Rip off the mask, tear down the walls. Show the world your beautiful self!

Posts tagged ‘respect’

Judging Us By Our Outside Packaging

Judging on Looks Alone’s a lot of talk these days about the damage we do judging people by the way they look, whether it’s something that’s seemingly fixable like clothing or hygiene, or a physical trait such as skin color, ethnicity, or a disability.

Years ago, I was in a pretty bad place in my life, and went everywhere in either sweats or leggings and a baggy shirt. My hair was typically pulled back and my face didn’t know the meaning of makeup. It didn’t matter if I was running to the market, dropping the girls at school, or going to a teacher conference. My uniform was the same.

A few years went by and I heard a teacher friend saying how disrespected she felt when parents didn’t dress up for her. I was unpleasantly surprised at the time, but thinking back on it, I’m horrified.

In my own case, I was struggling to keep things together, trying to get a business going so I’d be more available for my daughters’ activities, and managing an unwieldy load of emotional crap at the same time. Making myself pretty for a teacher or administrator was the least of my concerns. There were days it was all I could do to get out of bed, feed the girls, and take them to school.

Basing the Respect We Give Solely on What We See

In hindsight, I realize I wasn’t respected or taken seriously by teachers or administrators in those days. met with me, sure. But it was always a “my way or the highway” attitude they projected.

The worst part of this to me is that as educators, they influence our children and pass on their judgemental attitude as an accepted mode of behavior. Never mind they have no idea what a parent is going through unless a child happens to share something (assuming, of course, the teacher is listening between the lines as well).

Now I know being a teacher is getting tougher by the day, but if what I heard and felt is correct, then we need to take a look at expectations and perceptions. It shines a pretty bright light on why there are such disparities between the education kids get in suburban areas vs. inner cities where there’s a higher rate of people struggling just to hold things together, and for whom dressing up to meet with a teacher is the last thing on their minds.

Looking Past the Smiling Faces

That isn’t to say there aren’t plenty who are holding on by their fingernails in the suburbs too, but all too often, their ignorance of what the educational system deems appropriate behavior and dress code are masked by other factors. For example, as a single mother, I noticed a marked coolness on the part of the other women when I was active with the band boosters; a chill which was confirmed by some of the other single moms. In fact, it was actually made blazingly clear to one woman when it became known that the man she was always with was someone she lived with but wasn’t married to. Somehow, we were undesirables, not only in the eyes of other parents, but the school system as well.

It didn’t matter that most of us not only worked at least one job, and often two or three to keep food on the table, clothes on our kids’ backs, and a roof over our heads, then dedicated countless hours to their activities as well. Nor did it matter that we often worked twice as hard as the ones who were happily married. I used to believe it was because they saw us as a threat, but now I think it was simply that we dared to be different and manage our lives without a man to help us or worse, validate us as someone who fit the conventional model.

It doesn’t surprise me that most of us weren’t perfectly coiffed or made up when we showed up to support our kids. Those who shunned us were blissfully unaware of the often Herculean effort it took us to show up and take an active role in the proceedings.

We All Have Challenges. What We Need Most is Understanding.

I certainly don’t remember anyone ever asking if one of us was all right—unless of course it was one of other single mothers. And we sure weren’t going to reach out to anyone in the secret society of marrieds for help. Showing even the slightest sign of weakness to that pool of piranhas was taken as an invitation to attack and consume.

By the time the girls reached Middle School, we’d been through several kinds of hell; way more than anyone ever suspected. I’d survived an ugly divorce in the midst of which my mom committed suicide. I’d been laid off from a job, only to go through another layoff, and a closure due to forced bankruptcy with another company, all in the space of about 2 years. I was trying to make a go of my own consulting business, but with no marketing skills and a negative outlook about almost everything, I didn’t exactly have clients knocking down my door.

Dancing helped, but when the girls reached High School, that, too ceased while I immersed myself in their activities and the barely concealed disdain of the married women.

Teaching Our Children Compassion I can empathize with teachers who want to be taken seriously, and know their jobs aren’t exactly easy, I hope my experience is the exception rather than the rule. I hope our educators are the first to follow the old adage: don’t judge a book by its cover. and remember if a parent isn’t dressing up for them, it may be something far more insidious than disrespect which has them presenting themselves in all their naked and unadorned glory.

