“Why would anyone listen to what I have to say!? My life isn’t even really very successful!!!” – me, on a bad day.
I had grandiose plans to write a blog post today about a very very special time in my life, but my Inner Critic had other plans. As the story I wanted to share was formulating in my mind, I was starting to feel the self-doubt, anxiety, fear and negativity creep in. As hard as I fought to keep the positive juices flowing, the scars of the wounds from my beaten past were throbbing, serving as reminders that life isn’t all about POSITIVE THINKING, CREATING SUCCESS and LIVING IN CONFIDENCE.
“I’m a fraud.” I started to think. “If they only knew what really happened behind the scenes.”
That’s when I knew that this was the story I needed to tell you today. So let me be raw, let me tell you what success really looks like and let me share with you that even Life Coaches have bad days-sometimes we really have to fight to believe the very words that are coming out of our own mouths. It’s only through sharing the truth, by being authentic and shedding some light in the dark corners of my mind, can I calm my own Inner Critic.
I Am Strong Because I’ve Been Weak
I know what it feels like when my mind, body and spirit are tired. I want to give up. I can feel every part of me begin to shut down. Strength isn’t moving forward when everything is going great, that’s easy. When everything is going your way, the obstacles are minimal to non-existent, and you’re hitting every green light on the road to success, that does not take strength. During those times of “coasting”, I take opportunity to recover. I slow my pace, save my energy, enjoy the view. (I apologize for more running analogies)
I have been weak. I’ve ran from my dreams. I’ve given up on relationships, people, opportunities and so much more. When I look back at that, the weakness did not serve me. Through the weakness, I did not grow. I stayed in my comfort zone, I closed my mind and gave up on myself. Also, through weakness, I’ve made poor choices. I’ve hurt people. I’ve given in to temptation because it gave immediate gratification that was easy and effortless. The flip side to that is that in my solitude, I have had to look at my reflection and with the question, “Why?” in my eyes, I had to admit to myself, YOU WERE WEAK. Through weakness, I not only did not meet my objectives, I moved farther away and did more damage to myself, my business, and even to others; for some of the damage, no amount of time will ever repair it… in those instances, I learned that time does not heal all things, it just makes it easier to accept.
Strength comes from times when everything is going wrong (or at least feels that way), or when you’re pushing past your comfort zone and not becoming victim to your circumstance. Strength is telling yourself to not give up, even when it feels like the odds are against you. Courage is strength; choosing to put one foot in front of the next when you’re not even sure that the ground can support you. Sometimes strength doesn’t look strong. On a quiet morning, with the puffiness still in my eyes from a night that was filled with tears, the strength does not beat it’s chest and proclaim itself. It softly murmurs, deep in my soul, “You can do this. This will not beat you.” The strength in that morning is that my eyes are open, my pulse is beating and the gears in my mind are turning. I might not be moving forward, but I’m not retreating either. Strength is in the stillness, the patience and the ability to remind myself that THIS TOO SHALL PASS. Strength comes from looking at times you were weak and recognizing that moments of weakness do not define you, but that you alway always always have a CHOICE to learn from it and then decide how to move forward. I am strong because I know weakness and I know how it’s worked out for me before and with that, an awareness is born that allows me to make a conscious choice to find my strength.
On days when I feel weak, beaten, afraid, lost and unsure. I know that I can either act through weakness or trust my own strength. You cannot have strength until you KNOW what it feels to be weak.
I am Wiser Because I Have Been Foolish
Oh my, I have made mistakes. BIG ONES. You know how I said “time does not heal all wounds”? This is how I know. Yes, I have regret. I have remorse. I think back on times in my life and I’m overwhelmed with disappointment. Sometimes I try and tell myself to let it go, the past is the past, what’s done is done and there’s no use still hurting over it. Sometimes that’s true, but just like so many things in life, the scars are there and while they might not hurt the way they did when the injury initially happened, it might be sensitive, or the feeling has changed, or maybe it just serves as a reminder of the pain. No amount of time will erase your past. There’s no such thing a “clean slate” in life, unless you pack up, cut all ties with everything and everyone you’ve ever known, change your identity, etc…even after going to great lengths to start over, you know your past, you see/feel your scars and you carry in your heart all that you have seen, done and felt. You cannot change, erase, edit or un-live the past, you can only accept it.
I’ve hurt people, damaged relationships, hurt my business, reacted in anger/pride, and behaved so foolishly I look back and can barely stomach it. Wow. I can’t believe I did so many of those things. Even looking back now, knowing what I know, there’s no justification in how I behaved. It was foolish. Plain and simple. Am I beating myself up? Honestly, yes, sometimes. Does it affect my life today? Absolutely. Does it define who I am today? Not one bit. Let me clarify, so not to contradict myself. The past will always exist, and there may still be consequences and ramifications because of the past, but that does NOT DEFINE HOW YOU SHOW UP TODAY! That’s where wisdom comes in.
I am wise because I learn from my past. I carry my past as a lesson book on what NOT TO DO IN LIFE. Or should I say, what I would rather not do? After all, I’m not perfect. I cannot discard or disconnect from my past or pretend it didn’t happen, but I can reflect on it and again CHOOSE to respond as my wiser self. I’d only continue to be foolish if I chose to ignore the lessons that my life has provided me. Foolishness comes from ignorance, weakness, immaturity, and fear, but wisdom comes from experience, strength, self-regulation and confidence in self and values. I am wise, because I have, more times than I’d like to admit,been a fool.
I am Confident Because I have Been Broken
When I say that I’ve been “broken”; I recognize now that it was a perception. I grew up most of my life believing I was broken. I believed I was unlovable, worthless, damaged…sadly, the list goes on and on. I battled that by trying to build an illusion of perfection. If I could convince those around me that I was “perfect”, then perhaps they wouldn’t see all the flaws that I saw in myself. To me, perfectionism isn’t about being better than everyone else, it has been about not letting anyone see that I truly felt that I was less than everyone else! Every hair in place, every bow tied perfectly, sit up straight, make the grade, win the race, smile, smile, smile. Because the thought was, “If you are perfect, you will be loved.” The real issue with the “illusion of perfection” and how that didn’t result to the feelings of “being loved” is that you cannot feel the love from others, until you feel the love from yourself. So if you believe you are unlovable, and know that that the perfection is a facade, you cannot receive the genuine love from others…ultimately the self prophecy of being unlovable.
So how do you over come that brokenness to gain confidence? Love yourself. Forgive yourself. Be kind to yourself. Live your life purposefully, honoring your values. Own who you are (scars and all ) and drop the facade. I am not confident because I’m perfect. I’m confident because I am IMPERFECT. And even through imperfection, I am lovable, I wear my scars as proof that I am strong, I take every experience and look for opportunity of growth. I won’t attempt to deceive you or myself by saying that those feelings of being “broken” don’t occasionally creep in. Some things are so deeply rooted in us, it’s a daily battle to quiet the self-criticism that continually plays in the background of our minds. However, most days I’m able to look at the many successes, blessings and real hard evidence that shows I am in fact loved, worthy and not broken! I should not carry the burden of perfection, because there is no such thing. I find confidence in that I have not only survived every “bad day” and hard experience to date, but I have power through choice on how I’ll land.
I am confident because I have been broken, but not defeated; when I felt my weakest, I found my strength and through the times I was a fool, I gained valuable lessons that have made me wiser.
For more information on Calming Your Inner Critic, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org