Saturday, June 13, 2015

Being Kind to Ourselves...

                    Talk to yourself
                      As you would
                         to someone
                          You Love.
                               -Brene' Brown

One of my dear, dear friends recently asked me why I take the time to write a blog. Why would I bother to sit down with a cup of coffee, in the quiet of a morning, and record my thoughts in words? Why would I type them out and, heaven forbid, let the world see them. :)

She asked the question with a genuine sense of curiosity, not a hint of judgement.

Being an extrovert I could have easily come up with
a quick and witty response. Instead, I paused and decided to look deep.

I am doing more of that these days.

With the space my contemplation provided, she asked quietly if it was daunting to look at other blogs with all of their, as she put it with a chuckle, "bells and whistles." Their gorgeous photographs, their amazing backgrounds, their beautiful use of technology that at once casts a spell and is esthetically compelling. 

She went on to say, "Yours is so simple, yet I can feel who you are in every word you write. Who are you writing for? Why are you writing? Do you ever feel intimidated that your blog isn't "good enough?"

I love that she asked. I love that she knows me well enough to know that for me these are the kinds of gut- level and heart-felt conversations that knit a life long connection between people. Make people closer. These are the kinds of conversations that make my heart sing. They are a chance to really get to know each the deepest level.

You can give a pat answer, and hold back who you really are. Or you can risk telling your whole truth.

At 68, I'm a whole truth kind of gal.

For much of my life I played the comparison game. 
And I truly believe that whenever perfection becomes our benchmark, we always fall short and beat ourselves up.

I recently asked my students, in my Conflict Management class, "Who beats themselves up on a regular basis?" Every single student had their hand up. Some raised both hands. Some tears started to fall down those tired end-of-the-year cheeks.

I quietly said, almost in a whisper, "I used to do that too. But then I realized I robbed myself of life's joys every time I did." 

There will always be someone faster, smarter, more artistic, more technology savvy. There will always be someone younger, skinnier, more beautiful.

Where I am now, after lots of hard work and soul-searching, is...

                       I am enough, just as I am.

Tears flow as I write those hard-won words.

Oh, there are still moments, when my guard is down or I'm tired or sick, when I unknowingly slip back to negative self talk. Where I talk to myself with my "worst critic voice." 

Where I don't talk to myself the way I would to someone I love.

One of them happened just a few days ago. A dear friend was reading a blog post and she wished there were pictures. A simple honest statement from someone I know cares about me. She also clarified that my words created pictures for her.

Yet almost instantaneously I thought, this blog would be so much better if I took photographs and put them on here. 

And then I paused and chuckled. My life is so full and just taking a moment to record my life lessons, for me, my adult daughters, and for my grandchildren, doesn't have to be any more than words flowing from my heart.

Do I love the photographs my dear friends put on their blogs. You bet. Have I had photographs on my own blog years ago? Yes, when my daughter put them on there for me. Is photography my form of creative expression? No, it isn't. Might I use photographs again the the future? I might. Do I need to do that now? Nope, I don't.

I am enough. This blog is enough. Just as I am. Just as it is.

There would have been a time when I beat myself up after reading that, even when it came from someone I know loves me, was not being critical, and was just being real.

But not any more.

Not after years and years of reframing how I talk to myself. Not after years and years of allowing myself to marinate in God's grace.

As Oprah Winfrey once said, 

"Negative self talk is poison. It sits in your brain and heart and can do horrible damage to your soul."

Brene' Brown, one of my life-time mentors, is a researcher and story teller who has studied "shame." I'll save her findings for another blog post. However, the gist of overcoming shame, and not feeling like we are enough, is taking the risk to be vulnerable. To say what is on our hearts. To learn to love ourselves and not beat ourselves up. 

It's not an easy road to take. Yet talking to myself as I would to someone I love changes everything. It allows me to hear God's voice in my heart and to

see myself through His eyes.

Today may we all be gentle with ourselves and with the words we use to describe ourselves and describe others. May we remember to stop comparing ourselves to others. God made each of us and when He did, He made a miracle. 

You are enough. (said emphatically!) :) :)

I am enough, too! (said with an ear-to-ear grin) :) :)

And all the people said, "Amen!"

God bless!

Love, Linda 

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