I’ll admit it. I’m a people watcher, and I enjoy seeing how people talk, move, dress, eat, play, and express emotion. As a writer it’s sometimes a challenge to translate what you see on paper, so I enjoy observing and trying to come up with creative ways to do so. Now, in my role as a coach and instructor I lead workshops on personal and business development. I’ve learned to go in deeper and see things from various perspectives to empower others. I have a good eye for – let’s just say – a “pretender” who is putting on a façade for the rest of us, because maybe they just aren’t ready to face themselves and look in the mirror.
Sometimes the things that come up in my workshops enlighten me and the attendees to realize that we’re a lot of children running around pretending to be “Big Boys and Big Girls.” We’re running corporations, schools, churches, restaurants, and families as wounded little teenagers.
My theory is that life happens to us all way too fast. We don’t make time to heal. Especially when we approach the college years, we grow up within the blink of an eye and we’re hit with responsibilities, stress, and relationship issues. Then school is over and it’s WELCOME TO THE REAL WORLD NOW. On the outside, we’re in crisp suits, hair is flawless, standing tall and proud, when deep within still needs a bit of dusting, shining, and clearing out the clutter like an old abandoned attic.
I have a workshop that I used to do with just my girlfriends and eventually started doing for other small groups of women called “Me Time Escape Parties.” My first time hosting for someone else was done for an acquaintance and about six of her friends. These women were executives, nurses, teachers, and entrepreneurs in their 30’s to late 40’s. At first glance, you’d say, “These ladies have it going on! Look at them!” But boy, was I in for a surprise.
I am in no way saying I’m perfect and have it all together. Let’s just be clear (LOL). However, I feel that I’m a pretty happy and grateful person. I actually enjoy tackling my flaws and figuring out how I can improve to be a better person. Let’s just say I hang out in the Self-Growth section in the bookstore. Most of my friends are the same way, but my biggest over-optimistic mistake is thinking that everyone else in the world was like that!
In the workshop there are many self-reflection questions I posed and the ladies were to write the answers down. When we were finished, they could share what came up for them – ONLY if they were willing. I was amazed when the majority of this group of women who “got it goin’ on” were stumped on the first question as if it was a calculus equation. They were baffled, confused and tightly grasping their pens like I asked the hardest and most confusing question in the world.
My first question was simply:
What do you like about yourself? (i.e.: I’m creative, outgoing, great singer, I love to help elderly, I’m a visionary, etc..) Five things? I was in absolute awe. I actually was stumped myself, because I had to learn how to have more compassion that day and figure out how to help others who needed a bit more guidance then the rest of us.
One of the ladies who was a nurse sat still, looking nervously at her paper and then back up at her reflection across the room on the huge wall mirror. She tapped her pen, sighed, and then looked at me shamefully since she couldn’t find anything to write. Her hair looked as if she just stepped out of the salon, make-up was light and flawless, her outfit very hip and stylish. From the outside she had it all together. Then there’s me, the instructor, loud and lively as I usually am, walking around saying, “What’s up ladies? You can’t find ONE THING you like about yourself? Come on, that’s easy!” Okay, compassion, Simone, compassion…I know, I told you I’m not perfect, didn’t I? :)
Suddenly, I watched a tear drip out of this woman’s eye and I went over to her and started to console her. I sat down on the sofa next to her and started to help her find some things to give herself credit for, since for some reason she felt undeserving of it. I poked fun to break the ice and said, “You’re saving lives as nurse, for goodness sake! Let’s start with that. Write down, ‘I like that I’m a life saver’.” I rubbed her back and she laughed. That worked and then she loosened up to write down that she was a good mother, she was kind, and a good cook. We started to come up with many more things together.
That evening a few years ago moved me so much, because it showed me just how hard it was for some people to really love themselves. It showed me how hard it was for some to really look in the mirror with love and appreciation instead of tearing themselves down with self-hate. This woman, who was as ‘fly’ as she could be, couldn’t find one thing she liked about herself without a helpful push.
From living my own life, coaching, and of course ‘people watching,” these are some conclusions I’ve come up with:
- You can’t be with someone and hope that they will “complete” you. You should already be the full package on your own.
- That top VP or CEO position doesn’t hide that fact that deep down inside you still feel powerless.
- You can’t buy a tummy tuck or nose job to make him love you.
- You can’t get a new hair style, color, or weave to erase all your faults and fears.
- Teeth whitening and braces might get you that acting gig, but it won’t help you find and KEEP your friends.
- A new car won’t let you forget that you’re really in over your head in debt.
- Two obsessive hours in the gym each day can’t make your dysfunctional family disappear.
- Moving away, getting a new circle of friends, and changing your name won’t help you truly reinvent yourself.
- Having the hottest designer wardrobe doesn’t disguise the fact that you walked on others to get where you are now.
- Bragging about your bank account and surrounding yourself with luxuries doesn’t hide that fact that deep down you are poor as a pauper.
All of those things are just that …things. They are distractions and they help take you away from what you need to do: the work! The work on ourselves is something we run away from. Self-love is an inside job. It takes work, dedication, and yes, it takes time. It takes time to really embrace yourself for all of your faults and amazing qualities that you might not give yourself credit for. It takes time to forgive yourself for your not-so-smart moves; to love the new you you’ve created for learning from your mistakes. It takes time to face your fears and to finally step out of your comfort zone.
Self-love is an inside job that takes time. Are you ready to do the work? Try out this exercise that those same ladies did in my “Me Time Escape Party,” and see what comes up for you. You might surprise yourself….Give yourself the time and space to really work on your answers for best results.
Pretend you are on the outside looking in. You see yourself for all your greatness and faults. Now tell us about this person you see…
- What do you like most about this person? List 3-5 things
- What do you want to tell her to improve upon? List 3-5 things. Don’t delay; tell her what she needs to do to get started.
Two years have passed and you FINALLY listened to your own advice. You were finally honest with yourself and learned to right your wrongs. So now, tell us about…
- What new people are in your life now?
- What have you learned from your past? (mistakes, heartaches, people you met, jobs, etc.
- What do you look like now? How do you feel? (Health wise, appearance)
- What obstacles have FINALLY disappeared from your life?
- What brings you the most pleasure with the NEW YOU?
- Who is the most surprised about your fabulous turn around?
The following excerpt is from my book, Jack of All Trades, Master of None:
“SELF-LOVE: it’s the starting point for giving love to others. It opens the door to abundant living. With it we limp through life, become part of the walking wounded, the living dead. Self-love. Our cornerstone. We can’t grow or glow without it. It’s time to go within and love yourself”…Susan L. Taylor, from “In The Spirit”
Own Your Power,
Sometimes a little meditation goes a long way…
Stressed? Write in your journal!