It was an epiphany – of sorts. I mean, it wasn’t that I had a sudden, intuitive insight about something but, rather, it’s been rolling around in my head for awhile. However, I like that word so, what can I say, it was an opportunity to use it. I guess it all came together when writing about the way we tend to say Yes when we really should say No.
After giving the whole matter more thought it became clear…um, and here’s the epiphany … it isn’t only about being quick to say Yes to everyone but ourselves, rather, it’s the ease in saying it. And the reasons do seem to fall under the same umbrella. It’s our sense of self.
- How do you rate on your personal value scale?
- Do you find it easy, and comfortable, to linger around the end of the scale?
- If you answered yes to the second question, Why?
The first two questions were easy to answer. It was the last one that proved to be difficult. It was another moment where life holds up a mirror and I have to decide if I will take a hard, honest look at myself. Or would I simply take a peek and run. After all, peek-and-run is what I have done most of my life – followed up with a strong dose of convincing myself things were fine. That is, until the one time life held up a mirror and I, finally, forced myself to look. To take that hard, honest look. Eyes wide open.
The impact of all this has been interesting because the overtone tends to give such exercises in personal improvement a somber, serious shade of angst and negativity. In fact, I think that has contributed towards a hesitancy, a sort of struggle writing this – I don’t want to give the impression of being someone with a wailing-wall personality … you know, standing on a soapbox while beating my chest and scowling at life.
Actually, I’d say, in general I’m a happy person. I love to laugh and have been blessed with a soul-mate that makes me laugh each and every day. But that is veering, somewhat, off point. While it can be anything from a bit uncomfortable to downright excruciating working through emotional landmines, it is definitely worth it. It has been worth it for me and is the motive behind sharing this particular life lesson. It goes back to a question my mother asked shortly after her diagnosis with metastatic breast cancer.
Why wait until it’s too late to make positive life changes?
It was a facsimile of the above question my mother asked one day after we had been talking about personal life choices she had made. Even though it was just the two of us in the car, a brief glance at her and I knew she wasn’t really talking to me. She was looking out the window. At first I thought she was staring at something in the distance before I realized she was looking at her reflection in the glass. It was as if she was waiting for her reflection to answer. When we stopped at a red light I kept sneaking peeks at her reflection. I guess I was waiting for it to answer the question too.
Imagine my surprise when I hear, “What are you looking at?” It never occurred to me she, too, could see my reflection and had obviously been watching me. That memory always makes me chuckle. It is also part of the reason I started re-examining my life. I finally saw the importance of questioning why I continued carrying baggage from my childhood that had absolutely no place, no point, and certainly no benefit to me as an adult. Well, other than to dig through whenever I needed to find an excuse for unacceptable behavior or if I wanted to escape responsibility for something.
A combination of things from that emotional baggage definitely played a roll in shaping how I rated myself on my personal value scale – the value I placed on myself as a woman, a wife, daughter, sister, friend … you get the point, the value we all place on ourselves as human beings which, in turn, carries over into the various relationships in our lives. It is our personal value that influences life decisions/choices. And it touches on why it can be easy, in the vast sea of life, to be comfortable as a “bottom-dweller” while pushing everyone else up to the top to enjoy the air and sunshine.
It has been said “it is never too late to change” – come to think of it, it was only a couple of days ago I expressed that very sentiment to my husband. And in certain circumstances those words are not only true but can also be an encouragement to implement healthy change. However, when it comes to anything impacting the way we rate our personal value, well, those are changes that should have expiration dates. We should want to make personal changes in time to reap the most benefit from them – the sort of benefit that helps you re-evaluate your worthiness as a human.
Change Is Good
There were many life lessons gleaned during the last six months of my mothers battle with metastatic breast cancer. One of the biggest lessons had to do with the way I shared my feelings with those I loved. I had always been quite stingy with my feelings – – because of refusing to run the risk of having them hurt I, instead, tended to dole them out sparingly. There were many feelings I wish I had expressed to my mother while I had the opportunity and, ironically, it was only later I discovered their weight on my heart was a sort of pain that far surpassed any hurt feelings I tried to avoid. So, what does this have to do with self worth and personal value rating? Keep reading, I’m getting ready to connect the dots.
At first it was iffy. Could I really change the stiff–lipped–tightly–controlled way I doled out my feelings with the people in my life? Simply put, yes I could. And I did. However, what really surprised me was how changes in this area spilled over into other areas until, one day, it dawned on me I was actually feeling comfortable in my own skin! I started questioning my own sense of worth, how I viewed my own personal value, and why I had always found it easy to give myself a low rating.
Learning to seize the day involves more than just grabbing what you want out of it. At least it should be if your goal is to make life changes that will support personal growth. For many Carpe Diem is nothing more than a kitschy phrase on a piece of reclaimed wood. Or it’s a slogan uttered anytime someone drops everything to go golfing, hiking, relaxing in a hammock with a good book, etc. For me it needed to be something more. I didn’t want to just seize the day, I wanted to seize my life.
What helped was the memory of that moment in the car with my mother. I remember thinking I didn’t want to wait until something happened before making meaningful life changes. We see that all the time when it comes to our homes. Haven’t you noticed the efforts people will take to get their house in tip top shape in order to sell it? At some point it had become comfortable living among half-finished projects, delayed maintenance, etc. I used to question that mentality and, yet, in a sense that is exactly what I had been doing with my own life. I had become comfortable living it even though there were areas I wanted to change or work on.
In some ways I now can understand what it was I saw in my mothers expression. I know that slight quiver of the lips caused when wondering why my body turned on me in such a harsh way and yearning for things to be different. However, unlike my mother’s situation, I have had time to work on changing what I can within myself. It has been such a liberating feeling to realize I am responsible for my own happiness … it really is an inside job and the way I value myself, the way I rate myself, is reflected in how I interact with others and how I allow them to treat me.
Before I could seize the day I had to first learn to seize life – my life and everything in it that gives each day meaning, substance, and quality. I don’t want to accumulate any more regrets than I have already – they’re too cumbersome and potentially destructive. Oh, I’m not delusional, I realize it may not be possible to entirely escape regrets – after all, I’m far from perfect. Oops, the cat is out of the bag … shoobs, my family sure will be surprised. For the most part, though, cultivating a healthier sense of self has been somewhat empowering – it allows me a measure of control over how I use my time and energy. And interestingly enough, it has impacted my relationships … in a good way.
If you’re wondering how, well, check back to find out. In the meantime, why not ponder how you rate yourself on your personal value scale? Be honest with yourself. If you have a low rating it just may be time to CARPE DIEM and start increasing your rating.