Here I sit my pen and paper and the ocean. As a mother this feels like a stolen moment. A stolen moment to allow the sun and the breeze to renew my soul.
I even feel the need to advise that my child is currently in very safe hands. Prior to being a mom I would never need to justify sitting down for a moment with my thoughts to write, but suddenly you are a mom and you do love your kids and spending time with them, but your time isn’t your own and free time you count in seconds.
Words and thoughts are very powerful. I recently watched a video on a teacher that spent 10 minutes a day complimenting his students and the results were profound. This reminded me of how changing my thoughts had such a profound effect on me.
Perhaps it was attention, perhaps it was being an only child and then living with 10 foster kids or perhaps it was just my predisposition. While much of my writing will be positive, Costa Rica related and encouraging as I express what’s on the inside… this wasn’t always the case. I went through a time where I really wanted to hear encouragement from others, I really wanted to know people believed in me. I truly cared what others thought and it progressed to where I would say negative or doubtful things about myself…just so others would contradict my words.
“I can’t” I’d shout at my frustration over a task not being simple for me. Really I was crying ‘Please tell me you believe in me, I’m smart and you know I can do this’. Sometimes it worked and I’d get my encouragement. I’d say the negative about myself, ‘I’m not smart, I’m not pretty, my hair is ugly’ etc. and hope someone would see me and chime in and profess the opposite. My parents were verbally encouraging, but they were also very busy, stressed and going through a divorce.
What I didn’t realize was these negative words I was saying about myself became toxic seeds. Suddenly I was thinking them, believing them. I was doubting and not believing in myself, wanting to please others that they might possibly like me and say something nice to me, fill my cup up just a little bit. I had created a monster within fed by negativity and doubt. I’d let fear in and it ruled. When others said negative things about me, I began believing them too. ‘You’ll never go to college.’ Or the teacher who told me ‘never to take another art class’. I wasn’t defending myself against myself, so I wasn’t doing it to others either, just adding their words to my mind chatter.
At this time in life, religious teachings in my church were of putting yourself last, Jesus first and others in between along with inequalities taught in Sunday school and all the things women ‘couldn’t do’ or how they ‘shouldn’t behave’. While I didn’t truly believe it I still felt like I was being judged all the time. ‘You’ll go to hell for that’ this voice in my head would say. I didn’t even agree. But the voice would still say it and this would cause me to shudder to doubt, to judge, question myself and ultimately live in fear. Before you wonder about the great sins I may have been committing, let me share how freely the ‘You’ll go to Hell for that’ phrase got thrown around. ~ Wearing a two piece bathing suit, wearing make up, getting your ears pierced, playing with trolls (they were popular little dolls with brightly colored hair as I was growing up and my Oma (grandmother) used to hide them at her home so I could play with them when I came), eating candy, watching most secular movies or music/tv, of course fooling around with a guy before marriage…this is a means of control to instill fear in someone. When a grown woman questions if she can wear a bikini because she grew up hearing it was evil so she questions her body rather than accepting it…It’s not easily undone.
I’ve always believed that God (however an individual chooses to define ‘God’ perhaps we’re all right) is Love. I couldn’t understand if God is love then why is he up there with a tally sheet keeping score of every wrong and deciding when to ship us to Hell? By living this way questioning my every move, I was living my own Hell.
In time I realized it really was my own Hell I’d created, the teachings that had been told to me and the words repeated to myself…I realized just how powerful words and thoughts are.
I decided I was the only one putting myself through this torture and I was the only one who could change it. When my thoughts would say something negative I’d tell myself the opposite. If I thought ‘I can’t do that’ I would tell myself, ‘I can do that and if I continue to do it, I’ll get better’. I continued to flip around whatever negative outlook I had. Initially, it was really tough to remember to do, it felt rusty, but it got easier. The more I did it the quieter the negative doubting voice got and the stronger my positive affirmations got. I knew verbal affirmation felt so healing to me and I started a relationship with someone who was constantly lovingly reaffirming with words. Feeling loved did help me on my quest, but it was the change from within that felt the most profound. Inhale Peace, Exhale calm.
One day, one random day, I sat alone with my thoughts and realized….Peace!
No negative mind chatter…no worry, it was gone. I could meditate and feel grounded. I could go within to find my own peace and tranquility. In time another voice emerged, but this voice, when I was oh so quiet and calm…It gave me answers, positive, happy true to my soul answers. I was previously clouded with too much worry to hear these answers. With my new found calm I could better navigate my life in the direction of my dreams.
Today I’m sitting on a beautiful beach thinking positive thoughts and watching my dreams come true.
“Real change is seldom a giant step. It’s usually a small one. Small but deeply real. We hold the fear and the faith at the same time and we cross the bridge slowly. When we get to the other side, we have been transformed- not by the step itself- but by the willingness to stay open during the crossing. That’s what changes us- creating a space inside for a new way of being to emerge.” ~Jeff Brown