Tag Archive | self esteem

A DIFFERENT KIND OF SUCCESS

There’s a different kind of success.  I don’t know that I have ever heard or read its description, even though it is tremendously important.  IT

is not determined by what you do or how well you beat the competition; it has nothing to do with popularity, fashion or income.

Puzzling, eh!  Success that is not measured by accomplishment.

So how do you know you have this elusive gem?

When you know that you are precious, well and fulfilled, whether you just achieved something great or took a nap.  It is a sense of clarity

about who you are as a person.  IT comes from your heart; from the deepest part of your being.  That is why all of the work and hustle we get

caught up in have nothing to do with it.

Another way to talk about this kind of success is to call it prosperity, in the true sense of the word:  To be whole, safe and well.  Knowing

yourself, living in peace and holding to all the goodness that is available to you is prosperous indeed!  The good news:  It is yours to keep

for as long as you live, even when you no longer scramble to get ahead.

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MIRROR MIRROR

Mirror mirror on the wall,
Who’s the freakiest of all?
Is it the survivor of childhood abuse
Or the one who medicates with illegal drug use?
Is it the person who has never seen
Violence or betrayal as a daily routine?
Or is it none of us at all,
Since each is precious, mirror on the wall.

THE MAN, THE MONSTER AND THE BIRD

The man tried to look out of the tiny window in the tower where he lived.  He stretched and strained his eyes, but could hardly make out any of the town below.

 

He had worked on this forbidding edifice for most of his life, carefully securing each stone in its place, until it was solid.  There was no possible way for anybody to intrude on his space now!

 

The stones and other building materials were made from the wrongs and offenses against the man, starting when he was just a small boy.  He collected and saved each one, naming it and reviewing the circumstances that created it.   He could tell the story behind each rock with intricate details.

 

Many of the townspeople had tried to visit with him through the years.  They would smile and greet him cheerfully, whenever he went to the martket.  After numerous unsuccessful attempts, however, they had drifted away from him, tired of receiving angry, bitter replies when they offered him friendship.

 

Now, as he stood on tiptoe, trying to look out, he found himself experiencing something new.  He wasn’t sure what to call it exactly; a gnawing pain within…a terrible emptiness.  He felt as though he might cry, but the tears stayed frozen, just behind his eyes.  The lump in his throat grew; his shoulders tensed and he began to feel a headache coming on.

 

“Maybe if I lie down for a while,” he thought.

 

After lounging for most of the day, his head felt better, but the gnawing emptiness within was twice as big as it had been earlier; in fact, it was so enormous, it filled the room.

 

“Perhaps a walk would help,” he thought, so he put on his hat and took his staff; then started trudging down the long flight of steps to the door at the bottom of the tower.

 

When he got there, the Emptiness Monster blocked his path.

 

“You can’t go out there,” it growled, “you have to stay here with me.  I’m hungry and I’m going to eat you up!”

 

“No,” cried the man, “where did you come from anyway?  I never invited you in here!”

 

“Yes you did,” replied the monster, “As a matter of fact, you created me and now, I’m going to eat you up.”

 

The man turned and ran back up the stairs.  He was out of breath when he reached the top, but he kept moving, afraid to look back.  When he closed the door to his apartment, he turned around to see the Emptiness Monster standing there, staring him in the face.

 

“Go away,” the man yelled, “I don’t want you here!”

 

“I can’t,” the monster said coolly, “I am part of you.  If I leave, I die.  And now, I’m going to eat you up.”

 

The man thought desperately.  There had to be a way to escape this ugly thing.  He sat down in his favorite chair and closed his eyes.  Perhaps this monster will leave if he ignores it.  When he looked up, however, the monster was standing over him, licking its chopps.

 

“I can’t decide if you’d taste better italian style or just with a little salt, pepper and ketchup,” mused the monster.

 

“None of the above,” shouted the man, “Go away!”

 

“I already told you, I can’t.  Besides, I’m starving.”

 

The man was at his wit’s end.  “Somebody help me,” he cried.

 

“I can help,” a small, soft voice said.

 

Startled, the man looked around to find the source of these words.  At last, he saw a small, white bird sitting on the windowsill.

 

“You!”

 

He laughed; then scoffed, “Who are you and what do you think you can do with this large, ugly monster?”

 

“I will help you to get free,” replied the bird.

 

“Stop making fun of me…get out of here!”

 

The man was so frightened, distressed, confused and undone, he didn’t know what to do with himself.

 

“If that’s what you really want,” answered the bird, “I’ll leave, but there will be no one else to help you.”

 

“You heard him,”  roared the monster, “get out of here!”

 

At that, the man decided to take a chance.  If the monster didn’t like this little bird, he had nothing to lose!  Besides, he was desperate.

 

“No,” called the man, “tell me what you can do to help.”

 

“Ah, spat the monster,” that little thing can’t do anything!  This is all a delay tactic.  I’m famished; I’m going to eat you up!”

 

“First,” said the bird, “you must forgive your neighbor.  You know, the one that didn’t speak to you at the market last week.”

 

“I…I can’t,” complained the man, “he hurt my feelings.  I was just trying to be friendly.”

