Lately I’ve been working on what I call ‘owning my shit.’ Ideally, this would look like me being totally unapologetic about who I am and how I show up – even when I do things that parts of me don’t like.
I’ve studied how to do this from some masters. Nannan, one of my best friends, went on his first date with his current girlfriend wearing no pants – just boxers and a tank top. “What’s wrong with you? Why aren’t you wearing pants?” she asked him. “It’s too hot for pants,” was his response. Zero fucks given.
His girlfriend, Xiaodan (also one of my best friends), is similarly a master of owning her shit. For example, I have never seen anyone take more selfies in my life. When I try to tease her about it, she flips it on me every time. “Don’t you have anything better to do than bother me? Mind your own damn business!” she yells, and without skipping a beat, goes back to making a cute face for her phone. No shame.
For me, owning my shit just means not buying into the idea that there is something wrong with me. Here’s an example of what it looks like to NOT own my shit:
I was at a conference with some very successful people, and I couldn’t help comparing myself to them. “Why does he look so much cooler than me? Why isn’t my business making as much money as theirs? Why is she so much funnier than me?” I started to beat myself up, feel ashamed, and then beat myself up for feeling shame. It wasn’t fun.
And here’s how I attempted to turn that situation around:
I realized I was beating myself up, and decided I didn’t want to do that. I thought, “You know what, who cares if I compared myself with others? At the time it seemed reasonable, and now I know better.” As soon as I stopped labeling myself as being wrong, I felt better. The temptation to compare myself with others naturally subsided – for a little while, anyways. When it came back, I accepted it again, which helped it go away again.
Instead of getting sucked into beating myself up, I want to move on, and take corrective action if need be. Instead of thinking I’m wrong, I want to recognize that there was some wisdom to my actions. I took them to meet some need of mine, and although the action may have failed at meeting that need, it had a positive intent. Right and wrong got nothing to do with it.
I’ve found that acceptance is the key to getting out of the vortex of beating myself up. No matter how deep down that rabbit hole I am, if I can accept that, all the layers of self-loathing collapse. Acceptance is NOT enabling or acquiescing. For me, it means empathizing with the need behind the action, and seeing that need as a beautiful thing.
It’s simple, but not easy. So next time I find myself not owning my shit, I want to take a deep breath, think of Xiaodan and Nannan, and accept.
How NOT to own my shit:
- Beat myself up about something I did
- Beat myself up about beating myself up
- Beat myself up about beating myself up for beating myself up
How to own my shit
- Don’t beat myself up.
- But if I do – first, become aware that I’m beating myself up
- Accept what’s happening – but don’t enable it
- If necessary, take corrective action