If there is anything harder than being able to recognize, say, and mean, 'mea culpa,' I don't know what it is. We all want to see ourselves in a favorable light. It is understandable when we are slow to see, reluctant to recognize and even more resistant to fess up to mistakes. But why?
Don't we find it admirable when others are able to say mea culpa? Then why aren't we eager to take responsibility for our own missteps?
People who were abused as children may have more trouble owning up to their faults than those who were treasured. It makes sense that children who would suffer a beating for making mistakes would grow up to keep errors hidden from others, and sometimes even from themselves. Fear is a powerful motivator.
I have a vivid recollection of a Peanuts cartoon from many years ago showing Charlie Brown traumatized by Lucy's slide presentation featuring his mistakes. Charlie, like most of us, did not want to see the evidence of his many failures.
We all need a Lucy in our lives.
If there is someone who will reflect what others see about us, and do it from a loving perspective, we are indeed fortunate. Those of us who have someone who wants to protect us from ourselves is an invaluable ally.
Once upon a time I thought I was a paragon
of virtue. I must have been insufferable. Hopefully, I am no
longer, as I have often sat in Charlie Brown's chair.
Divorce between two people who love each other can happen when one - or both - of the parties can't cope with any hint of being imperfect. We've seen relatives stop speaking for decades because each had to be right about something they can no longer remember.
Do we benefit from being right? Do we ever consider that opposing points of view can each have merit? Is any disagreement worth losing loved ones?
I believe most passionate disagreements have roots that are tied to self esteem. Those who are the most affable, the best listeners, and most considerate of disparate points of view are often the most balanced among us.
I've been blessed with two maternal uncles who did not let anything interfere with their happy lives. My best friend does not overreact and nothing moves her off center. My husband and brother-in-law are able to debate without hostility. I know how fortunate I am to have such people in my life and I try to emulate what they model. I have a long way to go but these and other role models in my life show me the way when I am willing to observe and learn.
Once upon a time I thought I was a paragon of virtue. I must have been insufferable. Hopefully, I am no longer, as I have often sat in Charlie Brown's chair.
Throughout my life I have been fortunate indeed to be surrounded by two kinds of loved ones. One group is courageous enough to simply point out, lovingly but directly, that I have areas with room for improvement. The other group has decided to tolerate my less attractive self while waiting for me to become my highest self. Tick tock.
Jean Loxley-Barnard has been a writer all her life and studied both sociology and psychology at George Washington University where she earned a B.A. Her company, The Shopper, Inc., encompasses all the Loxley-Barnard family publications - The Shopper Magazines and Doctor to Doctor Magazine. She has been in the advertising, consulting and publishing business for 38 years.
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