 

“You have hurt him many times,” replied the bird, “If you forgive him, this window will grow larger and that monster will lose a bit of size.”

 

AS the man sat, considering the bird’s exhortation, he noticed that the monster was looking through his kitchen for condiments and various utensils.  He was humming a dreadful tune as he worked.

What did he have to lose?  He could try this forgiveness thing or face certain death at the hands of this monster.

 

“All right,” he said abruptly, “tell me how to do that.”

 

The bird fluttered its wings and seemed to smile.  “It’s simple enough.  Just repeat after me:  I forgive…”

 

The man repeated the words; then watched in astonishment as his window doubled in size and the monster lost both height and girth.

 

“Hey,” protested the monster, “what did you do that for!  Bird, I told you to get lost!”  He swung at the fine white creature with a spatual; but it broek into pieces before his very eyes.

 

The man found a glimmer of hope within.  Maybe this bird could help him after all!

 

“Now what do I do?”

 

“Forgive your brother for his absence last Christmas.”

 

“I can’t do that,” the man stormed, “I had to spend the holidays alone!  He could have come, even if it was just for a couple of hours.”

 

“Yes, he could have,” agreed the bird, “or you could have gone to his house.  He did invite you first, after all.”

 

AS the man struggled with this, he noticed that the monster had gone back to his dinner preparations.  He was humming that awful song again.  HE also seemed to regain some of his size.
“Hmmm, there isn’t a pan big enough for you,” the monster said, “I’ll have to eat you a little at a time.”

 

“Forgive,” pleaded the bird, “do it now!”

 

“Quiet,” roared the monster as he threw a knife at her.  It shattered into bits on the floor.

 

Now the man was very afraid.

 

“O-okay,” he whispered, “help me to forgive my brother.”

 

“And for the time he told you that you are a bitter man.”

 

“Okay, okay,” he cried, “I forgive him.

 

Immediatley, the tower became lower and a bit wider.  The monster dropped the pan he was holding and screamed as he shrank some more.

 

“Now,” said the bird, ” forgive your friend for moving away.”

 

A searing pain shot through the man’s heart.  “I still miss him,” he moaned, “how could he do that?  He was the only one who ever came to visit.”

 

The monster seemed to be recovering a little.  It seemed that time was of the essence.

 

“I guess I can,” said the man.

 

The tower shifted as it lowered some more.  A new window appeared, letting the last of the evening light in.  The monster’s shriek wasn’t nearly as loud this time.  He was only half as big as he had originally been.  He seemed weaker as well.

 

So the evening and night went:  The bird challenged the man to forgive some more:  Neighbors, friends, siblings, cousins, the government… Things were a little touchy when she got to his parents; yet he forgave with much coaching and encouragement from the bird.  Each time, the tower became lower, bigger and more open; the monster shrank and weakened, until he was the size of a chihuahua.

 

Then, toward morning, the bird presented a challenge that the man found to be impossible:

 

“Now, it is time to forgive yourself.”

 

The man hung his head.  “I can’t,” he whispered.

 

The monster lifted his head and grew a little.  “That’s right,” it said weakly, “you’re bad.  Shame is your lot in life.”

 

“Don’t listen to him,”  The bird said earnestly.

 

“If you knew all that I have done, how right the monster is…”  The man began to sob, something he had not done since he was very small.

 

“I do know.  Most of the things you count as wrong aren’t.  You were a child and not at fault.  Later, you did things that were hurtful; you are responsible for those, but there is a way to resore everything.  It starts by forgiving yourself.”

 

“Did you know that bird’s a liar,”  the monster was now the size of a spaniel.

 

The man looked at it in horror.  IT was growing again; yet he could not forgive himself.

 

“What do I do,” he whispered desperately.

 

“Forgive YOURSELF,” urged the bird, “that is the only thing that will defeat this monster for good!”

 

It was almost noon and the monster had grown to the size of a mule.  It had tried catching the bird, spearing it with knives and other sharp objects, yelling at it, scaring it away and trying to convince the man to hold onto his guilt and shame.

 

Finally, with a desperate plea from the bird and lots of help, he did it:  He forgave himself.

 

Instantly, the tower fell away, the monster shrank to a grease spot on the ground and the man found himself sitting in front of a pleasant little cottage that had lots of windows and open space.

 

The moral of this story?

 

Hold onto offenses, refuse to forgive and you will build a big, dark, stinky tower in which you will live.  The monster of shame, self doubt, guilt and isolation will eat you alive.
Forgive, start each day with fresh hope and you will have an open life, filled with abundant love and light.

CATCHING MY “SELF”

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I have spent plenty of time and energy throughout my life, trying to lay hold of my “self.”  It’s like trying to capture a cloud or ray of sunshine; perhaps even more like attempting to catch a rainbow.
On one hand, we seem to be simple enough.  We need food, shelter, sleep and love; on the other, we are very complex.  Take any physical part, for example:  A finger maybe.  Well, let’s see, there’s skin, a variety of bones and joints, nerves, circulation…hmmm, very intricate.
Okay then, a blood vessel.  There are layers, tension and release as the heart pumps blood through it…. It can’t be reproduced because it is too unique and complicated.
WE now know that our brains are very plastic.  They rewire themselves and build new tissue any time there is an injury.  We don’t have a tremendous handle on this part of our bodies at all.
So it is with our souls.  The simplicity of needs and wants is only a shadow of who we are.  Behind that is a being who is ever changing and growing.  What was true fades as new reality becomes stronger.  Things we once understood are laid down as we gain new knowledge and wisdom.  Even wants and needs change.

