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

Posts tagged ‘self-love’

You’re Beautiful at Every Age

Beautiful Comes From the Inside

Nothing makes me crazier than to see commercials telling people the normal signs of age make them ugly. Whether it’s a thickening mid-section, lines around the eyes, or skin that’s no longer as resilient as it once was, the makers of so-called beauty products do everything in their power to convince you those things are unattractive and need to be fixed.

Because of the barrage of advertisers telling you you’re essentially broken, you’ve probably either had your self-confidence taken down for the count almost daily; in which case you’re spending thousands of dollars on products meant to fix what was never broken in the first place, or you’ve given them all the middle finger.

Sadly, too few of you have told those companies and ad agencies to pound sand, which, if you ask me is the kindest thing they deserve to hear. I’d like to see an increasing number of women (and now, those companies are targeting men too!) say: “I’m perfect the way I am! I earned those gray hairs; the laugh lines around my mouth and eyes; the creases on my forehead. I’ve lived my life to the fullest instead of spending hours in front of a mirror looking for imaginary flaws!”

You Can’t Turn Back the Clock

Since when was it necessary to spend hours every day trying to look like you did https://www.flickr.com/photos/ceb291/279546797/in/photolist-qGKwn-dsq663-DhMiLN-q2YT9A-8U2RDM-aDXL6p-aDXU5n-2baeKXq-8M44HJ-hzeerF-p2jdDa-aN3xDe-aGdmFB-21pHSi2-2a4dmRb-Zkr86N-dAKzhx-aiW1rL-aCeMLr-aNpbWi-aDP3QU-aN3HY2-ZooWsE-dAZZ7r-Gu5v5M-7fm3tL-aEGFKg-qpiuys-DhbHPh-2bJ9goC-aq74Go-aDWZhj-dHbCzP-aNpnVr-anVoV9-41FjRz-41F7Jg-21kJg5y-d9Ukkg-aDXTbi-2eekMDo-Gtq4vM-7fhahR-21qv3Bt-aE2K4y-7fEHog-9ZnqzB-Zktkp1-21qvaPV-hs4J8G10 or 20 years ago? What’s wrong with the way you look now? Chances are, you aren’t in the public eye, or trying to get ahead on your looks alone. You have so much more going for you. You’re smart, and you’re beautiful but not a superficial beauty dependent on creams, salves, and fancy exercise bikes. Your beauty shines from within.

It’s in the people you touch, the things you care about, and your social consciousness. Your beauty shines in the children you’ve raised, or otherwise influenced. You shine brightly in the examples you’ve set, glowing like starlight, unmarred by the passage of time because your glow comes from deep within; from your essence; your soul.

Let’s Stop Validating Greed and False Promises

Yet every time one of those so-called beauty products leaves the shelf to go home with someone who is already perfect the way they are, the pronouncements of the advertisers are validated. With each validation via product sale, they’re inspired to find more things wrong with you they can promise to fix.

The trouble is, the creams, lotions, wraps, machines, and programs are never enough. There will always be imperfections to magnify and ridicule. Who came up with awful terms like “muffin tops”, “saddle bags”, or “camel toe” anyway? Certainly nobody’s friend!

I’m not trying to deny people an honest living, but when was tearing people down over made up imperfections an honest living? It’s time to take back your right to age; to live your life squeezing every ounce of joy from it. When it shows on your face, your body, your hair, your skin, rejoice!

Loving Who, When, and Where You Are

You’re not wasting precious moments trying to reverse the natural aging Created with Canvaprocess. You’re showing gratitude for the opportunity to age by appreciating the changes. You’re enjoying the sunshine with friends and family, unconcerned about the lines it might be etching in your face.

Or you’re sprawled on the living room floor on a Friday night playing games and eating pizza. It’s nobody’s business what you choose to eat; healthy or junk. You make your choices and live with them. The criticizers can go look in their own mirror for a change. It’s time they dragged the skeletons out of their own closets, and left yours alone!

Tearing You Down to Build Themselves Up

The Tower from the Spiral TarotI have a theory about those companies anyway. They’re run by people who, themselves have terrible self-images. They’re never happy with the way they look, how much money they have, or how much stuff they acquire. They think having a successful company that makes money by tearing other people down will make them happy.

I’ve got news for them. All the money, all the beauty treatments, all the stuff in the world won’t bring them happiness. There will always be something missing from their lives because they don’t bother to look past their own masks and facades.

Meanwhile, they’re damaging the psyches of millions of other people who’d have been better served by someone emphasizing their qualities instead of their flaws. But where’s the profit in that, I suppose.

Taking Matters Into Your Own Hands. Build Someone Up.

But wait! Think about the last time you paid someone a compliment. How did they respond? Sure, a lot of people have trouble accepting a compliment, but even so, didn’t they light up just a little? The value of that moment can’t be measured in dollars and cents, but it also won’t end up in a landfill when it fails to change that person’s life for the better. They won’t have to look for the next thing that’s supposed to fix their brokenness.

Instead, they might just look in the mirror the next time they pass and see the beauty you pointed out to them instead of the flaws some marketing department invented to make them feel bad enough about themselves to spend money on a product they not only didn’t need, but which couldn’t deliver on the promises anyway.

The best part is, it costs nothing to give someone a compliment. When you give them freely, you’ll find they start coming back to you just as freely. People who are happy and feeling appreciated simply do not see flaws. They might see imperfections, but they’re what makes each one of us unique and special.

They’re Not Imperfections, They’re What Make You Unique

What are imperfections anyway? They’re nothing more than something different; something that doesn’t fit some arbitrary definition of beauty (and we know where most of those come from!). They’re something that makes you stand out a little or a lot. The shape of your mouth, the set of your eyes, where you have curves, or don’t. The things which are uniquely you.

I’ll leave you with a final question: Why would you want to look and act like everyone else? (ok, 2 final questions) Why would you want to hide the very things that make you special and unique?

 

 

Gratitude is the Universal Dream Generator

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for my perfectly imperfect self.
  2. I’m grateful for the choices I have to listen to people who tell me I’m ugly, or to give them the finger. Guess which one I choose?
  3. I’m grateful for friends who build each other up and never tear each other down.
  4. I’m grateful for my ability to look in the mirror and see only qualities now.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; joy, positivity, glorious imperfection, uniqueness, strength, choices, opportunities, healthy, peace, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, ghostwriter, and an advocate for cats, and mental health. 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

The Invisibility of Emotional Abandonment

Healing Abandonment Issues

Created with CanvaThe last few months have brought a series of epiphanies which, when I finally connected the dots made me realize I had abandonment issues. Yet, a thorough review of my last 60-odd years revealed no particular incident when someone abandoned me—or so I thought.

Further review of my personal time line told another story. Sure, I haven’t been physically abandoned in the literal sense. The abandonment issues in my personal history are something I hadn’t even considered. They all occurred on an emotional level. It could explain why I found them so easy to stuff down inside—to deny their existence.

