Sometimes I think we keep ourselves small by believing lies our mind masquerades as truth. Ill-rooted perspectives can have a way of misinforming us about who we are. Personality and experiences play a big part, too, of course. I have a bad habit of ignoring what I have going for me and being too focused on what I believe I’m lacking. Perfectionism has had its way with me more than once, and only recently have I realized how much it has held me back. I live with the story that I am not enough.
Can You Relate?
I think it’s a common personal hell, especially among women. We swirl around in feedback loops that hold us hostage, often filled with perceptions not based on reality. I think we all have a lot of blind spots when we look at who we are, and what “truth” we are living by. When did you last check your barometer of self-sabotage?
Have you ever noticed how effortlessly you give grace, understanding, and praise to loved ones and even sometimes complete strangers, yet find those virtues elusive when you could offer them to yourself?
The Cruel Chatter
The cruel chatter inside your mind understands the power of repetition better than you do. It tells you lies about yourself like a broken record. And what’s more, it disguises itself to sound like you. You build evidence for what it tells you by looking for confirmation outside of yourself. Before long, a royally rude reflection stares back at you when you try to look within.
Maybe you aren’t even aware of this reality. Perhaps you have been subscribing to the negative thought trails for so long, you haven’t even stopped to consider their fallacies. Instead, you continue to allow them to manipulate your mind.
What if another person spoke to you the way the chatter in your head does? How long would you allow that individual to speak to you before you decided they were a total cretin? Give the evil dialogue in your mind a name. Imagine it as another person who lives with you and goes wherever you go. Take a moment and honestly consider: how long you would listen before you told that person to hit the road?
Walk Down Memory Lane
The other day I found myself in my garage, sitting on top of a plastic bin, rediscovering memorabilia from as far back as my days in middle school. Cards, notes from friends, old photos, postcards, and letters were bursting at the seams of three or four different gallon-sized Ziploc bags. I became engrossed in reading these notes, smiling to myself as the memories came flooding back to me.
I marveled at the sentiments, but it wasn’t until I stumbled upon the letter written to me by my high school Spanish teacher that the water works really came forth. Among many kind and generous words, these were powerful:
“You have a delightful sense of humor—which has just tickled me the better I’ve gotten to know you—and a contagious laugh. You have such a refreshing way of looking at the world—you have made me look at things in a different light, and for that I am appreciative. You have so many wonderful qualities that I can’t name them all. However, what I respect about you, above all, is how you are true to who you are. In this world with all of the choices you are faced with, you go about living your life in your own way. You are gracious, humble, compassionate, and poised. You are indeed a beautiful woman, inside and out. I have loved being a small part of your life.”
Dismantle The Narrative
It felt like a healing salve was applied to the burn marks on my heart. Burns I created with the thoughts I allowed to dominate my narrative. These words from my past made me stop to re-examine that narrative, and dismantle it.
This journey is ongoing. I have to remind myself that my thoughts are not reality, take responsibility for my thought patterns, and adjust accordingly. It is work, and it takes time and patience to accomplish effectively. The plans are drawn out. The demolition has begun. The completed remodel, though, is not yet realized.
But on that day, a giant piece of ugly, puke-colored shag carpet was pulled up, revealing solid oak hardwood floors underneath. Amongst the demolition of old, mistreated, ill-designed architecture, I stumbled upon good bones.
Words can bury us. Piled on our shoulders are should’s, could’s, would’s and what if’s. But what if we excavated? Dug down, beneath the noise and the nasty narratives, and found what has always been written on our own hearts? What if we pulled up the puke-colored shag carpet, and found the solid oak hardwood floor…what if we returned to the way we were meant to be designed? That’s a “what if” I’m willing to consider.
Striving to be enough is like having one end of a rope tied around your waist, the other tied to the trunk of a tree, then attempting to go for a run. You’ll work up a sweat, and your feet will drive grooves into the ground below you that will eventually become a hole, a hole you can’t climb out of without still being attached to a tree. It’s a really silly endeavor and it won’t get you anywhere or accomplish anything.
Ah, but the tree. The tree has something to offer. It is rooted, sturdy in its humble beginnings. The tree adjusts itself for each change in season, takes in all the elements, and… grows. The tree doesn’t worry about being enough, it just GROWS. When branches get broken, new branches appear. If birds come to visit, it lends itself as a home— nests are built, and families are begun. And when a child comes looking for reprieve from the heat, its leaves cast a shadow and offer the shade. A tree is solid because it stays connected to its roots.
Rediscovering those words that day in my garage reminded me of my roots. I’m editing the words scribbled on my heart and scattered in my brain to create new sentences, ones that make sense. When the hustle and bustle of the world threatens my peace of mind, and makes me wonder if I am enough, I must stop running, un-tie the rope from my waist, and sit in the shade of a well rooted tree. The truth is, I’m well rooted, too. And so are you.