Making Self Love a Daily Practice
The other day I was thinking about words in the English language which not only signify destructive ideas and feelings, but at times, cause them as well. In his song “Kill a Word”, Eric Church sings about words he’d like to see stricken from the language, though in his case, the words are linked to a failed relationship. Words like never, good-bye, regret, heartbreak, temptation, and evil tell a tale of love gone wrong.
Some of the words he and I would like to see die a slow death are the same, though for different reasons. Words like evil, hate, vile, and wicked are, I believe universally known to bring unpleasant feelings, and too often, actions to the surface.
The words I’d love to kill off are words that crush a spirit, or keep a person from loving who they are, and blossoming into the beautiful being they were meant to be. Words like should, or responsibility, or useful. It’s not so much the words themselves, but how they’re used, or in truth, misused.
Words Not to Live By
How many shoulds have made people question themselves? Have caused someone to do what they believed someone else wanted instead of what would make them happy? Or have caused resentment as they grudgingly did what someone said they should rather than trusting themselves and risking the ire of a parent, partner, friend, spouse, or boss?
I look back at all the times I did what I’d been told was the responsible thing instead of following my heart or even my gut. I’ve put my nose to the grindstone day in, day out, doing things which were considered useful but were slowly killing my soul and spirit. From the stories I’ve read and the people I talk to who dread Mondays, and live for Fridays, I know I’m not alone.
While we’re on the subject, when did we start believing we had to live for weekends as a reward for spending 40 plus hours a week doing a job we might not hate, but certainly didn’t love? How did I buy into the lie that it’s OK to be miserable 5/7ths of the time?
Living A Life Worth Loving
Too often, I see employment referred to as a J.O.B. Clearly it’s not a positive thing. Why do so many people live their entire lives that way? Why did I give 30 years of mine to it, not to mention the years I spent pursuing a degree in something I’d come to loathe? Don’t get me wrong. I truly love doing accounting work when I can choose the people I work with and the kind of work I’m doing. Unfortunately, I kept ending up in jobs where neither of these were true.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence so many people end up in jobs they hate, working for people they can’t even respect, much less like. Like many, I set low expectations, and of course, always got what I expected. I worked for a long string of men whose wives ruled the household. They came to work with a gigantic chip on their shoulder when it came to women in management, and blinders as to the value a woman could bring if she wasn’t hobbled by misconceptions. Many of these men had trust issues, either because a former employee (ironically, always male) had stolen from them, or because of an ugly divorce or two.
Still, I could say I chose these bosses and positions unconsciously because of my own attitude, biases, and prejudices, and because of the things I’d come to believe because of the shoulds and responsibles I bought into, often because I mistakenly believed it would keep the peace.
Seeing the Intention Behind the Words
Words have power. They can build you up, or they can shatter you into a million pieces, too often willingly, or at least with no resistance. I know I’m not alone in having fallen victim to master manipulators who use words to intentionally elicit emotional responses and behaviors. Once I recognized the patterns I’d fallen into, those words made me distrustful too. I’d hear certain words and immediately write the speaker off as someone I needed to avoid.
What I didn’t realize, but have since learned is it’s not so much the words, but how they’re used, and the intent behind them. Erring on the side of wariness isn’t a bad thing either. I had to learn not to take the wariness too far and shut down completely. Instead, it’s an opportunity to tread cautiously until the speaker’s intentions are made clear. I leave space to put up the walls if their intentions truly are self-serving or malicious.
Not every dog wants to bite. The same is true of humans. Some are as wary as I am until they feel safe. Some will cast a net around themselves, intentionally making others keep their distance until they prove trustworthy, or at least benign. That leaves the rest to either be too trusting no matter how many times they get bitten, or who believe in trusting no one.
I spent a lot of time in the last category; enough to refrain from recommending it. To trust no one with or without justification leads to a lonely existence. Even the most casual of relationships cannot survive without a certain amount of trust, even if it’s simply trusting you won’t be intentionally mistreated. I’ve learned most people are unlikely to cause another person pain on purpose.
Relationships Cannot Survive Without Trust
Still, it is human nature to put up walls after a major betrayal or hurt, limiting close contact until there’s sufficient proof history isn’t likely to repeat itself. I know of few humans who haven’t been hurt by another by the time they reach adulthood; many several times; some of those, severe.
I’m learning to recognize those hurts in the way someone talks about their life, themselves, and people from their past. Those who are most sensitive, or have been hurt deeply by other people, circumstances or both are most likely to give reasons or excuses for remaining single. All share one common attribute: the reasons and excuses are meant to convince themselves, not anyone else. In fact, anyone who truly cares about them sees it as a smokescreen or self-protective dialogue; nothing more.
Too often, that internal dialogue includes the destructive, limiting words like should, useful, or responsibility. If it worked for people on the outside, it’ll be equally effective when administered from the inside, right?
I’ve discovered the hard way when those words are self-administered they’re even more destructive; more limiting. In the first place, they’re lies. In the second, the worst lies you can tell are the ones you tell yourself.
Paying Attention to Self-Talk
As usual, I’ve talked around in circles a bit here, and exposed a few of my own wounds and scars in the process. Using artificial limitations, whether verbally or by actions begins as self-defense after a bad experience. When it becomes a lifestyle, you’ve allowed the experience to negatively impact your entire life. In the end, you’ve given away power over your own life to someone or something that doesn’t deserve the right at all.
It’s taken a lot of soul-searching, writing, opening old wounds, and tearing down rotting walls for me to discover how important it is to keep my self-talk positive, my actions towards self uplifting, and my self love unconditional. I’ve learned it’s the least anyone deserves. Only by loving myself did I learn to stop trying to please anyone outside myself. If nothing else, it’s a losing battle, both because other people don’t always know what they want, and because doing so means losing a part of myself. Why would I willingly cut off a finger or an arm? So why did I cut off part of my soul for decades?
The answers don’t matter now. What matters is recognizing and eliminating self-destructive behavior going forward. As many philosophers and spiritual practitioners remind us, you can’t change the past. It’s over. All you can change is the moment you’re in. I choose to fill mine with compliments, love, and self-care. How about you?
Finding Reasons to Be Grateful, Even for the Small Things
My gratitudes today are:
- I’m grateful for the lessons I’ve learned, the pain I’ve endured, and the healing I’ve effected.
- I’m grateful for inspiration from music, friendship, and lessons.
- I’m grateful I’ve learned to be gentle with myself, especially when I don’t meet self-imposed expectations. I know deadlines can be pushed without the world exploding.
- I’m grateful for the compassion and love I found not only in my immediate world, but all around once I stopped hiding from it out of fear and self-defense practices which had outlived their usefulness.
- I’m grateful for abundance; love, inspiration, friendship, joy, dancing, cat love, intentions, motivation, energy, peace, health, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.
Love and Light
About the Author
Sheri Conaway is a Holistic 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