A brilliant friend of mine, Judy Clemet Wall, posted a beautiful blog earlier today chronicling the Ten Things She’d Do if she could. She’s a wonderful writer and just reading her list was (and is) inspiring. When you’re done here and have left a comment, I’d highly recommend popping over to Zebra Sounds ,checking it out and giving her a follow.
One of her ten things, a truly remarkable and beautiful thing, was this:
“I’d loan my eyes to some people I love so they could see how beautiful they are.”
I know. Fucking awesome, isn’t it?
That item informed a brief online conversation about wishing that we could actually do that; share in some fundamental, elemental way how much we appreciated certain people so that they could, in essence, see themselves as we see them, as we love them, as we appreciate them. It would be an inestimable gift to be able to express our respect and love that clearly, on demand, and shoot it out when it was most needed like a love missile.
No… dirty, dirty… not that kind of love missile. A deeply honest, positive regard smartbomb kind of missile.
And then I had this thought:
What if we tried seeing ourselves as others saw us once and a while, not assuming the worst (as is usually my inclination), but instead seeing the best? You know, actually believing the things that people say to encourage us instead of just brushing them off in some sort of ode to humility.
How many people do you know that have heard and ignored the same, consistent advice and encouragement from their friends and then, like a bolt out of a clear blue sky, finally get it when they hear the same advice from a therapist, or a counselor, or a book, or even on Oprah, ferchrissakes.
Yeah, you’re nodding your head now. I know. Me too. We’re way to willing to accept negative opinions from anywhere, and way to slow to accept positive ones from the people we trust most. Tell me how that makes sense.
This isn’t a self-affirmation thing. I’m not suggesting that you are a precious and unique snowflake. I’m not talking about flowery expressions of positive self-regard here. I’m not telling you to say nice things to yourself or apply the law of attraction. This isn’t about giving your self a hug or creating a self-realization mantra and saying it three times before your next job interview.
I just wonder what it would look like if we stopped once and a while, really stopped dead still, and then saw ourselves through the eyes of the people that care most for us. There’d be some honest, realistic critical observation in that view, sure, but I think we’d also be struck dumb. I think we’d have to just sit down and weep for the overwhelming joy of the love we’d feel. I think it would break us in the most complete and wonderful ways.
So here’s a thought exercise: Try to remember the last few compliments you’ve received from people you respect, admire, love and/or trust. Make them into a sentence about yourself. Like this:
“I am pretty, sensitive and I write like a motherfucker.” *
“I am strong, punctual and I work harder than anyone my friends know.” *
“I am creative, have great hands and am profoundly empathic.” *
Whatever…Do it. I dare ya.
And when you have your sentence of compliments, think about it. You don’t have to repeat it to yourself. Just think about it. Just stop… and think about it. Let it settle on you. Accept that your friends or family or boss actually think that about you, think you're pretty fucking wonderful in your own inimitable way. They sit alone sometimes and think, like Judy does, like you do about those you love, “I wish I could give them my eyes so they could see how beautiful they are.”
Thanks Judy. You’re amazing.
* These are not necessarily autobiographical in any way.