I believe that I am becoming more accepting of myself.While this is a post written for Amy Palko’s Beautiful Beliefs project, it was inspired by a post in Bliss Habits.
In today’s Bliss Habits, Sandi Amorin talks about her ‘lizard brain’ – you know, the one that tells you that you can’t do things, you’re rubbish, you’ll never be good enough, you shouldn’t try that it’ll all end in tears. She calls hers ‘Lizzie’. I prefer to cal mine ….’Mum’! I guess some of you might know where I’m coming from here.
My lizard brain has done a great job over the last fifty years of making sure that I don’t get above my station. It tells me that I’m stupid and not as good as my sisters – they have well-paid, responsible jobs that they have done for over twenty years, whereas, here am I, unemployed and feeling pretty unemployable. Oh, don’t get me wrong I’ve had my share of jobs – I’ve worked in banks, call centres, the hospitality industry and I’ve been a nurse. I’ve supervised schoolchildren to pay my way through university, had three beautiful daughters and two husbands (one of which I still have!). I have two degrees, and I volunteer in my local wildlife centre and Cat Protection centre. I can knit, I make cards (I even made my eldest daughter’s wedding stationery) and I have qualifications in some complementary therapies – and yet, my lizard brain tells me that I’ve really accomplished very little. It still tells me that I’m not good enough. It compares what I should have accomplished with what I’ve actually accomplished – and it appears that I fall short!
This is a common theme in my life – the theme of ‘not enough’. I don’t earn enough, I don’t have enough, I’m not slim enough, I’m not pretty enough, I don’t call my daughters/sisters/parents often enough. I don’t clean the house enough, I don’t cook healthy enough meals, I don’t do enough to stick within my housekeeping budget. Basically, the message is that I’m not enough.
Now, much of the reading I have been doing recently has been about loving oneself and I have always questioned how you can love yourself when you don’t even like yourself much, but I’m realising that just being kind to yourself is a way of loving yourself. Because loving doesn’t have to be that full-on, gushing, heart filling feeling that you get with your children or your partner. It can be just acting in a kind manner – just like you would with anyone you meet. When you act with compassion towards another person – opening a door for them because their hands are full, giving up your seat on the bus because the lady that just got on is pregnant or is struggling with a young child – you are acting in a loving way. When your child finishes half way down the field in the race at school sports day, you don’t say, “well you didn’t come first so you’re not good enough”. You say “well done you for doing your best”. You say “99% in your maths test, fantastic! You must have worked really hard!” not “what happened to the other 1%?” (Unless, of course you’re my mother which I guess is where all this stems from). You act in a kind and loving manner.
So, my aim has been to find ways in which I can act in a kind and loving manner towards myself, in the hope that this will develop into the self love which I believe I deserve. And yesterday, I saw this in action. It was a beautiful day here in Scotland – sunny and warm – so I decided to go outside and do some gardening. I mowed the back lawn and trimmed the edges. Cut back a couple of bushes that were encroaching on the path and cleared a small area of weeds (dandelions, mind you, that fight back!). A couple of hours later with sweat dripping off my brow and a strained hamstring from stretching too much, I decided that I’d done enough, packed away my tools and went inside for a well earned cup of coffee.
Now, bear in mind that, while not huge, our garden is a bit bigger than a postage stamp and it generally gets weeded completely about once a year. In addition, we allow our dandelions to flower and seed because the goldfinches like the tiny seeds – so you’ll have an idea of how many weeds there were – probably three full days of weeding’s worth. And I did a couple of hours. My lizard brain began to kick in. “You’ve not done enough.” “You should have stayed out longer.” “Everyone else’s garden is neater than yours!” But I managed to stop it before it took hold. I was able to recognise that completely tidying the garden in one afternoon was an impossible task and was able to acknowledge my achievements. The lawn was tidy with neat edges. The path was clear enough to walk on and there was a small weed free patch just under the kitchen window. Add that to the shopping, laundry, visit to the dentist and cleaning in the house that I had already done and it didn’t seem quite so much ‘not enough’.
I am aware that this is a small move forward, but it represents the culmination of much studying, reading and practicing towards self love, and it is a move forward – the beginning of a new habit of accepting myself and of being as kind to myself as I am to others.
At this juncture, I’d just like to say that having written the words ‘not enough’ so many times, the phrase appears to have lost it’s meaning! Oh if only it were so in the real world!
This was originally posted as part of Amy Palko’s Beautiful Beliefs Project at Sunshine on a Rainy Day on 23rd May 2012.
If you would like to know more about Amy Palko’s Beautiful Beliefs Project, then click here Amy Palko or on the box – it’ll take you straight there!
You can also find out more about Sandi Amorin here.