Is this how I define myself?
I grew up a tortured soul.
I know that is a big statement but looking back at the things I did and how I talked to myself, it is no exaggeration. I was willful and rebellious and got myself into a ton of trouble. I blamed others for how I was feeling and yet there was a part of me that knew I was messing up big time but didn’t trust myself enough to pay attention.
The problem was I didn’t feel like I mattered, I felt unworthy, unloved and unable to do anything about it. It wasn’t until many years later that I understood it was up to me to change how I felt about myself. It was up to me to decide how I want to define myself.
When I was a child I wish I had known that how I talked to myself matters the most. If I was more kind to myself it would extend outwards to others naturally. And even though I just turned 48 a few weeks ago, (I know right! Hard to believe!) yesterday I called myself a ‘dumbass’ because I nearly forgot to put the inkjet printer thingys in my bag to get refilled on my way to Costco.
This is how I want to define myself
The awesome thing about that moment was I immediately said,
‘That’s not fair. Don’t talk to yourself like that. It’s unkind. You’re not a dumbass, you’re smart and you ARE awesome.’
The conversation I had with myself sounded familiar as it resembles talks I’ve had with my nearly five year old son. As he weaves his way through his young life I am doing my best to teach him to be kind no matter what, and especially to himself. Every day I drop him off at daycare I say to him,
‘Be kind to your friends. Be kind to your teachers. And most importantly, be kind to you.’
When we get to the end of it he always points to himself and says ‘me‘ and when I say ‘you‘. It is so sweet and a powerful reminder for me even at this time in my life.
Raising kids brings us right up against the things that matter most in life if we pay attention. And the extent to which we love ourselves is in direct proportion to how much our kids love themselves. Our children are brilliant and full of confidence and love when they are young. We can help them keep that important connection to their joy by teaching them to be kind to themselves and to others and to provide the example for them. That doesn’t mean we have it all figured out but it does mean being honest with ourselves and if necessary readjusting of negative self talk to embrace our weaknesses and not let them define us.
Staying true to who we are and what we love about ourselves and being kind to others is a choice. Let’s keep it that way. This is how I want to define myself.
Have you watched the Ted Talk above by Ranbir Puar yet? Please do! And if you are a parent please watch it twice.
It is easier to build strong children than to fix broken men. (women)