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
 Your hosts

71 thoughts on “Ten Things of Thankful #30

  1. Awwwh Stephanie that's a horrible way to feel on your wedding day. But I can believe it. Well I found a book today called Toxic Parents, by Susan Forward, and I have high hopes that it will help me to figure out and undo some of the mindsets I've ended up with.

    I've also got one going on by a Benedictine Abbot, called 'Finding Happiness'. It's really very good, but yours sounds good too 🙂

    You have a great weekend yourself, my friend 😀

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  2. How awesome for Sandy!! That's really exciting 🙂 Love your list. When I read your story, I so wanted to hug you (and shake you a little to think about yourself as you do), but I know exactly where you come from. Can you believe that even on my wedding day, I couldn't believe that someone would do something as crazy as marrying ME!! I'd been on the search for love and acceptance for so long, and all I found was rejection and ridicule. It was a hard journey to where I am now, but I think I can say that I am truly happy. If you're looking for more resources, there's a book called “The Art of Happiness” by the Dalai Lama, I read it about once a year, and I get out of it so refreshed and energized. Have a great weekend, Lizzi!

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  3. REALLY? Wow! I haven't got to yours yet but hey, that's cool! Not often I synchronise with a scott, but AWESOME 😀 I'm gonna skip ahead to you now (ohh, do I dare?) and see what you put.

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  4. Katia…I'm speechless (still, and I know we just talked on FB too…) I'm gonna have to go back and read what I wrote and figure out what you were reading. I'm glad you like it so much. Kind of concerned that you can relate to it so much, but hope that you can hook into the happiness bit more 🙂 We'll talk again, my friend 😀

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  5. I have no idea! Um. You have me stumped. I guess something resonated for you.

    I definitely need to be better at remembering that 'perfect' is both subjective and unachievable.

    Joy, thank you so much for your response – I shall try, I shall TRY so hard to be a bit less harsh on myself and to allow myself to make mistakes and be mistake-ful and not beat myself up about it. I hold myself to high standards in most part because I feel so worthless/useless that I figure unless I can be 'better', I can never hope to stand on an even footing with anyone else. I often don't like being in my brain, because it tells me that kind of thing.

    Thanks for the compliments on the drawings. I have a lot of fun making them, and the love IV was hilarious to create.

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  6. Lizzi, I just loved the way you did your list this week, putting a positive spin on trials like we all face by finding things to be thankful for in each situation. What a great lesson to all of us! I also appreciated your thoughts on well-meaning comments and how it is sometimes hard to take them to heart. I once had a friend who saw her self as “a black magic marker” (in her words), and believed that everything she touched in life turned black and ugly. No amount of kind words or caring thoughts could change how she felt about herself until she was ready to consider that she might be someone of value and have some light within her own soul. I am so grateful that you continue to hang in there and have made some wonderful improvements in your life, I know it isn't easy and there are some big issues to come to terms with, but I have no doubt you will find your way. Blessings and love to you always!

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  7. Why thank you. I am trying my darndest to take these good lessons and LEARN from them, rather than ignore them or turn them to one side. I want to improve, and if people are kind enough to offer me the benefit of their knowledge and experience, I should pay heed.

    And SEE – I told you it was good.

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  8. Friends. Family. People who love you. Skip. Nature. Art. Beauty. Music.

    The things which feed you in a good way. They're what goes into the IV.

    AND I KNOW 😀 SO happy about it 😀

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  9. This was one of your bests posts ever. Such a brilliant deconstruction of self esteem (one that I could very well relate to) and happiness. Please know and accept how amazing this piece of writing was.

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  10. I'm glad you think so. No cookies needed. I promise you that!

    Seeing the bigger picture is a much harder task than looking down a tunnel at the things which are Less Than. But even though Oprah said it (tbh, I know so little of her I can barely hold an opinion) I think it has some merit to it.

    Writing down things you've conquered sounds like a really good exercise. I should try that some time. In the meantime, Thankfuls are things I can really get on board with, because remembering to be grateful reminds me HOW MUCH I have to be grateful for. And gives perspective.

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  11. She sounds like a very frank and forthright person. Perhaps I need that kind of input, to tell me to pull my head out of my ass and get on with the business of living a good life, rather than constantly worrying about hang-ups.

    I can't wait to be older and wiser, but I guess it's a 'journey' and I need to pay heed to the lessons along the way. Thank you for this one.

    Looking forward to your TToT, whenever you're ready for it. I hope things are well with you.

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  12. I love your drawrings, they are so cute and the LOVE I.V. is amazing!
    So much goodness.
    FYI: When I think of Hercules, and it's been awhile since I've read anything about him, I just say “He's half HUMAN and what is it to be human? To err is human” so that explains it! We're all human, we're allowed to make mistakes, we're allowed not to be perfect (which is subjective and impossible) and we're ALLOWED to forgive ourselves for being human. Change “making mistakes” or “Being Wrong” to “Being Human.” Please don't beat up Lizzi for Being Human, Lizzi is my friend and she tries harder than anyone I know to beat this whole “Being Human” thing, but try to embrace it a little bit, because it's sucky but it's also? A LOT OF FUN!
    Great post, I'm teary-eyed as usual after reading something you wrote, but with a GIANT SMILE on my face. How do you do that??? 🙂

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  13. It is so easy to fall victim of our misfortunes and put our full attention on it. It is a process to learn to envision the entire picture. What went wrong/is wrong etc. versus what is good/what was accomplished etc.
    It may sound stupid because it came out of Oprah's mouth (I loathe her) but she's right in the theory of putting what you're grateful of on paper. For me, since I have some…ummm…mental issues…I write down the things I conquered. Just like you're doing here. Give that a whirl. Or not. Eat a cookie. Or not. Look in the mirror and say “Yup, that Kimberly from Canada was right. I am awesome.” or not but you should. I know awesome when I see it.
    xo

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  14. My aunt recently said to me “Susan it is time to stop worrying about everyone else around you and to start being kind to yourself.” This is the same woman that when I told her I had lung cancer in the same telephone conversation said to me, “Shit happens.” Over the course of ten years she'd lost her husband and her daughter both to lung cancer so I can understand her shit happens reply to me.

