Category Archives: self-worth

People Like Yourself

In her 2010 book The Gifts of Imperfection, Brene Brown writes, “To become fully human means learning to turn my gratitude for being alive into some concrete common good. It means growing gentler toward human weakness. It means practicing forgiveness of my and everyone else’s hourly failures to live up to divine standards.” The book, written as a series of practices that provide insight into the gifts that come from doing things imperfectly, offers it’s readers a new way of interacting with themselves. Perhaps learning to be kind, gentler, and forgiving, to actually treat yourself like you like yourself amid the perfect standards of the day, is actually the way to be more fully human.

In a world full of competition and pursuing excellence, it is easy to feel like one isn’t enough, doesn’t measure up, and at the end of the day really doesn’t matter. These thoughts and practices of our day quickly take a toll on our well being, moving from passing thoughts to sticky reminders of why we shouldn’t like ourselves. In 2018, it seems the chase for the newer model this and the more expensive that keeps us striving and we often allow our negative thoughts to serve as motivation. And though this sort of criticism and shame may work to help us with short-term change, we often soon become fed up and therefore give up before we’ve even given ourselves a fair shot.

Taking this into mind alongside our desire to avoid arrogance and presumptuousness, finding a balanced middle path where we can accept, and even like, ourselves while still allowing for the reality of the work to be done can be challenging at best. To admit and find peace in the truth that we can affectionately care for ourselves, not be selfish, and still be in process, well that all seems much harder to put into practice than the beauty of our opening quote. So how do we do it? How do we genuinely learn to like ourselves in a healthy way?

There is no easy answer, no quick change that allows us to live this way, but rather a series of small choices that help us to live life liking ourselves rather than beating ourselves up. Here are few practical and tangible ways we can separate from the burdens of life and live in ways that celebrate the men and women we are.

  1. Come up with a mantra to live by. We all have negative thoughts about ourselves swirling about our minds, waiting to appear in both the good and bad. We must be intentional to fight these sticky thoughts and putting new thoughts in is a surprisingly easy place to start. A mantra of mine I stole from a colleague. It has appeared throughout my blog and points me back to my values and worth. This saying, “show up as the woman you want to be,” encourages and motivates me onward rather than keeping me stuck in self-defeating thoughts. I encourage you to come up with a quick sound bite that you can hold onto that points you back towards liking yourself.
  2. Write personal daily affirmations. Try starting your day with writing present-tense “I” statements about character traits or qualities in yourself that you are proud of or simply like. Make the words into art or collect images that represent those parts of you. Whatever you do, keep them positive and keep them current.
  3. Do something that supports your values every single day. One of the quickest ways to self-defeat is acting outside our values. When we act differently than what our values suggest, we become duplicitous. This is extremely difficult for us to manage and often results in a negative downward loop of actions confirming negative thoughts and feelings about ourselves. However, by acting on our values, even amid the judgmental thoughts and feelings, we can learn to like ourselves more and more, trusting the feelings and thoughts will eventually catch up. (If you aren’t sure where to begin, try identifying some of the values that guide your life. Google “Value Card Sort” for an array of different and free online resources to help get you started!)
  4. Be kind to yourself. I end many therapy sessions reminding folks to be kind to themselves because I know from my own experience, that the minute you leave you are more determined than ever to change and get things right. And then we don’t because we are humans and perfection is impossible. We must be able to practice kindness and grace in our mistakes, failures, and growth rather than condemning and punishing ourselves. Change takes courage and bravery, acknowledge that in yourself through kindness and mercy.
  5. Start a gratitude practice. It’s tricky for us to hold onto the anger and the burdens of our day when we take time to focus our heads and hearts on the things we are grateful for. Maybe it’s jotting down three unique things every night that you were thankful for that day or doing a more formal practice like The 5-Minute Journal — whatever the practice, try sticking to it for at least a month, jumping right back in if you forget a day or two.

Working on more closely living our values, solving our own problems, getting in the grit, and taking responsibility are all wonderful practices in life. Practices I encourage you to continue. The striving in our lives towards the beauty of perfection is rarely the issue. However, the ways in which we do so, cutting ourselves down and our self-worth often taking the hit, lead to the opposite outcomes. And these outcomes create hopelessness, helplessness, and discontent rather than spurring us onward.

As I close, I invite you to reflect on the relationship you have with yourself. How would you describe the relationship and how is life within that relationship? Take notice if it is one of kindness and compassion, mercy and grace, that allows you to honestly say you like yourself. And if it is, well done and keep up the hard and fruitful work. If it is not and you would like that to change, consider one or two of the practices above that you would be willing to incorporate starting today.

Written by Lindsay Williams, MA, LPC

For more information on living a life of liking yourself, contact me today.

