How we act, what we say, how we behave, it all has an impact on our character and integrity – even if no-one is watching. Our behaviours enhance attributes already inherent in our character – whether good or bad (and regardless of whether we can identify them or not).
In addition to what characteristics we are developing, our actions have an impact on others that we might never be aware of. I can think of people whose actions and behaviours have had some influence in my life but they will never be aware of their impact. Some of these people I have never met – but I’ve seen them from afar, heard them speak or read their words, or seen their artwork, or been impacted by their behaviours towards my friends or family. And I believe the same is true of us. There are people whose lives we may touch (for better or worse) that we might never be aware of – not just the people we meet and interact with, but those who might be on the periphery of our lives. A bus driver, the person who pours your coffee, a cleaner, a neighbour, the guy you buy your newspaper from… The person for whom my smile or my kind words might have an extraordinary impact – of which I’ll never be aware.
So my reminder for today is this: regardless of the situation, when no-one is watching, and when the world is watching – act as if what you do makes a difference. Because it does.
Whose world can I have a positive impact on today?
I think I’ve always been good at rehashing my mistakes in my memory. That way you can play and replay your faults, mistakes and perceived imperfections over and over – just in case you might forget them.
Well I’ve stopped! Now, when I become aware that I’m reliving my past faults in my head, I stop and take a moment. I forgive myself and choose to not think about it. I’m trying to replace that thought with a positive one. In so doing I’m attempting to forgive myself and move on. I’m hoping that the more often I practice this, the easier it will become a habit.
It may be a simple practice I’ve outlined but it ensures that I don’t dwell on negative experiences from the past and take steps in line with my desire to establish positive self care.
I’ve given the past too much power for far too long. Time for change. Time for small steps in the right direction.
I’ve decided that this saying sums up how I’m feeling about life at present. I am extremely grateful that I can say that, given how I found most of December particularly difficult in terms of self esteem, confidence and self care. The counselling sessions I had have helped open my eyes to some of those negative beliefs about myself and how I can change them. That I was able to say no to the negative voices on Christmas morning and I chose to focus on the positive and the now – was greatly encouraging. And that was a good step to take.
I’m more aware of my feelings – how they come and go – and I’m trying to not give them too much airtime in the present – but to assess them later when their intensity has waned and I’m capable of being a little more objective.
I’m also aware that I’m me – and not everyone will like the me that I portray – and that’s ok. If I were a piece of fruit I’d be a nectarine (which I love). And not everyone likes nectarines – and that’s ok because we are all allowed to like or dislike whatever we choose – it’s what makes us human, individuals, unique – and I’m really comfortable with that.
I guess the past few months (year maybe) has taught me about: a) being myself – and the freedom and authenticity that comes with that; b) allowing others to be whoever they are – their lives, their choices; c) learning to like, love, and care for myself; d) choosing to care less about what others think; e) learning to enjoy & appreciate my true self.
I’m a work in progress, but I’m excited about the progress I’ve made in the past few months. So for the time being, I want to re-iterate. This is my motto:
“Be yourself. People don’t have to like you, and you don’t have to care.”
And that really works for me right now 🙂
I like this quote because I think it’s both true and it’s important. But I love the photo because I took it yesterday and it is so ‘real’ (so authentic) in terms of wandering about the reserve behind our house after the rain. It was my impression of ‘how life is right now’.
What works as ‘real’ for me may be totally different to what you see as ‘real’ and that’s ok because we are different and we have different perceptions of appreciating what works for us at any given point in time. I love colour and tone and form and depth of saturation and clarity and all those things one associates with photographic challenges (and I appreciate them in painted form also), but most important, I know what works for me – and this photo works for me – because of the lushness of the green grass, as opposed to the grayness of the leaf. Then there’s the clarity of the rain drops on the leaf. And the depth of the colours. So it’s a combination of things that work for me about this photo. And I took it, and I’m proud of it.
I’m one of those people who appreciates the little things… I would go so far as to say that sometimes I overlook the big things because I’m still caught up in the beauty of the little things. And I’m ok with that. Someone needs to appreciate and stand in awe of the little things – and I do. Even though sometimes it’s not cool – I know that the One who created the miniature things appreciates them just as I do. And sometimes it’s something we share that perhaps few others do. The tiniest of plant life. A tiny fern. Any form of biology in miniature is incredibly special. And I feel grateful that I see the beauty when others might not. While that might make me odd – odd is ok if it means that I share some special appreciation with my Creator. And if we share only this intimacy, that’s pretty special in itself. But I believe we share more than just this. And that’s even more special. And for whatever this connection is (that I don’t understand but I am so thankful for) – I am incredibly grateful.
I grew up in an environment where there was no concept of self-care. If there had been it would likely have been equated to selfishness because I was taught to put others first.
Even as an adult it’s taken me a long time to come to terms with self care, self love and self compassion. I am still learning not to listen to those internal ‘shoulds’ and to actively change the thought patterns into positive ones that give me choices, rather than leaving me feeling defeated from the start, never living up to my own expectations, and not being good enough. The aim was perfection and surprisingly, I never made it! Even when I was good, my fear was that I was not really good enough.
Only recently have I really come to terms with the reasons why those ‘shoulds’ leave me in such a lose/lose situation every time. Even if I win I still lose because today’s win may well be over shadowed by tomorrow’s failure – because at some point there WILL be a failure because (surprise, surprise) I’m not perfect.
I hadn’t been able to put the pieces of the puzzle together until I learned that ‘shoulds’ are always based on expectations – whether they are my own or someone else’s. As a child and teenager I knew that my ‘shoulds’ were my parents’ voices being replayed inside my head. I think I probably assumed that my ‘shoulds’ were also the voice of my conscience.
