Monday, January 12, 2009

Love yourself first

Winners don't do different things. They do things differently. Anonymous
It was just a simple suggestion. "When you're angry with yourself. When you feel like you've made a mistake and are chastising yourself, do something different. Don't do it the way you've always done it. Don't get angry and fall into self-defeating games filled with negative self-talk. Just do something different." And she paused. "Love yourself first."

I sat in the circle of coaches listening to Mary Davis, the daughter of Thelma Box, the founder of Choices. She had come to thank the forty coaches in the room for their commitment to the people who come into the Choices training room on Wednesday afternoon not knowing what they will experience, fearful of what they will discover, fearful they won't find what they're looking for.

"Because of you," she said, "the most powerful thing they experience in that room is love. And there is no mistake in love. So no matter what you do that you think is a mistake, or don't do that feels like a mistake, before you get angry with yourself, do something different. Love yourself first."

I sat in that circle and felt an enormous weight lift from my shoulders. It was so simple. So easy. So effortless.

I felt like I had just been handed the holy grail.

Love myself first.

Now, don't get me wrong. I love myself. It has been the journey of my lifetime, getting to this place where I can look in the mirror, look deep into my eyes and say, "I love me. Just the way I am. I am a miracle of life."

But.... And there's always that but. When I mess up by doing something that upsets my peace of mind, I tend to fall into my default position, chastising myself with the words that play in my head whenever I slip out of esteem. They are not words of support or understanding. They tend to be the words that remind me why I am a 'useless piece of flesh', a human being of enormous flawed proportions -- "I should have known better. What is my problem?"

In my angry state, I tell myself all the things I could have done differently. I could have asked first, acted second. I could have found someone else to help me. I could have checked with a supervisor. Asked a co-worker. Turned the first corner, not the second. Poured the tea with my left hand holding the teapot. Stepped left not right. Ducked not stood. Yada. Yada. Yada.

In my mind, I focus on the things I could have done differently, and avoid looking at what I can do that will make a difference. Because, in my mind I am busy repeating my litany of faults, reminding myself that 'I should have known better. If only I hadn't been so stupid as to think I needed to do it my way, when my way wasn't the right way.'

There is always another way of doing something, of doing anything. The universe is filled with limited possibilities. Unfortunately, when I leap into my "oh my gosh, I've just destroyed everything with what I did" thinking, possibilities become limited as I fall into my limiting beliefs, chastising myself for not knowing better, for not doing better, for not listening up and getting it the first time. And in that process, I hurry myself up on the road, finding excuses ffor what I did as I fill my mind with the list of all the things I could have done differently and inflating my ego with promises of things I'll do different, next time.

When I awaken to a mistake I've made, or to a better way of doing what I did, my awakening is often harsh, unruly, unkind to me. I fall into self-criticism as easily as a raindrop falls from the sky. And in my falling, my tears stream as I slip into the belief, "I should have known better. I should have done 'it' differently."

When I'm doing my best, I don't know better, I only know what I'm doing is the best that I can do in that moment. No matter what I'm doing, if I'm doing it with fear pounding in my heart, whatever I'm doing will be based on my fears. If I'm doing it with lack of confidence, whatever I'm doing will be based on my lack of confidence. In those moments, I'm not 'doing it different', I'm doing it the way I always have.

When I do whatever I do with love in my heart, what I do is different, because whatever I'm doing will be based on love. No matter the outcome, love will be the motivating force. In love, no matter what 'things' transpire, I will be safe to explore the possibilities of what I can do to create value, to do it differently on the other side of my comfort zone when I first surrender, and fall in love.

The question is: Are you holding yourself accountable in fear and anger for the things you could have done differently? Or, are you willing to do something different and love yourself first?

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