My mother, who had a history of being emotionally abandoned herself, always told me I was the more difficult child. In retrospect, of course I was. I was the first child who lived (her first pregnancy ended in miscarriage), and I’m not sure she was emotionally prepared to be a mother in the first place. At 21, she’d never lived alone. She went from her mother’s house to her husband’s apartment, but only after the ring was on her finger.

History Repeats Itself if You Let It

Sure, it was a different time, but I know from experience there’s a lot to learn https://www.flickr.com/photos/60740813@N04/34504735502/in/photolist-Uz4MJN-7H8hqz-r2covS-8wbGLH-8wcEVv-8weaum-8wcFMc-r2c6ww-r2iYrg-qmL3eU-8w9Dpr-r2jtjr-riJFWH-8wcT7A-8wcK8r-8wbRuV-8wcj84-8wanQx-8waPPT-8w9c4V-8w97ek-r2j3iV-riCAji-8w8skp-r2cTQq-8wfuwo-8waMUv-8wfDJJ-8wdgXY-qZq9cM-8wd2u3-8wfVzw-8wbq15-8w8bJP-8w9Wdc-8wcQdR-riF3r5-riJvW2-8wbTSq-r2cNH1-8wc6wN-r2d6wG-8wcM6o-r2jiHn-8wdexo-riJBiz-8bQ1eC-8wfeYo-riJJHV-8w9Yqrabout living on your own, and having kids right away doesn’t make it easier. In my mom’s case, she didn’t even know how to cook, and learned on her own rather than asking for her mother’s help. Barely 2 years and one miscarriage later, she had me to deal with as well; a helpless baby who demanded more of her time than she knew how to give.

By the time my sister came along 2 1/2 years later, she’d made her share of mistakes, but learned a lot too. Of course my sister was an easier child! She was born to an experienced mother!

It didn’t help when I contracted Scarlatina which led to a penicillin allergy before I was 5. Add to that, a blindness scare at 10 before they realized I was susceptible to ocular migraines, a legacy from my dad and his mom. So if my mother shut down emotionally to protect her own shaky sanity, I can see now she did it for good reason, if not in my best interests.

Searching for the Love I Needed

https://www.flickr.com/photos/gastaum/14490581818/in/photolist-o5u28y-YfsirJ-k8x7MM-bxbe69-W1rTYx-arWoEp-9hSaAd-ahFY4U-dUPFnv-cbTML-9dRrhQ-nNcDz4-W1scJn-6Q5kQB-aPHuVt-dF2PfA-qsan3a-9Q3GD-7puXf-ca3kUb-8Qnh5S-7EPcJ1-9RZQ7L-2jv27s-3ytNAS-4Ax3Vm-7P6ms6-fLeJCZ-9eA4z4-dUzmHi-dJ2ajE-4s4eeJ-9ZWATV-4Ax3K3-6459Qr-r7YPq9-7ZBske-3ypqPa-7yi435-9uRzwZ-kdLtng-2c5brCn-HLfJSP-qTk7jd-oSdAwv-pNeYXi-3fqAZV-5btNtn-72Kth6-V4V7jqLacking my mother’s love, I spent years trying to earn the love and affection from a man who, quite frankly, hadn’t been trained to give it. Until my grandmother died when I was 12, she and my grandfather were deeply immersed in each other. Their kids, my dad and his sister, got whatever was left. Affection was typically communicated with sarcasm and ridicule.

As I look back, no matter how hard I tried to measure up to my dad’s expectations so I could earn a love which should have been given simply because I was his child, he’d always set the bar a little higher than I could reach. In the end, he loved me as best he could, but for a shy, introverted, little girl with zero self-confidence, it wasn’t enough.

I grew up imitating my dad. But I wasn’t nearly as good at it as he, and made a lot of poor choices in my desperation to be loved and accepted. I vacillated between hardening my outer shell and playing chameleon for decades until the shell started breaking down and I began making drastic changes.

Learning the Difference Between Seeking and Allowing

The first was to divorce my alcoholic and emotionally abusive husband. Yes, I’m https://www.flickr.com/photos/134921587@N06/23686767022/in/photolist-C67SAS-ctvgV1-oTB61e-G23PMn-21xTKc-qJZokP-BitVnD-ctvjEb-ctv2Wo-C86UJi-5yyHup-dGchk9-ctvkoG-8smaT9-Hb9D9-bCMY61-ctvDdJ-fjCHU-DjAHuB-a7ZNLt-qGVeSr-sp457s-RLx6vm-62Xk7K-qfydfc-FFnBTk-ewnTH9-ctvqbf-pYhS7Z-agphz5-2eWFpQN-dGcfxE-bRGHjR-piX8Sk-piJE7f-ctvJCN-oh53V-bRGHxt-bRGJ5r-qfGLzR-qfEkx7-piHFu7-qyFAYh-oh4KB-oh5Y5-ctuKBf-fjDom-fjDY6-CRBBws-9aV9yxanother statistic; a woman who marries a man similar to her most damaged parent; in this case, my mom, in hopes of fixing what’s broken and earning the love she was denied. Trust me, it’s a battle that can’t be won.

What followed was a series of fits and starts. I hid inside my self-made cave, pretending I needed no one for several years. I had a couple of emotionally bankrupt relationships before giving up dating for what would ultimately last more than 20 years. Still, I knew I wasn’t meant to live without love. But experience hadn’t taught me what it really looked like, much less, how to go about finding it.

Connecting With My Spirituality and Self-Love

When I was introduced to “The Secret” I felt an almost physical shift. At first, it affected my own self-image and drove me to read more and more about fixing myself. I now have a shelf full of books ranging from “Laws of Attraction” to Kabbalah. Some have helped me more than others, but I’m not done learning.

The walls came down, the shell shattered. I’ve opened up to people and changed my social circle a time or seven. The most significant change I’ve seen is people opening up to me. Therein lies the biggest hole in my earlier years.

Breaking the Legacy and Removing My Masks

My parents, and everyone around me were a series of constantly smiling masks. No one shared their true self, and everyone was damaged in some way; some far more than others. It was a world where you either pretended your world was perfect, or faced ridicule and disgust from those around you. Broken was considered ugly. Vulnerable was weak.

By the time I figured it out, I’d seen first-hand what it cost to keep those masks in place. I’d had a few melt-downs myself, in the privacy of my own home. My mother had had the ultimate meltdown, swallowed a bunch of sleeping pills and laid her masks down for good. A few years later, my dad made a similar choice, using a gun instead of pills. He, too put down the masks and lowered the walls after a lifetime of holding them in place, sometimes out of sheer stubbornness. I have to wonder if there were times when the hold was tenuous, and his mood bordered on desperation.

Building on a Strong, Supportive Foundation At Last

Lest you think this is an excuse for a pity party, let me assure you, it’s quite the opposite. Lacking a strong emotional foundation, I had to figure out how to erect one of my own. I learned in the process it’s not something you do in a vacuum.

