Monthly Archives: July 2017

Beauty and The Beast

 

I had an encounter recently that was reminiscent of many I’ve had over the course of my career.  I’m going to describe it as pertaining to a woman, but there are male versions that come to mind as well.   It goes something like this.  I’m sitting with a young woman in her mid 20’s to mid 30’s.  It’s a beautiful, accomplished, smart woman with a lovely disposition.  And she is telling me about her low self confidence, esteem, unattractiveness and perhaps even a lack of merit.  The Beauty and her Beast.

Her beast is the version of herself that lives inside telling her everything that is not only not okay with her, but is the opposite version of what most of us on the outside believe we are seeing when we look at her.  We may seem kind, encouraging and may even believe we have empirical evidence when we try to contradict her Beast, but we are often no match.  The Beast has held her captive for quite some time.

What about those of us who aren’t strikingly beautiful, don’t have stellar credentials, or won’t get invited to Mensa?  How are we supposed to feel great about ourselves when the people we aspire to emulate still don’t get to feel that they are even near the finish line?  Does that mean OUR Beasts are real or justified?

I think not.  I think part of the human condition is that we are a constant work in progress and because of that, we never feel “ready” or complete.  There is some merit to that idea, as it is a motivator towards expanding ourselves.  But how about evaluating the incompletion simply as a stage rather than a judgement?  When I bake brownies, I know that at the half way point they are simply not done rather than flawed and incapable of reaching optimal tastiness.

One of my favorite children’s books is called “There’s a Nightmare in My Closet.  The little boy who is afraid of the nightmare in his closet discovers that his nightmare is equally afraid of him and he has to ultimately comfort the nightmare.  Perhaps our beast is really just an untamed, part of ourselves who may even have been unjustly wounded a long time ago rather than an abusive dictator to whom we must submit.  Maybe we could see our Beast as perhaps uneducated, or lost in an earlier time.  Maybe our Beast is really a product of collective voices that no longer fit in the world we now live within.  Or maybe our Beast is just a scared part of us that needs to be comforted so it will stop being a bully.

Either way, it becomes increasingly clear to me that achieving something on the outside is not what will make us feel better, ready, richer, happier.  We are who we are, and while we hopefully will continue to grow and evolve until our last breath, the state of feeling enough is ours simply for the price of deciding it is so.  Beasts need not apply.

 

 

Freedom and modern day slavery

 

So it’s been a while since I’ve posted.  Perhaps I’ll start again- time will tell.  I love to write in this blog, and yet a million other things call my attention away from doing so.  And that is part of what prompts this post.

Let me start before the actual content in saying that this is not in any way intended to be a political blog, and would appreciate there not be any comments of the same.  Politics is a very volatile subject these days and I prefer to keep that out of my therapeutic realm.  I also want to state clearly that my use of slave and its derivatives that follow are in no way intended as a comparison to historical slavery.

So today is the Fourth of July.  It’s our national celebration of our freedom from the British.  We have pool parties, eat good food, watch fireworks and socialize.  Perhaps we fly our flag and spend a few minutes thinking patriotic thoughts.  We celebrate what it means to be free.

But despite my own recent efforts with some points in the win column, I am aware of how easy  and prevalent it has become for us to enslave ourselves.  We become slaves to our jobs, our commitments, our homes, our families, cultural trends and while the list can go on, most of all, slaves to our fears.

Words that define slave:  owned by another, works excessively hard, forced to obey.  Certainly my assertion doesn’t meet that definition in the literal sense.  And yet, I see people every day (and sometimes myself) working very hard to meet the demands of someone or something that is not me.  An “other” be it a job one stays late to work at when they wish they were with their family.  A socially inspired trend that requires spending outside of one’s comfortable budget.  A body that is punished beyond reasonable limits in order to maintain a culturally identified ideal.

But unlike true slaves, we do this however unknowingly by choice.  We put ourselves in the small box like prisons of behaviors and repeat them day after day both because they are familiar and because they are so often unexamined.  This jail has no lock on the door, but we so often go years before we wander over and give it a tug and discover we could have walked out all along.

Fear is perhaps the most insidious of our masters.  It keeps us faithful and in check.  So often, our fears began a very long time ago and are tied to circumstances that no longer exist.  Yet our actions which support them continue to persist.

So today is Independence Day.  Brave people of long ago and soldiers still today die for our right to be free.  Are you brave enough to light a sparkler to begin your own emancipation today?  Here is a quote I recently came across:

One of the  most courageous decisions you’ll ever make

Is to finally let go

 of what is hurting your heart and soul

Bridgette Nicole