I just received an email praising me for my “inherent kindness and ability to be so conscious” of those around me. I guffawed at the very idea before reflecting that, yes, that’s probably as true for me as it is for all of us. We are made from love and of love, so kindness is in our nature. But until relatively recently, I would never have made it past the guffaw.
So easy to believe the worst
Negative self-talk pervades our culture. We’re told that to really love and appreciate ourselves is not only unspeakably vain, but selfish as well.
Like so many, I grew up with a rich array of tools for making sure I never thought too highly of myself. Not only was the media showing me large-breasted (yet otherwise emaciated) women, lauded as the epitome of feminine beauty and glamor, my primary role model—my mother—is so phenomenally creative, I felt I could never measure up.
It’s not about feeding the ego. It’s about believing in our full potential
Back to that amazing email. When I guffawed, I was in part comparing my perception of my kindness with that of others. I was also remembering all the times my behavior and attitude have not measured up to my internal ideal. But these things only reinforce a self-image of being less than perfect.
I thought, “If she only knew the truth about me, she’d never say such nice things.”
Do I see you nodding? You’ve been there, too, haven’t you. Thought so.
Let’s change the channel and try an new program
The new program goes something like, “Wow. She’s recognizing something beautiful in me. What a gift, her showing it to me so I can recognize it and help it flower further.”
Programs like this don’t try to keep me in a box labeled, “awkward,” “blunt,” “shy,” or anything similarly unproductive. Rather, they expand my idea of what treasures might be hidden beyond those old habits of self-limitation if only I have the courage to see.
What might you see? I reckon it’s worth a long, loving look.
Photo credit: dotbenjamin