Today you are you!
That is truer
There is no one alive
who is you-er
Dr. Seuss states a profound truth in a lighthearted way. Every person is a totally unique and unrepeatable being! Just as everyone's fingerprints are different, and therefore can identify them physically, each person is completely unique in a myriad of ways: physically, emotionally, mentally, creatively.
So many people feel inadequate and not good enough as they compare themselves mercilessly to others ( or conversely may feel superior, which is simply the flip side of the same comparing "coin.") Whole lives are wasted in self-criticism and mental/emotional flagellation. So much mental and emotional energy is wasted on self-hate and self-doubt which often leads to depression, anxiety, and addictions.
Research has shown that most of the thoughts we have throughout the day are repetitive, and consequently many people fill much of their day feeling bad about themselves. Can you imagine what life would be like if you didn't doubt or hate yourself for even a minute, if you didn't live with shame (which is a feeling of not being good enough, of worthlessness). What would life be like if each person truly valued themselves and their unique gifts, skills, contributions, creativity and also valued the same in everyone else?
I encourage you to spend a day ( or an hour, or five minutes or even one minute) appreciating your uniqueness as a human being, appreciating the qualities that make you uniquely you.
Curiosity will conquer fear
even more than bravery will.
~ James Stephens
Fear can be an overwhelming mental, emotional and physical experience. It can paralyze you, or push you into fight or flight mode. It often gets to the point that you may be afraid of fear, a vicious cycle that perpetuates the state of fear. It may reach the point that you are frequently in a state of fear or have set up a complex defense system of avoidance, where you aren't consciously aware of the fear, yet it is still effecting you.
I was fascinated by the above quote that suggests bringing curiosity to fear, rather than will power or courage to power through it. If fear could lose its stigma as the internal bogeyman, how might you relate to it differently? What might you learn from it?
If you try approaching fear with curiosity, you might ask yourself what the fear feels like in your body and where you feel it. If you keep your attention there, does it stay the same or does it shift? Is there a color, an image, a memory associated with the fear?
Can you trace back to the trigger of this feeling of fear? Was there a particular thought, or image, an interaction with someone or an imagined interaction with someone? When exactly did you become aware of the fear?
Does fear come up when you imagine a particular outcome in an interaction of some kind? Are there particular situations or imagined future situations or outcomes that tend to evoke fear?
There are many questions to ask yourself in an attempt to get to know, even to "befriend" the fear, at the very least to look behind the curtain in the Wizard of Oz and see the little man behind the scary image of the Wizard.
Last night as I was sleeping,
I dreamt—marvelous error!--
that I had a beehive
here inside my heart.
And the golden bees
were making white combs
and sweet honey
from my old failures.
I love this excerpt from Machado's poem as it states so beautifully a very important truth: That so much of the sweetness and richness, the depth and beauty in life, are born directly from what may seem like a failure, a catastrophe, or an unspeakable nightmare.
So often you may have an image or idea of how your life is supposed to be, or how or with whom) a relationship is supposed to be, or a job, or your body, or an endless number of things you may have very strong opinions about. And when these things don't come to pass, or they fail or you feel that you have failed, you judge yourself harshly and often cruelly.
Yet so often, the "old failures" have to be experienced to learn what is and isn't you, what works and doesn't work for you, what are truly your passions and what were simply things you thought you were supposed to be, do or have. How can you know without trying?
Yet often you may feel deep shame for not being what you consider to be perfect. It's a set-up for a life of self-hate and self-doubt, where nothing will be enough, nothing will satisfy.
Can you imagine that things that feel like failures in your life provide an opportunity to grow a "beehive in your heart," where something new and as sweet as honey is being produced from the very fiber of your failures? Can you imagine the bees at work at this very moment "making white combs and sweet honey from your old failures?"
Peggy Handler, MFT, is a psychotherapist in San Francisco's Noe Valley