I want to talk (write) about a few things today. If I try to write about all of them it will be a novel and this is going to be close enough to one. Nonetheless, I think that the first thing I should talk about is how we need to speak to ourselves.
For all of my life my father taught me to speak kindly to myself, to respect myself in the way that I spoke to myself, and to treat myself just like I was expected to treat, speak to, and respect other people. He always taught me that respect is a word and an action that works just like (is, in fact) the golden rule – it’s given, and if you give it you should receive it. If you give it and you don’t receive it then you don’t necessarily owe it to the person. Of course, as a child I was also taught that it didn’t matter whether someone was respectful and kind to you; as a child where I grew up, you were meant to respect everybody regardless of how they treated you. No worries, though – as an adult it all kind of morphed into tit for tat.
That’s a little confusing (hello, personal struggles) and of course I don’t agree with it, and that is not how I raise my child. I raise my child to first respect and love himself, and that means that he should and can genuinely respect those who respect him. I raise him just exactly the way that my father raised me, but there’s a twist. My philosophy doesn’t include an age clause. While he is not allowed to be ugly to people, it does mean that if somebody is not respecting him he doesn’t have to go out of his way to be nice to them – he can just be quiet.
He doesn’t have to lie if he doesn’t like somebody, or if he doesn’t like the way he’s treated by somebody. He doesn’t have to be “fake nice” to them – he can just be silent, and that works really well with him. He is very mature and very respectful in a general sense, but he doesn’t put up with anyone’s crap (even at the tender age of 7). Of course we do go through the periods where he’s got a smart mouth and he’s short toned and tempered and can be hateful like all kids (and adults) can be – he’s not perfect and he is still learning, but he’s better than I was as a child, to be perfectly honest.
That being said, it (self-respect) has been on my mind a lot – the things that people say to themselves and the way that I speak to myself, and the example we are to others in that way. Especially to our kids. I have always been a very kind person when it comes to complimenting people and trying to lift people up because I grew up in a home where even though my father taught me the way that he did, and I DID have a lot of respect and love for myself because of that, my mother was quite the opposite (as was my father’s mother). I was practically raised by my grandmother and the only time I was ever around my mother it was almost always negative, so I know how it feels to be disrespected and treated unkindly and I guess that’s why it’s always been a goal of mine to be nicer to people than they expect, or to maybe overcompensate with kindness even towards people who are not always kind to me.
It’s a habit I got into as a child (which I realized as I continued working through “You Can Heal Your Life”) and as I’ve grown older, especially the last few years and especially after losing my dad and going through the grief of that death, and then the grief of cancer followed by the death of my best friend – through all the trials and all this change in my life the last few years (especially having to becme mother’s caregiver after all the years of abuse and fear that she instilled in me) – I have been questioning my worth. I don’t really know why, or what those people not being here have to do with it, but recently I have been re-learning how to truly be kinder to myself. Throughout that process and in speaking about it and receiving regular negative responses to it, it seems to me that it’s such a taboo topic.
Apparently, a lot of people think that when you talk about self-love and self-care and self-respect these days that you are just a very selfish person. How ridiculous is that?? People go on the attack and they talk about how conceited you are and how you don’t care about other people if you’re always talking about yourself (which is true of my blogs and instablogs because duh, I’m using them to cope with my pain and learn how to live my life again). In sharing this with some of my mother’s friends from church, they frequently talk about how it is not humble or selfless to care for yourself, that humility is about making life about other people, and I think that they have that confused with something else totally different. I think that religion and the ultra-conservative women-hating Christianity of my culture has completely brainwashed them.
Humility is not about hating yourself or downing yourself. It doesn’t make you humble or a better person to treat yourself like crap or to allow others to treat you like crap and to not speak up – it makes you a coward is what it makes you. It makes you a doormat, and that’s what I’ve become. It makes you weak, it makes you afraid, it makes you dread your life and being around those people, and it keeps you from being able to love them in a way where you can not put up with their crap but still be kind to them because it prevents you from being able to forgive them. It creates a bitterness, and you can’t be healthy and happy if you’re full of bitterness.
That’s one of the things that I have really latched onto in this book
I’ve been working with – this idea of bitterness and unforgiveness and how that can effect your entire life in ways you might not can imagine; it can destroy your health, both in your mind and in your body. So, this morning I spent a lot of time during the time my son was doing his reading and his quizzes thinking a lot about this issue of the taboo of giving yourself compliments and of how so many people around us are so quick to reject compliments, even from other people.
