Do me a favour and close your eyes for a moment, making a mental list of the following two categories:
Things I like about myself:
Things I do not like about myself:
(Please do this for real...then I feel a little less exposed to be sharing mine lol)
Here we go...
Things that I like about myself: I am creative. I am an introvert, which means I love listening and observing the beauty around me. I have a strong spiritual practice. I have an incredible amount of love in my heart. I'm good at creating beautiful spaces and things, which lights me up beyond words. I am courageous. I love connecting with the beings around me in a deep, meaningful way. I have an endless thirst for studying. I am extremely good at getting stuff done.
Things I don't like about myself: I am an introvert, which means I sometimes struggle in social situations....sometimes I feel like a little snail that goes into her shell at the slightest scare. I'm sometimes brief with others when I'm in my shell. When I'm scared it means I miss out and people think I'm unfriendly. I worry what others think about me. My internal self-talk is not always friendly.
As I write these lists (and feel the resistance come up to share them openly - with the first one feeling a bit arrogant ...when do we ever praise ourselves in front of others?? And with the second one feeling extremely vulnerable) I am realising that I am writing these lists almost as if they were facts. 'That's just the way I am...' which makes it feel as if for the rest of my life that's simply how I'll be. You're an introvert. Deal with it. You're this. Deal with it. You're that. Deal with it. What??! Something about that feels so so wrong. I want to continuously challenge my internal statements about myself - allow myself to grow, change and become a better person. I want to allow myself the ability to start every day with a clean canvas.
Can we redefine old beliefs?
Redefining these beliefs can be challenging, we are surrounded by our community, our family, our partners, our friends who 'know us'. They have seen our actions in the past, maybe actions we are not always proud of and they have the ability to trigger certain behaviours in us that we don't necessarily love about ourselves. They know as a certain way - and there's a comfort to that. When we make their picture about ourselves wobble, it sometimes creates disapproval...which is exactly why it can be so scary to change....or to come out as who we truly are. However, we can use these beloved beings as tools, as our mirrors. The relationships we have with others can help us evolve our internal landscape - because they reflect our patterns, attitudes and beliefs so strongly. These relationships can be incredible gifts.
It is up to us to find the courage to never ever let these characteristics that define us be set in stone - and that is exactly the part that can be so very scary. Because as we work on changing these beliefs and characteristics we must also have the courage to take the people around us on this ride with us. This process takes time.
Have the courage to divorce
I was listening to Michael Beckwith a few days ago and he said something that deeply stuck with me: 'A successful marriage is made up of many divorces.' Meaning that any meaningful and uplifting human relationship needs to allow space for each individual to let go of certain parts about themselves, 'divorcing' these parts and finding new ways of relating. That doesn't just apply to marriages, that applies to any long lasting human interactions.
For a long time I just decided that I am shy and uncomfortable in social situations. Being in a relationship with an extrovert is pushing my belief systems about myself in that field...observing her light up at the chance of connecting with strangers makes me realise how much I actually love people and being around them. So I am practicing to put myself in situations that I would have avoided in the past - going to parties, interacting with strangers, making small-talk. And since I know I'm practicing I can take myself less seriously in the process...which is a lot of fun. I'm realising that actually once I trust and feel a connection with others, I love being expressive, loud and funny. And at the same time I can embrace the part of myself that is shy at first.
What are your beliefs about yourself? What is on that list of 'dislikes'? Have you accepted certain features about yourself as unchangeable?
The more I sit with the internal statements that I don't necessarily resonate with (my second list) the more I realize that a lot of them are not actually my own beliefs. They come from statements others have made. The come from agreements I have taken on as my own. They come from old voices inside my head. They are trained on behavior.
Personally I'm working on starting every day with an empty canvas. How far can I push my comfort zone, how can I allow myself to become the person I want to be? After all, we have to be the change we want to see in the world, right?