Monday, 5 December 2011
The fine art of getting over yourself
I was listening to a podcast last weekend in which one of the hosts was describing going into a season of increased attention, glamor, and also vulnerability. Before it all started she went into the bathroom and said these words to herself in the mirror: You are not allowed to think of the ways you’re not measuring up. You’re not allowed to cut yourself down or feel unworthy. If you’re going to survive, you’re simply not allowed to think those thoughts.
She made it sound so simple.
And for the first time, it didn’t feel completely impossible to me.
(Do you listen to the Dear Sugar Radio podcast? If not, start immediately. If you’ve never read Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed, do that yesterday.)
I’m not sure if it’s come with age, experience, or both, but oh, it’s a lovely thing to start seeing the true nature of my insecurities.
These invisible, powerful forces have loomed so large throughout my formative and adult years. I have long believed that I’m good enough, that I don’t deserve love, that I’m not worthy of beauty and hope and belonging. Like a weight around my shoulders, these lies have held me down. They’ve changed my mind, they’ve made me doubt, and I don’t really want to know how much they’ve shaped the course of my life so far.
But just in the last little while, I’ve started to see through those beliefs, those lies, those deep anchors of my soul.
See through them as in, they’re phantoms. Shadows. They’re real thoughts I have, but they just don’t matter that much.
A few times lately when the old familiar untruths started grabbing at my ankles, I have somehow been able to see them clearly, to recognize the pattern before it held me down again, and I almost laughed.
You’re not good enough. You’re ugly. You’ll never change. You’re weak and hopeless and kind of dumb.
Ha, I thought. That’s funny. Those things are super untrue.
And even if they hold some grain of truth in them, even if I sometimes believe them, even if I’m not all the way there? My next through was oh, you again. The same, tired thoughts. Good grief, who the hell cares?
Maybe I’m just so sick of the power they’ve had over me. Maybe I’m ready to be done carrying that burden and believing things that don’t serve me.
Because it’s true, you know. Those thoughts, those beliefs, those patterns that have held you back and seemed so powerful to have held you under their thumb for so long? They just don’t matter that much.
Maybe it’ll take a thousand, a million, more tiny decisions to put down the burden of those thoughts, to shake off the weight of entrenched belief. I might carry some shadow of it on my back my whole life, but most times, I’ll be able to wave my hands and clear it like so much smoke, like a vapor, and it’s gone.