How do you know when you’ve succeeded at something?
I used to think success equated money. I wasn’t very successful. I never made buckets of money because my focus was service. To be in service of others. Someone told me – I think it was my dad because it sounds like him, If you have to work anyways – it might as well be to further humanity. So I did. Except for that one time I hated my job. I work for a place that was about furthering their bank accounts on the backs of their employees and keeping them impoverished. I learned a lot there and took those skills elsewhere.
Now I get a feeling. I know that sounds hippy woo woo but its true. It is a happy and uplifting feeling that makes me smile. That is how I know I succeeded at something. Its as simple as that. When I focus on service to others I get that feeling. When I focus on pleasing others to further their goals, I get depressed.
I think self-love is the most under-rated quality that you can possess. My ex never thought it was a good idea to have self-esteem. It made you arrogant and egotistical. I disagree. People who exhibit those qualities behave that way to build themselves up. They need constant validation. Loving yourself is the best gift you can give yourself. When you love yourself your well is full. Then you can give more of yourself.
I began looking myself in the mirror and said nice things to me. Sounds bonkers, I know, but hearing yourself speak truths is uplifting. I do this before bed so its the last thing I hear while I sleep in a effort to raise my vibration. Everything I say to me begins with ‘I am…’ It is very similar to saying a sankalpa during meditation except you say it so you can hear, not just think it.
I read once your soul doesn’t know the difference and will believe everything you tell it. Give yourself some loving kindness and try this before bed for a 21 days. Look yourself in the eye and repeat these:
I am kind
I am smart
I am beautiful
I am happy
I love you
I promise you will sleep better and little by little you will notice a difference in your relationships, your work and your general happiness. It takes time to undo the words and beliefs other people told you that you are. Remember, you are what you say you are. No one gets to decide that.
I also started throwing in I am wealthy because … the Universe is always listening.
It is the measure of self-worth or personal value.
Back in University I took several mandatory courses on self-esteem. My prof. was Eva Roche. I learned a lot from her. One class she invited all of us (40 ish?) to her home for breakfast. Her house was perched on Strathearn Drive overlooking the valley and downtown Edmonton. She shared this home with Senator Doug Roche. It was a strange but lovely bohemian home with the living quarters upstairs to take advantage of the views. All the walls were lined with book cases filled with books from floor to ceiling, except the living room. It had two chairs in front of a large picture window and a sofa with a soft yellow throw. I have no idea why I remember this home in such vivid detail, but I do.
Eva asked us to bring a lemon. There was food laid out on the long farmer’s table. We only had to bring a lemon. So I did. We ate, toured her home, visited with each other and finally she asked us to join her in the library. It was the largest room about 15′ x 15 ‘ square but there were no chairs in this room. We stood around the perimeter and she asked us to place the lemon on the floor. We were to think of the lemon as ourselves and place it where we felt we fit within the group. I was asked to go first. I placed it left of the centre. I didn’t not see myself as the centre of the group.
What followed shocked me. People were placing the lemons around me so by the end I was in the centre. I always felt invisible. I never was the centre of attention but I always had a kind word for people. I also would notice when someone was felling left out or alone, I would approach them so they would feel connection. The feed back I received was I was confident, compassionate and kind. True, I did see myself like that. I wasn’t the most popular but I was the reliable, kind person of the group. The most interesting part of this social experiment was the most popular person was on the outside. She didn’t feel connected. She arranged all the fun stuff to do and people loved having this social director of the group, but she never felt connected. Never being a popular person, I never thought about how it must feel. She did all those things to gain a connection and she never felt worthy of it. This shocked me to my core. After that day, I made more of an effort to connect with her. We finished out the program as best pals until she moved back to Nova Scotia.
My self-esteem took a hit living with a man who mentality and emotionally abused me. He would say things like ‘your mother doesn’t love you.’ or ‘if it wasn’t for me, you would have no one.’ He separated me from my friends and family. I was alone and disconnected. I broke up with him once, only to be sucked back in by his ability to manipulate my family. One day he said, I don’t want to have children with you because you would insist on giving them self-esteem. He spat it out as if it was a bad thing. I looked at him and it was if a glass wall shattered. I saw the sad boy on the outside wanting to connect with someone. Making me like him was his way of connecting. That was the day I began plotting my exit. I tried a few times to leave but escape is hard when you can’t articulate to friends and family why you need to leave. I didn’t fully understand myself until years later after endless journal entries and visits to my therapist.
