One of the most important lessons that I learned this year is mercy, not merely showing mercy to others but also to myself. Showing mercy to others is to understand what they are going through, to understand that they struggle and why they struggle.
But showing mercy to yourself is a different skill altogether, because you understand what you struggle with and sometimes, why you struggle with it, but the problem is the refusal to forgive yourself for your own incompetencies, to understand that you are not defective simply because you are struggling with something that everybody seems to understand.
Showing mercy to yourself is understanding that you are a victim of bad fortune and that the things that don’t go your way are not due to a permanent, unfixable flaw in your character. Another aspect of showing mercy to yourself is understanding that to cringe at the insensitive things you said and done means that you have changed enough to know that whatever that was, you aren’t that anymore.
My greatest regret is that I never learned the art of this mercy when I was a teenager, I probably would’ve fared better and I probably would’ve been a nicer, less abrasive person, but the art of showing mercy to yourself is also understanding why you were so abrasive and so toxic, understanding that you were too a victim of toxicity and that the poison that came out of your mouth was something that was fed to you, and sometimes, you didn’t even know that it was poison. You simply thought that that was how people spoke to each other and that was how they dealt with each other. To you, that is how I was dealt with and therefore that is I how I deal with people. Showing mercy to yourself is understanding that you are not a bad person, that it is precisely those feelings of regret that indicate how you’ve truly changed.
Showing mercy to yourself is the path towards healing the toxicity that you were once a part of, of disinfecting yourself from the poison that you so readily drank and spit at others.
One of the best things to do is to imagine yourself telling a certain someone everything there is to know about you, to tell them all your misdeeds, and all the horrible things you’ve done and then to imagine that that person’s reaction is to simply hug you, to tell you that it’s all alright. Be the person who hugs you, be the one who tells yourself that it’s alright.
Photo by Ümit Bulut (Unsplash)