I am now resuming my blogging after taking time off to write a book of poetry to enter it in a contest. Soon after entering, since I just made the deadline, I found out that my work had not been chosen. This hurt me so much, and gave validation (support and justification) to my fears, negative emotions, and feelings that my writing was not good enough.
In all the religions I’ve read about and experienced, each has a concept in common about being tested when you want to change or improve your life. What I’ve just experienced is such a test. It’s that devil on one shoulder/angel on the other kind of thing. (See: One says “Go ahead and try it.” The other says: “I told you that you can’t do it!” or “I told you that it wouldn’t work.”) It’s a test of whether or not you believe in yourself; if you can do more, BE more. It is much easier to fall into the victim mode, and settle for the status quo—doing the same thing over and over, expecting somehow things will change. And that is the definition of insanity! That’s when motivation STOPS! Motivation is something, like a need or desire, that causes you to act—to actually do something! And even if the need is still there, without motivation, the desire goes away.
When it is your own mind, it is extremely difficult to see and understand what is happening to you. In most cases it is much easier to see when someone else slips into the victim mode. When thinking of someone else sliding backwards in life, it is then that we have this epiphany—that AHA! moment that allows us to identify and realize that we, too, are having the same experience! It’s a wake-up call that tells us that we are not doing what we are supposed to do to make life better for ourselves. Sometimes we have to go inside ourselves to determine what that something is that we are supposed to do. It’s not the same for everyone. And sometimes it’s not the same all the time for ourselves, because our lives are always changing. Unfortunately, in most cases, we cannot go to someone else to tell us what to do.
Mindfulness Meditation is my favorite way to go inside myself (subject of a future blog). It is simply a way that Jon Kabat- Zinn created to quiet the mind and the body at the same time. Google Jon Kabat-Zinn for more information. There is no chanting. One does not lose consciousness. You are aware (more so than usual) of everything around you. In short, this is a process to teach you how to completely relax your body and clear your mind at the same time! When we are constantly bombarded with thoughts and sounds, at first, meditation is not easy to do. Once this form of meditation is mastered, ten minutes can be the equivalent of two hours of sleep! It even speeds up healing!
Many incidents in my past (all the way back to age one) took away a lot of my self-confidence/my self-esteem. I was raised during the prevailing social atmosphere where a woman was supposed to get married, have children, stay home and take care of the house and family. Her husband was the provider of things outside the home. The glass ceiling for women was extremely low! College was a place where a woman went to find a good husband. I remember a high school counselor (a professional in our American educational system) once told my mother (referring to me): “With her looks, she does not need to be in an algebra class!” Helping and encouraging ALL students strive to be all that they can be is relatively recent in our country’s history. I have to remind myself that I am lucky to be an American, because there are still some countries that continue to fight against girls/women becoming educated at all!
Once fully relaxed, looking at my situation without emotions (especially negative emotions), it is easier to see the progression of my empowerment. I have been encouraged to write for half a century! That is longer than some lifetimes! I’ve won many contests, been published, and people have paid me money for my framed poems. One year I was encouraged to enter North Carolina’s senior games in the field of literature. It absolutely shocked me when my short story, poem, and essay each won bronze, silver, or gold in their respective categories that year! Looking back at these positive happenings that validated my ability to write helps me tremendously in rebuilding my self-esteem. It boosts my courage. I dare to think that someone would want to hear what I have to say, to want me to share my experiences, and that it is possible that my words could actually help someone in their struggle to find some answers along their own journey!
We are not tested just one time. Looking back over my life, I realize that I’ve been in this position before. That encourages me. If I’ve overcome my fears and blocks before, I can certainly do it again! It reminds me of that old saying¨ It’s not how many times you are knocked down that is important. It’s how fast do you get up? Validation (support and justification) works both ways. When feeling despair, it seems so much easier to validate the negative/bad events in your life. On the other hand, you may find that it is harder to validate the good things that happen to you. That is why one’s self-esteem matters. That tells me that my self-worth needs a boost! A higher self-esteem (feelings of self-worth) enable us to see and understand our value, how we really are worthy.
Our self-talk, what we say to ourselves, and the very words we use help to validate both the good and the bad. The tests of how we feel about ourselves (our self-worth) will come after each accomplishment or stage of enlightenment. So much comes back to learning to love myself, and not allowing myself to only be dependent on relying on love from others—from outside of myself! I must look in the mirror when I wash or clean my teeth—look into my own eyes and say: I love you Beth! (It can be said aloud or silently to one’s self.) It may take a while to get used to, but self-love draws more love into one’s life! Even when I make mistakes, I must continue to love ME!
I have to force myself to remember not to allow my negative emotions to take hold for very long. Of course, I’m human, my emotions will show up whether I like it or not—both the good and the bad. However, I’m smart enough to know that negative emotions cause some enzymes to be released into my blood stream that are not in my best interest at the time. During those times I need to see a comedy—something to make me laugh and balance out the bad feelings with the good ones. Laughter and love are very powerful! I have to fight for my right to be who I really am—warts and all!
And the poetry book contest—no one won this year! My book was a mixture of both serious poems and what merchants call “bread ‘n butter” poetry. I imagine that this publisher only wanted serious. I’m working on it. I know I have the ability. And when it’s time, I’ll be ready!