Self on the Shelf

Sometimes we can't take it in when the people in our lives tell us good things about ourselves. There can be lots of reasons for this. Maybe we've never heard that we're good at this or that particular thing. Maybe we're moving too fast to stop and let it settle in. Maybe we don't think very highly of the person praising us, so their opinions don't carry much weight. Perhaps we don't feel they have the full picture, we think if they knew the whole story, they wouldn't be so complimentary. (See this post for more on that and why I think group work is so amazing) Much of the time, we can't take it in because it bumps up against a core belief that we're not OK in some way.

We're not smart, we're not beautiful, we're not strong, we're not worthy, we're not lovable...we're just not...enough.

So no matter how many times we hear that we really are OK, often we just can't let it in.

I invite you try something. The next time someone gives you positive feedback, and you find yourself ready to toss it away, put it on a shelf. You don't have to take it in right then and there, you don't have to accept it as truth. Maybe you never will. That's OK.

But you don't have to completely disregard it either.

Put in on the shelf, and allow the possibility to exist that it might be true. Maybe you're not all things to all people all the time. (nobody is). But maybe for that person, in that moment, you were just what was needed.

Put it on the shelf, then, when you feel ready, take it down and play with it. What would it be like if this thing were true? If this thing were true, what would that mean for other parts of your life? What would it take for you to accept this?

You may find that the second or third time you take a good look at this, you will be able to take it in. Or maybe, it goes back on the shelf. Your choice.

One more thing, think about a second shelf. One where you put the negative things people say, or even the things we say to ourselves. Sometimes the negative things are far too easy to accept as true. What if we put some of that on a different shelf?

Instead of immediately accepting that we are not good enough, not kind enough, not generous enough, not...enough.

Put it on the shelf. 

Accept the possibility that this thing that hurts, this thing that defeats you, may not actually be true. Again, you don't have to believe it, not all the way. Allow the shelf to just hold the possibility, that maybe, perhaps, this doesn't fit you as well as you have always thought.

Think of these shelves as simply an invitation to another possibility. Just a thought that perhaps you are strong enough, beautiful enough, kind enough, maybe, just maybe...

you are actually enough.