Give Me A Dose of Kindness; Hold the Criticism Please
Have you ever noticed that we are completely inundated with judgment? Maybe I notice it more these days since jumping off the cliff into pursuing my dream full-time. I have been given an amazing amount of support and encouragement, but I have also received a lot of condemnation and disapproval. It has really made me think about how much we all weigh in on other people’s lives. We are bombarded every day by criticism. Facebook, blogs, television, magazines, family, friends. We live under a microscope of scrutiny in which others judge our choices and decisions. And while I won’t say that men are immune to it or not involved in it, I think it is worse among women. Women seem to examine each other against impossible standards, as if life wasn’t hard enough on its own! I think it’s too easy to get caught up in what other people think or judge as “okay”. It is way too easy to lose your own self-image in other people’s criticisms and start to look at yourself through their opinions. And that’s all they are—opinions! Why do we let those opinions matter so much? Every aspect of a woman’s life is up for debate and criticism. No matter what choice you make, someone will find fault with it. It can be a decision as important as whether or not to have children, or as trivial as whether or not to wear pantyhose. Someone will still have an opinion on it! You’re not a good mom if you go to work and leave your kids. You’re not a good feminist if you stay at home. Your children won’t be socialized if you home school. Your children will be thugs if they go to public school. You’re too thin or too fat. Your hairstyle is out-of-date or it’s too edgy. That shirt is too frumpy; that skirt’s too skimpy. You’re too old to wear this, and too young to wear that. You don’t speak up enough or you talk too much. That wife left her marriage before she gave it a chance. This one stayed too long and should have already left. This one married way too young. That one must have something wrong with her because she has never been married. That mother is way too permissive. This one is way too strict. This mother pushes her kids too hard. That one doesn’t push enough. That one breastfed, but this one did formula. JUST. STOP. It’s too much. We are all on a journey. Each of has our own past and our own path. We each have wishes, dreams, experiences, hurts, triumphs and desires. We each have our own choices to make, and we all make some mistakes. There is no way for one person to truly know what is best or right for another. We are not all cut out the same. The puzzle of life could not be created if we were all the same shape. We need to allow people to be who they are. Without so much judgment and negativity. And ultimately all that negativity we hear seeps into our thinking and colors our outlook on life. We hear the negative voices much more clearly in our heads than the positive ones. We internalize the criticism and it snowballs underneath our own fears and insecurities. We begin to make our decisions not based on our heart and our gut, but on our fear of what others will think or say. We start to judge ourselves as harshly as we are being judged. It’s just wrong. One of my favorite bloggers wrote very eloquently about her body and looking at things in a positive light. It really made an impact on me. I have thought about it for days. It really awakened me to how critical my inner dialogue is towards . . . me. I think the way we treat others is connected to how we treat ourselves. I can’t be all positive and uplifting to those around me if I am constantly down on myself, and vice-versa. So I have decided to not only make an effort to be more loving and supporting to those around me, but also to myself. I’m going to re-envision me, from a more positive viewpoint. I have never liked my legs. My college roommate, a track star, has the most beautiful legs I have ever seen, and mine will never look like hers. But my legs have run a 5K and hiked up two active volcanos and through two rainforests. They have carried me all over Paris, Rome, London and Sydney. They are strong, and they get me where I need to go. My arms are not as toned as they used to be. But they have carried my child, held my husband and waved many goodbyes & hellos. My hands are aging. I see more wrinkles and more spots. But they have prepared meals, bandaged wounds, caressed lovingly, and they type from my heart each day. My chest is not well-endowed, and it’s not as perky as it used to be. But those faithful “girls” nursed my child for a year, sustaining the first six months of his life with nothing but my body. My neck is really freaking me out. They tell you take off your make-up and stay out of the sun when you’re young, but no one warns you about your neck getting all loose and wrinkly. But this neck has held my head up high through disappointment, pain, and triumphs. I have lines around my eyes and parentheses around my mouth because I have laughed and smiled. A lot. I have lines on my forehead and a deep crevice between my eyes because I have worried and survived. A lot. I may not have a bikini body, but I have laid it out on a whole lotta beaches, including Grand Cayman, the Bahamas, Costa Rica, Mexico, Jamaica, Australia, Turks & Caicos, and all three coasts of Florida. (And an Italian beach fully-clothed, but I’m counting it.) I’ve made some really bad decisions in life, but I’ve made some really good ones too. And I’ve learned from my mistakes. And I’ve tried to do better. So I’m gonna look at myself with more love. Kinder and less judgmental. More considerate and accepting. I’m going to appreciate the positive. I’ll treat myself the way I should treat others. And then after I start with me, I’m gonna spread it around. If I am kinder to myself, maybe it will be easier to be kinder to others. If I acknowledge that I’m just walking my journey, doing the best I can, maybe I will remember that they’ve got their own journey and they’re doing the best they can too. Let’s band together and support each other in all the crazy crap life throws our way. Instead of gossiping or criticizing people, just love them. Just support them. Even if you don’t agree with them, love them anyway. If they ask for your help or advice, give it freely in love, not condemnation. If they don’t follow it, it’s up to them. Love them anyway. Don’t judge them. You don’t know their heart. You don’t walk their path. I have a challenge for you. Look in the mirror and choose to see yourself in a more positive light. Then look at others with that same new light. We can change the world. Light and love, folks. Light and love. P.S. Thanks to Jen at "Jen" e sais quoi for the inspiration. Yours was much more clever, and I hope you don't mind that I pirated it!