Wednesday, March 12, 2014

This Year For Lent, I'm Giving Up Thinking I Suck. What About You?

I wasn't raised Catholic, but I've always appreciated the notion of giving something up during Lent.  I loves me some self-improvement and Lent makes that whole process an actual thing.  I know a lot of people give up the obvious vices - drinking, swearing, Taco Bell, eating entire chocolate cakes, etc. - but I felt that was too easy.  I wanted to try something really hard.  I challenged myself to believe I'm awesome.  Whaaaa?

Guilt seems to be woven into my heritage.  Maybe it's the Irish blood that runs through my family's veins.  I've spent most of my life feeling bad about one thing or another.  What I've done or haven't done, said or haven't said, been or haven't been - you get the picture.  I've carried some of these perceived 'failures' around with me for years.  And the stage of life I'm in: stay-at-home mom, parent of teens, mid-forties, vocationally confused, and more, seems to lend itself to a goodly amount of doubt, anxiety, and self-judgement.  It finally just got to me.

I don't think this is how God, or whatever term you use, wants any of us to live.  And I know that unless I can consistently let love flow freely from myself and to myself, Life just isn't going to move with the ease and beauty I so desire.  I needed to make a shift.

Here's the thing, we can't judge ourselves harshly without it spilling over into a judgement of others.  And when we judge another's behavior as right or wrong, good or bad, we also can't avoid classifying ourselves the same way.  I read recently in Marianne Williamson's A Year Of Miracles that God doesn't need us to police the universe.  We need to stop acting like Barney Fife to God's Andy Griffith and get on living our own best lives.

So I came up with a plan to change the course of my mind.  I decided that during Lent every time I felt a fearful or defeating thought pop into my psyche, I would simply say something loving to myself (in my head of course, because well, you know.).  Anything to shift my thought pattern from negative to positive.  And I'd try to let the meaning of whatever I said soak in for a second or two.  It sounds a little dorky and a lot like a Stuart Smalley bit from SNL, but it works.

This process made me really aware of just how many judgey, fearful, and self-doubty thoughts floated in and out of my mind in a very short period of time.  No matter how silly I felt, I made myself redirect my head by saying my positive phrases - it's a little trippy to just let go of thoughts that feel like they give you structure even though they're really holding you back.  I felt like I was repeating these statements a lot at first.  But now I find I'm simply not having as many negative thoughts overall.  My brain actually feels a little more relaxed.  It's quieter.  Like it's starting to give up being mean to me and may actually want to be my BFF.

I like to share info about having a positive perspective - and I have always loved and truly believed in the possibility of living life fully in a beautiful way.  Sometimes I've even managed to do it myself.  But now, I'm consciously committing to walking the talk. We are all awesome.  Even me.  And Life is awesome - even with the bumps we experience along the way.  And seeing life through eyes that are more self-accepting and self-loving, and processing it all with a quieter brain is bringing more ease and joy and love into my life, my heart and my head.

If you feel at all that your mind could stand to step it up a bit in area of support and self-acceptance, give this a try.  It works.

Yay Lent!  Can I say that?

I'm wearing this:

The jean jacket is such a great piece this time of year.  The perfect extra layer.  I would like to no longer need an extra layer.  Do you hear me, Mother Nature?

gratitude:  hanging with the kids, fresh sheets, writing, core-strengthening workouts

thanks and love.

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