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Nurturing Ourselves

March 20, 2010

Who do we talk to, and are we careful in selecting them? Yesterday, I mentioned Julia Cameron’s acknowledgement page in Finding Water (2009) and the power of the gifts she outlines.

She has chosen these friends and family members and cultivates those relationships. So with whom do we chose to share our journey and what do we do to cultivate the healthy relationships? How should we accept and manage the ones that are less so.

I am often reminded of the lyrics of Caledonia. Dougie MacLean wrote: “Now I have moved and I’ve kept on moving, proved the points that I needed proving, lost the friends that I needed losing, found others on the way”.

Do we need to lose friends? What about family members? Perhaps not lose all of them, but certainly renegotiate the relationships. What are the messages you get from them? Are they reinforcing negative messages you give yourself? Are they relating to the person you were 5, 10 or 15 years ago? If you met this person tomorrow would you chose to have them in your life?

I have a friend who is proposing April 1st as “National Defriend all those People you Shouldn’t Have Friended on Facebook Day”. It is easy to make light of this, but it does beg the question – do I need to go on a negativity diet?

Every interaction, every conversation impacts us. Are we guarded? Available? Invested? Are we telling the truth? Asking for feedback or reflection? Most importantly are we listening? And when we listen, what do we hear?

Dr. Jenn (www.parentingteengirls.com) asks: “How do you treat sick fish? You treat the water, their environment.” What might you do to change your environment so you are happier, healthier?

I would argue that you surround yourself with happier, healthier people. Those aren’t necessarily the cheerful ones, or even the optimistic ones. They are the people honouring their own struggle and yours to be themselves.

We spend a lot of energy keeping our true selves to ourselves. Our “persona” is the face we show the outside world and if it is not genuinely us, we are spending a lot of energy displaying it. Underneath is a voice reminding us that the “real me” isn’t good enough to bring to the outside world.  Well why not?

Shed the voice, the inner critic and look to the people you admire. Adopt their voices, accept what it is they like about you. And affirm yourself. I love and accept myself the way that I am today, I am enough!

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Comments (2)

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  1. Amethyst says:

    I love these ideas and I work very hard to live an authentic life, but how do you convince yourself you’re enough the way you are – when it doesn’t feel that way?

    • Eve says:

      Convincing yourself that you are enough is easier said than done – and I apologise if I made it sound easy. I work from a simple model of recovery. I keep an early photo of myself in the arms of my grandmother and remind myself that the very young girl in that photo was perfect the way she was – before the harsh words and the wounds that led to the negative self talk that was my habit. It amounted to decades of “rewounding” myself.

      Not believing I am enough is believing every shaming, angry word inappropriately hurled at me; believing I am enough asserts that while my young self was rejected and given the message that only being perfect would win love and affection, I am choosing to go back and heal and recover all the potential of the little girl before the wounds.

      I guess my question would be, does living an authentic life mean that you choose to live the life of the “shoulds” and the messages of who you had to be to be “loveable” or does it mean that you have reclaimed the child you would have been had you been well parented?

      It is never too late to be your own good parent, to recover a sense of safety, of strength and of power. And as a parent of grown children who I am am sure I have wounded – I would encourage you to develop a sense of compassion as well. Negative messages are not the work of mean or evil parents – many of the messages we internalise are societal, to be valued in our culture is to be a human doing and not a human being.

      To feel you are enough is to embrace the person you were meant to be, who you are committed to becoming. And that affirmation, “I love and accept myself the way that I am today, I am enough”, was given to me by a wise and compassionate therapist 19 years ago. I have said it every day since and someday I will believe it in every one of my waking hours. Until then I will consciously remind myself that if I don’t love and accept myself, I will attract few people to my life who think that well of me and treat me as well as I deserve to be treated.

      That you are conscious and present enough to ask this question, makes me sure you are well on your way. There are no quick fixes, but more kindness and compassion for yourself, just being yourself, may pay off better than doing the work “trying very hard”.