I’ve learned to gather around me strong, supportive friends who are able to share their own times of need, and reach out to me. The foundation I’ve built is not just my own strengths shoring up internal weaknesses. It’s built on what I’ve been able to offer my friends, but more important; what they’ve been able to offer me.

We are stronger for the people we’re able to give to and accept from. None of us have everything we need to build our foundation, any more than we have every skill, or all the knowledge we need to live a successful, fulfilled life. My parents never figured that out, nor did theirs. I was given the opportunity to change the pattern. I was also given a daughter who, like me, wanted to see it change.

We’ve each made changes in our own ways, but have also built our own communities, both together and separate. It may have begun with unrecognized emotional abandonment, but if you ask me, what it’s grown into was (almost) worth the tough lessons I had to learn alone.

Making Gratitude a Daily Practice

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for the life I was given; all the hills and valleys, smooth roads, and potholes. I’ve learned and I’ve grown from the challenges.
  2. I’m grateful for the friends who even now are patient with me when I knee-jerk and crawl back into my hole. They know when to push and when to let me be to figure it out.
  3. I’m grateful for dancing which, in it’s own way, forces me to get out of my shell and out from behind the walls.
  4. I’m grateful for the writing which has allowed me to safely express things until I was ready to share more openly. And for the people it’s brought to me for the sharing.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love, friendship, sharing, vulnerability, joy, dancing, motivation, inspiration, support, community, health, peace, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, ghostwriter, and an advocate for cats, and mental health. 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
 

Showing Yourself Gratitude: Who Knew?

Start Your Gratitude List With You

There’s a lot of hoopla and hype about gratitude these days, and for good reason. You’re grateful for things that make you happy, so focusing on gratitude means you’re putting your attention on things that make you happy. The more you focus on things that make you happy, the less you notice the ones that don’t.

It follows that as you’re busy focusing on things that make you happy, you begin to see only the ones that make you happy, and pretty soon, you see more of them. You can call it Laws of Attraction, or simply a shift in perspective. Either way, you start hard-wiring yourself for happiness and positivity.

But with all the time and effort you put into gratitude, what do you show appreciation for most of the time? If you’re like me, it’s probably things outside yourself; a beautiful day, a great parking spot, a safe drive to work, beautiful flowers in your garden. How often do you look in the mirror and say “I’m grateful for me?”

Your Are the Most Important Person in Your Life

Yet, who or what is more important and deserving of your gratitude? Why don’t https://www.flickr.com/photos/chrishuggins/4675505957/in/photolist-88ac2F-8LnEVQ-r3ZSnA-rkryn2-dEHqQa-buZGL5-9NXU2Q-uQd4Gi-8HtvkK-brtvSa-mc16EB-zKaXu-mayYKi-LpBQx-24Q2uC3-5fjkkg-eJzqz-di4zr7-di4Cts-9d5Zj3-9SKTfn-FCdjdz-f5wwhN-XjXzMf-9P5vA2-kVMXd9-47aeuC-zNAvV-dZ5cLv-5P5kRq-5z3cp5-7fRw8n-Ad6nP2-fjj4VF-nPSwLg-GUXa92-ERVZat-YW3tj5-sgc13A-xYkggi-SwjMJA-K74gKR-qod9ho-evhnbP-5mpBv5-v38BL4-26QXWnW-nCnBUo-JSkWR-88acaPyou take a deep breath and say “thank you for my lungs”? What stops you from pausing to listen to the steady beat in your chest and say “thank you for the heart keeping a steady rhythm inside me”?

If focusing on things that make you grateful attracts more happiness-inducing stuff, wouldn’t showing appreciation for our health attract more health? How about things like losing weight, or increasing your strength? Wouldn’t those things benefit from a little gratitude and positive energy too?

So many of my friends complain they can’t lose weight. They talk about how they lose a couple of pounds but it always comes back. How about if instead, on the days when the numbers on the scale decrease, you say “thank you for the pound I’ve released”. On the days when it goes the other way, either say nothing, or find some aspect to be grateful for anyway. I, for one am going to give it a try, and will share my progress over the next month or so. What do I have to lose, except those pounds which are slowing me down anyway?

Rerouting the Complain Train

https://www.flickr.com/photos/35661951@N05/3301911347/in/photolist-62MacZ-8Xg8JJ-99EED2-6ukkey-99cpQj-K3PSrh-hFEZv-eevrK7-4ET5Ga-eirkqh-4QxafM-5thv2Z-7D9KW6-77wGJ5-eeonnH-aDN8j3-kbDBEA-8B6bHZ-2GsUh2-5gqAf-cyMRGU-5tUx72-oVs2Rk-9RuAeo-eevDx5-GywZT9-cyMwjW-pmZbM-h3P17c-3cBFP2-eevzuC-q8iZiZ-5TsVGN-aDN3D9-WrrMWj-7x9jR6-j1kqp-gEroQ-cQ6Pt5-4sNRtz-nkKGAk-GywYMb-GywZYj-JCRyYq-9utXaK-7YriHP-6WDWPK-bjM3J7-FFmjJG-2NLBMLet’s not stop there. What else do you typically complain about? Not enough money? Too little work? Too much work? Increasing costs? Unfair treatment? How can you flip those so you’re showing appreciation instead of complaining?

How about:

I’m grateful I have enough money to pay my rent/mortgage.

I’m grateful I have some free time to do things for myself.

I’m grateful I have plenty of work as it makes the day go quickly. I have enough money for a vacation or maybe a massage.

I’m grateful I have options when my cost of living goes up.

I’m grateful for people who show me how I don’t deserve to be treated, and I’m grateful I can walk away from them and towards my friends who treat me right.

How Can You Flip Your Own Life?

These are a few examples, but with a little effort, you can find your own, as long as you focus on your own assets and qualities. When push comes to shove, who is your strongest advocate? Your greatest asset? The one person you can count on no matter what? Yet who is also the last person you think to thank?

Your heart allows you to live, pumping blood through your system to feed all your cells. Your lungs bring air into your lungs, oxygenating your blood and keeping you from suffocating. Your legs lift you from a chair, get you out of bed, help you run, skip, or dance. Your arms let you give and receive hugs.

But if you’re like me, it never occurs to you to thank your body, your mind, or yourself for the qualities and abilities that allow you to enjoy all the outside things making you happy.

Years ago I had a mantra I’d use in the morning to get my day started on the right foot. I’d look in the mirror and say: You’re beautiful, sexy, sassy, and delicious. It always brought a smile to my face which meant, no matter what happened during the day, I at least began with a smile.

Instead of a goofy mantra, let’s start the day with a deeply personal gratitude. I can use things like:

I’m grateful for my brain which never lacks for ideas when I sit down to write.

I’m grateful for my legs which carry me across a dance floor as often as I like.

I’m grateful for my heart. In fact, I LOVE my heart for pumping blood through my body, but also for being the source and repository for love.. 

I’m grateful for my hands with which I type the words my brain sends, but with which I also pet my cats, or touch a friend.