I know you know what I mean – it’s like you can tell so many people that they look nice today or that they’re beautiful today or that they’re glowing today and really see that and really mean that and really be just trying to express gratitude to them for being so open with their light and their aura and that person will look right at you and say, “oh please.” Usually they’ll say some negative thing like, “maybe if I wasn’t having a bad hair day,” or, “maybe if I wasn’t old with a face full of wrinkles,” or, “maybe if I was 10 pounds lighter,” or, “maybe if my favorite outfit had been clean and I didn’t have to wear this old thing.”
Why!? Who do people do that? Why do we do that to OURSELVES? Why can’t people just take the beauty that is there that other people can clearly see and accept that it’s real and it’s there and that it’s being appreciated? Why do they have to put it down? Why do we put ourselves down? Why is it not OK to be proud of who and what we are, and to share that with the world and to encourage others by offering them the same confidence and kindness?
It’s because we don’t believe we deserve it. We’ve been conditioned to always owe everything to everyone but to never deserve or allow anything for ourselves. We also don’t see it (the good in us) because we’re too busy and focused on the one thing that hardly anybody else notices that we hate about ourselves, and that’s why changing this always starts with us. It starts with us and us learning to speak to ourselves in a positive way; to compliment ourselves, to love ourselves. If we were able to do that then we would be more confident and find it easier to compliment other people, and the world would be a better place.
Complimenting ourselves and others and meaning it is easy! It’s just kindness! That’s how I was raised and how I always have been, and was until all this grief and all this fear, all this hurt and all this different stuff that has been going on in my life for a really long time now. For so long now I have allowed other people to beat my confidence and my self-worth out of me, especially my mother, and it’s actually really ridiculous and sad because I’ve known very consciously that this was the case for probably a year and a half or something, since my dad died, but yet I have kept myself closed off and quiet and afraid to offend anyone by being nice to them. How absolutely STUPID is that? That’s what our world has come to. People are now offended by kindness.
Another reality for me is that this insecurity really affects me from the aspect of my anxiety and my panic when I’m in social situations because one of the ways that has always worked the best for me to deal with that (and the healthy way of dealing with it) was to communicate with those people that I was afraid of. That person in line behind me that I felt was encroaching on my personal space was not really doing that – it was just a long line, and lines sometimes get close. In order to turn my brain off to the perceived threat that was there, I had to force myself to face that threat and to make my brain recognize that a threat didn’t exist.
The way that I would do that was always to make some kind of silly joke about the length of the line or the fact that there were no cashiers in the store or whatever, like some sarcastic little thing that everybody was thinking but nobody wanted to say but I would somehow make it funny and inevitably myself and the people around me would laugh; or, I would compliment that person. I would find something good about a person (whether a stranger or a person I knew) and tell them that whatever that good thing was had positively affected me in some way, even if it was just as simple as the person was smiling a lot and in a good mood and putting off a good vibe.
It’s not hard for me to see the good in people, and it’s not hard for me to be open about it. It’s not hard for me to say to somebody, “hey, you’re in a really good mood today and that makes me happy. Thank you.” Even if it’s a stranger, I generally have no problem saying to them, “I don’t know you but I just want to say the vibe that you’re putting off is just making my day so much better,” especially if I’m having a bad day. I know that saying to that person that their laughing or smiling or whatever it is, if it’s making me feel better about my day, telling that person is going to make us both happy.
Or, I used to know that. Lately, I doubt it. Unfortunately, while it’s not hard for me to find the good and compliment someone and genuinely mean it, it’s VERY hard for people to hear those expressions. I have become a person who is afraid to compliment somebody because it might upset them and then they might lash out at me. I don’t want to be that person because honestly, that’s ridiculous.
It’s funny because I was thinking about these things most of the morning and when it came time to take a break from my son’s school I opened WordPress and was reading and saw that Rob (from Just Ruminating) had posted about this, and I thought it almost felt like a sign: “out of all these thoughts today this is the first thing that you should post your thoughts about – people need to converse about this.” His blog is a lot more comprehensive as far as the topic. My post here is just simply an attempt for me to evaluate myself and what I am personally doing now, to share my thoughts and to grow and maybe help others to grow from it, and the truth is that lately I haven’t been complimenting people and that’s just not who I am. Mostly, though, I haven’t been complimenting myself anymore – and it’s because I’ve allowed it to be so negative for so long.