Being a single parent is hard under the best of circumstances. But when you get no support from the father (or mother as the case may be), or they add to your burden by being difficult; when money is tight and you have to tell your kids no; when your job is kicking your butt for 8 or 9 hours a day; the very fact you’re showing up at all is, in my opinion, an act of ultimate strength. What you wear when you show up, as long as it covers you with reasonable decency should be the last thing people notice about you, much less judge you and mentally condemn you, assuming you lack respect for their lofty position.

As always, there’s a lesson for me in this memory and story. I’m far from innocent as far as misjudging people based on what I see instead of giving them a chance to show me who they are on the inside. Remembering how I felt is a painful yet poignant reminder to give others the same consideration I would have them give me. In other words, give people a chance to show their true colors, and don’t assume the outside packaging in any way, shape, or form tells the whole story.

Gratitude Instead of Judgement

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the challenges I’ve gone through and the lessons they’ve brought me.
  2. I am grateful for opportunities to revisit past hurts and find the lesson contained therein.
  3. I am grateful for those who directly, or even inadvertently point out areas in my own personality and behavior that need work.
  4. I am grateful for the people who did take the time to ask if I was OK, even during the years when I wouldn’t ask for help no matter what.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, joy, opportunities, friendship, inspiration, cooperation, compassion, kindness, peace, harmony, health, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light


About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, ghostwriter, and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws , of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward.

Turning the Tide: Confirmation Needn’t Divide Us Further

Could Kavanaugh’s Confirmation Be the WASP’s Death Rattle?

In the aftermath of the Kavanaugh confirmation I was all set to write a research piece about the major contributors to the campaigns of his staunchest supporters. My plan was to encourage those displeased with the confirmation to boycott businesses owned by those supporters. But after stepping back from my emotional response it occurs to me I needn’t bother. What’s actually happening is the WASP male stranglehold we’ve seen for generations is seeing the writing on the walls. Like the dinosaurs before them, they’re facing extinction, and like any cornered animal they’re fighting hard and playing dirty.

Their most effective weapon so far has been to keep us fighting amongst ourselves. They make decisions which are clearly not in the best interests of the country, or engage in activities they know will incite emotional responses on both sides of the table. They rub their hands together in glee the more we raise our voices and stomp our feet impotently over their carefully constructed hot buttons.

In the end, though, those who don’t wake up and see past the haze of cigar smoke will simply fall into the tar pits of oblivion along with the men and their consorts who are so desperately afraid of losing the lofty places of power which are crumbling beneath their feet. As they built them atop the bodies and souls of people they steamrolled over or baffled with their bullshit, they have no infrastructure with which to maintain the integrity of those ivory towers. Soon they, themselves will be the ground upon which we, the people rebuild on a firmer, more resilient foundation.

Using Unexpected Tactics

So my original concept; to point fingers at the major political contributors and influencers, encouraging people to do business elsewhere, while questionably admirable at its roots, would have been a fruitless effort to use their own tactics against them. At best, it might only have delayed the inevitable. At worst, it would have resulted in further retribution collected from those who deserve it least and who’d bear the brunt of the ensuing hardship. Even if we could make a difference to the financial status of the giants, they’d simply retaliate by cutting jobs and raising prices. Once again, the little guys would bear the brunt, not those who’s money trees we’d seek to shake.

Like the brontosaurus and Tyrannosaurus Rex, the good ol’ boy, WASP coalition isn’t long for this world. They fight an uphill battle in a world where they are becoming a smaller and smaller minority. Their smoke screens, fake news, and highlighting of emotionally charged issues are coming under scrutiny. Not by everyone, by any means. At least not yet.

There are still many who are quite content to believe whatever they’re fed by their “trusted” sources. Like the Pied Piper’s rats, they’ll follow their dying leaders right into the abyss without question or hesitation. But enough are questioning, discussing, and dropping the emotional knee-jerking to heal wounds and bridge gaps.

We Must Come Together to Thwart The Misuse of Power

Photo: David Derong/Iowa State DailyThey’re counting on us to stay divided. We need to show them, instead, a growing community which is united and determined to avoid the pitfalls we’ve been succumbing to until now. We are learning to step back from arguments over emotionally charged issues; to open our hearts and minds to people with dissenting opinions and beliefs. In so doing, we’re finding more common ground than points of disagreement. By learning to listen instead of shout, we run the risk of learning something new which might even make us stronger.

When all is said and done, people not only want to be treated fairly themselves, but to see others treated that way as well. Certainly, definitions of “fairly” vary, but at some point, we can and will come upon common ground.