    My advise to anyone is don't wait till something bad happens to you to be kind to yourself. It's not always easy, but everyone deserves kindness to oneself.

    There are so many things I learned about others and myself later in life. I only wish I had learned these things earlier on. I guess it is true that the older we get the wiser we become.

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  15. I had much the same thought earlier, with judge not lest ye be judged – who the hell am I, really, to say that I'm not worthwhile? When so many people would beg to differ.

    I hope I got this. We'll see.

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  16. I am so proud of you! Being kind to my self was the hardest thing. It still is a discipline to take off those old horrible thoughts and words. Working at putting on positive thoughts and words is so worth it. The changing point for me was when I considered, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” and realized if I didn't love myself, how could I truly love others.

    You got this babe!

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  17. I have your free for all….but only if you are up for it. We can talk 'over there' —->
    about it later if you want!

    I love all of your Trials and your Thankfuls!!! And all your insight is always brilliantly exposed… laced with beauty and integrity where one could least expect it.

    I love that about you- only you have that, Lizzi. Only you.

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  18. I guess I think people are sincerely wishing to make me feel good, but then I think they must be inflating or inventing to make me feel good. And I won't fall for their trap!!! Psyches are weird.
    I actually am working on this. Have a specific example but probably best not to publicly announce. 🙂

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  19. I don't think they aren't sincerely meant. I completely think that people are very sincere and believe and mean what they say. I'm just not good at feeling worthy of their good opinion. That's more my issue.

    Your last one is (probably) very good, and also very hard. One you might try too, I guess? Whaddya think?

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  20. Ack! Don't make me edit! Editing is painful. And clearly yiz down here (at least) read all of it. Thanks for the novella though – it helps to know that you know this, and that you're ahead of me. Thanks for passing back the info.

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  21. I know, Sandy! Right? So awesome 😀

    Gotta keep those thankfuls, even when I'm trying to be a smartass about it and post something rather un-thankful. Glad you think I covered it all.

    Aaaaaaaaaaaaand yeah no :p

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  22. Well done, Weldon. Sorry about that terrible joke. That intro, though; I understand. I always undercut compliments by trying to convince myself they're not sincere. Why is it so hard to believe someone thinks something nice about you? And it's insulting to the complimenter to assume he/she's not genuine.
    But I'm trying to improve and take compliments at face value. What if that was your last one: to accept compliments with grace?

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  23. You sneaksy thing! But we all cheat. It's the 'thing' now, since FIRST! has become a game.

    Feel free to borrow any of the trials you want. I hope they'll be useful to me. And I hope I can be a little accountable now I've said this here, out loud. If they're useful to you, too, so much the better.

    I read a very cool thing on Stephanie Sprenger's blog this morning, about showing your kids that when they grow up, if they decide to be parents, they' realise they'll still get to be WHOLE persons.

    (she said it much better)

    And I'll try to stop judging. That might be the hardest, in fact.

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  24. First, you said: 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.

    This was one of my trials too. I say was, because I have largely overcome it and am now mostly loving and kind to my hubs. I am definitely much slower to anger. I have come to love him unconditionally and have a huge amount of compassion for what it must be like to be him, so therefor, how can I be so easily exasperated? I'm no darling. There's shit I throw at him. And he STRUGGLES in life. I simply MUST just love him. I mean, I'm still allowed to be nag sometimes, and call him on some of shit, but mostly, just love.

    And I GET exactly what you mean about being hungover from experiences. EXACTLY. I wonder if you do the same thing I've done, which is lump each individual THING that happens together until you feel like the SKY IS FALLING. Know this Lizzi, life isn't out to get you. It's just life. I've been learning that.

    For your free for all of what else you could work on, I was gonna suggest maybe trying, just a little bit, to, perhaps, shorted your post a bit. But then I went and wrote you a novella ofa comment. So I have no legs to stand on! 🙂

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  25. I'm glad it was worth the wait – I thought so. I've been bursting with excitement all week to tell 😀 I'm so happy Sandy said yes to this.

    Look forward to your beautiful post in the morning 😀

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  26. That IS awesome new! Congrats, Sandy!!! Woop!
    Again, you tackled a post with true Lizzi uniqueness. I loved the way you did this, with the “work on” and then the thankful. As for the “free for all”, can't think of anything new. You covered it all. Except maybe get a second job at a strip club to speed the fund drive for the trip to 'Merica!

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  27. I had to publish that before anyone else slid in while I was finishing what I wanted to say! I cheat. I think you have done a fine job of listing your trials and thankfuls. There is a ton of good on this list and I can't (honestly) think of anything to add to it. I could borrow a few of these for my own life (is it me or does that happen a lot with your posts?). I need a tune up in each of these areas myself, especially my health and physical self. I realize with a hard slap these days that I am not getting any younger and I'm going to have to make myself a priority. Everyone else may have to do a little more of their own care taking. Now, if I had to second one of the trials mentioned it would be that you should stop judging yourself. I think, as do many, many, many others that you are amazing and lovely and wise and witty and….and…and….

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  28. So sorry to have Melissa leave, but so very happy that Sandy has decided to co-host here. Seriously, that totally put a smile on my face and worth the wait to hear. Thanks as always and be back in the AM now!! 🙂

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