The reality is that if you want to feel happy and be happy, then you need to do things that make you happy. One of the things that truly makes me happy is to make other people feel good and to offer positivity to them, and there’s nothing wrong with that! So, I need to do that more and I need to practice on myself to get the hang of it again, because it has to start with me. And, it has to be genuine for it to count and to make you feel joy – true joy, so that’s kind of where I am right now… Even if people are feeling really negatively and they really don’t want to hear your compliments and they react negatively to your compliments I think that is probably the BEST time to give a compliment. It’s not something we should be afraid of, or work really hard to be politically correct about.
I found that definitely is true with my mother lately, as she thrives on negativity in our relationship and it throws everything off balance for her if I remain positive regardless. I know deep down she appreciates it, too, even though she’d never admit it, because I can see this little grin happen inside of her even though she’s fighting really hard to not accept my kindness or compliment and to make me feel bad about giving her the compliment. Somewhere inside of her she is touched positively by that compliment and kindness – how can they not be, even if they don’t show you? I think for me the point is to have faith in the fact that positivity helps, even if it doesn’t help right away.
Positivity, like anything else, builds and grows as you continue to offer it. It snowballs and it helps any situation. Getting to a very, very low point – probably the lowest point I have ever been in my life in the last year – and looking back at that now, feeling this desperation and seeking to find what can actually help me out of this deep, dark pit that I’m in, has shown me this. The only thing that can help me is positivity, because positivity breeds hope and happiness, and the only way that I can really create that in my life is to start that ball rolling and to have faith that it will snowball into something really good. That’s what’s always happened in the past, so even as hard as it is sometimes – especially on the really bad days and in the really bad moments on really good days, because that’s the way grief works – I am trying to keep my positivity and I want to share it with others.
It is especially important during these hardest of times to try to keep sight of that hope and I know that for me in the last couple of days, as I have been working through some exercises and doing some work on myself with this book, I’m trying to ground myself again and get myself at least on an even keel again. One of the things that I have realized was missing was the way that I used to treat other people; how open I was with kindness toward them and how that lifted not only them but me, and then how that snowballed and just seemed to grow so large that it affected everybody around me. I’m seeing how I don’t need to let the negative people around me become a block for that positivity, as they sometimes can be when I’m insecure and when I am trying to protect myself.
I’m not going to grow and heal if I’m constantly trying to protect myself. I’m just gonna stay in that place of fear and doubt and I’m absolutely not willing to accept a life of only fear and doubt as a reality anymore. I can’t. I’m dying in more ways than one and that’s not the way to live a good life or a happy life, and a life that brings good into the world. It’s time for me (for all of us) to actively create this better world, and as much as it hurts, as hard as it is at times, as confusing as it still is for me, and as scary as it still is, I know that it’s what I need to do.
Moreover, it’s what I WANT to do, and I’m beyond 1000% positive that it’s what my dad and Dorie would both want FOR me because that’s what love does and that’s what their love was. They wouldn’t want me to have changed who I was in the past just because they’re not here, so it’s time to get back to me, and that’s what I’m working on. As I mentioned before, it starts with how we treat ourselves, and my honest opinion of myself is that I am…well, pretty great. I have negative traits, as do we all, but I am also honest, open, kind, always trying to become better and learn from life and my mistakes and the hard things I experience. I am smart, I have gifts of sharing, I enjoy sharing and find hope for myself in hoping that others will find something good from my experienes, and I need to continue to use those gifts. All of this is just who I am, and I NEED TO JUST BE.
We ALL need to be ourselves, which I believe is loving and kind, at the core. We all need to continue to use our gifts and share them, and create good in the world with them. That’s what we all need, and what the world needs. Do you have any thoughts about this, or anything you think I should know that I haven’t considered? I’d love to know… Would you join me? I’d love for us ALL to just be kind to each other, to compliment each other, to lift each other up – and to happily and joyfully accept it when others offered to us, too. How amazing and freeing and wonderful would that be? Very, is what I’m thinking.
Wishing you a happy Friday, friends. Thank you, as always, for reading through and allowing me to share with you.
Love to all,
PS Extra points to anyone who counts the ridiculous number of times I wrote the word “compliment” or “complimenting” and shares it in a comment. Hahahaha…!