For someone who’s hosting a self-esteem challenge, I suppose it wouldn’t look very good if I began this week’s group therapy by mentioning that I’ve not been in a very good frame of mind this week, was extremely hard on myself on more than one occasion and feel as though I failed miserably with this week’s exercise. The truth is, I did have some issues, but I’m glad things happened like they did. I realized (and I hope you do, too) that realistically, we can’t claim victory over all our struggles in one week’s time, or even one month’s time. Making progress is the key. So, while I didn’t feel like I earned an A+, I suppose I should be given credit for completing the exercise, right?
First things first: my list of questions:
I often receive the most compliments on my hair.
What I admire most about myself when I look at my reflection is my eyes.
I take pride in my ability to connect with people.
I love the fact that I can go to yoga class and not feel insecure anymore.
My greatest quality is that I’m dependable.
Just out of curiosity, how many of you found the first set of questions (the ones you were just supposed to think about) much easier and faster to answer? I know they were for me. That part of the exercise was to show ourselves how much time we spend thinking negative things about ourselves as opposed to positive. Some of those answers popped into my head without any forethought at all. That’s just sad.
So, my list of questions were not easy to answer. In fact, I had to finish them in stages. When I finally did, I studied my answers for a bit and then decided that I would begin my exercise while I was doing another task: painting my living room. Good idea, I thought. That way I could really concentrate on the exercise itself.
I did pretty well, going over those positive aspects of myself while rolling the paint onto the walls. Actually, it was kind of soothing. I didn’t let any other thoughts get in the way. I just focused on my exercise and my painting. Then, about half-way through my paint job I looked around at the color I’d chosen. Suddenly, my exercise was the last thing on my mind. I’d just rolled the ugliest color EVER onto my living room walls without even realizing it. I thought I’d chosen a soft taupe. This color, now on my walls soaking up all of my positive energy was steel gray.
Normally I wouldn’t be so hard on myself for such a minor mistake, but on that day the negative thoughts were shooting out of my head like fireworks. We’ve been having some medical issues with Emmie and I hadn’t slept in three nights so I was already tired and feeling like the world was against me. I was literally at war with myself. I tried to maintain the integrity of the exercise by allowing negative thoughts to pass by, but the thing was – they didn’t want to pass by. They wanted to defeat me.
My negative Self: …and you call yourself an artist? How could you not know what color your were going to end up with?
My positive Self: It’s hard to tell what a color is going to look like by using a small paint chip. I thought it would look all right.
My negative Self: …you can’t do anything right.
My positive Self: I just need to go back to the store and get another gallon of paint and try again. It isn’t the end of the world.
But it sure felt like it at the time. I considered putting my exercise on hold until I was better rested, in a better mood. Just better prepared! But then I thought, If I do this when it’s easier, then what am I going to learn from it? I’m always going to have days when things won’t go perfectly. Now is the time I should be practicing this. I can’t let these thoughts get the best of me. If I do, then I’ll feel bad about myself for the rest of the day.
Were you able to do the exercise for the given amount of time? If not, were you able to redirect your thoughts back to the present? I managed to focus on my exercise for about 10 minutes longer but it became increasingly difficult to bring my attention back to the positive. I chose one thing about myself – my dependability – and focused on that one when I felt like giving up.
Did it feel any different knowing that you weren’t relying on outside sources to challenge your beliefs – that you trusted yourself to be content with the things you knew to be true about yourself? Luckily for me, I was the only one who tried to make myself feel bad. My husband kept saying, ‘With all of the painting you do, you’re bound to make a mistake once in a while. Paint is an easy fix.’ Boy, my negativity was on fire that day, though. What I wanted to say was, ‘Yeah, well that’s easy for you to say; you’re not the one who made the mistake!’ Instead, I was grateful for his attitude about the whole thing.
Finally, discuss how things are coming along with the Positive Reinforcement Sheet. You will be almost half-way through the Challenge by Thursday. Where are you still struggling? Where are you succeeding?
Since figuring out from last week’s exercise that I needed to be alone with myself while saying my positive reinforcing words instead of inviting my entire grade school classmates along, I have been doing much better. I think it has a LOT to do with the control I’m taking back. If I can’t bring myself to say positive things while looking at my reflection then it’s almost like I’m allowing them to win. That might not be the best way to describe it, because this is supposed to be about me and not them – but in a way, it’s motivating me to figure out a way to be at peace with all of this. I’m looking forward to seeing how I do these last couple of weeks.
Before I close my part of the session, I just wanted to repost the quote from Monday. It’s so lovely and beautiful, I think it’s worth repeating:
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?
Marianne’s quote feels so at home here. I hope it resonates with you half as much as it has with me.
Have a good session, everyone.