There are aspects of my Self that I discover, often unexpectedly.  Many have been part of who I am forever; others seem quite new.  These parts of me emerge from beyond my cognitive grasp.  Sometimes, they are too vast and deep to probe; it is only as I receive revelation that I begin to understand them.

Hmmm, catch my “self?”  Maybe the cloud, ray of sunshine or rainbow would be easier!

A DEEPER MATTER

When I was in college, I had one of those moments of revelation that impacted me for the rest of my life:
I was beating my way along a street with my white cane, when I heard the words, “Either you will overcome this disability or it will overcome you.”  My decision was made in that instant.

 

For years, I understood that this had to do with blindness, but it is only more recently that I have caught the deeper meaning.  Not seeing is simply a matter of methodology; having a solid identity as a whole person in the face of all the social struggle is quite another thing.

 

Experiences that insist I am less than a person come from all directions:  Family members who avoid me to the point that they’ll get up and leave if I try to start a conversation with them; parents who don’t want me near their children because they’re afraid I’ll hurt them; admiration over normal life activities, such as getting up and dressed in the morning; people who don’t include me in casual conversation at a gathering; those who talk down to me in a voice that is much louder than necessary, or talk about me when I’m standing right there with them…  Many are more subtle and less related to what others do:  Being in a large group, unable to tell what is going on; having to ask for rides or help when “normal” people don’t have to do that…

 

The most important message is the one I give myself.  Experiences can tell me one thing; what I believe is another.  This requires that I get time away from circumstances for reminders.  I really am the expert when it comes to me; what others think is secondary at best.  I can tell when I need time away:  I begin to feel the weight of being an “other.”   I also become discouraged or upset at people; then I tend to “bite.”

 

Through the years, I have learned to guard the treasure that is me.  I have resigned from being the “public educator” I have been told I am.  Instead, I share the important parts of my life  with people I come to trust.  I am not out to change the world; only those individuals who matter to me.  Some of the people, by the way, with whom I don’t share are family members who prove to be unsafe to me.  They don’t want to know; I don’t try to inform.  That may sound harsh; but instead, I find that I honor them when I refrain from trying to engage them.

 

So who am I?  A person, woman, family member, friend, neighbor and citizen.  I have a flourishing garden.  I’m a musician.  I love to go to coffee with friends…oh, and I can’t see.  People who really want to know me are welcome.  I’ll be courteous and respectful to the rest.
Others may have disabilities or conditions that can be hidden; mine is right out there for all to see.  I don’t know that this makes much of a difference:  They still wrestle with the same issues.  My advice?  Choose the truth that really fits you; after all, you’re the one who has to live with it.  When you find yourself feeling weary, discouraged and sensitive, get some time away to regroup.  You get to choose:  Will you be a “public educator,” trying to teach and inform the world about your disability?  Or will you share with those  who are closest to you and leave the rest to learn as they are able?

A PRESENT

Give yourself a present
That’s neither large nor small;
That might be hard to see;
Not tangible at all.

Give yourself a present
That warms and cheers your soul;
That brings you joy and hope
And tells you that you’re whole.

Give yourself a present
That only comes from you;
Honest and courageous,
To govern what you do.

Give yourself a present
That helps to plan and dream
Of possibilities
That build your self esteem.

Give yourself a present
That brings such sweet release;
From painful doubt and fear
To faith, hope, love and peace.

Give yourself a present
That frees you from your past
That heals old offenses
So you live well at last.

LOVABLE

Because of the injuries in my soul, caused by trauma, I used to believe that I am unlovable.
“If only I…”  I would say, “then I’ll be worthy of love.”
Such a lie!
The truth is, each of us is lovable as he/she is.
Love is given, not earned.
It is the real “soul food.”
It is as essential to being alive as air and water.
Love fills us so we have some to share with those around us.
It is the connective tissue that builds us together in happy relationships.
Love opens the doors of our hearts, letting in light and fresh air.

To think that we must get to a certain point or level of “goodness” before we can be loved is as silly as thinking that an infant needs to grow up before being fed.

Actually, babies are a wonderful example of lovability without earning it:  They don’t do chores or say things just right; they eat, pee, poop and sleep; yet we adore them, just because they are.

One important lesson for me was that feeling unlovable was a judgement against myself.  It was fueled by the lies that people come to believe when they are abused.  It took many years for me to get free from all of that.  Indeed, it has been a long, often challenging process.

As I have been fed by people who love me, I have come to know that I am beautiful in my own way and lovable, just because I am.

How about you?  Do you know that you are awesomely and wonderfully made?
Do you know you are lovable, simply because  and just as you are?