Gratitude Equals Love

To me, gratitude is another way of saying “I love you” I don’t know anyone who couldn’t use more love, and though what we get from others is marvelous, what you give to yourself is both limitless and powerful. You can change your mood with gratitude, uplifting when you were despondent. Imagine how much higher you’d fly if the gratitude you expressed was for yourself, your body, your mind, your actions, your—Presence!

So next time you feel compelled to express gratitude, start your list with things you’re grateful for that come from within. And when you’ve done so for a week, a month, maybe more, come back and share how it impacted your life. After all, success stories always inspire others.

Where Do You Need Help?

None of us has to walk our path alone. Where are you struggling to keep it all together? Maybe all you need is a sounding board? Perhaps, just a listening ear? Or would you like to take a task or two off your plate? Is it content creation, or perhaps it’s getting your books in order and creating a budget. If this sounds familiar and you’re ready to streamline your life, ask for help instead of trying to do it all, CONTACT ME and let’s talk!

Showing a Little Gratitude for Me!

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the woman I’ve become from the challenges I’ve overcome and the lessons I’ve learned.
  2. I’m grateful for my motivation which compels me to keep trying even when all indications say I should quit.
  3. I’m grateful for my heart; for the life blood it pumps, and for it’s capacity for love and compassion, not only for others, but for myself.
  4. I’m grateful for positvity. It took awhile to learn, but I’ve come to appreciate how much easier it’s become the more I practice.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; friendship, love, joy, energy, compassion, inspiration, opportunities, health, strength, peace, harmony, connections, support, community, philanthropy, and prosperity for all.

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

Shutting Down My Own Gossip Girl

Time for an Attitude Adjustment

Created with CanvaEvery now and then I take a good, hard look at myself and am less than pleased with what I see. This week, I realized my conversational pool has deteriorated into gossip. Frankly, the very idea of sticking my nose into other peoples’ business is typically repellent, and yet, here I am, blabbing about the good, the bad, and the ugly, all of which is none of my damned business in the first place. How did I sink so low?

I think in part, it’s another off-shoot of working alone. Most days, I don’t get to hear my own voice unless I’m talking to myself or the cats. Some small piece of myself feels needy, and instead of using the need productively, it’s sunk to the lowest form of communication.

Still, this isn’t an excuse to beat myself up, Instead, it’s an opportunity to see something I can improve upon and start taking the necessary steps to put myself on a better path. Like an addiction, the first step towards fixing a problem is realizing you have one.

Rekindling Self-Love

While working out at the gym, I had time to mull over this shift in my behavior. I realized part https://www.flickr.com/photos/gastaum/14490581818/in/photolist-o5u28y-YfsirJ-k8x7MM-bxbe69-W1rTYx-arWoEp-9hSaAd-ahFY4U-dUPFnv-cbTML-9dRrhQ-nNcDz4-W1scJn-6Q5kQB-aPHuVt-dF2PfA-qsan3a-9Q3GD-7puXf-ca3kUb-8Qnh5S-7EPcJ1-9RZQ7L-2jv27s-3ytNAS-4Ax3Vm-7P6ms6-fLeJCZ-9eA4z4-dUzmHi-dJ2ajE-4s4eeJ-9ZWATV-4Ax3K3-6459Qr-r7YPq9-7ZBske-3ypqPa-7yi435-9uRzwZ-kdLtng-2c5brCn-HLfJSP-qTk7jd-oSdAwv-pNeYXi-3fqAZV-5btNtn-72Kth6-V4V7jqof it is a lack of respect and love for myself. Happy, secure people don’t find it necessary to gossip or speak ill of others. They don’t have the time or energy to worry about who’s doing what to whom. That’s not to say they don’t celebrate their friends’ successes. They simply don’t find it necessary to yak about it incessantly. I’ve been guilty of that as well.

I believe the first step in eliminating this unattractive behavior is to re-establish my personal heart link. What I mean by that is, I need to fall in love with myself again. Seeking outside validation, both positive and negative is a clear indication my link is broken and in need of repair.

Perception of Exclusion

https://www.flickr.com/photos/ionics/6338284584/in/photolist-aE6nbG-49a2Xa-TLgW2Q-5wAD6N-HGKPP-8UV6CB-6Sg7YA-9QycpZ-6u4T3X-4sC9aH-5nXKzn-5grmh3-ane6BH-W9uq65-62rxQ-Kud31E-XtaBzZ-LdJuy-LdJvu-ePGUFv-aE6qsQ-LdYkF-8Kvnyj-RdeDP4-6Btbw-ekUyG-eSNDQT-ESpkfb-5U4HwZ-66XHwe-a9LTFX-bWTW3k-4YhDF-2qGQSu-5LpPj-4jpvK-vjdRaC-8L6p5A-6HFRB-5r1qA-4jpvJ-4joXu-5QDfE-7qEysG-4jpS4-24RfjoL-bEFCy1-4joXx-43zSs-2e9RpMMWhen I started looking back on my behavior over the last couple of months, I see glaring indications I managed to miss or simply block out. Times when some of my friends did something without me and I felt sad and left out regardless of the reason for my exclusion. I’ve been feeling especially sad as the annual line dance cruise draws nearer, and will sail without me.

Sure, it was my choice and my reasons are both responsible and valid. Still, as everyone gathers in groups to talk about the upcoming trip, I feel alone and lost, even as it turned out to be an opportunity to attend a writing festival instead. Clearly a win-win for my career and future.

Learning to Re-focus on Qualities Instead of Flaws

I dance at our two-step teacher’s house once a week where there’s a mirror on the front wall. https://www.flickr.com/photos/mikecogh/8225835927/in/photolist-dwTyrn-a3ks33-9mvXys-6ja1gb-9yrH2G-nDdzvx-XUYUcB-5mVAik-aGc4QM-rcaJkB-te2rAP-a7Uq98-3dzbhp-GAf1t-n7eEii-SdF6ND-NpW4QT-Nn4EE7-Q1PXro-6GmuAj-Nb8fd-aGc4LK-5rvjUB-9G5iLz-dViNns-47qcTR-8gCJx7-53s2we-8Amcx2-651TAL-e3ogb6-3Sf9H3-23Jx66D-4beknX-477UHP-Nb8cA-61cxQD-7htzF3-e3tWNL-58nCxm-e3ogk4-27FNZKJ-9NHU1S-i23hC-8Rg5Yu-5tzpF9-CvzijW-Ck2RtR-28aTBt3-MweagTI can’t help but compare my Rubenesque physique to the slimmer curves of my friends, and feel a certain amount of disgust with myself. I know the reason is my lack of self-control when it comes to food, and laziness when it comes to getting up and moving more during my version of a work day. It’s not like someone is standing over me, expecting me to be at my desk working during certain hours. My schedule is flexible and allows for trips to the gym or a walk mid-day. I take advantage of the first, but not the second.

In the past, a silly little mantra was enough to inspire me to treat myself with love, but it’s fallen into disuse lately. I think my mantra needs some updating as well. Here’s what I’ll be using now—what I’ll tape to my bathroom mirror and other strategic places around the house:

I love myself as I am today.

