There are 2 very different ways to use this phrase.
- As a way to excuse bad behavior
- As a way to offer yourself true grace when you fall short of perfection (which is all of us always)
This bit of genius came from a client today. We were talking about a situation and she was being hard on herself about how she handled something, saying she “should” have known better. I reiterated–as I do so often with my wonderful clients who are all too hard on themselves– that she is learning new skills, doing brave new things and in no way can she expect perfection from herself. She is a human.
She immediately noticed that awareness of being human was intended to offer her grace from needing to be perfect. She felt the release of guilt from “I should know better” and was able to lean into the steady calm of “I’m learning a whole new way of thinking.”
She then reflected that in the past she had used the phrase “I’m only human” to act as an excuse. SO PROFOUND.
I think the difference comes in the word “only”.
When we know we are doing our best AND that we are going to fall short because we are human and humans are imperfect, it gives us permission to go big, to try hard and expect some failure along the way. Of course we will fail. Trying again after that is the seed of true transformation.
Yet saying “I’m only human” somehow lets us off the hook from showing up fully and giving this life everything we have. It’s a defense against outside expectations or a dodge of responsibility.
As you consider how you want to live your life own your humanity. Know what you can control and what you cannot. Give this life everything you have knowing there will be failure along the way. Do not expect less from yourself because of your humanity. Lean into the fullness of it and give yourself all the grace along the way.