Posted on November 13, 2013
A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.
Once again, I was driving up to the auto mechanic’s shop, dropping off my still-young car to get the poor thing tuned up. A little frustrated about dropping off my car for the third time that week, I waved to Dan and told him I’d be back in the morning to pick the car up. I could hear the jingle of my giant key ring as I tossed it his way and turned to leave. For the rest of the day I would borrow my dad’s car.
Later as the sun was setting, I was driving to the home of a little girl I babysit frequently with her in tow. Her and I were joking around about how this car had seat warmers unlike mine and how nice and toasty our rear ends were when I pulled up into her driveway. I suddenly realized my blunder. Her house key was on my key ring. My key ring was an hour away at a closed mechanic shop. We were locked out and no one would be home for hours.
So, I frantically knocked on the neighbor’s door; no one was home. The little girl and I searched her front yard and back yard with my iPhone’s flashlight and we couldn’t find a spare key. Feeling completely defeated, we got back in my temporary vehicle, cranked the heater, and got comfortable. I felt a surge of embarrassment as I called her parents, who both worked hours away, to explain our mishap and how sorry I was. “Idiot, idiot, idiot…”
Of course, being the gentle and kind souls they are, they said not to worry about it. They gave me the address of a family friend a few neighborhoods away who was happy to have the little girl over until her parents were home from work. I meekly thanked them for understanding, hung up, and pulled the vehicle out of the driveway.
The little girl didn’t mind the change of plans and began chattering away about school and swim practice, but I was only half listening. In my head, all I could do was cut myself down. I felt so stupid. The parents had assured me that it wasn’t a big deal, but it was a big deal to me. My inner self talk was screaming that I was irresponsible, that I had let two people that I respected down, and that I was ruining a little girl’s night schedule. I took her to Starbucks to get a hot chocolate and a cake pop, apologizing again and again. When we knocked on the door to her friend’s house, I felt like a dog with my tail in between my legs when I explained the situation.
The friends could read the humiliation written all over my face and they offered me water or coffee while their daughter and the girl I was watching finished their homework. I politely declined, only wanting to get to the car for some solitude and a good mental lashing during the hour-long drive home. They smiled at me gently and said something that surprised and stuck with me while I drove home in silence: “You know, positivity is the real key that you don’t want to lose.“
So corny. So true. I got home to my bookshelf and immediately picked up Self Talk, Soul Talk by Jennifer Rothschild and began pouring over those pages I had read so long ago. I needed the reminder that book provided for me. What we tell ourselves internally has just as much of an effect as the things others tell us aloud.
I have always had perfectionist tendencies. The truth is, I’m not perfect and no one else is. When we make a mistake, we shouldn’t tear ourselves down. We need to learn and move on.
So, I may have lost the house key, but the real key to never lose is positivity.
“Don’t beat yourself up because you have to live with you for the rest of your life.”
“There are plenty of others willing to call you a failure. A fool. A loser. A hopeless souse. Don’t you ever say it of yourself. You send out the wrong signal, that is what people pick up. Don’t you understand? You care about something, you fight for it. You hit a wall, you push through it. There’s something you need to know about failure. You can never let it defeat you.”