I love myself as I’ll be tomorrow.

I love myself enough to recognize and accept my flaws.

I love myself enough to recognize where I need to make positive changes.

I love myself enough to implement those changes even when it’s difficult.

I love myself enough to refrain from comparing.

I love myself enough to refrain from judging.

I love myself enough to refrain from gossip.

I love myself enough.

Reversing the Downward Spiral

In the day-to-day struggle to navigate the often treacherous highway of jobs, people, and life Created with Canvain general, it’s easy to get caught up in the negative and spiral downward. Learning to recognize when you’ve jumped on a roller coaster that’s not in your best interests is definitely a learned skill, and one I thought I’d mastered.

The funny thing about life is when you think you’ve mastered something and become complacent, you get tossed back on the roller coaster without a safety bar or seat belts. You’re forced to figure out how to hold on until you can safely disembark and get back on track. Sometimes you’re lucky, and the car slows down enough for you to step off easily. Others, you have to take a deep breath, a giant leap, and tuck and roll. Sure, you’ll be bruised and battered, but you’ll be free of what drags you callously down into a place you thought you’d left behind for good, and good riddance.

Thwarting My Demons Over and Over Again

Years ago, I was in a cold, dark, lonely place where negativity and anger were my closest friends. I worked hard to escape that place leaving quite a bit of flesh behind in the process. But though I might have emerged raw and bleeding in places, I healed. In fact, in many cases, I had to break open old, badly healed wounds to get there.

But my demons, like those of so many others are greedy. They didn’t want to let go then, and want to drag me back into their depths now. They look for chinks in my happiness and positivity, and quickly fill them with their unholy mixture of misery and hate. It’s still up to me to use the tools I’ve gathered on my journey to evict them and fill those spaces, once again with love and positivity. Sometimes, that means getting out of my own way and taking a good, hard look at where I’ve landed.

Looking at Myself Honestly and Objectively

As with the degradation of my social skills and conversation, it isn’t always obvious. It doesn’t come on like a hurricane, but instead, creeps in slowly and stealthily when my attention is elsewhere. Often, I don’t see it until something makes me realize I’m feeling downright icky and don’t know exactly why.

That’s when I take a good, hard look at what I’m doing, thinking, and saying and the pattern emerges. I know then I need to first rekindle my self-love, and the rest will follow.

This time, I also know I need to spend a lot more time listening, and a lot less time talking. If I find myself left out of conversations, I have to accept it’s because I haven’t been contributing anything valuable and people found someone less negative and judge-y to talk to. It’ll take a little while to clear my slate of the crap.

Your Turn

Have you found yourself in a place you’ve been before, and aren’t sure how you fell back into old, outworn patterns? What do you do to reclaim your happier self? Tell me in the comments.

Are you struggling to keep all of your entrepreneurial balls in the air? Would you like to take a task or two off your plate? Maybe it’s content creation, or perhaps it’s getting your books in order and creating a budget. If this sounds familiar and you’re ready to streamline your life and give your business space to grow and thrive, CONTACT ME and let’s talk!

Gratitude: The Surest Way Out of a Deep, Dark Pit

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful I’ve learned to recognize patterns that don’t serve me well.
  2. I’m grateful for the tools I’ve acquired on my healing journey.
  3. I’m grateful for friends who don’t desert me just because I’ve fallen into a bit of a cesspool. And I’m grateful for their confidence I’ll find my way back out.
  4. I’m grateful I can find my self-love again even when it’s slipped to dangerous levels.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance: friends, family, love, joy, dancing, honesty, support, opportunities, inspiration, motivation, gifts, peace, health, harmony, 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

We All Matter

You Always Matter

I see a lot of posts lately about how we all matter, but I think the real question is, why would we ever think we don’t?

Somehow, we’ve come to believe life has to be a power struggle where there are winners and losers, those who matter and those who don’t. Is there a lack of mattering? Not enough to go around? Or do we just believe it’s so because someone else told us?

Everything is Energy So Tap Into Yours

I recently read a post about money, and how you have to recognize it’s nothing more than Created with Canvaenergy. Once you realize that’s all it is, you’ll understand it’s limitless and there will always be enough to go around if we know where and how to look for it, or, to be more accurate, attract it.

The same is true of finding where and how we matter. In the first place, it’s not about matter to someone or because of some special characteristic we possess. We matter simply because we are. In short, we don’t need a reason to matter any more than we need a reason to exist. The very fact that we came into this human form at this particular time is reason enough.

Sure, you can say that each of us matters to someone. But the first person we matter to isn’t someone else. It’s us! We matter, first and foremost to ourselves. Yet so many people feel they need to find something outside themselves to validate them, and until they do, don’t believe they matter to anyone.

Look For Validation Within Yourself

How often do you see women who, until they’re part of a couple seem to be drifting along in a bubble of meaninglessness? Or who, until someone notices a particular quality, feel like they’re invisible. (If you ask me, there are times when being invisible is actually a good thing. As an introvert I strive for invisibility quite often with minimal success.) They’d be surprised to know people notice them all the time, and more often than not, in a positive way. But until someone comes out and says something to them, they feel invisible and worse, unimportant.

We can certainly go around telling everyone they matter and they’re important. But too many have spent a lifetime waiting to be noticed and believing until they are, they have no value. In the meantime, those whose notice they seek recognition are likely laboring under the same misconceptions!

Looking for Self-love in All the Wrong Places

Maybe that’s why people fight so hard over the little things, and are so easily drawn into https://www.flickr.com/photos/armenws/5837909811/in/photolist-9TSPcr-C3VGX-24FwY6-26x1rb6-5itLut-dhFGeP-pFWFZK-abNp5y-adf5z-hL7FHE-dhFHhY-dhFvph-dauvud-dhFwgW-dhFqWQ-dhFtAn-abeFZP-dhFDeu-dhFuoZ-dhFqbq-adhZR-abKzAD-adf81-abKx9R-bpTzDn-QVxKyY-abKyYK-9gERc8-anUgst-abeFCX-bzS7hf-abeGb2-2cYSbck-8GpCMm-abNm6Y-21Uy4Gb-4NKgmb-abNkTs-begshM-hRcioi-daKq9G-aUymi2-ZRYKoW-9tsYBM-abeFsx-bNLL6K-F2o45H-6MFFvx-9SsLVR-ZAWXwipetty battles over things like race, religion, and politics. They join with others to fight for a cause they probably don’t even understand because it means they belong somewhere; but somewhere outside their perfectly wonderful selves.

Most are losing propositions meant to distract and divide so they’ll constantly be looking for another horse to jump on, another manufactured injustice to oppose. If you ask me, it’s a wonder we don’t see more people collapsing in the streets from exhaustion. I can’t imagine trying to keep up with all the rules and expectations required to continue belonging to something as structurally sound as a wind gust.

