Treat others how you want to be treated. That's how the old saying goes. We've all heard it before. But what about treating yourself how you want to be treated by others, or as you do treat others...?!
Why is it that we have no problem being kind, understanding and forgiving to our friends and family members but we have a hard time doing the same when it comes to ourselves? At least for me, that is the case. I'm the first to offer someone reassurance, support or kindness in an effort to soothe their pain or anger, but yet I'm so much harder on myself in similar situations.
I said early on that I would be open and transparent about my journey and all that comes with it, so in an effort to stay true to that I have to acknowledge some of my weaknesses that are difficult to admit. One of those flaws is I can be my own worst enemy at times. I can pretty much think my way out of an accomplishment or turn a compliment or happy moment into a not so great one, if I don't put a stop to it. I can be critical and judgmental of myself. And as much as I've been saying and thinking that I want to grow, improve, and change for the better, when it comes down to it, it's much easier said than done. That's when the real work comes in.
As part of the program I'm on I chose to try a few sessions with a life coach (as recommended by my doctor to help me work on my inner-self while I work to transform my physical health) and I had my second session recently. So far my life coach, Kimberly, has been helping me set goals, determine how to accomplish them and in the process, helping me face a lot of my fears and inner demons, by taking a good hard look inward. She's pushing me to be honest with myself about what I'm capable of, what kind of person I am and want to be, and what I need out of this life in order to be my best self. And as easy as it is to type all that out, it's a thousand times harder to share some of those truths out loud with another person. She asks the hard questions, like how are you showing up in all aspects of your life? Are you happy with your relationship with yourself and relationships with others? And of course it's easy to say, "Yes, I'm doing well. Things are moving along as they should." Just like it's easy when someone says, "Hey, how are you?" And you reply, "Good! How about you?" almost automatically. But really, what does "good" actually have to say if that's everybody's standard response?
If you asked yourself, are you truly happy with everything in your life, what would be your answer? Because it seems to me when we take the time to pause, I mean really take a few moments to stop, reflect, and let some of our feelings surface, we may find that some or much of the time we aren't truly happy really, we're mostly just caught in the grind or running through the motions to get by and putting up a front that everything's fine. It's almost as if society conditions us to do so...as if that's the best way to keep up with everyone else. But when you are alone with yourself and your thoughts, is that really the case?
Now I'm not saying that it's wrong to have a positive attitude or keep things cordial for the sake of small talk when you do get asked that question. By all means, you should have a positive attitude and be friendly with others. And I'm not saying when someone asks how you're doing that you should launch in to a long explanation of everything that isn't going well in your life. But maybe we could all ask ourselves the question and take a few moments out of our day to be open and honest with our answer--when theres on pressure to please, and no judgement being passed. If you're anything like me, you may find it hard to admit that some days you really aren't fine and you're really not treating yourself all that well. That can take a real toll on a person when that goes on for an extended period of time. Imagine if there was someone at work or school or in your family that constantly put you down, criticized or undermined you. There's only so much a person can take before it starts to make them upset or rattles them at their core. It has the same impact when it's your own doing.
I don't know why I'm always so afraid to fail or admit I'm scared, damaged, flawed; perhaps because I've been led to believe that would make myself appear weak or broken, leaving me unwanted. Or maybe it's more that I'd be putting my heart out in the open, leaving potential for me to get hurt. But by being vulnerable and taking a risk, I'm finding I have only much bigger, better things to gain. Like strength, confidence, security in myself and my relationships and greatest of all, love. All those things can lead to achieving true happiness. Sure, there are always going to be circumstances we can't control that test us or get in the way, such as other people's actions, who's president ;) and even the weather!! But we can control our own thoughts, feelings and actions. It's not always easy to do so, but it's possible. And by opening our minds to the possibility that we are all humans, who are imperfect and flawed, we can learn not to be so hard on ourselves. Creating an environment where people are supporting and routing for one another starts with doing the same for yourself. We can be more forgiving of ourselves and in turn be more accepting of others, who may likely be in the same boat. That way we won't have to be so afraid of what will happen if we slip or fail. And we'll be more likely to take that leap or go out on that limb. Because we'll know there's a safety net out there that will break the fall and help us bounce back up and try again.
I've had to say things out loud I haven't told anybody before because she's pressed further and dug deeper. But once I acknowledged my truths, I found not only ways to repair myself, but a different more positive way of thinking and treating myself... and I felt like an enormous weight had been lifted. Literally even, the lump I had felt in my chest wasn't there and I could breathe easier. I had let go of the negative thoughts that weigh me down.
And another awesome thing I noticed after I spent some time tending to my own needs... when you take good care of yourself and find that you're in a good place, you are better armed and able to help and take care of others in your life.
There's always going to be an excuse or reason for you not to slow down, take a break, or refocus; but if you continue to ignore the needs and desires your mind, body and soul are longing for, you're turning down a chance to grow and reach your full potential. The down side to that is it could only be so long before the damage being done to your relationship with yourself affects how you're performing at work, school, home, or worse, your relationships with family and friends.
Negative thoughts and feelings can consume you or just take up lots of unwanted space. You'll be amazed at the happiness you can let in and beauty you'll notice around you after you've let go of those weights you're carrying! Boosting your ability to thrive and be a happier healthier human.
On that note...time for me to pack for a long weekend in Denver, CO. I'm so excited to explore a new place and the adventures to come! I'll try to report back on that next week.
Have a wonderful LONG holiday weekend everyone!