It took a long time to get back to understanding my self-worth and personal value. I can still see people who are looking to connect. I sometimes try to connect but I get easily pulled into their emotional turmoil so I have set strong boundaries. It took years to get here, so I am cautious who I let into my circle because I want to avoid being sucked under again. But mostly it feels good to be comfortable in my own skin.
Who are the other people? My friends? My coworkers? My family? My extended family? Strangers?
Everyone sees me differently. I use vulnerability to connect with people. Some people view that as a ploy for me to further myself. Some people view that as a safe quality – it makes them feel comfortable around me. Those are the people I like. They are like me. I learn from those other people. I learn some people don’t want to be around me. Maybe I make them uncomfortable by holding up a mirror and they don’t like what they see. Or maybe they just don’t vibe with me.
My point is, it is none of your business how people see you. It is their business. Just keep on being your authentic self and things will be fine. It is stressful to pretend to be someone else so you get people to like you. Get over that. Find your people. Be yourself. Do nice things. Be good to you.
As we get deeper into these questions, they feel a little repetitive. Maybe that is the point. Keep telling yourself that you love you until you believe it.
I am comfortable being alone. In fact, I love it. I am an introvert. That doesn’t make me shy. Introvert means my energy is depleted in a crowd of people or when I am with energy vampires. Working from home during the pandemic has me living my best life. I like the quiet. I can get lots done and I don’t feel like someone is sucking the energy from me dementor style. I enjoy my own company and get my best thinking done alone.
I am a risk taker. People are not mind readers. You need to ask for what you want. This is risky and puts you in a vulnerable position. But it is helpful too. If I don’t want something I express that. If I do want something – I will say it out loud. Tell someone. They might be able to help. Tell the Universe. Nothing happens if you don’t do anything about it. Take a risk.
I am a dreamer. My grade one teacher Mrs. Long used to tell my parents I day dream too much. No I don’t. Stop blaming me because your class was boring. I used daydreaming to solve problems, think about what I want in the future or just put myself into a movie of my own making. It kept me out of trouble and I wasn’t bothering anyone. Lots of teachers were interesting and I would stay focused in their class. I can sit for long periods of time in stillness but my mind is super active planning out my future, coming up with new ideas or sometimes thinking about a scenario I wish I could have done different. I am learning from all of those scenarios. Dreaming is what makes the world better.
How about you? What three things do you love about yourself?
Of the people in your life, who makes you feel the most confident?
The hubs. I suppose your life partner should be the one you feel safest with. I know that isn’t always true. I was married before to a class A selfish abusive rat-bastard. That relationship was the opposite of instilling confidence. I went through a series of people in my life who were allowed – by me – to treat me like hot garbage. There was a deep something that was comforting about this. I knew what to expect. Knowing what to expect – even bad – was comforting. How sad is that? Feeling bad because you know what to expect. Abuse messes you up.
The hubs held space for me to explore all kinds of feelings and experiences. He was constant. Was? IS. I had a terrible “friend” once say my hubs was a good guy like it was a surprise. He is. We are a good team. He is the anchor while I go out and try new things and either fall or fly. He is there to cheer or give me Band-Aids. Our relationship has evolved into something I can’t explain but its really good. Twenty five years this June.
What do you do when you see a classmate struggling with something?
I suppose in my case it would be a colleague or peer. Throughout my life people told me I was too sensitive and I needed to grow a thicker skin. In the same breath I was too mean. So what’s the deal? The moral of the story is you can’t please everyone so you might as well please yourself. As a kid, I was hypersensitive to kids who were bullied or harmed, or even struggled with tasks. I wanted to help and protect everyone. I know there is a whole case study as to why I was like that – no need to go into the psychology of it. However, it is a trait I still have. I like being a helper.
I am careful who I help. I look at a multitude of factors.
Do I consider them a friend?
