Ten Things of Thankful #30

Call me Hercules. Some time ago – no matter how long precisely – having little or no common sense in my head, and nothing particular to interest me in deviating from my whinings, I thought I would wander around a little, and open my eyes and mind to the ways other people found themselves to be happy.

Many impassioned pleas were made of me along the way – “Love yourself”, “Learn to be at peace”, “Be kind to yourself”, “Be happy with what you have” – and whilst all of these seemed like wonderful, wholesome ideals, designed to fill anyone’s cup of self-contentment to the brim, they seemed like huge, huge asks, and the idea that I could suddenly just learn to do them because they’d been suggested, was laughable.

Not that any of these comments were sent with anything less than the very best of intentions, mind. But perhaps there’s a disconnect (or not – I might find myself once again in larger company than I initially would presume) between the achievable for a person who is (in essence and majority) a healthy, whole, person – emotionally speaking – and a person who is not. Because a person with low self-esteem and a pathetically small (still) sense of self-worth is thwarted from within on each of these points.

In each case, there is a rebuff – a conditioned, built-in lie – which undermines efforts to achieve those things, the desire to achieve them, and the feeling that such glorious things should even be attainable by one such as the self.

Unhooking from that lie is infinitely harder than I ever realised. But years and years of that lie, perpetrated by those who really should’ve been saying the opposite, will do that to you. And it’s easy to hold up the few survivors with the strength of character to know all along that the lie is a lie is a lie, and not to be believed, and to provide their flourishment (once free of the toxic environment) as a shining example.

I didn’t have the strength of character. It was bulldozed from a young age and I fully believed the lie. And this lie was everywhere. It was at home. It was at school. It was at church. All the places which should have been havens of nurture and building-up were places where I was torn to shreds. Daily.

And in amongst the lies of worthlessness and undeserving, were the odd dichotomies – those people who cared and who said nice things – who tried to counteract the lies. But it was too late, and I appreciated their kindness in trying to make me feel better, but could never take their words on board, because they just didn’t make sense within the frame of reference I was using.

I still struggle with that. The frame of reference has become wider, less overbearing, but it still factors. I find compliments very challenging and tend to fob them off. I’ve sat, frozen, trying not to obey the insistent twitching in my legs, burning to get up and leave, as someone has said Nice Things to my face, and meant it. I’ve ended conversations with friends online, or plain old avoided them in case they try to say something Nice, because the pain of trying to assimilate their goodness and generosity and extreme kindness in saying such things (and as far as they’re concerned, they really believe them) into a mindset I still recognise as being set to ‘Undeserving’, ‘Not worthy’, is very real. I’ve often felt they are well meaning but wasting their time.

Grindingly slowly, things are changing for the better. Enough drip-feeding of positives is going on that I’m beginning to think more about this. I’m working on strengthening my resolve to help things change. I’m better connected with friends in real life (I think) and I’ve learned increasingly from a few of my more hysterical ‘mericans, about how to offer encouragement and receive support graciously.

But there was still a flaw in the plan.

To achieve the ‘love’ and the ‘peace’ and the ‘happiness’, I first needed to figure out what happiness was. Because if I don’t know it, how can I achieve it? The other two I can work on later. I feel like happiness is key, here.

So I bought a book which sounded sensible, and began reading it. And something leapt right off the page and hit me. ‘Happiness’ and ‘Feeling good’ are two different things. What people often strive for (in the name of happiness) is to feel good. And when they feel good, they call themselves happy. When they do not feel good, they call themselves unhappy.

And yet. Happiness is so much greater than feeling good. And I’ve not read enough of the book yet to succinctly cover each of the areas in which happiness is looked at, but the thing I’ve taken away from it is that Happiness is mostly about DOING Good.

I’ve been getting it all wrong.

I’ve spent so long feeling bad about myself that I’ve ended up trying to redress the balance by being far too focussed on trying to ‘Feel Good’ about myself. Which may or may not happen. Instead I should have been trying to focus on DOING Good. Because the rewards that brings are far greater than narcissism and a mirror with poison glass.

Which brings me to Hercules.

Hercules was a naughty man and did some bad, bad things. To atone, he was set twelve trials. Once he’d completed these, he would be granted immortality.

I am not particularly badly behaved (except sometimes) and I don’t think I’ve done much which is truly bad. So I’m not atoning for anything. But I like the idea of putting my challenges into trials, and by completing them, achieving Happiness.

A wise friend recently said to me that if I went out running in the rain and wind and cold, and had a thoroughly miserable time slogging through it, I could work on my determination and desire to achieve my goals whilst I was running, and then at the end, the warmth and deliciousness of coming home and getting clean and dry and warm again would be so much more accentuated. He was right.

