Give Yourself a Break

It is hard to thrive when there is a person who is much too hard on you; a person who always expects you to have all the answers and when things don’t turn out right he/she always tries to find something you could have done better.  But what happens when that harsh critic is you?  Since about 2nd grade I’ve been told ‘I am my own worst critic’ or ‘nobody is as hard on me as I am on myself.’  It took getting hit by a truck (literally) for me to realize that in order to thrive, I have to give myself a break.  

Since the day I joined Corner Alliance, I’ve really wanted to write a blog.  The problem was that nothing had inspired me.  Nothing dramatic or significant had happened in my life that seemed worth writing about.  That recently changed on my way to lunch.  It was a normal day as I drove my car down Connecticut Avenue towards my favorite sandwich shop.  I parked my car on the opposite side of the street and realized there was no cross walk.  I walked approximately 100 yards uphill to use the closest crosswalk.  After a few seconds, the light told me it was safe to walk… though an oncoming truck told me otherwise.  Before I realized what happened, the truck hit me.  It didn’t knock me off my feet, but I spun around and stumbled to the curb. Instantly, I reached for my left arm assuming it was broken. Long story short-  I was fine from a physical standpoint.  Slightly strained shoulder with some bad bruising.

I’ve long held the belief that everything happens for a reason and there is always a lesson to be learned. So, immediately after the accident, I started thinking to myself,  “Well, what should I learn from all of this?”  The obvious frontrunners were: don’t take life for granted, no day is guaranteed, tell the people in your life you love them… blah blah.  I could have learned all of that from a lifetime movie!  I wanted there to be a specific, real life lesson.  I wanted to use this to change the way I do things and, years from now, I would still be telling the tale of the truck that hit me and that, because of this life-altering event, I always do “blank”.

After much soul-searching and mentally replaying of the event (over and over and over), I continued to come up blank in the lessons department.  Finally, I determined that perhaps I was not the one who needed a lesson!?    Maybe it was the driver who needed this wake up call, or one of the people who witnessed the encounter?  I’ll never know for sure.

What I do know for sure is that I learned something about myself that day…

I need to give myself a stinking break!  As a consultant and a person who wants to achieve things, I have convinced myself that, although people may be difficult, there is always something I can be doing better to fix it.  There is always a solution and I can find it.  If I just smile more, ask about their family more, check my work five more times, eventually it’ll all work out.  If it doesn’t, then it is because I didn’t do something right.  Even though I used the crosswalk and waited my turn that day, it was somehow my fault that I was nearly converted into road kill.

Of course I need to learn from life as much as I can, but sometimes crappy things will happen even when I do the right things.

I laughed and thought to myself, “Sometimes there isn’t an amazing lesson that I have to unravel and grow from.  Sometimes people are going to hit me with a truck and sometimes people won’t care that I was hit by a truck.  Perhaps, writing a blog is the only byproduct of this life experience.”   So, if you are like me and your biggest critic is yourself, then share in my lesson and give that critic some time off once in a while.  He/she will thank you.