“As a girl thinks in her heart, so she is…”
You’ve heard some variation of this, I’m quit sure: “garbage in garbage out.” It all starts with a healthy sense of self. You must seek out messages that feed your spirit and soul, instead of those that rob you and leave you lower on the shelf of self-esteem than when you started out.
The reality of it is, you don’t have to go far to find these messages, they aren’t exactly in code; all you need is a relationship with three human beings, and boom: you’re bound to hear at some point or other a message whose sole purpose is to dampen your enthusiasm for life, stall your pace in striving for your goals, and plunder your storehouse of dreams.
Depending on what part of the world you were raised in, or what worldview you were immersed into from day one, these messages could even have formed the core, the very essence of your identity as a person, a woman, you. There is no other definition of yourself that you are aware of. This predetermined identity formula permeates all that you are and all the decisions you make, thus driving your very destiny in a direction that nothing seems able to alter.
Now, I’m not advocating an ostrich mentality, which refuses to hear necessary, sometimes-painful truths from well-meaning, healthy people in your life who care about you.
At this age (yah, at this age, if you’re old enough to be reading this), you should have devised some kind of screening process by which to sort out “friend” from “I’m-not-really-sure-if-this-person-means-me-well.” Within the boundaries of that definition, you should then be able to sort out what is advice, helpful hints, loving criticism, the truth, all intended for your progress at the end of the day, and what, from the other camp, is a campaign of messages being planted in your mind to start a process rolling, whereby you would develop a pattern of self-deprecation and the eventual establishment of a sense of failure rather than a sense of purpose in your life.
Don’t know how to sort friend from foe?
You can’t stop the garbage from flowing. The only thing you can control is what you have jurisdiction over, and your mind is indisputably at the top of that list. Only you can block the crap from getting into it.
You’re probably agreeing with me by now, thinking: “Oh yeah, sure. Don’t listen to, or look at anything that would contaminate that sacred space… blah-blah-blaarh – who hasn’t heard that before?” But there is another perspective to this crap-control, which we often don’t see because we are so focused on self-gratification that everything else becomes mere fodder to feed that bottomless pit.
Here’s that nugget: get the focus off yourself – how your feelings can be placated, your needs met, how your people were oppressed, why you are entitled, why your kid should have this and that even though you can’t afford it.
Stop holding your friends hostage every midnight when you can’t sleep for thinking over all your issues, every holiday when you feel lonely, every December 31 when you haven’t met a goal that you didn’t work to achieve – because guess what? When you place yourself at the center of every decision that you and everybody else make, you are only searching for garbage.
After a while, your friends will learn to give you the right answers to get you to hang up the phone, straight men will master the art of flattering you so that you can get that mushy feeling that makes you feel like hugging them, and cooking for them, and sleeping with them with no other commitment from them. And then one day it will happen: you will be find the perfect guy who is sensitive and always says the right things – but then cannot deliver on the other stuff that every woman needs because… he’s gay. Never pretended he wasn’t, all the signs were there, but you were so focused on how you felt that you missed the signs! You might even have ended up marrying him before discovering this, if he had an agenda. Ouch.
Before you hit that low point, bend your knees and hit the floor.
You should learn to pray, meditate, or whatever you call it in the culture in which you were raised. If you don’t believe in any power or authority outside yourself or some human being that you know – if you don’t know how to shut off the clamor in your head for a few minutes, stay still without thinking of how you can fulfill yet another of your emotional needs, and hope to receive enlightenment – then I can only hope that there are people in your life who would be willing to invest the emotional energy into doing so on your behalf.
Now, did you bring the flashlight?
- To be continued.