When we find our belonging within ourselves, we don’t have to worry about the ground being pulled from beneath us. We don’t need to keep up with the latest set of rules and expectations. The only thing we need to follow is our own heart and beliefs. Those will never change at someone else’s whim.

Why Fit In? We Were Born to Stand Out.

We learn from an early age we need to fit in. As children in school, we’re subjected to bullying and teasing if we are too different from the rest. As teenagers, we’re encouraged to do things even though we know they’re wrong to avoid being ostracized. Those who walk their own path are deemed “weird”, “oddballs”, or “outsiders”. Often, they’re mistreated quite cruelly for minding their own business and refusing to join the mainstream.

Sadly, most of us are guilty at one time or another of expecting others to be like us. Yet we resent being treated the same way, even if we’re too scared to admit it, much less, speak up. I’ve judged people unkindly and unfairly more often than I’d like, though in most cases I’ve come to regret it in some way. Once I remind myself they matter because they’re as unique and special as I am, I recognize I’m neither qualified nor justified in judging them in any way.

Withhold Judgement—Always

Each time we judge someone else and find fault, we’re reinforcing a false expectation which prevents them from feeling they matter. Some are able to rise above the opinions and expectations of others. Some of us learn to face our detractors and say: If you don’t like the way I look, don’t look!

But too many turn themselves inside out trying to get even a single positive word. I did it for too many years. Worse still, I watched my mother do it with her own family, never realizing the rules changed when she showed any possibility of getting close. She died believing she wasn’t good enough, and that’s a tragedy I don’t wish to see visited on a single other human being.

I Wish Everyone to Know They Matter

My wish is that every human being who walks this earth now or in the future knows their https://www.flickr.com/photos/ky_olsen/4860839266/in/photolist-n8CFnR-o5uD96-22RQjNp-eCZ3Kq-WYUGZj-DLmHDZ-KKjkM7-8px5ayperfectly imperfect self is important and needs no improvements or changes. They don’t need to follow someone else’s rules or twist themselves into uncomfortable shapes in order to belong.

It starts with me though. I have to catch myself when I start judging or comparing. I have to recognize the wonderful qualities each person brings to the table. I need to look past qualities that don’t fit my own myopic vision and see the amazing and inspiring person waiting to be noticed and accepted as they are.

I can’t control what other people see or do. Those who still believe they need outside validation can learn by the example the rest of us set to accept and validate themselves as they are. They don’t need to be restructured or remodeled unless they want to make changes to suit themselves. In other words, there is nothing wrong with them, and everything about them is right. But if all they feel is judgement, they’ll continue to reach for the impossible. I believe we’re all better than that, and it’s time we treated ourselves and all humanity with more kindness, compassion, and unconditional acceptance.

Setting a Standard for Gratitude

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the experiences I’ve had which taught me to see I matter.
  2. I am grateful for reminders I need to treat others like they, too matter without conditions or expectations.
  3. I am grateful for friends I’ve attracted now that I accept myself as I am, making only the improvements I believe I need to make.
  4. I am grateful for the opportunity to help others learn they are important because they are unique.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, compassion, friendship, uniqueness, belonging, sharing, peace, health, harmony, 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

DUFF No More

Refusing to Remain a DUFF

https://www.flickr.com/photos/mikecogh/8225835927/in/photolist-dwTyrn-a3ks33-9mvXys-6ja1gb-9yrH2G-nDdzvx-XUYUcB-5mVAik-aGc4QM-rcaJkB-te2rAP-a7Uq98-3dzbhp-GAf1t-n7eEii-SdF6ND-NpW4QT-Nn4EE7-Q1PXro-6GmuAj-Nb8fd-aGc4LK-5rvjUB-9G5iLz-dViNns-47qcTR-8gCJx7-53s2we-8Amcx2-651TAL-e3ogb6-3Sf9H3-23Jx66D-4beknX-477UHP-Nb8cA-61cxQD-7htzF3-e3tWNL-58nCxm-e3ogk4-27FNZKJ-9NHU1S-i23hC-8Rg5Yu-5tzpF9-CvzijW-Ck2RtR-28aTBt3-MweagTI looked around at my current circle of friends at a recent dance gathering and realized a few things. First, I’ve migrated to a younger circle of women lately. I can’t always keep up with them, but there’s no shame in going at my own pace. Second, they’re all slender and look cute in their little dresses and skirts—and I’m not.

My first reaction was frustration with myself for allowing the weight to creep back on over the last few months. Not all of it, but enough that some clothes were tight again, and others looked pretty awful on me. Meanwhile, I see myself in cute little dresses but the cute little dresses don’t see themselves on me.

Protecting My Heart a Little Too Well

Too often in my life, I’ve been the fact chick amongst the skinny ones; the DUFF if you will. But https://www.flickr.com/photos/gastaum/14490581818/in/photolist-o5u28y-YfsirJ-k8x7MM-bxbe69-W1rTYx-arWoEp-9hSaAd-ahFY4U-dUPFnv-cbTML-9dRrhQ-nNcDz4-W1scJn-6Q5kQB-aPHuVt-dF2PfA-qsan3a-9Q3GD-7puXf-ca3kUb-8Qnh5S-7EPcJ1-9RZQ7L-2jv27s-3ytNAS-4Ax3Vm-7P6ms6-fLeJCZ-9eA4z4-dUzmHi-dJ2ajE-4s4eeJ-9ZWATV-4Ax3K3-6459Qr-r7YPq9-7ZBske-3ypqPa-7yi435-9uRzwZ-kdLtng-2c5brCn-HLfJSP-qTk7jd-oSdAwv-pNeYXi-3fqAZV-5btNtn-72Kth6-V4V7jqin the past, though I may not have realized it, I used my weight as a defense mechanism. Guys wouldn’t approach the fat chick when the skinny ones were around. Nobody would get close to my heart if they were too disgusted to even try to get to know me, right?

As logic goes, it was effective but faulty. I’ve since learned I don’t need excess weight to guard my heart, if that’s what I want to do. My demeanor alone can manage that task effectively. So I set myself an aggressive but reasonable goal, put it on the spreadsheet I use to track my weight, and vowed to accept all suggestions for additional dance nights. My knees may scream for awhile, but they’ll thank me in the long run as I reduce the amount of pressure they endure while carrying more pounds than they’re designed for.

Our Inside Controls Our Outside

One of those cute, slim friends pointed out I’m more of a DFF than a DUFF as I’m not and never have been ugly. Sure, there were times I was less attractive, but it was my bearing, my anger, and the misery I held close like a security blanket which contributed to my unattractiveness. The attributes I was born with had nothing to do with it.

We all control our outward appearance from the inside more than we realize. I’ve seen people the world might consider unattractive looking absolutely breathtaking because of a glow which came from within. I’ve also seen strikingly beautiful women who made me turn my head away in distaste because they exuded such ugliness and filth from within, it completely negated whatever pretty packaging they were either born with or had enhanced.

Loving Who and Where We Are

I’ve learned when we’re truly enjoying what we’re doing, or our life in general, people see that far more than what our meat suit looks like. They’re drawn to the energy (or repelled as the case may be). The face, the hair, the eyes, how we look in clothes are secondary.