If they are a stranger – is it something I can assist with that won’t put me in jeopardy?
Do they help others?
Are the generally kind?
Do I think I can trust them?
If I can answer yes to these questions – then I will help to the level they will let me. That is important. No point in helping someone who wont accept your help. Mister Rogers tells children to look for the helpers. I know I am one of his helpers.
I knew a woman who helped strangers unconditionally because it might be Jesus – you never know. But when it came to friends and family, forget it. I always found that strange. She rather let something rot in front of her than give it to someone in her family who would use it. She would demand help rather than ask for it. That’s fine, it was her prerogative. That is not how I am. If I can, I will help. As a kid I could see when people needed help. As a hermit or recluse – not really but feels like that now in quarantine – I need verbal ques and direct asking because I feel clueless. When someone struggles, it genuinely hurts my heart. Contrary to popular sibling belief, I am not a monster but siblings see each other as forever 11 never maturing. Boundaries can make people perceive you that way because you will say no. I suppose it is complicated.
I like to say yes, but saying no can be very good for me. Evaluating the situation is new for me and smart. I think the correct answer is to be self-aware and know what you are capable of doing because you can’t give water from an empty well.
How about you? Are you one of Mister Rogers helpers?
Before I had courage to set boundaries and before I am who I think I am – not who you tell me to be, my boundaries were weak. I let people lie and gaslight me, I let people take advantage of my good nature and worst of all, I gave more chances than I ever should have. I allowed people to treat me like garbage all because I wanted to belong and I wanted friends to want me and value me. I was looking in the wrong places. I let myself down.
July 7, 2019 I snapped. I had had enough. I drew the line in the sand and walked away. I grieved for a while but mostly I reflected on the state of my mental health and began to enjoy the peace in my life.
I don’t regret anything I did for a minute.
I realize that all of events of my life led me to that moment. Choosing me was the best thing I ever did and I am glad it didn’t happen too late. I have years left to enjoy this new found freedom. I have purged former friends and family from my life. I now have a circle of friends and family who I can trust with my life. I know they have my back. They are reliable. In the end, I conjured up covenant that Indiana Jones would have chosen and chose wisely.
Boundaries are more powerful than I thought they were with the added bonus of being a set of blueprints to map out my day to day life. It took a friend telling me what I didn’t want to hear. A punch to the gut and she was right. She is the friend everyone needs. She will tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear. I even said no at work. I was off for the weekend and received a message asking for a file. I had worked overtime every day that week. I said no – I would get it Monday morning or they could ask xxx who was still working. They apologized and said Monday was fine. The world didn’t end, I wasn’t fired and I could continue with the relaxing start to my weekend. I promptly turned off my phone.
Boundaries are a beautiful thing and that is what makes me strong. How about you?
What does it feel like when someone recognizes something you worked hard to do?
Satisfying. The end.
Kidding… I can write a bit more on this topic
I used to draw a lot. The hours I spent at my desk, alone in my room drawing was astounding. I transposed images. I would look for the detail and copy them exactly. I didn’t have tons of talent to come up with something on my own, so exploring graphic design didn’t work out so well for me. But I could take an image and duplicated. If any of you know what career that could lead to, please drop me a line. Any rate, I would take these images and show my dad. He was always amazed and proud. He often encouraged me to show people my portfolio when they came to visit. It made me feel good.
I was never the athletic child and in a world where all the funding goes towards that, or you are judged by size of your body, having arts as your talent was pretty frustrating. I often felt inadequate. But art and academics came easy to me. Easy doesn’t mean it didn’t take effort. When I worked hard at something, I often heard “but it’s easy for you” or “but you are good at that”. Hell yeah I am good at it because I put effort into it. To be recognized for it was another level.
My dad has always been stellar at encouraging me. His enthusiastic response helped me pursue activities and achievements without fear. People will often shoot you down rather than build you up. It is just as easy to be a cheerleader than a discourager. So when you get recognized for the effort, it is a great feeling. Who doesn’t like that? It sure doesn’t happen often.
I like to take a page from my dad’s book, lead by example. Offer the complement. Tell someone you see their work. Show people you appreciate their efforts. If we all lifted each other up, the world would be a better place.