Self-Reflection

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I learned self-reflection during Sunday School as a pre-teen.  I don’t remember exactly how, but I do know that the concept was introduced to me there.  I think it was when our teacher told us that when we pray, we should include prayers of thanks and praise and not just ask God for a bunch of things.  Aha!  Be less self-centred.  Think of things in a new context.

I know it doesn’t seem to relate exactly to self-reflection, but for me, this was the beginning of learning to really analyze my own thoughts and actions and to step outside of myself.

Self-reflection has come in very handy for me in marriage.  When I find that I am overwhelmed with anger or frustration and I am blaming my husband for it, I try to calm down and realize what it is about me that is causing me to have these emotions (and my usually loud, obnoxious reactions). It is almost never as easy as blaming my husband; it usually comes down to something bigger that’s bothering me and I am taking it out on him, or it’s stemming from something I don’t like about myself and it’s easier to blame my husband than face the fact that I could be my own problem.

If you haven’t self-reflected, you need to.  I do most of my thinking at night as I settle into bed.  Sometimes I bounce things off of my groggy husband and he will give me validation and honesty.  When I realize that there is something about myself that I need to change, I make a plan on how to change and work hard to put it into action.  For example, there was a time where I harped about someone for a few weeks and it seemed like the person was simply under my skin and too in my face.  However, upon further inspection of the situation, I realized that I was in a funk, revelling in negativity, and that the person was in my space because they were trying to be helpful and kind.  When I accepted that I was the problem, not the other person, it made it easier for me to enjoy the person being in my space and to get rid of the cloud of negative-thinking that has been following me.

It is imperative that everyone self-reflects.  I’m sure you have come across someone in your life that you feel just cannot see the real situation.  They are blaming you for their problem, and that is wrong.  You know it, I know it, and anyone outside of the situation can see it.  The only way for the person to see that they are, in fact, the problem (not the person to whom they are transferring) is for that person to self-reflect.  The first step is admitting you have been wrong to yourself, then you can go about righting those wrongs for others.

Remember: we can’t control other people, we can only control ourselves.  Do yourself a favour and make self-reflection a regular activity in your day.  You will feel better and you will improve all of your relationships.  If you learn this now, you will be so far ahead of the game as you get older.

If I Stop Being a Pleaser, Will People Still Like Me?

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If I could teach young girls anything, I would teach them to think for themselves and then act on those thoughts.

people-pleaserI am just now, at almost 30 years old, learning to think for myself.  It’s not that thinking for myself wasn’t nurtured by the adults in my life; it’s that I always wanted to please others so much that I didn’t allow my thoughts to be heard with conviction.  It probably stems from a lack of confidence or, in some cases, from feeling less intelligent than the other person with whom I was conversing.  I know that there were times I wouldn’t express my true thoughts because I didn’t want to seem confrontational or cause problems.  I wanted to be likeable.

If I had a nickel for every time I stated my opinion, listened to a rebuttal and then backed down saying, “Yes, I see what you mean, you’re probably right,” I would be rich!  Rich in money, poor in spirit.

Due to my people-pleasing desires, I never allowed myself to develop my own firm thoughts and opinions.  This enabled me to waiver so easily on my stances because I did not have a solid foundation.

The first thing I am trying to work on is really asking myself what I think on a daily basis.  In an ideal situation I would have facts and examples ready to back up my every thought, but I do think that simply feeling in my gut where I stand on something is enough.  I am supporting myself in my thinking.  I am allowing for my mind to wander and explore all possibilities without worrying about how my thoughts will impact someone else’s opinion of me.  What do I really feel and think?

That is the first step, and it is pretty difficult!  That mind shift is tough because it is so deeply embedded into who I am.  Sometimes I wonder if I should give up because I think that deep down I will always be a people pleaser.  This leads me into the next step, which is figuring out how to be firm in expressing my thoughts and opinions without being abrasive toward others.  This is a quality that I see and admire in successful leaders.  I can be confident in myself and still be engaging and kind so that others want to converse with me.

I’m fairly confident that I know how to express myself and still maintain a calm conversational environment.  The one element that I am not so sure of, is if people will still like me if they know that I might not agree with what they have to say.  How others perceive me is out of my control and I keep reminding myself of that fact, but it is difficult to stop caring about it.

I am best at being firm in my thoughts and beliefs when it comes to protecting someone or something else.  For example, if I have to have a difficult conversation with someone but I know that it is in their best interest in the end (I did a lot of this while in social work), I am able to get through the uncomfortable parts.  If it involves the best interest of a child, I am able to have uncomfortable discussions with parents.  If I can do this for others, why can’t I do it for myself?

