Permission to Be Human

By Ellen Nastir

Mistakes are a part of being human, right? From childhood, when we’re learning our letters or colors, to the time spent learning geometry or a foreign language in high school, we each have our “oops” moments.  Then we’re corrected either by ourselves or others, and we recalibrate and move on to our next learning adventure. Maybe we experience feelings of disappointment, sadness, frustration or a myriad of emotions, but we pick ourselves up and start again.

Why is it, though, that it seems the older we get, the harder we are on ourselves. Is it a learned behavior? Could it be intrinsic to our DNA, personality traits or the environments we’re exposed to in our young lives? Reactions from parents or family members, teachers and a myriad of others certainly do influence how we perceive ourselves and the world around us.

Many of us have a memory of a negative experience—a mistake or embarrassment—that can absolutely stop us in our tracks, a memory that kicks off a vicious spiral of shame or anger that we can become trapped in.

How do we interrupt that cycle and begin to move forward again?

Practicing kindness toward ourselves, allowing ourselves to be human, means being able to recognize our good points as well as the not-so-good. We can then decide what fits in our value system and where we choose to improve.

Going back to the question above about why we’re so hard on ourselves: Research in the science of Positive Psychology shows us that 40 percent of our happiness lies in our internal mindset, the thoughts and the nourishment we feed our brains. And the great news is that 40 percent is within our own control—as are our circumstances!

One of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves is realizing we are not perfection rolled into human form! The second is being human, practicing kindness toward all aspects of ourselves. When we decide to continue learning about ourselves along the road of life, we create possibilities to change, shift, embolden, soften, expand or diminish. As feeling, thinking humans we can seek more information that will help—not hinder—our growth, allowing us to flourish and expand in all areas of life.

What could you accomplish if you practiced kindness and gave yourself permission to be human?

Ellen Nastir, M.Ed., PCC, BCC, CPCC, is principal of Innovative Team Solutions and certified with the International Coach Federation and Positive Psychology. She has advanced training in Organization and Relationship Systems Coaching, Tension and Change Management and Appreciation at Work. She received her coach training and certification from The Coaches Training Institute. Ellen holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida, and a master’s from the University of North Florida—both in education. She is a trained PeopleMap Systems educator who focuses on the “people side” of professional performance within the corporate structure. Her expertise is in the development of employees’ people skills to complement their technical skills and abilities, thus increasing productivity and retention, communication skills, problem-solving, and conflict resolution.

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