Hercules had twelve trials. I’m going to stick with the aim of the hop and choose Ten. And the thankfulness will (I hope) help to accentuate them with a flavour of that Happiness.

The Trial: Keep on running, but for the right reasons. Hold shallowness lightly and focus more on the health benefits and be pleased at my achievements as they happen.
The Thankful: I have the luxury of a safeish city to run in. And appropriate gear to do so. I am rich indeed.

The Trial: Stop judging. Especially myself. There is a saying ‘you can judge a man by his friends’, and if that’s true, I’m golden. I need to chuck away the lie and the old frame of reference and learn to accept that if I can sustain awesome friendships with such amazing, lovely people because they want to be friends with me then I must trust their judgement and assume that there is somethingone worth their time.
The Thankful: I have amazing friends.

The Trial: Develop a right attitude to money. At the moment I tend to feel guilty for having it and try to give lots away, or spend it like water and wonder where it’s all gone. And I’m historically very bad at managing money. I tend to panic-save and rarely buy anything for the sake of it (except shoes sometimes. and books).
The Thankful: I have money to work with. 

The Trial: Prioritise the Real World more. This one’s gonna be really hard.  But I do need more sleep (as luxurious as it is to have a lunchtime nap in the back of the van). And I need to leave on time in the mornings rather than staying online to read one last blog post.
The Thankful:  I have a job to be late for.

The Trial: Be a better wife. I’m still ‘hungover’ from the past three years. I need to stop defaulting to snappish and exasperated. I need to learn to be loving and kind. And slower to anger.
The Thankful: I have Husby. And he’s worth the trial.

The Trial: Let go of anxieties about the future. Is this the biggest, hardest one yet? Perhaps. Because that future and the question-mark of children still terrifies me. But my anxieties are having huge impact, and they need to be better managed. I need to continue to (and plan to) Do Good in spite of being anxious.
The Thankful: I have people and systems (if needed) who can support me in this.

The Trial: Buy the book I contributed to. This one is shameful. I still haven’t bought it yet because it still hurts to think why I’m in it. WonderAunty has a copy, and I couldn’t even hold it for too long.
The Thankful: This book IS BRINGING HOPE to women who need it. And if I share it, it will bring more hope. But first I need to buy it.

The Trial: Be more organised about housework. This ties into the Real Life thing. It’s something I find not in the least bit interesting when my laptop is calling me, and I do it with bad grace, nearly every time.
The Thankful: Sarah inspired me with the word ‘Frog’ and a concrete method for achieving this.

The Trial: Wow! I got to the end of the things I can think that I need to change, before I got to ten!
The Thankful: I only have eight trials to achive.

The Trial: Free-for all (genuinely) – what do you think I need to work on?
The Thankful: I have people I know well enough to know they will offer constructive criticisms.

The En—nooooooooo WAIT!

Hang about! I promised you BIG AWESOME GOOD NEWS

And guess what. I didn’t forget.

Sad news first – Melissa has decided that the time is right for her to step down as a TToT co-host.

AMAZING AWESOME BIG NEWS RIGHT NOW

Our new co-host is the ever-so lovely, wonderful, heck YOU KNOW HER ALREADY –

*\o/* SANDY *\o/*

Pop on over to Mother of Imperfection and congratulate her – she’s going to be BRILLIANT at this.

Ten Things of Thankful
Ten Things of Thankful
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71 thoughts on “Ten Things of Thankful #30

  1. I'd like to think I'm rubbing off on you just a little bit when I see how you've found something positive in every one of your trials. Just remember that ant….

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  2. Disqus works, but I hate leaving comments on my phone. I'll do it sometimes, but I'd rather wait until I can use my laptop. And know that I always read even if I stay quiet.xoxo

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  3. Oh bless your heart. Does Disqus not work on your phone? It should do? *I* can finally comment from mine, using it.

    However. I'm glad that you come back and say things. That's really nice. And yes – it'll eventually work. The positive input will one day outweigh the negative, and I'll 'get' what everyone's on about 😀 Thank you.

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  4. Yes, though I like to think of the thankfuls as the little added seasoning which makes that ol' frog more palatable 😀

    And yes – I'm SO with you. Getting out of long-ingrained habits of thinking is really, really tough. You have better motivation than I do, though, I reckon 😉 Keep at it.

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  5. I love the way you did this – finding something to be thankful for within each trial. I have been terrible in the past about judging myself and I am trying to do better so that I can be a better example for my girls. But, old habits die hard. I think remembering our blessings – our thankfuls – is a great way to “swallow the frog” and begin to conquer our trials.