Alone With Myself

The busyness of life can make it easy to avoid being alone with yourself. Everything from errands to emails and carpools to committees keeps our time locked up. iPhones and Instagram give us the freedom to search and scan anyplace and allow for us to numb our own thoughts and experiences. We put music in our ears and videos in front of our eyes, entering into the noise that tunes out our own thoughts, emotions, and inner experiences. We never have to be bored and if we are not interested in something or someone, we simply tune in to tune out.

But, what is the cost of tuning out ourselves?

What happens when we forget to practice knowing, listening, and caring for ourselves is an unsettling thought. The risk of being disconnected and distracted from the one relationship we will always be a part of is significant. Self-awareness is subpar. Creativity is compromised. Self-soothing is sacrificed. Interdependence is irrelevant. And awareness is absent.

Like any relationship, to learn and know the other, we must spend time together. We learn ourselves in this same way. We spend time in thought, learning about where our mind takes us–what ideas it brings up, what stories it tells us, and what it longs to know more of. We spend time in emotion, noticing what information our feelings are giving us and how they are hoping to serve us best. And with time we become curious and responsive to our feelings rather than avoidant and reactive.

“Truly transformational knowledge is always personal, never merely objective. It involves knowing of, not merely knowing about. And it is always relational. It grows out of a relationship to the object that is known—whether this is God or one’s self.”

―David G. Benner, The Gift of Being Yourself

As Benner writes, and I echo, “knowing of” is different than knowing “about,” or knowing facts about oneself. You can know you don’t like eggplant, classic rock, or math. Knowing of though, knowing of is knowledge about your identity. It is the backdrop to what makes you tick and how you know your worth. It’s the awareness of your comfort with certain ideas and fear around others. It’s the weight of resting in your abilities and limitations. It’s the why behind your preference of ideas and information that resonate in your head and heart.

Knowing of oneself is the beautifully messy practice of being seen by yourself, faults and all, and learning yourself. It’s going deeper into your needs and wants, stretching yourself in acknowledging the parts of you that create discontentment, and making peace through acceptance and love for the unique way in which you are you. It is learning to be ok with you, and maybe even learning to like you, not in spite of your humanness, but alongside it.

This isn’t an excuse to stay stuck or ineffective. Rather, an honest acceptance of where you are and what you are doing, effective or not, that gives grace to your faults and less desirable parts.  This self-given grace gives way to growth and change. It cannot help but give birth to ideas, talents, and passions. As you learn the ways in which you best learn, grow, connect, and soothe, you move towards goals, values, and contentment.

As the temptation towards busy arises within you this coming month, I encourage you to take time alone. Absorb the silence on an early morning run, letting your mind and heart connect. Pause over a cup of coffee, no agenda or technology, simply noticing those around you. Make space to learn yourself by experiencing yourself without distraction or easy ways of disconnecting. Learn to be alone with yourself and learn to be in the best relationship with the one person who will be with you the rest of your life.

Written by Lindsay Williams, MA, LPC.

Feel like this connected with you? Give me a call!

 

 

Learning to Let People Down

It’s been over a month since I’ve written much. Not just a blog, but anything. The last blog was a bit hard and though well-received, it didn’t make life easier. I have been busy and tired. I have had to renegotiate my schedule and stay true to my own boundaries. I have had to sacrifice keeping my word at all costs and release the irrational belief that I have control over what folks think about me and how I impact them.

Ultimately, I have had to learn to let others down for the sake of myself and my sense of well-being.

I typically blog weekly and have multiple blogs in waiting for weeks when life does get chaotic and busy. It helps to eliminate the pressure on myself and allows me a comforting cushion on a self-imposed deadline. I also blog not only for myself but for others who have encouraged me and share my writing. I have folks holding me accountable for taking the risks of putting my thoughts out there, all of which keep me on a schedule.

For the most part, I love this. I find joy in connecting with others through struggle and story. The creativity of saying possibly recycled thoughts in new ways, ways hopefully folks can relate to, has fueled me. I literally have 43 titled and unfinished blogs in waiting because I get ideas after a session or in conversation with a friend or over dinner with my husband and start something I don’t have time to complete. I enjoy the process. I enjoy the challenge. I enjoy the regularity. I enjoy the creating. I enjoy the writing.

But life happened and I got behind.

As weeks passed, my computer closed and my will lacking, guilt and shame stated to creep in. The days I typically post a new blog would come and go and my inner voice would whisper words of disappointment. I’m a failure who can’t keep her commitments. I knew I shouldn’t have taken this on. I was probably just lucky folks liked them anyway. Maybe it’s best to stop while you’re ahead. After allI had committed to something and here I was, having only made it a few months.

It wasn’t only here that I found shame creeping in. I also wasn’t able to take on some of the workload I wanted. I had to create gaps for the exhaustion and boundaries for my schedule. I had to say no, often followed by an apology and plea for forgiveness and grace. I passed on commitments or showed up the best I could because in this season that I was struggling to give my all.