Judging someone by their faith, skin color, gender, or sexual preference, or worse, assigning unfavorable standards to those who might be different in some way is ludicrous and short-sighted. Every single one of us is different in our own way, though I prefer to use the word “unique”. Even those who profess to be the superior race, gender, whatever, are unique each in their own way. The same-ness they use to connect with their elitist, entitled group of swine is weak and growing weaker with each new excuse they cobble up for excluding or ostracizing yet another group. It’s all arbitrary, and they’re slowly rendering themselves redundant. If you ask me, that redundancy can’t happen quickly enough.

Our Most Powerful Weapon is Compassion

Our best response to all the diversionary tactics, the disrespect, the cornered animal behavior is to arm with two things; logic based on fact, and compassion. Those who seem to view sexual predators, abusive behavior and outright bigotry as positive qualities don’t know how to deal with something so simple. Compassion alone is completely beyond their ability to comprehend. If it ever found it’s way into their tool box, they probably tossed it away as a weakness not to be tolerated. In his article “Power Causes Brain Damage” published in the July/August 2017 issue of The Atlantic,  Jerry Useem puts forth a viable explanation for the failure of those in power to recognize or utilize compassion.

In between all the rhetoric and emotional insanity, there are new stories every day highlighting acts of compassion which epitomize the strength of working together for the common good; of setting personal needs aside to help someone else. Better still, they are stories of love across all real and imagined borders where we’re continually encouraged to hate with no valid reason to do so.

Becoming Part of the Solution I see it, it comes down to a choice. We can continue to be part of the problem until we, too tumble into the abyss. Or we can take control of our emotions, throttling them back before reacting, and use the cognitive part of our brains to recognize we’re being manipulated, and take ourselves out of the reactionary mix.

I still cannot comprehend the reasons some of my friends are choosing one side or another. I respect them enough to recognize they have their reasons, and don’t allow those reasons, whatever they might be, to affect our friendship. We all walk the path we’re supposed to, even if that path is inexplicable to others. We don’t owe anyone justification for what we think or do. We only have to reconcile it within ourselves. The one thing I do find unacceptable is if someone expects justification from others, but insists their own ways are right and require no explanation or reason. Ya can’t have it both ways. Double standards are at the root of our current problems, and people are speaking out against the practice both overtly and subtly. They must be eliminated before we begin building our new foundation.

I’ll leave you with a final thought. When you take the time to listen to someone who doesn’t share your values or beliefs, you might actually learn something or see a viewpoint you hadn’t considered, but might prove valuable in the overall scheme of things.

Gratitude Blurs the Lines Between Us

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the opportunity to share different viewpoints.
  2. I am grateful for friends who don’t share my opinions and beliefs.
  3. I am grateful for the dying dinosaurs. They once served a purposes, but show us how that purpose has changed or become obsolete.
  4. I am grateful I’m able, after a time, to step away from emotional responses and look at things logically seeing cause and effect.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; diversity, friendship, love, joy, compassion, kindness, connection, peace, harmony, health, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, ghostwriter, and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws , of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward.

Eradicating Self-Judgement

Judge Ourselves as We Endeavor to Judge Others

If we’re working on self-improvement by paying attention to our tendency to judge people harshly, why do we apply the process only to other people? When we’re halting our tendency to think unkindly towards a slow checker or erratic driver, why do we fail to turn the magnifying glass back on ourselves?

How many times do we call ourselves stupid, or lazy, or even resort to name-calling without giving ourselves the same level of respect and understanding we give the mother whose child won’t stop screaming while we wait in a line of 20 people to check out at Costco?

Yet with judgement just as it is with forgiveness and acceptance, we unerringly turn our kindness and compassion outward long before we ever consider turning it inward.

One of my daughters had a tendency to treat friends and even strangers with more consideration than she would her sister and I. For a long time it puzzled me until I realized she knew we’d love her no matter what so she saw no reason to make an effort to win either our acceptance or approval. We do the same thing with ourselves. We know we can’t run off and leave ourselves behind so we believe we can turn our attention and effort elsewhere, thus earning a greater reward.

How Can We Give What We Refuse to Receive?

What we fail to understand is by subjugating our own need for love, acceptance, and kindness, we actually hinder our ability to give them to others. We create an uphill battle for ourselves where we have to be consciously diligent about our actions and reactions. Whereas if we create habits of kindness, of not judging ourselves for the missteps we take while learning new lessons (and life is a constant series of lessons) they become an integral part of our persona. We don’t have to force ourselves to be kind and understanding towards others because we treat everyone like we do the most important person in our lives—ourselves.

