Saturday, March 24, 2007

A Good Gift

In his comment on my post yesterday, Scott at Swept Over set my thoughts in a direction I've been traveling lately concerning self talk. I've come to an obvious conclusion that kind words in the presence of self deprecation are such a good gift. In his comments, Scott deeply affirmed himself and me in one fell swoop. I will print out his kind words to about my writing and put them in my notebook of thoughts I must allow to sink inside myself. What service would it be to anyone if I wouldn't receive his good gift to me?

The truest friends I have set up a standard of accountability with one another in this particular area. When one of us says something negative about ourselves in the context of a conversation we have given one another unspoken permission to call the statement into question for examination, "You mean to tell me you would hold that against me like you do yourself if I were to do the same stupid thing? Or would you be more charitable to me than yourself?"

For example, I felt great guilt over the tragic death of a very special family pet cat. The neighbors watching over our cat while we were on vacation allowed their six year old daughter to check in our cat instead of coming with her. Our house got too hot as I'd turned off the heat and air, but the little girl didn't notice. The cat got caught inside and died of heat stroke. I carried tremendous personal guilt about having thoughtlessly turning off the air, and I cried for days. Thoughts of his horrible death followed me for months- I thought of the dear cat gasping for fresh air, hoping for someone to come let him outside the house, everytime I stepped into our closed sweltering hot van. Finally, I brought up my shame before a friend, and his words released me, "You'd did not turn off the air knowing it would hurt your cat! Would you be so hard on me if I had done the same thing to my cat?" Nope, I'd have given my friend grace and chalk it up as a terrible and sad mistake. However, I wouldn't grant myself that kind of peace. Why not? Self hatred. My friend's gentle words revealed unforgiveness directed at myself which may have been subconciously felt by my neighbors. I was grateful to let go of it all and breathe deeply again.

Claire and I recently decided negative self talk is a waste of precious time. It distracts us from our good purposes, and we are on a quest to be rid of it. When she starts with, "I really blew it" my ears automatically perk up. It's important to not interrupt her but to allow the words which follow as they bring clarity to us both. If I hear about an opportunity missed, then I ask, "What can we learn from this?" If she's being too hard on herself, I give her the gift of putting myself in her place and checking her response.

Do you have anyone in your life who listens to you on your behalf? Thank you to all who offer this good gift to me.

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