Over the years, I’ve moved away from being competitive and jealous and moved towards compassion and celebration. In the past, when a friend has lost weight, or run a personal best, or completed a major race, I always felt a pang of jealousy — “why can’t I lose weight like that?” or “yea, I ran that fast (15 years ago)” or “Oh, I’ve done that before.” Realizing that has done nothing but created negative energy, I have focused on celebrating a friend’s weight loss or cheering about a personal best or praising a completed race. Once I began focusing on creating positive energy for others, I felt better about myself.
But, let’s be real. Like lots of things in our lives, sometimes I slip. Sometimes I do feel badly about myself because of another person’s success. It’s just real. It’s remnants of my earliest messages as a child — to be better, to do better, to outrun, to excel, and to not be happy with being average. “Somewhere, someone is doing better than me.”
And, I admit. The do better-do better-do better approach has propelled my career, my life and my success.
Yet, it came at a cost. It came at the cost of never feeling fully alive in my own skin. It came at the cost of constantly judging my own failures, and then spiraling further. Eventually, I climb back up the end of my rope, and I hang on for dear life.
But here’s where I have not failed: in raising three pretty outstanding kids who remind me to be kinder to myself, to love myself more, and to put myself first.
Just before the start of school, my 10-year old and I were awake in bed talking about her hopes for the school year. She started talking about friends, about making friends, and how challenging it can be to not fit in with the popular crowd at school (preach on, sister, preach on!). And, as a hold over from my own childhood, I offered to buy her the kinds of clothes other kids wear at school. Her response, “But, mom, wearing those clothes only changes what I look like on the outside, not who I am on the inside. And, it’s on the inside that I really like.”
But, what happens when you’ve grown up believing that your “insides” aren’t good enough to like? And, then what happens when your outsides feel as terrible as your insides?
Well, that’s when we started focusing, as a family, on how to make our insides and our outsides more happy.
This past weekend, our little family thought of ways to make our insides happy. I just joined an awesome virtual wellness team, and I am focusing on exercise and good, whole foods to help make my insides happy. I spent Sunday buying, chopping, roasting and organizing vegetables and healthy snacks for the entire family to eat throughout the week. My 10-year old decided that she would keep a gratitude journal and ask each of us at the end of the day what we are thankful for. My 7-year old said that she would like to laugh more, and she’ll be responsible for doing something to get us to laugh each day. My 4-year old, well, he said he’ll hug us more.
That’s what we’re starting with. We’re starting with little changes that will help our insides feel better. And, I have a feeling those will help our outsides feel better, too.
I’m giving myself permission to mess this up every so often. I’m reframing this all to remind myself that “smooth seas do not make a good sailor.” It’s the rough parts that push us to be better, to do better, and to feel better.
Obviously, much of this is tied to my upcoming oopherectomy, too. I’m likely having my surgery in December/January, and I know that this will all prepare me for my surgery and recovery. But, until then, here’s to focusing on creating more positive energy, inside and out.
Peace, love, and practicing kindness,