Thursday, 6 October 2016

Becoming our own best friend....what is 'good enough'?

We Brits are great at apologising aren’t we? People bump into us and what do we do?  We mutter, ‘Oh, I’m sorry!’ and we carry on our way feeling angry at ourselves for being so weak and submissive.

I work for a Danish company, and the other week I typed up a draft email about an item that was out of stock. I began with the customary line…. I am sorry that xxxxx is currently out of stock…. When the Danish guy read it he was straight on to Skype asking me why I would say sorry for something that wasn’t my fault. He was intrigued by our culture and our almost OTT approach to apologising!

Last night I decided to treat myself to a trip the hairdressers, something I rarely do. I sat there feeling quite intimidated looking at all these beautiful women with gorgeous hair and successful lives. I met my stylist, said hello, and sat down. As I did so, the first thing I did was apologise that she had such a fat, old, unglamorous customer to deal with. I then followed with, thank God, I was so scared I wouldn’t fit in the chair. Infact, looking back I also then grimaced as I saw my reflection in the mirror and wanted to shrink away and disappear.

Was I doing it for sympathy? Am I telling you for attention? The honest answer to both questions is an empathic no! So why then am I even mentioning it? After a chat with the hairdresser (who by the way left me feeling fabulous), it got me thinking…what defines being ‘good enough’…how do we judge ourselves, and what equals a successful life?

If I asked you to get a pen and paper, make two columns, and in one write all your strengths and in the other things you would like to change / improve, most of us would have no problem in fantasising about what we would like to do / be. Yet how many of us would be able to take an objective view, and realise just how much we achieve every single day?

Do the same exercise but focus on a friend or someone you admire, and I am guessing we could easily find a massive plus list with little effort.

Why are we our own worst critics? Yes, it is healthy to have ambitions, and every one of us can find things we need to / should improve. But why do some of us draw attention to those, and oversee the good things we do?

Yes, we can blame the media, publications, fashion etc. But perhaps much of it stems closer to home. Who influences us most? Our family and friends. Regardless of what we like to think, what they say matters, and it sticks with us. A child heaped with praise will grow to be confident and assured, but criticise and they grow up feeling less than enough.

Three years ago I was a fully functioning adult living a busy life, working full time, volunteering, being a Mum, friend, girlfriend, daughter, and sister. I travelled, socialised read, went to football, and did lots of things I loved.

Then I developed ME. I won’t bore you with it all, but basically I went from all to nothing. I lost my job, my friends, my relationship, my freedom, and my dignity. I gained lots of weight, and lost my confidence and trust in myself.

Over the last 4 months I have picked myself up off the floor, and strived to get back to full time work, I am back volunteering, I am socialising, going back watching football, I have learnt to play golf, and I have lost 33 pounds. Most people would see that as a great achievement. But yet I still opened to the hairdresser by belittling myself, and viewing myself as less worthy than others.

In theory I should be feeling more confident than ever, and should be bouncing off the walls with excitement for the future. Why then do I still hide from people for fear of being judged, why do I apologise for being so fat to almost everyone I meet, and and why do I panic about not fitting in to chairs, walkways etc.?

They say in customer services; it takes 10 good reviews to negate one bad review. For many of us, our minds work the same way. We easily filter out any praise, but hold on to criticism like a sponge.

When you are told things like:

  •   Look at you, you are disgusting
  •  If you weren’t so fat you wouldn’t be ill
  • You are just looking for attention and to make life miserable
  • You are so fat I wish I could put you through a bacon slicer
  •  It would be better off if you were dead

It is easy to remember those, and they bloody hurt!! So next time you go to say something not so nice about someone take a moment, step out of your mind and try to see how life is for them, then before you open your mouth how about judging:
  • Is it kind?
  • Is it true?
  • Is it necessary?
  • What is the most compassionate way to say this?

It costs nothing to smile at someone, say hello to a stranger, chat to the cashier on the till, or the person next to you on the bus. Text a friend with a random message or joke. These little gestures can turn someone’s day around, and we all deserve to be made to feel good, because each and every one of us is fighting some sort of battle, and we deserve to be supported, loved and reminded that we are ‘good enough’ just as we are.

Take a moment to reflect on you and just how great you are. Take time at the end of each day to think of three things you have achieved, regardless of how insignificant they may seem in the wider scheme of things. Some days it is as simple as I got through the day….and they are the days when it is actually the greatest of successes.

Be your own best friend, and treat yourself as you would others. Show yourself, respect, compassion, love, and make yourself laugh. Life is short and precious and every day (even the worst ones) are a gift.

And if anyone is mean, consider this: turn around, laugh, and walk away!

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