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  6. The thankfulness certainly makes the trials easier to contemplate. They're wicked hard otherwise. And yes – brutally honest because what other way is there. I know I don't owe it to be public about these things, but it helps me to be accountable – it makes this blogging thing a whole lot more Real if I'm transparent and Truthful about it.

    Thanks for the encouragement 😀

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  7. Well, you're getting things done, by the sound of it, so I'd say it works. It's a great concept, for sure.

    I've yet to entirely make the transition to 'knowing' in my head. But I have a lot of people who I respect telling me their thoughts, so that's encouraging as long as I TAKE TIME TO LISTEN. And pay heed.

    It's one of those things, yaknow? It'll improve. Or change.

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  8. These are some really brutally honest trials that you are putting out there about yourself. Hooray for you being so courageous to be this transparent. I like how you mentioned how it was a trial but then you say why you should be thankful for the fact that you even have what you have to consider something about it to be a trial or struggle. I think you will get through the trials…and being thankful for what you have, makes you less apt to focus on the things that you perceive, at the moment, to be so so important. 🙂

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  9. What a great way to present your list this week! As for struggling with feelings of self-worth – I know you “know” in your head that you are amazing – but it can be hard to overcome feelings and experiences from youth. You never really forget it – so sorry to hear about that bit.
    I had to smile at the link to the “eat the Frog” post – that one really resonated with me too. I've been telling myself to “eat the frog” all week on various things. I think it works 🙂

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  10. Not yet I don't, but I'll keep trying – keep throwing myself at that big ol' brick wall until I finally manage to smash it down without just going *splat*

    Thank you for your encouragement.

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  11. I love the way you've presented this list. It is so indicative of your own internal drive. I'm so sorry you had a really hard childhood, but I really admire your fortitude. I hope you can learn to understand–in your heart, not just your head–that you are a wonderful, deserving person.

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  12. Ha! Happy bathtime 😀 That's usually a happy time (if splashy).

    Sarah wrote amazing things on that post, forsure! I love it so much I keep linking it. And no worries about the homework – you'll get to it. Don't try to do it tired, because it won't happen and it'll just wear you down.

    And thanks 😀 I thought it was pretty clever of me (in spite of two trials less than Hercules, and two more less in my list).

    I'll ask Husby to buy the book 😀 She's full of good ideas, is Kate.

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  13. OK, that was a great post – loved it! Did I do all my homework? No…I so put it off for tomorrow. But perhaps I will indeed get up and tackle it right away in the morning before the rest of the house gets awake.
    Again, loved the Hercules thing – what a great way to lay this list down. (Hmm…weird vernacular…what's that about?) You have lots of wonderful things on here. And I think Kate's idea (down below me) is great – get someone to buy the book and tuck it away for when you're ready.
    OK, putting Zilla in the tub and then off to bed so I can get more work done (ahem…attempt to pretend I'm getting work done).

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  14. Indeed so. All things in all times and On Purpose. Sandy's gonna be amazing, She already IS amazing 😀

    And thank you. I think the whole perspective of thankfulness is HUGELY helpful for adjusting the focus and ensuring that I don't get too bogged down. There ARE Good Things – I just need to be mindful of them.

    Thank you for your prayers 😀

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  15. I hope so, I hope so! Gradually, with enough of the right input, I'm discovering that happiness and feeling good are different things, and that whilst they CAN go hand in hand, they don't always. I'm also (slowly) learning to change my perspective and shift unhelpful foci. Which is amazing.

    I think it will take a long time to get those shifts engrained, but to know that I need to deal with them is helpful. To write them and have them organised on paper and in my mind, is a good thingl

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  16. So glad you found someone to take over the spot…sorry that Melissa felt that she had to go, but God brings the right people for the right time to fill the jobs he has for them. Sandy will be great!

    Fabulous way to do your list. Glad you are turning all these trials into “thanks” as we knew you would/could. Praying for you always. 🙂

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  17. This is a great list. It's such a useful way to look at things – to see the trials or challenges and then find gratitude.

    That book you're reading sounds interesting. After commenting on your post yesterday I started thinking that perhaps it's not happiness we should be aiming for but wholeness. I don't always feel happy but I am far more accepting of that than I once was. I can feel sadness, fear or anger and (mostly) know that it will pass. There's an inner peace with how or what I am, and a willingness to look peacefully at others too. Of course, like most people, I don't always manage that, but it definitely takes much less time to return to a feeling of peace than it used to do. I think your commitment to let go of anxieties about the future will bring you this kind of peace.
    Great stuff!

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