When I decided to start sending a newsletter again, I set myself a modest, typically-Kristen-type goal: Write fabulous, inspiring, meaningful, glitteringly written pieces; send them every Sunday; include beautiful images (ideally ones I create myself) that capture the spirit of each message; speak from the heart and touch the heart of every reader every time; and no typos, ever (duh).
It would be entirely reasonable for you to wonder why I voluntarily set the bar so high for myself; my only excuse/explanation is that shooting for perfect became a habit waaaaay back when I got the mistaken idea that that’s what I needed to do to please others and, therefore, be safe in the world.
If you also picked up this false idea somewhere along the line, you know it’s a hard belief to unlearn. But perhaps an even bigger lesson than not having to be perfect is this: that we should be kind and compassionate toward ourselves when we don’t hit our targets – when we don’t smash every ball out of the park, earn straight As, score a touchdown on every run, win an Emmy with every performance, or when we have a week when a newsletter just doesn’t come together, like I did last week.
Instead, we – or is it just me? – tend to scold and berate ourselves, filling our heads with the kind of inner dialogue you might get from these characters:
Cersei Lannister (Game of Thrones): You know that you’re not half as clever as you think.
Ricky Ricardo (I Love Lucy): You have no talent.
Draco Malfoy (Harry Potter): No one asked your opinion, you filthy little mudblood.
Dwight Schrute (The Office): You know what? You can go to hell, and I will see you there. Burning!
Arya Stark (Game of Thrones): Do you know who you are? You’re no one. You’re nothing.
Nurse Ratched (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest): Aren’t you ashamed?
J.R. Ewing (Dallas): You just get dumber and dumber every day.
Moira Rose (Schitt’s Creek): Why must you be so constantly irksome?
Buddy (Elf): Cotton-headed ninnymuggins.
Ouch! Kind of makes you want to crawl offstage, doesn’t it? But because we are the directors of our own movies, we could choose to cast these characters instead:
Forrest Gump: It happens.
RuPaul (RuPaul’s Drag Race): Don’t be sorry. Be fierce. Because you are an all-star.
Scarlett O’Hara (Gone With the Wind): Tomorrow is another day.
Aunt Bea (Mayberry RFD): There, there, now.
Pam (The Office): Be strong, trust yourself, love yourself. Conquer your fears.
Christopher Robin (Winnie the Pooh): You are, I think, a bear of very big heart.
Obi-wan Kenobi (Star Wars): The force will be with you – always.
Dori (Finding Nemo): Just keep swimming, just keep swimming.
Edna Mode (The Incredibles): I never look back, darling. It distracts from the now.
Aladdin: You’re only a fool if you give up.
Bambi: If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all.
And three quotes from one of my very favorite shows of all time, The Good Place:
Michael: Come on, you know how this works. You fail and then you try something else. And you fail again and again, and you fail a thousand times, and you keep trying because maybe the 1,001st idea might work.
Jason Mendoza: The point is, you’re cool, dope, fresh and smart-brained. I’ve never seen you dance, but I bet you’re good, ‘cause you’re good at everything. You’re awesome! Be nicer to yourself.
Eleanor Shellstrop: Pobody’s nerfect. (Typos intended.)
May all your inner voices be good guys.