Help for Healing

Bitter & Sweet, living daily with grief


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Mindset

Carol Dweck is an author who was interviewed in my Psychotherapy Networker magazine. “It comes down to whether you focus on growing your abilities, as opposed to proving and validating them all the time. When you’re in what I call a fixed mindset, your goal in life is to prove you’re a smart, competent, worthwhile person and avoid doing things that could undermine that image of yourself. In the growth mindset, you believe these abilities and talents can always be developed, so you’re not on the spot every second to prove yourself, and you can focus on developing those abilities through taking on challenges and seeing them through.”

I found this to be a very interesting concept to me personally. Mostly, because I’m a big contradiction with this whole topic. On the one hand, I completely buy into the idea that I don’t have to be perfect. I take risks all the time and can give you a long list of ways that I am comfortable being less than amazing.

For one thing, I have a pretty good sense of humor about myself. I can admit when I have a brain freeze most of the time, and often laugh my fanny off along with anyone around me at some of the “duh” moves I make on a regular basis. The other day I was driving with a friend and repeated a comment and then almost peed my pants laughing at how ridiculous of a statement it was. I told him he was lucky because he could be in the position of having a friend who was dumb and not realize it. That’s the worst. At least he was able to say he had a friend who understood how dumb I could be at times, and there was a lot of strength in that. Without blinking, he said, “Yeah, I guess I have that going for me.” Then we laughed our butts off. He is a lucky guy!

When I go to Karaoke, I have my standard list of songs that I know I can nail pretty well. But on a regular basis, I pick stuff I’ve never done before. More than once I have had to stop in the middle and tell the DJ to never mind. One time I sang “The Loveboat” and the whole bar sang with me and loved it. Another time I sang “Gilligan’s Island” and it was a disaster. Do you realize that every single verse goes up a key? By the end of the song I was screeching horribly to even attempt to hit the notes. But I don’t care. I have fun and I get a good laugh out of it.

Going on stage a couple of weeks ago was a big risk. One of the nights I forgot the words, but covered it and no one even noticed. The other nights, I got the words and notes correct. But when I looked at the DVD later, I was aghast at how the dress I chose that night looked. I looked way heavier than I needed to. I was mortified, but I decided to let it motivate me even more for my new pre-diabetic life. (By the way, I start that tomorrow. I decided to give myself until after Thanksgiving. No way I’m giving up mashed potatoes and dressing and rolls and pie.)

I tell my kids, my clients, and whoever else I need to that I am sorry when I screw up. I even try to tell people on the road when I cut someone off accidentally. I’m not perfect and don’t expect anyone else to be. Life really is about developing and growing.

AND YET…

Another, very fragile part of me is always trying to prove my competence. I’ve had plenty of messages and voices throughout my life that have criticized me. And because of my nature, I take it so personally to heart. The voices come from everywhere, but proportionally speaking, I would have to admit that the majority of them are male. I am especially vulnerable to male criticism. I imagine that at least of some of it is because I have felt like I have to prove myself simply because I am female. Most women will tell you they can identify at least once in their life.

Sometimes I have to prove myself because I don’t have a doctorate.

Sometimes I have to prove myself because I’m not thin and beautiful.

Sometimes I have to prove myself because I am single.

And then I really get mad at myself, because deep down, I truly do know that I don’t ever have to prove myself. Not to anybody. Ever.

While the one part of me is confident and growing, that part that can get up in front of countless numbers of people to sing, to speak, to lecture, to share my most intimate life and inspire others… the other part of me still needs that pat on the back. I still would do anything to hear my dad or son actually say he is proud of me (for ANYthing!) without me having to guess it or read between the lines. Even my friend who jokes around with me and loves me to death, I’d still like him to actually say he thinks I’m smart once in a while. You know, all joking aside, here is a direct compliment. I think I would faint.

Yep, it’s part of admitting I’m a work in progress. I admit I want the kudos and the admiration and the praise. I still need it. Want it. But I’m also learning to give it to myself while I’m waiting.

Not your normal Thanksgiving theme, but I do appreciate all you readers and am thankful for all I have. May sound cliché, but it’s true. 🙂


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Taking a Break

It was kind of funny last weekend when I went to see my therapist. He hadn’t read my blog, but he might as well have. He said all the things I predicted he would. Guess when you know someone for 15 years you do get to know them pretty well.

He opened up the possibility that perhaps there is something in the way I communicate that somehow invites people to comment (good or bad) or judge my thoughts and actions. He reminded me (as I predicted) that I actually have a pretty decent head on my shoulders and should be confident most of the time that I’m right on target. He also reminded me (as I predicted) that while I do have a ton of awesome support, I also have a relatively high level of critics in my life.

He also suggested (to my surprise) that maybe I should take a break from blogging every once in a while. I guess it’s obvious really. When you blog, you completely put yourself out there and anyone in the world can read it and comment if they would like. Duh.

