“I’m starting with the man in the mirror, I’m asking if he’ll change his ways, And no message could’ve been any clearer, if you want to make the world a better place, just look at yourself and make a change.” – Michael Jackson from Man in the Mirror
I was grocery shopping this morning and I saw a kid helping his mom with bagging the groceries. Once she had finished paying, she went to finish up and she started yelling at him, telling him that he is making the bags too heavy, that he’s not doing a good job, to just go away, she’ll finish. So he walked away and started staring out the window and she started yelling at him again, saying things like whenever I ask for help, I never get it and you are so lazy.
Ouch doesn’t even quite sum up what I was thinking. I wanted to yell at that mom for crushing that kid’s spirit. For helping to encourage an “i’m not good enough” mantra that will manifest later in life. Lord knows I didn’t want to be in his shoes. But I remembered that I was. I remember being in one-on-one meetings with my boss where I was told that I wasn’t doing a good enough job, that I had to do it a certain way, that it just wasn’t good enough. I remember rarely hearing positive feedback and taking it personally, thinking that I wasn’t good enough, that I had to try harder, that I had to focus on all of my shortcomings instead of my strengths. It can make you go crazy (I think I technically was).
It’s hard to be different. It’s hard to stand up and fight for what you believe in. It’s hard to stand up and be proud of who you are after years of being told that you shouldn’t be. But here’s the key – no one said it was going to be easy.
Preach! I said NO ONE SAID IT WAS GOING TO BE EASY!!!
Loving yourself is not something that comes naturally. There are examples all the time from your friends, media, employers, family as to why you should not be happy with who you are (Note: Please do not misconstrue what i’m saying here. You can ALWAYS improve on yourself because no one is perfect. It’s the standards we measure ourselves by that are all wrong.). What I want everyone to realize is that lasting, positive change comes from within. If you are not growing/changing for yourself, it’s just not going to last. Which leads me to my list of things you should keep in mind as you grow:
1. Pay little attention to what other people think.
There is a lot of emphasis in our culture on winning. Reality shows, celebrity divorce settlements, pyramid schemes…I could go on, there really are a lot of examples. This has manifested itself into owning things, and then keeping up with the Joneses on what things you own/do – how big your house is, how big your RRSP is, how many shoes you have. Please remember, all those people judging you don’t have to be you. You have to live with you for the rest of your life (and hopefully that’s a long time!). That gives you the grounds to do what you want, wear what you want, say what you want (all within the law of course). Now, i’m not saying that you shouldn’t listen to others, because many times it can be something that is helpful for you. What I am saying though is to take all outside advice with a grain of salt. They are just opinions. Let your light shine. On your terms. Let go of expectations and begin following your own standards.
2. What you see in the world is a reflection of what you are.
I talked about this in my Show Me Love blog post, the concept of giving what you want to get back. If you see a lot of negative things around you, chances are that you are conveying that type of negative energy in your life. Here’s a real life example, back to the lady yelling at her son. She saw that her son wasn’t helping her, that she asks for help and no one does. I would offer that it’s because she always pushes people away because she wants to do it her way, so it’s probably at a point where no one offers anymore. If you want to see more love in the world, show more love. If you want to get more hugs, give more hugs. If you want to be listened to, then listen. Want to see change in the world? Please look in the mirror and change yourself first.
3. Feel the fear…and do it anyway.
This is not just a clever quote from yours truly. It’s actually the title of a great book by Susan Jeffers, Ph.D. The idea is that you continue to push yourself out of your comfort zone. Don’t let fears take control of your life. Acknowledge it and just do it! What i’m learning through my own expansion is that if it feels uncomfortable, chances are you should be there so you can learn something new.
So be strong. Be confident. Be the change you want to see in the world. Be YOU. Give yourself the permission to be the you that you were meant to be. Little changes every day will get you there. I promise. And don’t beat yourself up over not being uplifting all the time. This is a process.
How are you taking little steps to be the change you want to see in the world? Share your experiences below!