Quite Continental Charm School: Day 8 — Forgive Yourself

18/02/2013 § 11 Comments

The Quite Continental Charm School
A modern guide to creating a charmed life

QC Charm School: Forgive YourselfAlbino horses fighting, 1945.
Taken by William Shrout for Life Magazine.

Today’s post and today’s lesson is a bit out of the ordinary. While February tends to be my busiest and happiest time of the year here on the blog, with Charm School and Fashion Week and etc., you may have noticed that I went dark after the 8th of February, a full ten days ago. I touched upon the fact that I was dealing with a few things in “real life” in a post I called The Bump, and I was trying my best to keep up with the already rigorous schedule I had set out for myself, but I found that I just…couldn’t. As difficult as it was, I knew that it would be for the best if I stepped away for a short time.

Today marks the first time I’ve felt ready to talk, and while we lost some ground on February, I am promising to you that I am going to finish out my Charm School lesson plan – all 28 lessons of it – even if it takes us into March (and it will). I apologize for this unforeseen delay and I want you to know that I would be honored if you decide to continue to follow along with me. With this mea culpa, I’d like to transition to today’s lesson.

There is a hard law. When an injury is done to us,
we never recover until we forgive.”

–Alan Paton

Day 8: Forgive Yourself
When I decided that I would have to take a short hiatus, I was immediately seized with feelings of guilt. No matter that I knew it was the right thing to do in the moment, for my sake and my personal well-being, I still felt like I was falling down on the “job” and that my readers might be upset that I wasn’t doing what I said I would (or at least, when I said I would do it). I felt like I was letting everyone down, and that really frustrated me, but I had to face reality. I had to be honest with myself that I couldn’t do it all. I needed to create some space in my schedule to deal with more pressing matters, and to do that I had to hit pause on the blog. Most importantly, I also needed to forgive myself for this temporary shortcoming, because without that forgiveness, I would be stuck in a place where I felt like a failure, when the whole point of this exercise was to give me the ability to move forward.

Forgiveness can be a tricky thing. When you feel you have been wronged, it is human nature to seek out a target to blame. It is difficult to deal with the concept of an indiscriminate universe, one that doesn’t bound itself by the sensible rules of fairness, and when things don’t go our way, we want to find a reason. Most times the scapegoat is someone in close proximity to the hurt or occurrence – the boss that fired you, the boyfriend who broke up with you – but sometimes, the scapegoat is yourself. You are the reason your finances are a mess, you are the reason your bed is never made, you are the reason that you don’t eat right, you are the reason you don’t have a girlfriend, you, you, YOU.

Forgiving someone else can be hard enough, but forgiving yourself? It can seem downright impossible, and it is something that I personally have struggled with for most of my life. From the fourth grade when those goddamn multiplication tables would just not stick in my brain, to how frustrated I am currently at myself for not going to the gym enough (ok, ok, at all), I regularly beat myself up about things large and small, and the “blog pause” was no exception. The thing is, when we scapegoat and hold grudges (even against ourselves), we prevent growth. We remain stuck in a whiny, anxious purgatory where all we can do is focus on past disappointments, failures and bad feelings. This is not what I want for you, or for me.  It’s about as far from charming as you can get.

Today I want you to try to focus on taking a step back and forgiving yourself for all those “shortcomings.” Try to acknowledge and accept the fact that you didn’t quite hit the benchmark, but double down on the effort to get there next time. Focus on what can be, not what was, and take positive steps. Make to-do lists, chart progress, count victories, forgive shortfalls. Letting go of the self-blame opens you up to the possibility of living your most charmed life yet; a life that understands we will stumble sometimes, a life that forgives.

Lastly, while stepping away from Charm School for a few days was a personal decision that I forgive myself for, I also hope that you will be able to forgive me for going dark without any notice. It was never my intention to leave anyone in the lurch, and I hope you will decide to stay with us for the remaining lessons. Class is officially back in session.

The Quite Continental Charm School
A modern guide to creating a charmed life

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