There is another thing that goes along with the desire to confidently express myself, politely agree-to-disagree with someone else and to not worry what the other person will think of me after – the ability to stand up for myself when I am passive-agressively insulted.  Have you ever had a moment where someone said something to you and you thought, “What the…” but because of they way they smiled and maybe gave a small laugh after you couldn’t decide if it was a joke or a jab?  This type of thing drives me bananas!  Usually I find the perfect response to their comment about 20 minutes later while driving in the car.  I want to be able to call people out on passive-aggressive behaviour.  I want to send a message that I am a kind person, but I will not be walked on.  I think that’s fair.

There is one more scenario I am concerned about and this is the most important one: what happens when I the people I want to please are the people that mean the most to me?  If I suddenly change from an agreeable person to a person with strong opinions, will they still like me and want to hang out with me?  Maybe they like me so much because I am so agreeable.

I feel like this could be seen as a personality shift and I think lots of people like me because of my personality.  I am going to have to find the right balance in the way I approach conversations, especially when I feel a strong conviction to express myself (whether it is the popular or unpopular opinion), because one thing I know for sure is that I must begin to be true to myself in the way I express my thoughts.  I must be my authentic self, expressing my true thoughts and feelings, or my life with be riddled with hypocrisy and dishonesty.  I feel like a baby learning to walk, stumbling along the way, but I have my whole life ahead of me, so I must press on because one day I hope to run.

The Meaning of Christmas

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After spending an hour sorting food donations for families at Christmas, the youth of the church I attend and work at went back to the church for some prayer.  It was lovely and I enjoyed seeing the kids let this message really sink in.

I think that this passage from Matthew 25 really shows the meaning of Christmas.  Whether you consider yourself a Christian or not, I think that most people can get behind the notion of helping others whenever you can.

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”

Thank a Teacher

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October 5 is Thank a Teacher Day (something I learned on facebook about 3 minutes ago).  While scrolling through my news feed I saw this video by Take Part TV on Upworthy’s website.  It’s worth sharing.

For me, I was influenced by many of my teachers.  Thank you to Mr. Dorson, Mr. Sanchez, Ms. Newton, Mrs. Smith, Mr. Schearer, Ms. Kutcher, Mr. Eriksson, Mrs. Daranyi, Mr. Schumacher….just to name a few of the many.  I wish now, that I would’ve paid more attention in class and soaked up all they had to offer me.  Oh well.  Que sera, sera.  (I actually know what that means because of my Spanish teachers.)

The best thing my teachers did for me is that even though I could be that annoying student who always wanted to share her work and raised her hand for most questions (I’d be waving it around when no one else had their hand up, but the teacher would be scanning the room desperately for “someone we haven’t heard from yet”), my teachers called on me and encouraged me.  They talked to me before and after class and made me feel like an individual.  Thank you.

Thank you to my coaches, as well, who took the extra time after school to teach me on the field.

Theresa Vail: The New Face of the Miss America Pageant

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theresa vailTheresa Vail is fluent in Chinese, an accomplished archer, a member of the Army Dental Corps, a university graduate with a double-major, and will be competing for the Miss America crown this year.  I was happy to read about her this morning because she has taken it upon herself to empower women through competing (and succeeding) in male-dominated sports.  She is also open to sharing her experiences with bullying during adolescence and to breaking the mold of standard pageant beauty (although she is fit, pretty, blond, and has nice teeth, she will be showing two large tattoos during the swimwear portion of the pageant).  See a local news article about her here, and a magazine article here.  Also, read her blog at missoutdoorgirl.com.

While pageantry makes me cringe on some levels (the whole physical beauty part of it really), I see the positives to it for many women as pageants provide scholarships, leadership experiences, and philanthropic opportunities.  It provides the contestants with the forum for being positive role models.

I appreciate that Theresa is bringing a new face to women who compete in pageants and sharing her unique life story along the way.

 

Unconditional Love

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I had a thought today:

You know how parents can love their children unconditionally?  What if we use that model and love one another unconditionally?

I am going to try to remember that this week.  I want to take others for who they are.  I do not want to point out their faults or complain when they are not the person I want them to be.  I am going to simply love them for who they are and what they are trying to do.  I will see the good in them and the simplicity of their intentions.  This is what I hope others will do for me.  Too often I think we personalize others’ actions when really, it’s not about us at all.  This week I will try to be less self-centered and realize, it might not be about me.

I do not want to interrupt anyone, make snap judgments about anyone, or try to manipulate others’ actions.  Live and let live.  See the good.

Don’t you think this will bring peace and harmony to us all?  Especially with the little annoyances we let ourselves get so wrapped up in each day.  Let those annoyances go.  See the positive.  Change your point of view in different situations.

I am going to challenge myself this week to change my outlook.  Will you do the same?

Something I Saw Today

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I like that Oprah Winfrey showed leadership.  When she was faced with a major injustice, Oprah took it upon herself to lead the way to a better future for herself and others.  Like most things she has done, Oprah lead with grace and respect for other people.  We can learn from her, especially in this case.

The way this played out reminds me of sports when Team A is trash-talking Team B, and all Team B has to do to show up Team A is to start winning and simply say, “Scoreboard.”