Life was forcing me to let others down. Life was forcing me to choose me.

The feelings of guilt and shame and the thoughts that something was wrong with me because I couldn’t hold and do it all pulled on my heart and made choosing me difficult. I tried to push myself while knowing the truth. If I didn’t let go of somethings, it was going to cost me a lot of things. My values would be compromised and I would ultimately be much more distraught with myself.

So I picked me and I made hard decisions. I let things slip and I passed on offers for more this or that. I negotiated responsibilities that others tried to give me. I allowed the space for the feelings and fears, yet kept true to the woman I want to be, the wife I want to be, the counselor I want to be, the daughter I want to be, the friend I want to be, and ultimately the disciple I want to be.

While, I can never truly know if I let others down, my heart says I did. Most people report that I did no such thing; their grace and mercy abounded. I experienced kindness and care from my inner circle and few questions from those impacted. Nothing and no one, other than myself, suggested that anyone was let down by my need to take care of me. I was intentional in how I let others down and perhaps the manner in which I did so helped as well.

Change is tough and learning, like all growth, tends to be uncomfortable, if not down right painful. Learning to let others down, to possibly disappoint family and friends, co-workers and clients, it isn’t easy for a great deal of us. After all I am in the helping profession–I come alongside others and help shoulder their burdens for a season–so it’s reasonably hard to have to limit those I can help. Especially because I love what I do.

However, I am a better woman when I take care of me first. I am a stronger woman when I let go of the fear of letting others down and choose what I need. I am a content woman when I act on my values. I am a healthier woman when I listen to my body, heart, and head. I am an intentional woman when I know what I can and cannot give. I am a grounded woman when I live in balance and mindfully negotiate my priorities. And I am a more complete woman when I learn the beauty of letting others down.

Written by Lindsay Williams, MA, LPC

It is hard to let others down and yet it is so freeing when you allow yourself the grace and space to accept it will happen. To talk more about this journey, contact me today.

Finding Your Filters

It’s rare that any of us have escaped growing up without picking up outside messages about ourselves. From infancy, the world around us and the people around us are speaking into what kind of person we are. Some folks are fortunate to hear outright messages of strength, courage, and beauty. They are given space to explore and fail, always with parents or support systems in place to help separate the kind of kids that they are and will become from the kind of mistakes they make.

Others receive messages less encouraging and are told directly or indirectly that they are weak, incompetent, and destined to fail. It may be in a parental disregard for ones feelings or a well-meaning sibling stepping in and overshadowing. Or perhaps a teacher’s criticism or coach’s critiques echo louder than comments of personal self worth. We are told of our weaknesses and become one with them.

All of us have these messages that start to take root.

As we grow into adolescents and adults, both the subtle and overt messages we absorb become our core beliefs. The world around us and the people around us now are filtered through our belief system, similar to the work of an air filter. However, in lieu of removing the dirt and toxicity, we pick it up. A compliment, request, comment, or question is transformed in our reverse filter, passing through our negative core beliefs, and left to simply reinforce what the world and others have told us in the past.

It all begs the question, can we change the filters? And how?

The quick answer is, kind of and it takes work. A great deal of work. No one escapes  filters because no one is raised by perfect people in a perfect environment. Even those that receive the most encouraging and empowering childhood pick up filters. Because these beliefs are formed so early, we spend a good deal of life living with them in place. Some of your beliefs might be easily recognized and addressed, while others are working overtime and will take trusted relationships for you to find, clean, and possibly change.

And so it’s not out of defeat that we discuss the effort it may require to engage our filters, but from a place of empowerment and invitation to fresh air. You can begin to recognize the filters in your life and notice the beliefs that feel so absolutely true about you that they can’t possibly be challenged. I invite you to become more aware of the messages about yourself that you return to over and again. Look for labels that you stick on yourself like I’m a failure or I’m not worthy. And let’s begin to dream about how you would feel if life didn’t pass through and pick up the dirt of these filters.

Written by Lindsay Williams, MA, LPC.

If you feel encouraged to take action on the filters in your life, lets talk!

Do You Know What You Need?

One summer I worked as a coach at a children’s sports camp. It was a hilarious, hot, and wonderful experience. Amid games of soccer and capture the flag, kids aged 3-8 were bound to get bumps and bruises. It was a daily occurrence for a little one to come to me in tears. I would kneel to their level and ask her or him what they needed, sometimes giving options such as ice or a drink, to sit with me or be alone, and other times letting him or her simply tell me. When asked, they always knew what they needed and were more than willing to share.

It’s a beautiful thing to know what you need.

