: How I Practice Self-Forgiveness For My Imperfections

No Sense Arguing With Myself: How I Practice Self-Forgiveness For My Imperfections

Have you ever made a goof professionally that left you sick to your stomach? Made you want to crawl into a hole and hide? Beat yourself up over and over? I made an error like this recently and, instead, I celebrated.

The Simplest Mistake

I was in the midst of on-boarding a new corporate subscriber to my company (incredibly exciting!) when I failed to avoid one small bump in the road. My contact gave me the “thumbs up” on a Monday evening. Contracts came through from my lawyer by Wednesday. I attached them in a message to the prospective member on Thursday. And then, I waited….and waited. The following week, I reached out to my contact to see if they had any questions about the proposal, and in the process, addressed a few related details as to not appear desperate for hurrying the process along. Another week went by with no response, and this past Wednesday I reached out again.

“I missed your email. Can you resend?” was what I finally heard back. Hmmm. It must have gone to spam or been sent to the wrong recipient at the company….no big deal. Then, in my effort to cut-and-paste the follow-up message and resend the attachment, a chill went down my spine. When typing the person’s name into my email search, there in the trash box was the original message with the contract attached. How the %#*@ could this have happened with such an important client? Why didn’t I pay better attention when so much was at stake?

And Why Did I Celebrate?

Well, in the moment after I sent the new message with the contract intact (and my confession of error typed out), I decided to forgive myself. Simple as that. I skipped entirely the part where I could have beaten myself to a pulp emotionally, and instead tried to learn from the error, acknowledging that imperfections are a part of everyone. Such a transformation is not as effortless as I’m making it sound, but with a little emotional intelligence, and a strategy in place, anyone can pull it off. My new email rule is to build-in the failsafe process of copying myself each time I send someone an important document, assuring that I’ve monitored its transmission. My new personal rule: Try to find humor in my imperfections.

A Place To Begin

This exercise in self-forgiveness has its origins in a session where I scolded myself over a no-win internal struggle relating to another email-related booby trap… follow-up. Today, scolding is out of the question, and focusing on a new approach to follow-up is its permanent stand-in. How quickly to follow up, how aggressively to follow up, and how often to follow up are all delicate, balanced determinations that I need to help myself negotiate if I’m going to start respecting other people’s time. In the process, I’m learning how to respect myself as well, and that’s truly something to celebrate! Give it a try the next time you’re tempted to hold a grudge with yourself over a mistake. You may just have the knack for sparing yourself the grief.  

Deborah Goldstein founded DRIVEN Professionals to provide businesses the opportunity to outsource or bolster their women’s initiatives. The DRIVEN community provides cross-industry networking opportunities and perpetual professional development through a woman’s lens. DRIVEN addresses women holistically and supports their members in leading "richer" lives. Deborah is DRIVEN’s own best student, constantly learning and sharing life's best practices and integrating work and personal life.