As an adult I realise that I have the freedom to make my own choices, and that my choices can be expectation-free if I so choose. And where there are no expectations, there can also be choices free from a sense of failure. As I’ve written many times, I choose to no longer see life in the blacks and whites my parents used as their reference points. There were so many things in life that were either black or white, right or wrong, yes or no, absolutes. The choice was ‘A’ or ‘B’ with no other alternatives. I choose instead to view life as a series of many continuums and where I stand at any given point on a continuum is simply a snapshot in time (rather than a label or judgement) and may have little bearing on where I may choose to stand tomorrow. And each continuum is made up of thousands and thousands of different shades of grey (or any other colour or colours I choose at the time). I find that there are so many more options and opportunities than I was initially led to believe. And that brings freedom. And acceptance.
And the quote above also provides me with a sense of freedom – freedom to take time to rest, time for self-care, time to be, to replenish, regenerate and renew. And when I take time for myself I am actively choosing to look after myself. It’s not selfish because actually I am important too. And there’s freedom in realising that, and valuing myself.
To me, this quote is like a sword of truth cutting right to the heart of relationships. If relationships matter and we want them to prosper and flourish, then we need to be mindful of mercy and forgiveness. But more than that, if I want my relationships to thrive, I must take responsibility for showing mercy. I need to be willing to be the first to forgive. It’s one of those difficult times when actually, it’s all about me and I’d rather it wasn’t!
I’m not implying that I take sole responsibility for everything that occurs in all my relationships – simply that I need to be ready to accept responsibility for my part of those relationships. That if I want to be forgiven, I need to forgive. If I hope to be treated mercifully, then I must choose to be merciful. Whether you believe in God or karma or the universe or whatever – I figure a significant chunk of us (and feel free to correct me if I’m wrong in that assumption) probably believe that we need to exhibit the characteristics we we wish to attract to us. “What comes around goes around.” Yin and yang. The principle of what you give out you get back, or practicing what you preach.
It makes absolute sense to me – but some part of this leaves me with a sense of discomfort – and I think it’s the part about personal responsibility – about the wounded or aggrieved party being the one to show kindness. But that’s not fair! What happened to other people getting what they deserve? And that’s the point – it’s not about getting what we (or they or I) deserve. That’s the point of mercy.
One definition of mercy is ‘compassion or forgiveness shown towards someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm.’ And if a relationship matters, then forgiveness, mercy and compassion all have their own parts to play.
I guess for me it’s not until I get a different perspective that I remember what’s really important. And it’s not my own little wound (that’s probably more of a paper cut) – it’s the relationship that matters.
Regardless of whether I’m guilty of having hurt someone through my words or actions, or whether I’m making the choice to be merciful and forgive, life does seems to revolve around relationships and connections with others. If that’s the case, it’s worth taking a few moments to remember what’s required on my part to be a happy and healthy participant in my relationships.
I know I have a gentle heart. It hasn’t always been this way. Once I was a hard nosed salesperson who fought for what she wanted, and was driven and determined. Not so now – after life experiences have led me to follow my heart rather than career, money and position. And I like myself more this way. I feel like I am more authentically me. I am soft, and easily hurt; my barriers are weak these days because I let myself be loved by another and so I don’t have to defend myself like I did when I was alone. I’m no longer a castle, an impregnable fortress – in contrast I feel more like a defenseless sea sponge or a wet bus ticket!
But I believe this is how I was meant to be: soft, gentle, vulnerable…. which means I know pain and hurt and we talk sometimes; but in addition to them I have made new friends: I welcome my ally compassion and have made empathy my confidante; kindness is the companion I often look out for and gentleness an intimate colleague. I am well acquainted with hope, and we know how to find each other in dark times.
It’s not always comfortable to be the way I am; not always convenient to acknowledge my feelings; not always pleasant to have such a low threshold or to be seen to be such an obvious target. But my softness is part of my strength (though sometimes I forget this) so I take consolation in the knowledge that I am being true to myself, to my creator, to the path I’ve chosen. And the quote above is a reminder that it’s ok to be this way, that my sensitivity has value, and might even be perceived by some to be a gift in today’s world. Whatever the case, for now I choose to stay soft.
I lost most of Sunday and all of Monday due to a migraine. They were bright sunny days – so it’s even more annoying to feel like I wasted such great weather. The issue for me is not the pain, although that is a factor. What I find harder is the ‘not feeling quite right’ – a sense of discomfort or ill ease that I can’t put my finger on, almost like the breeze through an open window which comes and goes. Then following the actual migraine is the sense of feeling totally ‘wiped out’ or absolutely shattered – and to accompany this is a feeling of emotional fragility (which normally results in a period of tears). Sleep is my cure-all. The earlier I get rest away from bright light, noise, in fact away from everything and everyone, the better the outcome. It came on yesterday. This afternoon I felt physically better but emotionally wobbly. I cried for quite a while. And then it was over. I woke up again and knew I was feeling better both physically AND emotionally.
While I was going through the crying phase, the feelings were real and present, but after that phase had ended, I was aware that the feelings had gone – and I wondered if they were just illusions. Little concerns pretending to be important and valid but actually pretty small in reality, and with the benefit of hindsight.
And I was reminded of the quote about feelings being visitors – and allowing them to come and go. And I realised that I had – I had allowed them to come, given them some attention, and then allowed them to leave. And now I can view them with a little more perspective. And rather than beat myself up for letting the feelings get out of hand – I just feel pleased that they came, were acknowledged and left. No beating up required. I feel cleaner somehow, almost as if I’ve done a small emotional spring clean in a dusty corner in a back room of my psyche.
So I’m re-posting that quote because I’m grateful for it. It’s ok to feel the feelings and ok when they leave, and no self-flagellation is required. Just peace. And I’m grateful for that.
It’s all about gratitude…