I recently came across this terrific TEDx Talk by Susan Henkels. And timing is truly everything, isn’t it? As I complete an even four-dozen spins around the sun this spring, I find myself struggling (of sorts). Struggling with the physical ailments related to midlife. Embroiling in conflict both in my professional and personal lives. Rejuvenating a two-decades plus teaching career as a middle school classroom teacher. Striving to improve our family financial status. Henkels words feel like two supportive hands on my back encouragingly whispering, “You got this, my friend.”
Henkels, an American psychotherapist for over 45 years, has heard thousands of folks list the “things” that are wrong with them. And, sure, many of our “issues” are probably well-founded and validated. I mean, who’s really immune from episodes of self-doubt and a lack of self-trust now and again?
As the litany of ‘what’s wrong’ piled up over her four decade-long career, Henkels began to ask her clients hypothetically, “What if there’s nothing actually wrong with you?” What if what is normal is actually normal? Would her clients even recognize, experience, and actually acknowledge something other than their sense of self-loathing? More importantly, would they see themselves along a road to self-forgiveness and away from a pattern of self-sabotage and regret?
These questions do not attempt to ignore the fact that we all have ‘something wrong with us’. Henkels explains that is not a magic pill. It’s definitely not a silver bullet. But she has, however, observed that in asking ourselves this simple, mindful question regularly we gain a spacial awareness, and the opportunity to cultivate possibility and promise; to reduce the impact of the continual stresses we put upon ourselves.
Exercising a regular mindfulness practice allows us to celebrate the beauty in our lives. The accomplishments. The victories. The gold. It’s about building the skill of acceptance.
And we could all use a bit more of self-acceptance in our highly self-judgmental lives.
I know that I do.