I drew a Four Agreements card, by Don Miguel Ruiz, this morning. (This is a different link from the one I used last time — well worth checking out!) This is what it said:
In the category of Always Do Your Best, the card says Honor yourself: Honor the man or woman that you are. Take the risk to express your dream. Taking action is about living fully and expressing what you are.
This card raised a lot of different feelings in me; the first was that this card, as regards me, should likely be in the Don’t Make Assumptions category. I made assumptions about myself throughout my adult life, until recently; I realize that I am using some very negative self-talk here, but these assumptions were rooted in my mind:
- I am a bad person
- I am lazy and undisciplined
- I am not meant to be happy in this life
- I can do nothing to change any of this
The assumption that I am not a good person has its sources in both my childhood, and from my adult experiences. As a child, I was an incredible irritant to my mom. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t be perfect, but I also couldn’t be the person she wanted me to be. If I couldn’t be the person my mom wanted me to be, I must have been a bad person, because what good person would do that to their mother? And as an adult, my misbehavior, in the eyes of society, seemed really unforgivable. That didn’t stop me from doing them, but I must have been a bad person to continue that kind of self-destructive behavior.
I considered myself to be lazy — again, because I didn’t want to do the chores assigned to me every Saturday. I let my room accumulate crap until the space under my bed was stuffed full. Why would I do this. I don’t know, but it’s been a feature most of my life. And as a diabetic, I felt like the most undisciplined person ever — and I was sure my doctors felt that way about me. So I was a bad, lazy, undisciplined person.
And how could I expect ever to be happy? I was angry, fearful, and unhappy throughout my childhood, and then add diabetes, and a death sentence from my doctor, and I could not believe that I would ever feel any joy. And because I was so unhappy, and felt worthless, I determined that God, for some reason, wanted me to be unhappy. Even when I was preaching the opposite to my congregation, I was certain that unhappiness was my only choice. So, I was a bad, lazy, undisciplined, and unhappy person. Are we seeing a trend here?
My fourth assumption was the strongest of all: I felt absolutely powerless to change any of this. I was so depressed, so sad and beaten down, that I couldn’t even hear the really effective strategies my sister, S., was giving me for the last twenty-five or so years. S. had the patience of Job, while I had the mood of Job. But I couldn’t hear what anyone was saying, until I began with a psychologist in 2008. I was still miserable, but I was beginning to think.
So I was this bad, lazy, undisciplined, unhappy, helpless woman for most of my life, until last year, when all of the lessons and strategies and all of the encouragement suddenly struck me right square in the forehead, and I decided that if I wanted to be happy, I should make the decision and be happy. As a result, I know that:
- I am no better or worse than anyone, and as long as I do the best I can do in any situation, that is good enough
- I am a little less undisciplined and lazy; I’ve learned to maintain my apartment once it is clean, and I’m certainly better at the mechanics of diabetes — blood sugar, record-keeping, diet
- I had always had the choice to be a happy person, but I had had to dig my way out of the negatives, to come out on top, and
- I had the ability to be whoever, feel whatever I wanted — I only had to erase the assumption of powerlessness, and replace it with one of strength and possibility
All together, I would say I’m doing a good job of honoring myself. I recommend it highly; it’s a terrific feeling!