Yet somewhere along the road of growing up a great deal of us lose this ability. Perhaps it is due to unmet needs as a child or the negative messages received when making requests. It could be the disagreement that occurs when one pleads and the other instead gives what they want, not what is asked for, that leads to confusion of needs. Or maybe it’s the denial of any needs to begin with, passively teaching a person that they are always fine. The result is adolescents to elderly who have no real knowledge of their experienced needs, yet often feel slighted, overlooked and not enough.

Regaining the ability to identify what you need, be it physically, emotionally, spiritually, or otherwise, and to take action on that, is essential to your well-being. By checking in with yourself and getting curious as to if you need to move or need to be still, need company or need solitude, need advice or need empathy, need to change or need to accept, is a difficult yet necessary step in feeling more cared for and more in control of your life.

To be fair, having needs can be messy. It can be difficult and risky. Inviting others to help and taking time, space or care for yourself isn’t promised to be received well. And yet attempting to live without needs denies your human spirit and can easily make you all the more hurt, alone, and afraid.

By learning, acknowledging, and responding to the needs that arise within, you communicate validation and care towards yourself.

Learning to meet your needs, be it through your own means or the help of others, in turn helps you to reclaim your worth and feel as though you matter. This is indispensable to yourself and your relationships, and it allows you to return to the things of life—just like the kids above could quickly receive and return to the game at hand.

Written by Lindsay Williams, MA, LPC.

To learn more about your needs, contact Lindsay today.

Can We Move Forward By Looking Backward?

There are things we all would change if we knew then what we know now. Perhaps it is how you treated a kid in high school or the way you quit a job. Maybe it’s how you spent your teens or 20s or some of the people you chose to date. However big or small, we look back and see the places we’ve messed up, often quick to judge and shame ourselves for not doing or knowing better.

And what happens is we then attempt to use this shame and disappointment to propel us forward. We beat ourselves up, hide our stories, and talk down to ourselves all in the hope of doing better this time around. We believe that if we just hate that part of ourself and our actions enough, we will never repeat them.

But then we do.

The cycle begins again and the negative self talk comes right back even though we desperately try to separate ourselves from this version of us. We feel terrible and spend our time running from the things we don’t want to be — I just don’t want to be like my father, I’ll do anything not to be emotional like my mother, I hate that part of my past and yet it seems to define me. Too often this scenario results in us spending a significant amount of time running and little time being and doing the things we value.

Think of the last time you drove your car.  Your rearview mirror was helpful in backing out of a parking space or changing lanes. It gives you information and we are encouraged to check it frequently. We glance quickly and then return our attention and energies to the road ahead. Similarly, the rearview mirror in your life is no different. It gives you input into your current situation and can offer help in avoiding certain wrecks.

However. We are not meant to look solely behind us as we drive ahead.

What things would we crash into if we attempted to drive forward while only looking backwards with regret, anger, sadness, shame and guilt? These feelings, while a part of our human experience, are terrible motivators towards the life we want. Spending energy avoiding rather than becoming quickly becomes futile, just as spending time looking behind you while trying to drive forward would result in less than desirable outcomes and the simplest routes would become impossibly dangerous.

This is a call towards life and the road ahead. I encourage you to find some thing that matters to you or possibly a value that defines the man or woman you want to be. Put your energy towards going forward and drive towards it. Steer your life in a way that is headed in the direction of your destination while allowing space for brief glances into your past that keep you on track.

Written by Lindsay Williams, MA, LPC.

I’d sincerely love to hear what you’re driving towards. Or for more on looking ahead—please contact me today.

The Counter-Intuitiveness of Choice

“She can’t do that…”

“He has to understand that…”

“He can’t say that…”

“She has to change that…”

We’ve all uttered these sentiments, or something in a similar vein, at one time or another. Perhaps we say them as a longing for connection, a desire to be understood, a hope for validation or a plea for respect. We think we are making reasonable requests, yet toward the end goal of getting the other to change, we make demands of his or her behavior.

Simply put, this does not work.

In fact, in hopes of creating the relationship we want with others, we can actually forfeit the relationship with ourself. When we require of others, we handcuff ourselves to their actions rather than choosing for ourselves how to best navigate a situation. We describe all the ways in which we need him or her to behave so that we are ok rather than choosing ways to be more ok ourselves. And therefore, we limit our choices by limiting ourselves.

In no way is this an excuse to stay in unhealthy relationships, rather a call to empowerment in what you can and cannot choose. You can choose what is ok with you and what is not, you can choose how to respond, you can choose how much space and slack is in a relationship. However, you cannot choose what others say to you, how others view you or what they do.

Perhaps this feels unfair, annoying, hopeless or simply wrong. And to some degree it may absolutely be those things. It may drain and exhaust you to choose to bow out, overlook or move on. Yet this is the only way to live un-handcuffed. Grab hold of the counter-intuitive idea that you get the choice only in how to respond and not in how others show up. And grab hold of the great freedom this actually is.

Written by Lindsay Williams, MA, LPC.

For more information, contact Lindsay today.