I think my plan is still to blog on Thursdays. I get texts and emails from some of you when I’m late so I know I have some faithful readers out there. But if I don’t have good blog content in my head, maybe I won’t try to force it.

The goal is always to get more comments. I want to be brave enough to keep encouraging everyone to comment, good, bad or otherwise. But let me add a twist. I invite all of you to be brave enough to share your own stories. It really is a vulnerable thing to write about personal things. I know I make it look natural, especially after publishing two very personal books. The truth is, it really isn’t easy and it really does take courage to take a stand and put it out there for the world to see and disagree with.

If I’m honest, the challenge is directed more at those critics out there that usually have something to say about my negativity or attitude, those who corner me in person to let me know they didn’t like my blog or disagreed with it in some way. While I welcome everyone to “share their own story,” I especially invite those of you that find my blog an occasion to let me know how you think I’m screwing up. Come on. You are brave enough to tell me what you think. Be brave enough to put your stories out there.

I know this is a different flavor than what I usually do. But I think Scott is right. I need to figure out some new ways of communicating. I will make a few blunders along the way, so forgive me. And write away!


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Julia Cameron: Freedom

Today’s gratitude card is “freedom: I cherish my freedom to act, think, feel, and choose as I wish. I celebrate the choice which lies for me in every moment. I accept the responsibility which comes with freedom. I embrace my liberty and use it to create an abundant and meaningful life.”

This is one of the those cards (well, let’s be honest; MOST of these cards this applies to) that is more like an affirmation I am saying, trying to will it to be true. This particular card has a twist though. I think it is true just as written for the most part. The problem with me has always been that I want everyone else to be happy with my choices too.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted people to approve of me. For as long as I’ve been in therapy, we’ve talked about this. And for as long as I can remember, my therapists have always thought I’ve been surrounded by a fair number of people in my life who don’t approve, or who feel quite comfortable making their criticisms known to me.

I suppose it is true that almost all human beings want people to approve of them. I think our particular personality type is what moves us along the intensity continuum.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve figured out how to seek more people in my life who do approve of me. I don’t mean they agree with me 100% of the time. But most of the time, they think I rock. Most of the time they trust my decisions because they believe I think through things and generally have a pretty good head on my shoulders.

It’s funny. Those people who know me on the deepest level, know that I am actually quite open to criticism and feedback. More than most, I seek out help and advice from professionals and from family and friends.

I like affirming my freedom and choosing to act. I even think I do a pretty good job of accepting the responsibility that comes with it. And I usually try to create a meaningful life, not just for myself, but also for others. My biggest problem is I DO give a rat’s ass about what other people think.

I don’t want to be the person that stops caring altogether. People who are like that, tend to be selfish and unaware of how they affect others. I don’t want to be a rock with no feelings. But I also don’t want to be the one who gets crushed like a bug so easily.

I am going to Florida next week. I decided I was going to crack if I didn’t get a break, if I didn’t get some rest, and mostly if I don’t feel some sun on my face soon. I found a reasonable flight and I just booked it before I could change my mind. I’ve been saying that I never do things like this for myself so I feel totally justified. But then I remembered that last September I went to Vegas for a couple of days. I need to stop saying I “never” do things for myself. I do. I am learning how to take care of me. And that should NOT be a bad thing.

One of my support people told me that people are going to be thinking that in their heads when I tell them about my trip- that I just went to Myrtle Beach in February. So I guess I’m saying they can think whatever they want. It was 25 degrees there the week we were there. It was very cold and I couldn’t walk on the beach without feeling sick. I need warmth. And I work my ass off most of the time so I’m going.

OH AND…

I don’t care if I eat too many carbs. I will work on that when I can. I will choose the best things I can day to day and that is good enough for me.

I don’t care if my schedule sucks because I try too hard to help other people. I will choose to do as much as I can every day to be the best person I can every day, and then I will complain about my legs hurting when I go to bed. That doesn’t make me a bad person because I’m exhausted at the end of the day.

I don’t care if I take too many vacations. I only go for a brief time. Sometimes I ache to see my grandkids. Sometimes I just want to not have to take care of anyone. I am ok with those choices.

Now I am working on not caring what you think about all that stuff. Now I am working on not caring if you disapprove or disagree. The truth is, I care deeply, but I am working on changing that. At the end of the day, I am looking to surround myself with voices that think I’ve been amazing even though I haven’t been perfect. The first voice has to be my own. The second voice I have to recognize is God’s. After that, I have to be selective.

This wasn’t one of my better blogs. I didn’t start out with a solid idea. It hasn’t flowed the way I want it to. My humor hasn’t shone like I like it too. But hey, maybe this is the start. I choose to write a less-than-perfect blog. And I’m fine with that. If you don’t like the tone, or the negativity, or the message, I’m fine with that too.

Well, not really. But I’m a work in progress! 🙂