growth · self-flagellation · self-love

“How will I reward achievement?”

9.16.18.jpgSeemingly apropos of nothing, J would periodically say to me: I’m proud of you.

It was a strange thing to hear, like hearing someone say my eyelash hurts.  I didn’t really have a response for that, a place to settle it within me.

“Um, thanks? … Why?

Each time, I had to ask why, because it didn’t make sense to me.  It’s an odd phrase to hear from a grown-up about another grown-up—or at least it was to me.

For it to make sense to me, I needed to understand what about me was there to be proud of?  Why state that sentiment right then?  What on earth was going on??

As I reflect on it today, it reminds me of my previous experience of hearing compliments.  When folks would compliment me about pretty much anything, I would reject what they were saying in one form or another.  If it were about a piece of clothing I was wearing, well, I got it on sale.  If it were about a piece of music I performed, well, I could have done it better.  A poem I recited, well, it’s really old.

There were a thousand ways I could reject what you told me about myself — because I didn’t have a corresponding place within me that believed it.  Therefore, whatever you said was false and untrue, and immediately rejected as utter tosh.

Luckily, there came a point at which I decided very consciously to simply say thank you.  Whether I believed that person or not, whether I agreed with them or not, I was from then on to just accept their compliment.

Now that it is several years hence, I find it easier to accept positive feedback from others, though I am by no means adept at it.  I have, slowly, found corresponding places within me that agree with them, places that support and mirror what they’re telling me, and so those compliments can find a home within me.  They can land.

The same cannot be said right now for being proud of myself.  It’s clear that when J would express his pride in me, my hunting for reasons WHY was because I didn’t feel proud of myself.

When, honestly, was the last time any of us said to our own selves, “I’m proud of you”?

If you’re like me, perhaps you’ve never said it, or so seldomly it’s like Halley’s comet — rare, fleeting…and forgotten.

As I listen to the latest Deepak and Oprah meditation (“Manifesting Grace Through Gratitude”), I’m reminded of the concept that what we focus on expands.  If I am grateful for what is in my life, I will be given more to be grateful for (or, if that concept irks you, we simply become more aware of what is already here for which we can be grateful).

If what I focus on expands (positive or negative), what would it be like if I were to focus on points of pride about myself, my life, my work, my creativity…?

What if, instead of downplaying and badmouthing that I write a blog (because somehow that word feels so awful in my mouth), I celebrate that I have a commitment to and a passion for the written word?  What if instead of hating that I’m not taking voice lessons or singing regularly or practicing anything whatsoever, what if I celebrated those moments that I sing in the car or my hour on the piano this week?

My Goals Group question we’re to answer for this Tuesday is, “How will I reward achievement?”  When that was announced on the call last week, I made a vomiting noise into the phone!


Reward my own achievement?? That’s dumb.

So and therefore, dear reader, accepting that I may be even a little deserving, just a teeny tiny bit, of my own praise, my own acknowledgement, and my own love… well, that sounds like a battle worth fighting.


growth · self-flagellation · self-love

Back! Back, I say!


During my weekly Goals Group call this past Sunday, we arrived at the portion of the call when we report on our accomplishments from the past week, including how we did on our “Weekly Action Items” that we stated from the previous Sunday.

This Sunday, I looked at the 5 items listed and reported:

1) go to a gallery or museum — well, no, I didn’t do that.

2) research vlog best practices — well, sort of; I looked at one lady’s “how to”

3) post a vlog — YES! I did it!!

4) grade all my students’ essays while at work — nope. I did maybe 3.

5) 10-minutes a day on my weekly goals writing — nope.  I wrote for a half-hour-ish right before this call.

After I reported out, one of my goals buddies asked, “Can I give you some feedback?” Yes, please, I replied breathlessly. “With my daily action buddy, when I don’t do something I’ve said I’d do, I just move it onto the next day’s list.  I don’t have to judge or excuse or feel badly about it.  I just move it forward, and eventually it gets done.”

Hmmm.  So I don’t have to beat myself into submission in order to achieve the results I want to achieve?  While not a novel thought, it feels novel every time someone suggests it!

There is a dictum I’ve heard: Growth can come as much from Joy as from Pain.

And wouldn’t we all rather grow from joy?! Or at least, need a little less pain to move us forward?

I don’t want to keep putting “grade papers” or “write in advance of the call” or “raise heartrate 20 minutes” every single week.  I don’t.  But I’m also at a place in which I cannot do it much differently.  And I certainly won’t do it better or differently if it’s wrought from repeated self-flagellation — at least, not sustainably or abundantly or lovingly.

It’s an alien prospect sometimes to love ourselves into the future, yet alien though it may be, it is the only true path forward.