You can search the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself and that person is not to be found anywhere – Buddha
When I first read this, I really struggled with it. To accept and appreciate myself were very low on my priority list. I preferred to spend my time being there for others to feel appreciated.
The agony behind the facade
It has taken me 40 years to accept myself – and my terribly embarrassing stutter. It would ambush me unexpectedly when it most counted to make a good impression – especially on the phone. It caused me enormous amounts of anxiety. In a way, a stutter is a more challenging disability to live with than others are. If you’re in a wheelchair, people see that you are unable to move around normally and make allowances for it. As an intermittent stutterer, however, you’re expected to function normally in an environment that not’s suited to your situation.
No-one knows about the knot in your stomach and the skyrocketing anxiety levels when the phone rings. You jump in fear and panic. You know you won’t be able to answer unless you exhale most of your breath and then squeeze out a few words with what’s left. This is the only way you can sort of produce conversation. By that time, not only are you hyperventilating, but in terror of what’s expected of you next. That is, if the person at the other end of the line hasn’t hung up on you yet. After all, the silence or the strange sounds must mean that there is something wrong with the connection.
If you do manage to get past the greeting, not only are you frantically searching for a ‘together-sounding’ reply to recover face, which you have just so miserably lost. You’re also frantically search for synonyms. You’re constantly replacing ‘difficult’ words with those with softer, more flowing sounds. All to bring your meaning across so you don’t get completely stuck on the next word again.
When the call, finally, mercifully ends, you’re physically exhausted, heart racing and trying to recover your breath. What is far worse to bear, however, is the utter humiliation and frustration at your powerlessness that settles in the pit of your stomach. The person on the other end of the line meanwhile had no idea what an innocent chat had put you through.
All people know is that you seemed not to enjoy speaking on the phone and that you were terribly organised. You had a funny quirk of setting the next coffee date with a friend at the end of the previous one. What they never knew, thought, is that especially before the event of SMS’s and voice notes, you had no other way to arrange to meet with them. If they couldn’t plan ahead that far their casual – ‘I’ll give you a call to get together again’, sent a wave of anxiety through you and you would wait in tense anticipation for that inevitable ringing of the phone.
This was my life from the age of four until 53 years, when I finally ‘came out’.
Things got so bad, that I eventually had to accept who I was, to show my ‘flawedness’ in public. I acknowledged my stutter to everyone around me and I provided a safe environment for myself. I made it clear that I don’t take phone calls. Whatsapp, e-mail, voice notes and video calls are the way to go with me.
I also began to understand that inasmuch as my stutter caused me anxiety, anxiety worsens my stutter, so merely ‘going public’ took the pressure off and things improved drastically. I regret I didn’t take this step years earlier. I guess I always felt I had to be flawless to be accepted, but what I have since learnt is that the opposite is true. People identify me with and reach out to me because I show them that I also don’t have it all together.
Learn to accept and appreciate yourself. People will come and go in life, but the person in the mirror will be there through it all. Recognize your own personal achievements and celebrate your own milestones. Nobody knows better than you what it’s taken to get there.
I have grown from taking care of others at the expense of myself to taking care of myself ‘for others’ to taking care of myself for me. The only person who can give me security and the kind of life that I want, is me. Being ‘Me-sponsible’ is being responsible for ME, for my health, happiness and well-being.
If you’re on a self-acceptance path and could use some help to navigate unchartered territories, book a free chat with me at www.freetoflylifecoaching.com
Never apologize for your happiness
Notice: You are hereby allowed to be happy; to love yourself; to realize your worth; to believe in great things; and to be treated with love and respect.
The above quote is a Pinterest pin. The fact that it’s so popular, tells me that others struggle with this like I have. While on the one hand, we are encouraged to make the most out of life, we tend to hide or downplay our happiness. Why? – not to make others feel worse perhaps, or for fear of jinxing it, should we proclaim it too widely? ‘Don’t fly too high, my little bird…’
Never apologize for your happiness. Never feel guilty for looking after yourself, for treating yourself or for being yourself. We really need not explain everything. Our wellbeing should always be our number one priority. This may seem selfish, but if we are unhappy, we ‘poison‘ both ourselves and whoever and whatever we come into contact with.