February 21, 2013

Happy Self-Reflection: 5 Things We Deserve Praise for Doing.

Self-growth can mean focusing on your beauty rather than your beast.

I’ve been feeling compelled lately to examine my own flaws, which isn’t new for me. What is new, however, is how I treat these subsequent discoveries.

As I roll through my life, I’m confronted constantly with my own positive and negative qualities.

I’m confronted with my selfishness, my aggressiveness, my ego, my woundedness—in short, my inner torments. Yet, I’m also confronted with my positive attributes: my passion, compassion, strength and fragility.

In the past, I’ve spent countless hours trying to improve these “lesser” personality traits, but my new approach is to examine these personal attributes and shrug my shoulders with a “huh, that’s interesting” and then move forward, pursuing how I can positively affect the world rather than focusing on this negativity.

The reason behind this revolution of optimism is simple: focusing on the negative, even if it’s to correct yourself for the better, is putting your energy in a bad place.

This doesn’t mean that I still don’t want to improve. Rather, it means I think these self-adjustments will happen more gracefully, more effectively, and possibly even more rapidly, if I concentrate my energy on the good.

At the same time, I don’t mean to suggest that I, or anyone for that matter, am only made up of black and white, good and bad, evil and heavenly. I learned a long time ago that to be idealistic is to be black and white, and the world is made up of shades of grey and reality—and this reality is that I have a long way to go in some areas of my self.

Still, I’ve come a long way in other areas. Read my blog How to Overcome an Eating Disorder in 6 Steps. I definitely think I’ve made some real inner triumphs that have paid off big in how I ultimately treat other people and what I offer to society as a whole, which has encouraged me to ponder, why do we not give ourselves enough credit? Why do we more often than not insist on beating ourselves up over our failings? Why are we so negative about ourselves?

I guarantee there are people out there that don’t focus on making themselves better people; that just focus on having fun. I have to speak honestly and say that I don’t relate to these people at all, and while I certainly pass no judgment (and if I do it’s envy), this blog is not for these types. This blog is for the people who, like me, fight their own demons every single day while sadly ignoring to give their angels a pat on the back.

Yesterday, I dropped my daughter off at school 15 minutes early because I needed some space for myself to breathe before I walked into my teacher training, but instead of feeling rejuvenated, I berated myself over my action and ended up walking into my classroom feeling lower than low. I felt like a terrible mama, all because I dropped my little lady off a few minutes early. Wow, was this an eye opener for me when I really stopped to think about how much it affected my attitude.

I’d like to share with you a little check-list of things to give yourself encouragement over, especially if you’re like me and you’re prone to harping on your less-than-heroic ways.

1. If you try every single day to put your best foot forward, despite or in spite of what personal trials you’re in the midst of, then give yourself not only a break, but a well-deserved congratulations.

2. If you smile at others in order to share a little bit of happiness with the world (especially if it’s a smile in the direction of someone who challenges you), then give yourself a smile in return.

3. If you wake up every single morning and get out of bed, even when the day, at first glance, is dark and gloomy, then let your own need to survive and push ahead shed some light into your world.

4. If you love with an open heart even though you know that to be so open means to also be open to hurt, then love yourself too.

5. Last but not least, if you insist on committing to daily efforts at self-improvement, then make sure to acknowledge that other 99 percent of you that needs no changing, no altering; commit to realizing that you are indeed already perfect the way you are.

The reality for me is that I’m a very “heady” person.

I often get stuck in my thoughts, in my brain, and in this false world that I create for myself—and this leads to expectations that ultimately end up deterring me from being my best self. I’ve come to the conclusion during my most recent self-studies that for years I’ve failed at improving the most damning parts of my personality—and apparently it’s time for a new approach.

I long to be as selfless as my husband. I yearn to be more present with my daughter. I crave the ability to stand tall in my confidence while radiating my humility. It seems I’ve reached a fork in the road of getting to these spaces. So instead of taking the arduously and notoriously long road of bitter self-belittlement, I’m following my bliss and carving a new path to my enlightenment.

If you happen to pass me on this easier but more direct route, be sure to stop and say “hi.”


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Ed: Kate Bartolotta

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