The Ugly Faces of Self-Judgement and Criticism

Judgement is a particularly insidious creature. We start by allowing criticism of something small; the waysomeone pronounces a word, an unusual trait that doesn’t fit our view of normal, even the cut of their clothes. Pretty soon we’ve created a false persona we hate and find fault with for no valid reason. Yet it’s really coming, not from the person we’ve targeted but from our own self-loathing. We’ve transferred it to another, most likely because they remind us of something within ourselves we mentally judge, criticize, and maybe even hate.

It’s like a disease run amok that no antibiotic can eradicate.

We’re living in a world where too many are driven by self loathing to say and do things to others which they cannot truly justify or excuse from a rational place. Deep inside they become angrier, blaming the people who drive them to act hatefully instead of doing a little soul-searching to find and heal their own wounds first. Many would say it’s selfish to take care of yourself first. But I believe if we started with the most important person in our lives, healing and loving them first we’d have a much harder time blaming, criticizing, or hating anyone else. We’d remove the triggers to our own self loathing because it would no longer exist. Think about it.

Misused Judgement is Abuse

That isn’t to say judgement is always a bad thing. Our good judgement keeps us out of trouble, helps us make sound, responsible decisions, and is one of our best problem-solving tools. But like all good tools, it is often misused.

When judgement is used to cause pain, or to place one person or group above another, or worse, to pit people against each other, a handy tool becomes a weapon. When used on a larger scale, it truly is a weapon of mass destruction. On a smaller scale, when frequently and mercilessly applied, it causes permanent damage.

Yet the damage caused by misplaced judgement isn’t always visible to the naked eye. Self-judgement in particular doesn’t give the outside world a sign saying “self-judgement practiced here”. If I had to classify it, I’d put it with other forms of emotional abuse; invisible, insidious, and wreaking havoc from the inside out.

The Visible Effects of Judgement

Eventually the effects do become visible; down-turned eyes, slumped shoulders, withdrawal from society, social awkwardness, all can be signs of some kind of emotional abuse. Granted, it may have started from the outside, but when we start believing someone else’s lies; when we internalize and believe we’re unworthy, it’s not uncommon to start measuring ourselves by the same flawed yardstick.

Breaking old patterns isn’t easy any more than breaking an addiction to alcohol, drugs, or cigarettes. Like any addiction, though, it starts with recognizing the problem, and admitting it needs to be solved.

Once you’ve crossed the biggest hurdle and begun your journey to self-acceptance and healing, Though some of us continue the journey on our own with many false starts and dead-end roads, I’ve learned the road is a lot easier with support.

Seeking Help to Heal

Having people around who can not only help you see the lies others have put into your head, but point out the words you speak and the actions you take which support those lies creates a kind of road map out of the negative space you’ve created. It eliminates some of the false starts and endless switchbacks you’d take on your own in the process of finding your way from judgement to acceptance. What you do for others in stopping the judgemental thoughts is reciprocated by your community.

Case in point. When I first watched “The Secret”, the friend who recommended it became my unofficial accountability partner. We’d help each other out by shining a light on things we said which were impeding our personal progress. Most of it was simply negative self-talk. We’d both, for reasons of our own developed a habit of being self-deprecating, little realizing how much damage it did to our psyches. The first step in repairing the damage had to be stopping the flow of negativity emanating from our own minds, hearts, and mouths.

Treating Ourselves with the Same Love and Respect We Do Others

There’s a passage in the Bible which says “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Many of us treat others better than we do ourselves. I think there’s a good argument for re-stating the passage to read “Do unto yourself as you would do unto others”. In my opinion, kindness and compassion start from within and emanate outwards, rather than the other way around. Unless you love yourself, you cannot truly love another.

Watch the Facebook Live episode about Self-Judgement here.

Gratitude and Acceptance Are Our Greatest Tools

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for the flow of ideas when I set an intention to write more frequently.
  2. I’m grateful for the way my self-awareness is increasing as I recognize old patterns and triggers.
  3. I’m grateful I’ve started learning to love myself, and to reflect that love with the way I present myself, and care for my meat suit.
  4. I’m grateful for self-care. Quiet days at home, regular gym visits, tuning into my cats’ purrs, dancing, and all the things which feed my body, mind and spirit, and ultimately help me be a contributing member of society.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love, friendship, motivation, inspiration, support, encouragement, butt kicks, drive, focus, consistency, stick-toitiveness, family, hope, peace, harmony, health, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light


About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, Virtual Assistant and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. She specializes in creating content that helps entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook: Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author

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