Some of my behavior has been shocking people. (Who me?) Well, shocking may not be the appropriate word -- maybe taking them by surprise is more like it. I'm referring to my behavior of being proud of myself! Yes, I've given myself permission to be proud of who I am, of what I've accomplished, and the greatness that is in store for me.
Now, some of you may have a strong reaction to this "who does she think she is anyway?" That's easy enough to answer. I am a child of God and in that respect I have more than enough to be proud of.
From Then to Now
I was as a timid child... I never wanted to disturb anyone. I recall standing by my mother's side having a question to ask but not daring to interrupt her conversation with another adult, so I stood by numbly (oops, that was supposed to say humbly), not wanting to be in the way. Obviously, or so it seemed to me, my needs were not as important as that other person's or as my mother's needs.
As I grew up, I noticed certain behavior around me. For example, I happened to be very good in school, another God-given talent. It came easy to me to be first in class or at the least second. (Here I am bragging again. No more humble pie here!) Yet when I reached 5th grade, I changed school and faced the prospect of being accepted by my new peers. I had discovered that being first in class provoked certain envies and jealousies, so I made a conscious choice to not be better than third or fourth. It just meant a little less attention to homework and less studying (oh good! more time to read story books).
My humble attitude of "Oh! no, I'm not as smart as her!" brought me the friendship of not only the 'best' clique in my class but also of the other 'less popular' girls. (I was not yet at the point of craving male approval.) And this went on... I wanted to be accepted as normal, average, definitely not outstanding. After all, I had received the teaching of humility, which to me meant not being proud of my God-given talents and not expressing myself to the highest.
Coming Out Of The "I'm So Humble" Closet
I've now changed that attitude. I sometimes refer to this new development as coming out of the closet. I have found myself recently 'bragging' (as some would call it) at the successful completion of a particular task. I have even gone so far as asking for, and expecting, praise from my co-workers, associates, and family. All this ties in with the work I've been doing on myself concerning self-esteem and self-love. I have affirmed so many times "I love and approve of myself", "I love myself exactly the way I am", "I am good enough", that somewhere deep inside of me I now know these statements to be true.
When I mentioned that my behavior was 'shocking' people I was referring to a few specific incidents. In one situation, I had just designed a flyer, and was showing it to my associate in that project. My comment on presenting it to him was "Doesn't this look great?" Now, this somewhat boastful comment drew no response. I guess people are not used to such blunt praise-seeking. So my next question was "Do you like it? Don't you think it's nice?" That question drew a yes.
On two other occasions, I called up people for whom I had designed an ad and told them I thought the ad looked great, and that I was looking for some pats on the back... did they think it looked good? This too earned a few moments of hesitation before getting a response. They were surely a little surprised to be solicited outright for approval. After all, the usual way of seeking approval is focused in the opposite direction putting ourselves down hoping that the other person will deny our self-negation.
Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places and All the Wrong Ways
I recall, in the past, humbly saying, "I hope you like this... I did the best I could" and hesitatingly asking "Is it o.k.? Do you think it would be better if it was done differently?" Not much apparent self-confidence there, but deep down I knew I had done my best. I was simply seeking approval but doing it in a round-about humble way. I didn't want anyone to think I thought highly of myself... they might think I felt superior... and then maybe they wouldn't love me.
Ah! Isn't that the basic fear? The fear of not being loved! We will cover up our true identity as radiant children of the Universe in order not to rouse envy or jealousies. Our most basic need for love transfers itself into the need for having others approve of us.
It's time for us to let go of those "mousy" attitudes. You are the divine being you are and it is your divine right to live your life to the fullest and to be proud of your talents and accomplishments. If the low self-esteem part of you feels you have not accomplished much (a little self-judgment?) start looking at the good you have done. Small things like taking flowers to a sick or depressed friend, being a loving parent, a sharing friend, a positive co-worker -- all those are great successes. You have a right to be proud.
It is not necessary for you to be the founder of a humanitarian project or a high-ranking member of society to be proud of who you are. You came to this earth with certain talents and heart desires. Tuning in to those talents and listening to your heart will lead you to the greatest success you can be. Start being proud of the 'little' things you do (maybe you're a great cook, housekeeper, typist, father, mother, carpenter, whatever...).
Give It Your Best Shot
Do everything you do with 100% totality. Give it your best, and be proud of your efforts. Even when you "fail" at something (actually there is no such thing), be proud of the fact that you actually gave something your best. If it did not turn out the way you had expected, see what lessons and messages this holds for you. Take it to the next step.
As most inventors know, it took many "failures" and trials before the successful invention was perfected. Do you think the light bulb was invented on the first try? or the telephone? or the computer? All of these projects took many trials and errors before attaining the end product. So it is with whatever endeavor you set out upon.
Simply follow your inner guidance, your intuition, your heart's direction. That inner knowing will guide you to the successful accomplishment your divine self seeks and your mission here.
Living with Joy: Keys to Personal Power and Spiritual Transformation
by Sanaya Roman. (25th anniversary edition)
Orin, a wise and gentle spirit teacher, offers a systematic course in spiritual growth through this book, and guides you into the art of self-love, where you can accept yourself as you are right now, release guilt, examine how your beliefs about reality create your experience, and open to the love others have for you. Orin discusses the nature and power of love to transform your life.
Marie T. Russell is the founder of InnerSelf Magazine (founded 1985). She also produced and hosted a weekly South Florida radio broadcast, Inner Power, from 1992-1995 which focused on themes such as self-esteem, personal growth, and well-being. Her articles focus on transformation and reconnecting with our own inner source of joy and creativity. Creative Commons 3.0: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License. Attribute the author: Marie T. Russell, InnerSelf.com. Link back to the article: This article originally appeared on InnerSelf.com
About The Author
Marie T. Russell is the founder of InnerSelf Magazine (founded 1985). She also produced and hosted a weekly South Florida radio broadcast, Inner Power, from 1992-1995 which focused on themes such as self-esteem, personal growth, and well-being. Her articles focus on transformation and reconnecting with our own inner source of joy and creativity.
Creative Commons 3.0: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License. Attribute the author: Marie T. Russell, InnerSelf.com. Link back to the article: This article originally appeared on InnerSelf.com