Give Yourself an A

I have a confession to make.  In the past, I’ve been really hard on myself.  Expected more of myself than anyone can actually do.  And then I’d collapse in exhaustion.  It’s happened at least a few times in my life.

(c) Thinkstock Photo

(c) Thinkstock Photo

To the point where I’ve made myself sick.

That’s why the idea brought forth in Ben and Ros Zander’s book “The Art of Possibility” was so appealing – give them an A.  I talked about it in Episode 072.  What they mean is to extend grace toward other people – assume the best from them to take the pressure of performance off.  And in so doing, actually get better and more human results than you otherwise would.

And somewhere buried in that chapter is a mention that we ought to extend this to ourselves too.  Give ourselves an A.  Give ourselves the benefit of the doubt.  Assume the best.  Before we actually do anything.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve sometimes had a hard time doing this for myself.  Even though I know I’m a child of God.  Even though I know I don’t need to earn His favor.  Even though I have all the love I could ever ask for.

Are you like that too?  Has it been like with me, kind of an up and down thing?  Where sometimes you accept and love yourself, and sometimes…well…not so much?  Where you maybe talk to yourself the way you’d never want anyone else to talk to you?  And you certainly wouldn’t ever talk to anyone else like that?

Well, it turns out that we can actually only give love as much as we’re willing to accept it.  We can only give help as much as we’re willing to accept it too.  Brene Brown says this in “The Gifts of Imperfection”:

Until we can receive with an open heart, we are never really giving with an open heart.

Boy.  That kind of lays it all out there, doesn’t it.  One sentence cuts right to the quick.  Then she digs in even harder and says this,

Understanding the difference between healthy striving and perfectionism is critical to laying down the shield and picking up your life. Research shows that perfectionism hampers success. In fact, it's often the path to depression, anxiety, addiction, and life paralysis.

I want to give myself an A.  I want you to give yourself one too.  And though Brene says it differently, she believes it’s the healthiest thing you could do.  It opens you up to all kinds of possibilities.  It allows you to see what you could do when the pressure’s off.  When you get to play and have fun.  When you come fully alive.

Imagine the joy when you get a report card filled with A’s! Then all you have to do is find possibilities – ways that could help you live up to the reputation you already have.

That’s what I’m going for.  I hope you do too. Leave a comment to let me know what you want to give yourself an A on right this minute.  It might be something you’re struggling with – or something you are confident you can do exceptionally well.  Whatever it is, imagine how you’ll feel when you see a huge A in green with a smiley face.  And then go out there and do what’s possible.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Oh yes, here’s to the letter “A”: The shape signifying beginnings . . . as well as “Amen”! Perhaps I’ll take two (they’re small), armed with a prayer for “receiving with an open heart” the more freely to give. So encouraging, Kathleen, thank you.

    • Amen indeed, Laurie. By all means, take 2 A’s with that wonderfully open heart.