"Tadpole, When three frogs hop together, one of them will have something to teach the others. It's been shown, my boy, that when we listen to others talk about their problems and failures and show them empathy, we strengthen our own sense of self-compassion. I don't usually trouble myself with keeping up on all the cultural trends, But, Irwin, failure is kind of trendy right now which makes it easier for frogs and human, too, I suspect, to talk about their fails, flaws, and imperfections. This is a big deal. Huge, in fact. I've heard where there are even failure gurus offering seminars and workshops on how to best deal with your personal failures. Their aim, it seems, it to normalize failure. And, of course, it is normal to fail. No one is perfect. It is no longer deemed necessary to hide our flaws and imperfections in the dark recesses of a closet. Now, it's cool to say, 'Okay, I messed up. I didn't get this thing right.' For most of us, when someone tells us they feel like they've failed, the first thing we do it to reassure them that it can't be that bad.; that what's most important is the fact that they tried. Then we invariably tell them to pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and to try again. But when we fail, do we offer ourselves this same compassionate and encouraging advice? Not. usually."
I thought about what Dharma had just said then asked, "Sir, how can we learn to be as nice to ourselves as we are to others?" "That's a good question, Tadpole. Let's go back to our three frogs out for a hop together. Let's assume that one of them is talking about something he perceives as a failure. The second frog begins offering the first frog some of the sage advice we mentioned earlier. He is being kind, encouraging, and empathetic to his friend who feels disappointed in himself. The third frog is listening to this exchange and he thinks to himself, 'Gee, I had that some problem. But I kept it to myself. I beat myself up pretty bad over it. Maybe I should try being a little kinder to myself. Maybe I should try talking more about. So he begins to share his own experience about his similar failing. The other two respond kindly to our third frog and he begins to realize that he isn't alone; that others have the same problems as he does. Together, the three frogs learn from each other and begin to talk about ways to solve the problem. What could they do differently next time? What important life lessons did they learn from their mistake? And, most importantly, they learn that talking about it with others and offering compassion to themselves can both be balms that help speed the healing. It begins with deep listening and then a long conversation with ourselves. It you get only one thing out this lesson, my boy, it should be that everyone deserves respect and compassion. that includes ourselves. We learn a great deal from others by listening to them and then applying that new knowledge to ourselves in helpful ways. We cannot hope to be kind to others until we learn to be kind to ourselves."
Dharma is correct, of course. We can always learn from those around us. We simply need to open our minds and hearts to what they have to teach us. So while the morning started off kinda crazy, it ended up beautifully with another valuable life lesson from the wisest frog I know. I'm one of those frogs who usually chooses to keep the difficult stuff to myself. But I know that from here on out, I will be more open to discussing my flaws, failures, and imperfections with my family and friends. And I won't be as hard on myself as i have been in the past. Furthermore, I will open my ears as well as my heart to the advice they offer. If I'm not kind to myself, how can I expect anyone else to be?
Dharma and I finished up our tea before he left to see his next student. I am fortunate to have a teacher like Dharma and I sincerely hope that by sharing his froggy wisdom with you each week, that it some some way Dharma and I can contribute to making you a happier, healthier, and saner human.
Please join be back here tomorrow for my salute to National Day of Encouragement. In a way, it's a continuation of today's lesson from Dharma. the same, yet quite different.