Wednesday, May 23, 2012

A Lesson in Self Acceptance. Or Not.

Law of Public Embarrassment, Part the First:
When you dash to the grocery store sporting soggy hair, no makeup, last year's Old Navy shorts, a three-year-old black Target t-shirt, a hoodie that belongs on a teenager, and dirty Converse, YOU WILL run into a former acquaintance--a gorgeous, brilliant, successful woman who has just moved back from Paris where she ran Something Important for an Upscale Clothing Designer.

Law of Public Embarrassment, Part Next:
YOU WILL feel compelled to say hello to this vision. And when she doesn't recognize you (GEE I WONDER WHY) you blunder on instead of saying, "Whoops, sorry, I thought you were someone else. Leaving now!"

LOPE, Part Can We Be Done, Please?
YOU WILL be certain that this woman will say to her husband, "Wow, guess who I ran into today--she certainly isn't aging very gracefully."

Moment of Enlightenment:
I drove home yelling at myself. This is an old, familiar behavior, where I berate myself in the third person: "YOU IDIOT. Who goes out in public like that? You know you look awful when your hair is damp. Why didn't you do something successful and sophisticated with your life? What on earth were you thinking when you said hello? When you get home, take these clothes off and make a bonfire with them. Why the hell did you walk away from your career? You have wasted your life and now you're too old to do anything about it."

At some point, I remembered two things: 1) This woman is genuinely very nice. 2) I would worry less about what people thought about me if I remembered how seldom they actually did think about me. Which might or might not be comforting.

And then I recognized, once again, how harsh my self-talk is. Do I talk to anyone else the way I talk to myself? No. Did my parents talk to me this way? No. Am I constantly telling myself I'm not good enough? Yes. Where the hell did I learn this? I don't know. When am I going to change this? I don't know that, either.

So today's my birthday 
Wanna give me a gift? For the next seven days, really tune in to your self-talk. Notice every single time you say something about yourself (out loud or in your head) that is mean, or angry, or sarcastic. Just notice. Don't try to change it. Just notice it.

At the end of the week, ask yourself if this is how you want to live the rest of your life. If you want to change, drop me a line. I have ideas about interrupting those patterns, and I'll be working on them for the next few months. 

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