I recently volunteered to serve at a Mother's Tea for second grade at school. I have attended two of these teas on the receiving end and it is a sweet, sweet event. By the time I got there... I was very happy to serve. (You know the party that you don't want to go to, but in the end you have a great time!) Several moms and teachers thanked those of us who served. As we were walking to our cars, a Facebook acquaintance said something to the effect that she sees me volunteering a lot. And in my head I immediately downplayed anything that she might have noticed that I have done, and thought, it wasn't really that much.
And then I remembered she is a single mom who is busting it, to try to spend quality time with her kids around working and providing. And she is judging herself for not being able to volunteer more or be with her kids more. And I'm judging myself saying that I don't volunteer enough, I should do more (and... that it doesn't look perfect enough.)
Now, I am speaking as a woman and a mom, why are we so hard on ourselves? But yet further, it really doesn't matter why- because I just want to stop the judgement!
In that moment after I questioned the veracity of this friend's statement, I decided, LET ME TAKE IT IN!! (Huge moment!) I glowed in it for a few seconds. I acknowledged to myself, I do a lot with my kids, volunteer and otherwise. (And this friend does too!) And volunteering has been on my mind a lot lately.
For some reason, as women, we get a message that we are never enough: we don't look perfect or thin enough, we could be better mothers, spouses, daughters, friends, our houses need updating and are never clean enough, etc. etc. There are endless ways we can criticize ourselves. And that self- criticism seems to go hand in had with criticizing those around us. Letting all of the judgement go is so freeing.
I have been learning to let the "oh so critical" thoughts go, baby step by baby step. When a negative thought pops in my head, I first have to recognize it for what it is - fear. All things boil down to fear or love. And I'm all for love now baby! And this is critical - we can't change what we don't see.
AWARENESS IS THE FIRST STEP!
Until I mastered awareness, I couldn't even begin to dismiss it. For example, I use to simmer for hours in thoughts that I'm not thin. ( I'm not even going to use the F word.) But slowly, oh so slowly over time, I dismiss most thoughts within seconds. And building this new belief system, the negative thoughts don't pop in my head nearly as much.
Yet there will be times, that something will occur (a trip to doctor's office and the official news that I have gained a few pounds) and that can set me back, but eventually I will get back to I am not my weight. Or my other favorite: All will be well, even if it's not.
This takes a lot of practice. Intentionality. Over and over and over again. The negative thoughts took years to put into place. It takes time to reprogram that voice to be loving.
I am very thankful for those words shared by this friend to me. It is amazing what one simple statement did to my awareness! I didn't know I needed to hear that.