Saturday, March 29, 2008

Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself

You know the problem with that for most of us? We don't love ourselves. Seriously.

I was brought up with a lot of guilt. It was considered right and polite to be self-deprecating. The problem with that is that it can become so pervasive that we never find a way to love ourselves, enjoy our own company, have self-confidence, or move forward in life. I was giving this a lot of thought last night as I was mulling over the acceptance letter from American University. Some of my thoughts:

Who am I to think I can do this? It's a long drive and what if? what if? what if?

What makes me think I'm a writer?

A million more what-if's...

My body has had so much trouble lately that I've developed irrational fears and a complete lack of self-confidence that I can hack it out there in the big world anymore. And yet yesterday I drove for a total of 3 hours just to go see Dr. Smug at JH. I managed to find my way there and back. I managed to park the car. I managed to deal with the stress of the visit. And I didn't even need a nap when I got home. Sometimes my fatigue is bad enough that I have to nap during my lunch hour, but yesterday I was alright.

I used to be a strong, confident person. I traveled nearly 100% of the time with a training job I had, and when I came home, I would round up the hubby and the kids and we would go do something fun. I was always go, go, go! I moved us from one coast to the other when I was on a long-term assignment in Seattle. I moved us back again. I moved us to D.C. when a great job opportunity came up. I was a great traveler, knew just what to pack, wasn't afraid of landing in a new city and driving a rental car to wherever I needed to be. These days, though, it's like I'm frozen in place. I worry. I fret. I fear.

This morning I came across a great website: Kalachakranet

There was a topic that spoke to me: Lack of Self-Confidence

So I read it. It definitely was something I needed to read this morning. Isn't it funny how these things seem to find us when we need them most? I read through the page, and it really resonated with me. My biggest problem right now isn't the illness or my daughter or my job or anything external. It is my own lack of self-esteem and self-confidence.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama said, "Self-confidence is knowing that we have the capacity to do something good and firmly decid[ing] not to give up."

How many times have I missed out on an opportunity because I am plagued with self-doubt? I write and write and keep most of that writing to myself. Yet when I have shared it with others, it evokes emotions in them. My dear former English professor can't listen to me read my poem "For Mother" without crying. No one can hear me read "All the Best Honeybees" without smelling the springtime and seeing roses in bloom. Yet I remain blocked lately for poetry.

Several citations on the web page lead one to the conclusion that a lack of self-esteem is the opposite of and equally as destructive as pride. Could this be true? It certainly feels true. If a lack of self-esteem is stopping me from being who I am, of being fully-actualized, if you will, then certainly it is destructive to me. It may be destructive to my family as well. How many things could I have done better if I had believed in myself? What monetary or spiritual gains might I have made? Could I have better provided for my family? All good questions to meditate on.

What am I afraid of? Not being good enough? Of being the little girl who was picked on in school? Eleanor Roosevelt said, "No one can make you feel inferior without your permission." So does that mean I've been giving people permission all of these years to put me in my imagined place?? Probably.

And what of the feeling of remaining "stuck?" I'm sure you know what I mean. We replay bad things or stupid things we did over and over in our heads (part of the reason I don't do high school reunions...). On this web page, the author said, "Emotionally beating yourself up is not helping yourself or the world; it does not change the past, nor does it change the future; it only makes the present miserable."

Hits. Nail. On. Head.

The present has indeed been miserable for me, so I am bookmarking this page for future (and frequent) reference. A couple of meditation prompts it offered:
If I cannot accept myself as being human, how can I ever accept and trust others? If I cannot accept and trust others, how can I respect and love them? If I cannot respect and love others, how can they respect and love me?

If I let the fear of making mistakes control my life, I could not do anything at all but lead a completely useless life, is that not something to be very afraid of?

By falling over and getting up many times, children learn that walking is possible. In judo, falling many times teaches you to fall without pain; we cannot always avoid falling, but we can often learn to avoid the pain!
That last one was like it was written for me. Even though I'm sure they meant it somewhat figuratively, it also spoke to me literally. Indeed. I expect I shall fall a few times. But maybe I can avoid feeling the pain. Or maybe I can just realize that there is nothing wrong with a little pain.

And just in case you think that you are hiding anything from the world, consider this final statement from H.H. the Dalai Lama:
What is like a smelly fart, that, although invisible, is obvious?
One's own faults, that are precisely as obvious as the effort made to hide them.
And with that, I am off to confidently shower and head out to my favorite home improvement store. Maybe I'll find a little self-improvement along the way.

Oh, and I will be accepting the invitation from American University to join their program in the Fall. :-)

Peace - D

1 comment:

Coal Miner's Granddaughter said...

This post is so very right. I'm constantly beating myself up over the littlest things that happened in the past. No one else seems to care but me. I don't know why I do this! I mean, it would be nice to not give a damn, but them I probably wouldn't be the caring person I am today. Still, though, it's obnoxious.

Thanks for this post, hon! I needed it!