Thursday, December 20, 2007

Ourselves, Version 2.2

Someone asked how one makes changes when one doesn’t know where to start. I have an opinion, of course. I believe the answer is always moving in the direction of smiling more often, having more fun, and feeling genuinely good. Not the momentary good of splurging on something we want or eating some treat. I’m talking about the kind of feeling good that lasts.

It’s taking a good, hard look at ourselves and seeing when have we felt truly good about ourselves—and doing more of it. It’s listening to that inner guidance that says: This is right—no matter what other people believe we should think or say or do.

It’s making changes by making sure we like what we’re doing. Example: If your goal is to get out more, start by asking yourself what you really enjoy doing. If you don’t know, decide to experiment knowing that if some things don’t work out, that’s okay. Set up rewards when you do something that’s hard for you—rather than beating yourself up if you don’t. If your goal is to be more giving, choose ways that will make you feel good—no matter what anyone else does or doesn’t do—rather than because you think it’s a cause you should support. If you’re trying to get yourself to do something you think you need or should do, ask yourself: What might make me WANT to do this? How can I make it fun—or if it can’t be (think going to the dentist), then what could I do afterwards as a reward that would make me smile or laugh?

What does all of this have to do with becoming a better person? Everything! If you stop and think about it, odds are you’ll realize that every time you’ve done (or not done) something you regretted, it was because you were afraid. If you’re smiling, anticipating something good, or laughing, it’s hard to imagine also being afraid. If you KNOW you can create moments of happiness for yourself, then the actions or words of others have much less power to intimidate you and you’re less likely to do or cling to things (or people) that are not healthy for you.

I know that in my own life, the times I’ve made the worst mistakes, taken actions or said things I regret, it was because I was afraid. When I feel safe and happy I don’t do that. I don’t need to. The more I’ve discovered my own strength, the more I’ve found my ability to create happy moments in my life, the easier it is to do new things, to be kind toward others, to love people and—when necessary—to let them go and truly be able to bless them. And the lovely thing I’ve discovered is that as I change what I do, others change how they respond to me. I don’t have to twist myself into a pretzel to be who someone else wants me to be and at the same time I can let them be who they are—which means I’m less likely to trigger the other person’s fears and they can be kinder and more accepting of me. I’m discovering that neither I nor anyone else has to be perfect to be worth knowing and caring about and wanting to have in my life.

It’s a process, of course. One I get better at with practice. And as you can see from my recent blogs, I don’t always succeed—at least not instantly. But I recover more quickly these days.

It’s not how most of us were raised—to look for ways to be happy and appreciate ourselves. We were taught, most of us, to believe that anything worth doing had to be difficult. I believe just the opposite—that the safer and happier we feel, the faster and better we’ll do whatever it is we want and need to do.

Here’s hoping that each of you are able to find lots of reasons to smile this week and to appreciate the best of who you are.

Sending blessings and safe and gentle (((((((hugs))))))),


Rising Rainbow said...

I think that letting other people be who they are instead of who we think they should be is really important.

Maybe just accepting that we can't do something to make them be the way we want is a huge step towards healing.

Enola said...

I think figuring out who we want to be instead of who others think we should be is important too.

keepers said...

finding for ourselves who and what we should be and who for was a big one for us, and not trying to please everyone else and be what everyone else wants, that is hard to change, but necessary. being survivors we all put ourselves last and now we have to think the opposite, within reason.
hope that made sense

Karma said...

This post is a great description of how I envision my quest. I think that fear is a big issue for all survivors. It certainly has been for me. I think my issue recently has been giving up on making myself do too many things that I don't want to do - so I'm trying to limit bribing myself and more trying to create situations that are actually good for me. (Although I think what you say about the dentist is important.) Thanks for all of your support in this quest.

Anonymous said...

Great advice and insights, April! As survivors we have a great deal of toxic indoctrination to overcome, but I think your suggestions here help us hold onto our vision and mission to self-actualize and experience safety, happiness, and security with who we are and who we want to be. Thank you. A blessed, happy, healthy New Year to you. With loVe, MW

PS I mentioned your 'spiritual name' April Optimist, in my current post. If you have time, I would love for you to check out my Sacred Name Poem exercise, as I would truly love to read yours!

jumpinginpuddles said...

i am enjoying startign to spend time learnign that what otehr peopel think of us isnt alwasy relevant nad leavfing unhealthy people behind is good

April_optimist said...

Rising Rainbow, If we can let them be who they are, it's also a step to letting ourselves be who we are, too.

Enola, It's one of the challenges we all face. And if we can be ourselves, that makes it easier to let others be themselves.

Keepers, Hard but oh, the rewards! Life is so much easier when we are okay with being ourselves. And yes, it makes perfect sense to say that we may need to learn to put ourselves first.

Karma, I think it's important to realize that if we don't do something, there's always a reason and to honor that. Once we do, we can see it more clearly and maybe find a solution that works better than not doing things. We are far more likely to succeed if we honor ourselves first and then look for how to change while letting what matters to us matter to us.

Mother Wintermoon, Thank you. I saw your post and replied there. I do see my tag as a spiritual name.

Jumping in Puddles, Good for you! So glad you are learning to value who you are.