Most of us would agree mutilating our body because we hate ourselves is unhealthy. Acting against our health by withholding food or making unrealistic demands on ourselves seems obviously wrong, but yet we see it happen. Neighbors, actors, models, even family members mutilate themselves out of hatred.
Sometimes we also try to better ourselves because of fear. We feel we don’t fit in or we aren’t pretty enough. We are too fat, too ugly or too nice. So we try to change because we fear rejection.
I’ve heard many times that we need to love ourselves as we are today. How do we do that?
Highlight one part of yourself, your voice, your slim fingers and focus on that one attribute.
Steal someone’s persona. If you adore a well-known actress for her hair and yours is similar, hijack that feeling. Someone once told me I reminded him of Kate Winslet. Recently Vogue photographed Kate and used Photoshop, as is their norm, creating a big brouhaha. Kate Winslet’s Vogue Cover. Once before, GQ visually slimmed her down but stated it wasn’t drastic. I’m glad that someone noticed her original beauty.
Be. Just be who you are and meet your own needs. Don’t withhold food, clothing or love. Just as you would see a child’s need for these things, see your own need.
That’s where I’m at. I’m still looking and may stumble upon other ways to love me. What’s yours? In the meantime, I refuse to be cruel to myself.
I was a naive child. Usually playing on the playground with the same group of kids every day. We’d played games like tag or tangle. But one day I was playing in the dirt with a different group of kids. And then there was “Dee,” obviously not her real name. She said open your mouth and close your eyes and I’ll give you a big surprise. Suspiciously I asked if she was going to put something in my mouth. Of course not she said. Okay, silly person that I was, I opened my mouth. Guess what? I got dirt in my mouth. I spit and sprayed while grabbing dirt to throw on her. She was long gone laughing all the way. I need to find her and thank her for a lesson that should have been well learned. You know the lesson, don’t believe everything you’re told. People lie. Be skeptical.
I grew up in an honest home. My parents are upfront, trustworthy, salt of the earth people. You could hand them your entire life savings and when you returned to pick it up, you’d get it all back. My mom would drive back across town to return a penny if she was given too much change. Of course it’s also true that if you did them wrong by trying to cheat or harm them, they will never darken your door again. So I didn’t know deceit. Elementary school was a wake up for me. It was my first experience with lying and cheating.
I’ve learned. I can make better judgement calls now and more so as I get older. I try to discern if they are intending to scam me or if they are honest. What I’m uncertain about is if there is a difference between discerning and judging. I looked the words up online since I’ve always thought there was a difference. Judging was something the Sunday school teacher taught that we shouldn’t do. And it was left with that. No talk about it’s okay to decide to avoid people who appeared dangerous, just Don’t Judge. Judging is wrong. Which left us good little girls in a bad situation. If you prevent judgement in all cases then we don’t have any defense to prevent rape, murder, or any other harm. Surely that’s not what they meant. But God protected us. Where was he when the girl put dirt in my mouth or when some boy was pressuring us into sex? Did we have the right to say no?
Being good and subservient does not go well with standing up for your rights. At the same time purity was taught. If you don’t understand the dilemma I completely understand. I’m not sure I do either. There were very few secrets from the all-knowing God or the pastor that God spoke to continually. He knew every evil thought and every judgement you made about another.
Today, I hate and despise these ideals. I don’t believe kids need to sit down and shut up. I also believe they need to learn how to decide. I say eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Eat often. Learn, decide, choose, and be skeptical. We were not meant to be sheep thrown out into the pasture with wolves and dogs. I was unprepared for life and I know that I was not alone. It was a sad trick someone played on us. Dressed up in our frilly pink dresses, we were told to go outside and play, but don’t get dirty.
Maybe I’m just angry. I was powerless and told it was right. Any power I had felt wrong. I worried for years that someone would find out and reprimand me. NO MORE. I’ve worked very hard in my life for freedom. To have the right to discern and judge for myself. I now decide if something is good for me or will do me harm. It’s not based on anyone else’s ideal, only my own well-being. And it feels right.
There are other words. Maybe you can tell if there is a difference.
I’m a curious sort. They say curiosity kills the cat, but really that cat had a lot of fun before he died. I have a lot of information in my head from my years of probing and learning. I can be fascinated for weeks about a topic and talk about it until I drive my friends insane. Ah, but they are a nice sort. They pretend interest. I’ve spent a lot of energy encouraging people teaching people things and encouraging them to change. Not only to change, but that they can change. I suppose I won’t ever change from that, so how do I expect them to change from who they are.
