Preface: In February of this year, a close friend of the family knew she was not long for this world, having suffered through the pain of ovarian cancer. She asked her sister Karen to post the words that poured from her heart, a testament of sorts that could be passed on once she had been laid to rest…to follow are her thoughts, Part 2
The self-doubt that imprisoned me
Held my mind captive
Only when in crises
Did I realize the true love in my life
Those with whom I crossed paths
Reached out to help
Not just close friends and family
But people I barely knew
If they could love me
How could I not love me?
This opened the door to my freedom
To accept and love myself
Step one was to learn to love myself. Hmmmm, how do I do that? In some ways getting sick helped. There were so many people that reached out with love and support…not that I felt that I was unlovable, it was just that I never made time for anyone. I was always too busy with work. Such a lame excuse.
I was shocked…cards and gifts…flowers…I didn’t expect that…. The texts and calls that I received astounded me.
It was then that I knew, if all of these people could love me with all of my imperfections then I could love me. Love is powerful and truly heals.
How do I find love for myself
When I’ve never been good enough for me?
I look in the mirror
To tell myself “I love you”
I cannot say the words
As I look into my eyes
Why is this so hard?
Why can I not stop crying?
I try every day
Until I can say it and feel it
I tried this exercise every morning. Every day, same thing – crying. Then about a week in I could finally say I love you while looking into my eyes and I could feel it in my heart. I still cried but at least I could say the words. I kept doing the mirror exercise until I could say the words without tears.
Now I tell myself “I love you” every once in a while to make sure I can still do it. Now I smile when I say these words.
To fully heal I must forgive myself
For the mistakes I have made
Allowing self-doubt to overtake my life
Why was I not stronger?
Why did I not stand up for myself?
Life has knocked me down to awaken me
As I look within to find the strength to rise
I tell myself it’s OK
Fighting back just makes me stronger
It’s time to say good-bye to my old self
Stand again and hold my head high
Now that I am able to forgive
One of the main themes across spiritual leaders is forgiveness. While doing forgiveness exercises I struggled with finding anyone that I had to forgive. The only one I had to blame was me. So I had to learn to forgive myself.
Learning how to love myself was a good start. Next I had to stop the negative self-talk. Stop saying ‘idiot,’ stupid,’ ‘what the hell were you thinking’ to myself when I made a mistake. When did I give myself permission to talk to me like that? I would never say these things to anyone. I started talking to myself like I would to a loved one with words of understanding and encouragement. This left me feeling more positive and allowed me to focus on what I could have done differently to avoid mistakes in the future.
You held my hand when I was scared
And there was nothing else to do
You stroked my hair when I hurt so badly
And there was no relief
I can’t believe how lucky I am
To have you in my life
Next I worked on being grateful. I struggled with this for a long time. I followed the advice from podcasts and books. Every night I would write down five things for which I was grateful that day. I treated it like another task to check off my list. But I didn’t feel anything. That was the problem. In order for gratitude to shift your perspective you MUST FEEL.
Getting sick helped with truly feeling gratitude. My husband was always there to hold my hand when I was scared and I was scared a lot of the time. He stayed by my side and rubbed my back when I was nauseous and shaking. When I was in pain, my daughter would stand by my bed and stroke my hair to soothe me. When I think of those times I cry and feel gratitude.
As I got better, I was grateful for every small task that I could complete. I remember the first time I was able to take out the trash…. That was a big victory. This is how the universe taught me to feel gratitude.
Now I find things to be grateful [for] throughout the day. I notice the reflection of water on the window and I’m grateful for its beauty. I’m grateful for the smirk from my son after I make a smart remark. I’m grateful when I can go to the store. I’m happier, more present and extremely grateful.
Most of my life I’ve lived missing the moment
Worrying about the future, regretting the past
All those small moments unseen
Holding happiness out of reach
Learning to feel gratitude in my heart
Awakened me to find happiness in the present.
I’ve read repeatedly to be present, be grateful for the small things in life. Things that are everyday occurrences, not just the monumental things. I didn’t get it. Until the ability to take care of myself, be independent and productive were stripped away. This made me stop and pay attention. To embrace every small joyful thing that I came across each day. The refection from the sun on the water, the pattern of the shadow from the tree, the happy dog bouncing down the street with what looks like a smile on his face.
I think of all the things I must have missed when I wasn’t present. I push away any regret and focus on being grateful that now I know better to keep my attention on the present.
Don’t fear failure
Don’t fear rejection
I am enough
With my faults and weaknesses
I am enough
Mistakes are to guide not ruin me
I am enough
Let worry subside
I am enough
We are born enough
It is only our thoughts that tell us we are not
Part of learning to love myself is to know that I am enough…. Sometimes we get a little lost and forget this fact.
Shift away from negative thoughts
Direct my attention to what fulfills me
These things I do daily
Though it can feel fruitless
One day I realize
I am happier
Though the process seems slow
Occurring too quickly would not hold the same meaning
One of the many things I have learned is that I must be consistent. As it is said your life is built from what you do with your minutes, hours and days. Giving into the temptation to be lazy and scroll through social media or watch a video takes me no further in my life. There’s part of my brain that says, ‘You’ve worked hard enough, you can watch that video’ then the next one and the next one until I’ve wasted an hour. I must force myself to say NO!
Meditation, gratitude, presence, creating momentum…. Practice your intention every day. Add it to your schedule so you don’t forget. When that voice tells you it’s ok to slack off defy it. Eventually you will see results to motivate you to keep going. The hard part is trusting results will come and pushing yourself forward. Nothing worthwhile is easy.
For the first time in a long time I am happy. Getting there and staying there means I have to be consistent. Every day.”
Do you feel yourself easily relating to Kathy’s journey?
·Were you tempted to try the Mirror exercise to see what would happen for you? If you were, and you followed through, what did you learn about yourself?
·Like Kathy, you probably have heard repeatedly about forgiveness. This is a gift you can give yourself, as it releases you from the past. Forgiveness is really about freedom. Who do you “need” to forgive?
·Have you tried the Gratitude exercise? This author also had to learn that it was not something to be checked off on a list, it was all about the feeling. What you feel, you attract; positive vibration is the key. https://chopra.com/…/a-complete-guide-to-raise-your-vibrati…
Lao Tzu, the ancient Chinese philosopher, said:
If you are depressed,
You are living in the past.
If you are anxious,
You are living in the future.
If you are at peace,
You are living in the present.
It is so self-evident, there really is no disputing that. And it all boils down to one’s thoughts. We need to pay attention to what we tell ourselves repeatedly. It is bad enough to dwell on what cannot be changed in the past, and to anticipate the extreme of what can happen in the future, but there is nothing as detrimental as incessantly berating ourselves for every misstep real or imagined.
Kathy realised that she had to stop all of her negative self-talk, asking, “When did I give myself permission to talk to me like that? I would never say these things to anyone.” And how about her observation, “We are born enough. It is only our thoughts that tell us we are not.”
“Practice your intention every day.” It is a great start to become aware of your thoughts today. But as rigorous and persistent as we have been about reprimanding ourselves on a daily basis, we must be likewise diligent about practicing kind and compassionate thinking.
Control Your Thoughts. “The hard part is trusting results will come and pushing yourself forward. Nothing worthwhile is easy.” Simple. Not easy.
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Please watch for Kathy’s Story Part 3 (and final) next month.