Still, we tend to focus and even fixate on those characteristics in ourselves. I’m as guilty as the next person in that regard. But our outside image is fixable to some degree. I’m not a proponent of drastic measures like plastic surgery, liposuction, fat freezing, or stomach stapling, but I’ve proven I can effect the desired changes in myself. I realize it’s not the case for everyone, and some may need help getting started.

I’ve also learned we’re not going to make positive changes until we love and accept ourselves as we are. That doesn’t mean we believe we’re perfect as we are or that we couldn’t stand a little improvement. But we believe we are lovable and beautiful in our own way as we are, and worth the effort to make improvements we believe we need to make. Without that self-love, no diet, surgery, or health plan will ever be successful. It may appear so to others from the outside looking in, but to the child inside ourselves, we’ll still find ourselves lacking and in need of improvement in order to be loved.

Starting from the Inside

What I’m saying is, we need to do the internal work first or we’re doomed to fail when trying to https://www.flickr.com/photos/jessicamullen/15936340893/in/photolist-qheUWa-6tvCyC-mfcahW-kF42vg-7aHRKn-dozSYs-upc1JR-5nU36i-6ZX1X8-9soFsZ-b6p5F2-dKgSFh-9soP3r-9GGyf-edzaxy-dKgQLq-4oLacT-9z49UC-aBS6db-kF5mTy-dbhFbp-83VBDF-JGdSxG-dKgR3q-dKbnZX-kF3i5M-kF2WWF-25sqyfg-kF3het-dKgU63-7121pw-dKbnLT-6ZXghB-7aMFFo-6ZXfye-a6G8a6-26PQPAR-ceZ3mw-7aF5cr-7aHRUn-kF3FwP-dKboVp-dKbj4F-3jqo8-dKbmgk-kF5cCu-dKgPvE-edzags-dKbjKc-dKbjtVimprove our outsides. How many people spend their lives yo-yo dieting, trying the latest craze only to be discouraged? Either they lose a lot of weight only to gain it back, or find it impossible to stick with a program long enough to see significant results.

I’ve been working out consistently for a year now. I’ve seen small changes, but nothing huge. At this point, I’m still seeing only small changes, like finally seeing a hint of my collar bone. But I see myself every day. If I looked at a photo from a year ago and compared it to today, I’d see a different story. Recently, I was complaining about the weight I’d put back on. My daughter looked at me in surprise. In her eyes, I’d lost weight because my face was thinner. It didn’t matter that I felt the tightness in my pants and blouses. She only saw the slimming in my face!

Others See Progress Where We May Not

https://www.flickr.com/photos/erix/66519749/in/photolist-6SW1e-VTKUdm-M1eYnL-242z7nc-oqkg1j-proThx-fsTWuh-6k2FkX-o4wR24-y6Zwr-KfMCGq-SFv9cS-8hfbmZ-bfs4it-SkpXJ5-fTkgBF-SRG43L-oaSpyU-6LELFf-8sY2Wq-65Q84A-4uhkK6-4CwKmQ-21jdqXp-ry5GpM-RHagrR-s7emTJ-b8moxH-pgqTW-GmKEPY-7h7g9p-6tuV9R-r3UHnJ-9kePpX-b1DnC2-9Gv9Kj-RFjn7k-6tuPQR-2b4oHPW-nxaMN8-Kez8E-6tuN7i-dUaLfP-6nXEKq-TiiQCx-nXxmkn-hCDNRa-CFeyn-2YRhRS-9BUEVMaybe what my daughter sees is more than a slightly less round visage. Maybe she’s seeing the improved self-love I get from committing to a weekly routine of self-improvement. It’s a funny thing about committing to yourself. First, you love yourself enough to make the commitment. Then you love yourself enough to turn the commitment into a habit. After awhile, you see the success you’ve had with one commitment and start making others. Pretty soon, whether you realize it or not, you have a brilliant internal glow because you care enough to treat yourself like someone you love fully and completely.

It only took me the better part of a lifetime to learn what some people find so obvious. I created a lot of terrible habits I had to break before I could set better ones. I’m sure I still have a barrel-full to break and re-set, but knowing I’m on the right track; knowing I can make commitments to myself and stick with them until they become habits is a gigantic milestone in the dark, twisty path that’s been my life up to this point.

Flipping the Switch

Are you self-sabotaging? Do you focus on hating things about yourself instead of loving the person you are deep inside? If so, try committing to loving yourself. Look yourself in the mirror every morning and tell the face in the mirror how much you love them. Then make a commitment to make a small change. Schedule it, reinforce it, and stick with it for a month or better until it becomes a habit. Even small changes raise our self-esteem. I learned the hard way; but our lessons stick better for a little pain in the learning process, don’t they?

Gratitude: The Most Powerful Tool in Our Toolbox

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful I learned to commit to myself first and foremost.
  2. I am grateful for friends who inspire and uplift me.
  3. I am grateful for perspective which shows me improvements I hadn’t even noticed.
  4. I am grateful for inspiration guiding me to write further and further ahead.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; opportunities, friendship, commitment, exercise, self-love, joy, dancing, music, writing, kitty love, clients, 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

Time to Re-set Our Triggers

Recognizing Reactions Are Our Triggers

https://www.flickr.com/photos/anieto2k/8156999698/in/photolist-dqNKPQ-8xXrZz-a2tqF7-ecib3q-aR5rxR-23UMduh-aWLsg4-aQ6X3p-dTTc5c-dcyQ5m-b1FLUp-drS8ZF-bsmN5R-nNhBzE-6ssEeg-9jEcfZ-aVXtzx-j6LK2o-aNpZyT-dCTfD3-dvswdt-b3pgdi-dtXu4B-6LJawW-8CFHEg-8aL7Jf-hDdmuC-anA578-cPoDxo-9qmjuQ-dtXueV-qsdJSm-dqq1i2-2cGG4pp-dqq1sP-hp14Hw-cbnjHE-7bv7xs-chavXC-7uLgNT-8E3GL9-ar7X3y-aai6ME-nt1LXG-gZvg1N-S1DgTf-8kUop7-6532HD-exeWcJ-di6ynQThis morning, I got a wake up call in the form of a kick in the pants, virtually. Upon reading a friend’s post which started “after my morning bible study” I caught myself thinking disdainful, unkind, and utterly unwarranted thoughts. Catching myself in those thoughts, I pulled up short and asked: how is morning bible study any different from my own practice of writing morning pages? I had to answer honestly that it’s no different, any more than praying is different from my practice of meditating.

How we do what we do isn’t nearly as important as the fact we take time to listen and learn every day. What does it matter that some people use a book or listen to someone they respect, or call the source of their guidance by a name I don’t choose to recognize? They’re doing something which ultimately makes them treat others with more compassion, and treat themselves respectfully too.