I have a Popular Science magazine in front of me just because I’m curious. Under The Sea. While reading through it, I kept thinking of different ones to show articles to, thinking they might like it. I came across one regarding oil rigs. That would be fun to show my folks. My brother is a mechanic and he travels to many different sites to repair oil rigs. Lots of travel and lots of work. And I don’t think my parents understand. Even though they are wonderful parents, they don’t understand his need for travel. It’s an interesting article about an oil rig off the coast of Alaska. And it floats. My parents love us and I appreciate them greatly, but there was something that I didn’t understand until recently. They don’t change. They don’t want to change. They are very content with who they are and where they are and have been for a long time.
How do you get to be 40ish years old and not realize something so basic as contentment? As I said, I’m a curious sort. Contentment comes in brief spurts for me. Not happy sitting still with how things are. I want to change things up and repair and replace. I have to remind myself that others are not like me. They don’t always feel the need to upgrade or try a new approach. Often I’m so excited about my latest discovery or something I’m learning that I forget the basic need of most people is familiarity. And we all like to make our own discoveries. To be second is not nearly so cool as the person who discovered it first, whether it be the North Pole or the latest TV show.
So I sit here somewhat contently, learning my new stuff and getting excited about my next project.
Aging is not a disease. None of us want to grow old but we have to learn a new way of dealing with it. If we treat it like a plague and attempt to deny it’s very existence, then in our avoiding we will slam into it like a brick wall.
I look at my pictures from 20 years back and miss the firm skin and not so puffy eyes. I miss not being able to eat 3 hot dogs and two ice cream cones in a sitting, without feeling guilty and regretting the excess when the heartburn develops. I miss being able to jog 8 miles nonstop. I miss feeling excited about the possibilities that tomorrow will bring and the belief that everything will be alright no matter how horrible today seems. These are the standards of youth that can never be regained by a new facial serum. No vitamins will bring the innocence back again. But is that really what we want?
When I speak today, I have something to say and I can say it with confidence. This is the truth that only experience can give. Would I wish to forget my knowledge? No! What I have learned cannot be unlearned and I don’t want to forget. My experience has taught me patience and kindness.
We all long to grow up. We want to learn. The inner drive to mature is strong. How can we not open the door and satisfy our curiosity? We can pretend all we want that we wish to stay young, but I don’t know a single person who can leave the door closed. We open the door to peek because that’s our nature. What does it feel like to be grown up? What does it feel like to have the answers? We are all intrigued by climbing to the top, by achieving and when we get there we want to shout for joy. We have done it! And our lives will never be the same. We now have experience. Others join in our cheering and congratulate us and silently envy us. They want it too. So why do we not do the same with age?
I once thought my dad knew all the answers. I’d ask him questions all the time. I was young and he seemed so wise. He read, he learned things and he encouraged me to learn. I worshiped him. As I grew older he told me that he didn’t have all the answers and that I needed to search for them myself. So I did.
As I learned, he didn’t lose his wisdom, but I gained some of my own.
If we look at faith, religion and God, it often looks like that child that worships her father. He knows so much. Maybe one day when we ask him a question he will also tell us to search for the answer ourselves. It’s possible that God is still learning. It’s possible that he wants to share experience with us. I don’t know for sure, but it’s possible God will still seem wise even as we grow old.
“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.”
― Eleanor Roosevelt
Get out, explore.
Challenge authority. Challenge yourself.
Become who you say you always will. Keep moving. Don’t stop. Start the revolution. Become a freedom fighter. Become a superhero. Just because everyone doesn’t know your name doesn’t mean you dont matter. – Brian Krans http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/424703.Brian_Krans
There is no savior coming. The world didn’t end and the planet is still spinning. We waited. We went to our rooftops and waited. Patiently. We looked up and knew our salvation would come. Our justice. Our time of redemption. Our toils and hard days are over. Finally there was a reward for our long labor. Surely, it wasn’t in vain.
Ha! Nothing happened. But what does that mean? No Santa coming down the chimney? No Peter Rabbit? What about Jesus? Or the Saints? Surely someone is coming. They do know we are looking for them, right?
Why has there been no savior? Where is our hero? Better yet, have you looked at ourselves lately? We are acting like children. We are acting like teenagers whose parents are out-of-town. We have the house to ourselves and we’ve wrecked it.
