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Having Faults Does Not Mean You’re Defective

Image by Debbie Digioia
So many dysregulated eaters eat because they make mistakes and feel like failures. Are you one of them? Or maybe you fail at something and fall into depression or give up  taking pleasure in life. Or come down hard on yourself whenever you don’t live up to your lofty standards. Here’s a newspaper column about how not to do that—to take mistakes and failures in stride and, moreover, grow from them.
This column is about a manager making some major blunders supervising an employee who manipulated him like crazy, admitting to and learning from his mistakes (“Manipulated manager learns to be firm” by Lindsey Novak, Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 12/26/16, p. D17). The manager describes how he got wrapped around the finger of an employee, doing special favors for him and even giving him money, because the guy presented as a sad sack victim who needed help. When this manager happened to hire a woman to manage the area in which Sad Sack worked, she took a totally different tack with him, setting firming, clearer boundaries while being fair. And, surprise of surprises, Sad Sack shaped up and did his job without further problems.
Here are snippets of what the manager acknowledged about the experience: “I didn’t think I was buying him. I thought I was helping. It took me a long time to face the disharmony I created for other employees…I like helping people, but going over and above just for the sake of helping people is inappropriate…I even wonder how many employees left because they knew about me favoring him…It doesn’t feel good to know I was taken advantage of… “This change [the new supervisor] made me aware that being overly nice was not the path to getting the best out of employees.”
Getting back to living with mistakes, ask yourself: Did the manager appear to think that he was a bad person because of his mistakes? Did he beat himself up for them? Did he look at the situation objectively or subjectively? If you’d been the manager, would you have been able to reflect on your errors and evaluate yourself with the honesty and lack of judgment that he did? What would you have done? What did he do that you don’t do or do enough of after mistakes are made? How could you change to be more like him?
The above is a great example of how to be reflective, honest and self-compassionate. You don’t need to sacrifice one for the other. That is, you don’t need to pretend you have no flaws in order to have compassion for yourself. You also don’t need to beat yourself up for not being perfect. Practice thinking about your mistakes and failures while staying connected to self-love and self-compassion.