The thought stream continued as I chopped vegetables for the large bowl of salad I like to keep in my refrigerator to ensure at least part of what I eat is healthy. I started thinking about the friends who are on the opposite side of the ring in today’s political arena. All too often, I’ll find myself thinking How can they possibly believe that way given everything that’s being said and done these days?

We’re the Same When You Peel Away the Layers

Suddenly, I wanted to laugh like a loon. I realized from their point of view, my beliefs are equally https://www.flickr.com/photos/clairity/4847776412/in/photolist-8oo82W-5u6siD-5EVfmX-66Pp7M-6BmYQy-grdRmN-bN9Ufi-93zViS-5DfL4c-iWDSjP-8HFwE4-4jbLhS-4YdUrM-h8fjzx-9vsNWK-bNdaHc-8GMmUx-5P4TdC-6k8szn-Gunqy-7eff1x-8qXuYJ-7cQkpq-615Wz9-8L878U-6XwDvd-dgyjH-271b9a6-5y8ShS-4BtgT2-9LVvuW-5RB2Yq-5MAW7q-7RTDqt-bDGfkZ-21JcFzu-2cy6EDS-55cWM3-2cufUke-dACBpV-aEej5W-q6iNyc-otsMXj-pdNrXJ-cbmBYW-8YxiU2-5rKVFb-pQA94L-avZUVo-2jFJNCunfathomable. Nevertheless, we’re friends and don’t see a need to argue our points. In fact, most of the time, when a hot issue is raised by someone who sees things opposite from the way I do, I’ll either make an innocuous comment before going silent, or, if the conversation continues with others who agree with them, I’ll find the opportunity to slip away.

I’ve learned, often the hard way that when our belief in something or someone has any kind of emotional trigger, it’s unlikely either side will be able to look at things through the eyes of the other. Even now as many people are claiming the economy is in better shape than ever, I look at the latest drop in stock values, or I want to ask what the current poverty level sits at. What are the major indicators which point to a healthy or weak economy, and do they consider factors for all economic levels, or just the ones deemed worthy of measurement? I know my disbelief has a strong basis in my emotional reactions to factors indirectly related to the economy. As such, I need a whole lot more than someone telling me things are better. And, I’m embarrassed to admit, it would have to come from a source I feel (not believe as it’s a purely emotional response) is reputable, preferably with facts and figures I can verify myself.

We all have our biases, no matter how hard we try not to. Even as many are trying to present both sides, their sources are typically ones they trust, and rarely a source they don’t. As such, they too are biased in what they choose to share. I’ve learned there’s no such thing as a completely unbiased opinion or report when it comes to the media, or humans for that matter. I’ve tried to counteract the bias somewhat by looking at the same story as told by a source with whom I have faith, as well as a source I have mentally deemed the bearer of fake news. When both sides agree (which actually does happen) on the recounting of a fact, I tend to conclude there’s more of a likelihood the information is valid than if each side told a completely different story.

Pause to Respond Instead of React

It isn’t always easy to step back and not try to argue a point, or question words used, or have a knee-jerk reaction to something I oppose on a visceral level. I’m learning it’s often a matter of pausing for a few seconds to allow my brain to engage, allowing me to respond rather than react. In that brief span of time, I can not only consider the words, but the speaker, and formulate a response which won’t incite an unnecessary argument.

It’s often impossible to tell why someone poses a question on a topic they know is highly emotional. Sometimes, they honestly want to understand how others feel. Others, they want to start a debate. There might also be a need on their part to see how many people are on the same page they are, and with whom they can openly “discuss” a subject they already agree on. My goal right now is to avoid getting sucked in if their purpose is anything other than the first one. To ensure my success, a pause is crucial because if I allow the first thing I think of to come out of my mouth, I’ve already undermined any opportunity I might have had to understand another point of view.

Creating Safe Zones With Our Experiences

I talk about a lot of sensitive subjects these days and endeavor to be a safe zone where those topics can be discussed by others who have been through similar challenges without fear of judgement or worse, the listener trying to fix something that isn’t broken in the traditional sense of the word. Quite often, a discussion ensues for the sole purpose of feeling support from our community.

We open up to people about our lives to enable connection. Sharing what isn’t perfect in our lives lets others know we have parts of ourselves we’re working on, just like they do. Sharing is like a door into our world. The door is an empathic connection between hearts. When one heart is closed, the door won’t open because the connection is missing and the corresponding door may not even exist.

Walls That Isolate Us

When we’ve been hurt or traumatized, we build walls to protect ourselves. In the moment, we don’t think about creating a way for people to come in and out. We’re simply trying to block out the pain and discomfort. We build walls without gates; houses without doors and windows. Only when we’ve built up some scar tissue do we realize we omitted something important. Then we have to decide whether a bit of demolition to correct the oversight is worth the pain we know we’ll endure by cracking the edifice we constructed so intensely in a moment when we were all feelings and no logic.

Knocking out a hole in the wall to make room for a door means releasing some of the pent-up pain we walled in during construction. With no guarantee that whoever is on the other side will be gentle with the flood of feelings, we huddle behind the wall, often imagining the worst. We believe only what comes to us from people and places we trust implicitly.

Endure Initial Pain to Re-set our Triggers

The trouble is, we huddle behind those pain-induced walls for so many reasons. We isolate ourselves from the mainstream of life without even realizing it. We do it every time we close our minds to how similar we are, despite our disagreement on what we believe are monumental issues. If we stopped to realize how similar we are, we’d never have to withhold our feelings again.

What we believe to the depths of our souls might not be the same, but how we came by those beliefs, if taken down to the basic components is exactly the same. It’s a crazy mix of what we read, what we hear, what we’ve been taught by example, and what triggers are set off inside us which filter how we process stimuli that has our neurons working overtime trying to keep up.

If you ask me, it’s not the beliefs we need to relax our death grip on. Instead, we need to go back and revisit the birth of our triggers and reprogram them. We need to find a compassion for ourselves we walled away during times of stress. When we accept ourselves as works in progress, we’ll find it easier to accept others with their differences of opinion, their areas of strength and weakness, and triggers of their own much more easily. I’ve always believed that if we learn to love ourselves, we extend that love to others effortlessly. Now, more than ever, I believe it’s true, because I see far too much self-loathing, buried deep within every one of us.

Many of us have come a long way on the road to self-acceptance, but have places deep inside that still fight our efforts to love ourselves unconditionally. An organism or being which loves itself unconditionally doesn’t need to react from an emotional place of hurt and insecurity because they’ve loved the hurt and insecurity away.

Start with Gratitude

My gratitudes today are;

  1. I am grateful for virtual but kicks.
  2. I am grateful I can laugh at my own foibles and backwards steps.
  3. I am grateful I’m learning to love myself unconditionally, and give up on the idea of perfection.
  4. I am grateful for the people in my life who love and support me, and know I don’t expect them to agree with me on everything. In fact, I’d prefer they didn’t.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; inspiration, motivation, excitement, anticipation, joy, love, friendship, encouragement, opportunities, new people, harmony, peace, 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.

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