I wanted to write something about getting it wrong because it’s a theme that comes up time and time again, not just in my own life but in the lives of people I work with.
It can drive so much of our anxiety – if you feel as though you’re ‘getting it wrong’ what does it do to you? How does it affect you?
Sometimes ‘getting it wrong’ can make you feel as though you are flawed in some way. As though if you ‘got it right’ then that would make you a better person. And maybe you try even harder to ‘get it right’ the next time something like that happens.
It’s a horrible feeling.
There are certain times in our lives when we are exposed to even more opinions about how you can get it right, such as when we become mothers, or events such as Christmas or family gatherings or birthdays.
At these times we can be flooded with messages (either implied or direct) about what ‘getting it right’ looks like, and social media can just add to this sense.
And actually it’s such an awful lie because you can never get it all right.
So if you step back and look at what it means to ‘get it wrong’ you may find messages or rules you have absorbed over the years. Maybe that getting it right means that others will never be upset with you, or that others will think a certain way of you, or that others will never feel any pain as a result of you.
Maybe it’s even less concrete –just a feeling that you won’t feel any discomfort or any pain if you don’t ‘get it wrong’.
It might be that you feel as though if you ‘got it right’ you would have a sense of being perfectly understood.
Often psychotherapy can provide enough of a sense of being understood that it can allow us to be kinder to ourselves, because it can remove the fear of getting it wrong. And that can allow you to experience yourself more compassionately, to start to believe that we are OK the way we are.
This isn’t a way of letting ourselves ‘off the hook’ and being unkind or uncaring towards others, but it is about accepting ourselves, complete with all the parts we’re not so keen on.
I worked with someone recently who couldn’t forgive herself for something that she had done in the past, as a teenager. She had such a deep sense of shame that she could ever have done such a thing, and it coloured her sense of herself being OK as a person. She found it really hard to look at her teenage self, with all the pressures and hormones that was experiencing, and accept that whilst her behaviour at the time was not kind, that she was struggling to work her way through some difficult experiences. No matter what she did, she deeply believed that she deserved to be treated badly now because of what she had done then.
She felt that she had got it so badly wrong that it made her a bad person.
Another woman I worked with had such a sense that things would fall apart if she allowed any ‘stress’ into her child’s life that she had to make everything easy, so when she got pregnant again and was physically unable to make everything ‘perfect’ it caused her so much pain.
These feelings are not ‘stupid’ or ‘unnecessary’ – they are very real, and I think that sometimes they can take a while to notice, let alone treat with kindness and acceptance. \
That can take a bit of time – it’s not as simple as just identifying them (oddly that can just make you feel worse) – it’s also about being able to be compassionate with them. Sometimes that can only happen with someone else there, whether that’s the company of someone close to you, peer support or a therapist.
That’s quite a long post, about something pretty huge, so if you’ve read this far then maybe something has resonated for you. If you’d like to chat – please do get in touch – I’m always happy to try to help.