I was thinking about this in the light of Santa and childhood stories and it dawned on me. What if no saviors are coming because they want us to grow up? It’s entirely possible that if there are gods watching over us, they are using tough love. When the fridge is empty, we might have to go to the store ourselves. We might have to wash a dish or mow our own lawn. Jiminy Cricket! Has it come to that?
Yikes! God can’t be that cruel could he? This is all speculation on my part. I don’t have a divine link or anything mystical like that. I do know child development. When a child is on the floor throwing a tantrum, the most effective method is to walk away. We want, as parents, to grab the child and stop the noise, but that’s not the best way for a child to learn. People learn experimentally. Or, in the words of science, empirically. http://www.thefreedictionary.com/Empirical
We learn by trying. We learn by failing. We learn not to stick our hands on the hot stove because we have done it. Ouch. Hot. Parents that protect their children from failure aren’t really helping them at all. They are crippling them. Children allowed to explore and grow can make better decisions. They aren’t innocent but they are wise. There is a sense of fullness to their energy.
If I were a god, if I were in charge, I would wait. I would not jump in to rescue us. We have not come to the fullness of our learning. We need to experience our own strength. This is not to show us how inept we are or how much we need a big strong god. This is how you grow a strong person. You let them make choices. You let them try.
You just never know. You start a project and have it all planned out in your mind, but BAM! it morphs into something different from what you expect. What I would like is to see from someone else’s eyes for a time. I like to read a variety of books to see how other people think. I live with myself all day long. I keep thinking that my way isn’t the best or maybe I don’t know what I’m doing, which often I don’t.
Aren’t we really all blundering around until we have an AHA! moment of our own? We read guides and how-tos or listen to advice from friends, but all they can tell is how to get there from the place they started.
While writing this bit, I have realized that honestly people might want to hear my story, from my point of view. Yes, it’s nice for me to learn different views, but others want to hear mine. Learning is good, but my learning is sometimes a duck and dodge move, an avoidance because I’m afraid.
There are scary monsters under my bed and they pop their heads out to remind me of my insecurities. Wouldn’t want to forget and get all big-headed, would we? So my fears remind me of my humanity. My fears keep me tethered in this reality.
It’s good to remember our human side. I sometimes forget that it’s my humanity, my falling down and getting back up, my bleeding bandaged psych that gives me any wisdom at all. It is my wandering that teaches me the best way to go. I would always question, is my way better or theirs? So since I have wandered and gotten lost, then found my way back out again, I can say with confidence, this way works.
I have a thing for experts, as many of you know. I’ve written about it before. How to win in 10 easy steps. Become a superhero! Yes. That’s what I want. The reason is simple. I like shortcuts. I don’t like being stupid or even appearing stupid. Being caught in my insecurities is embarrassing. I’ve never liked it. Maybe no one does. Lately, learning to get comfortable with my fear has been my greatest strength. It has come in handy many times. Each time I feel the fear, I know I’m in new territory. New territory is a good thing for me. It means I will keep my mind young and I’m learning and developing my adaptive mental muscles.
If you read any of Seth Godin’s work, you know that he talks about this new age we have entered. No longer in the Industrial age, we are all learning to adapt to the Communication and Connectivity Age. Conformity and Standardization are the trademarks of the Industrial age. Raising our kids to be “good” and to sit still and be mindless sheep are no longer the best ways to prepare them for the future. They must learn to adapt and to watch for trends themselves. To assert themselves in difficult situations. Handle conflicts diplomatically. Life is no longer about might equals right.
It’s sometimes hard for me to spot the trends. I’m not talking about skirt lengths and fall colors here. More the way we earn money or do business. I’m thinking about the story “Who Moved My Cheese?” If you have never heard the story, it’s a very simple one. Mice in the maze know where their cheese is stored. They know the quickest way to get to it and check on it everyday. as all good mice should. These are the cleverest mice. The fastest and the most efficient. Mice college, work hard ethics and all of that stuff. But one day their cheese wasn’t in it’s normal spot. What to do? Sit and cry in the corner? Yell and scream? Protest on Wall Street? No, that’s not how the cleverest mice handled it. They immediately went looking for it. No pause, no emotional damage. Pffft,…that didn’t work out. Move on. No indignation or resentment. But you promised! How dare you? Just move forward. Try the next door. Then try the next. Forget what this one or that one promised. Forget how it’s always been done or the way it’s supposed to be. Try every door. Check every cabinet, every shelf. Keep trying until you find it.
People that succeed don’t just try once. They try this way, then that way, then another until they figure out what works.
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