My Truth Equals Their “Victim”

(Disclaimer- I proofread this post a dozen times and used Grammarly to help. If you see any mistakes, I’m only human.  And I am not perfect.  Thanks for reading!  Please share and comment!)

Last week I posted a blog called, “Dear Scared White People” that I felt needed to be said, written and read.  I knew that with that title alone, there were sure to be some negative comments.  I have posted that blog before and the ridiculous comments I received were from people I could tell did not read it.  This time I only received two adverse comments from people who took that time to read it (which I appreciate) before misconstruing EVERYTHING I was saying.  But I digress, that’s not what this post is about.  No, this post is about one particular from a gentleman who commented, “Race relations also aren’t nearly as bad as many people think.  The world is not out to get you, and this was painful to read simply because it seems like an attempt to play victim.”

1.) Race relations ARE THAT BAD.  If he truly looked around at what’s really going on in this world instead only focusing on HIS experience is in this world, he would see that.

2.) The reality star sitting in the White House playing, “pretend President” just tweeted that four congresswomen (who are all women of color) should go back to their home countries. Three of which were born and raised in America.

3.) RACE RELATIONS ARE THAT BAD.

But just to reiterate, that’s not what this post is about.  This post is about the last part of his comment where he said my post seemed like, “an attempt to play victim.”  Why is it that whenever anyone tells their truth in this world, the opposition always says that they are playing the victim.   According to Webster’s Dictionary, a victim is, “One that is acted on and usually adversely affected by a force or agent.  One that is subjected to oppression, hardship, or mistreatment.”  Just to be clear, that blog post was not about, “playing the victim” in a big bad world full of racist bullies.  (Hope you could pick up the sarcasm in my description of the world.)  That post was about showing the facts as they are for African Americans in America.  Period.

I have heard the word “victim” thrown around in other situations, not just race relations.  Whenever a man or a woman speaks out about discrimination in all of its inglorious forms, to those who oppose, they are playing “victim.”  The opposition says they are using the word as a “way for you to absolve yourself and other protected victim groups of the left of personal responsibility” as the gentleman above continued in his comments.  Isn’t he a gem?  (Insert hard eye roll here)  By Webster’s definition above anyone who has been, “subjected to oppression, hardship and mistreatment” is a victim.  Some people because of racism, sexism, sexual orientation, or their financial class in society.  They are, by definition, victims.

The opposition (whoever is on the opposite of your position) seems to never take the time to hear what you are saying.  This is usually because they are getting their rebuttals ready in their minds.  They are digging deep in their cerebrum to compose thoughts to justify why you’re wrong and they’re right.  And to find reasons why it’s, “not nearly as bad.”  Calling someone a “victim” is a hell of a lot easier than dealing with the reality of the truth.  And the one thing most of us humans fear the most (besides public speaking and death) is the truth.  It forces us to take a deeper look at ourselves and those around us in a way that is often uncomfortable.  I know that I have struggled with learning certain truths about myself and the way I think.  But the one thing I don’t have trouble doing is hearing someone else’s truth, listening and empathizing.  I may not be able to fully relate to their situation, but I don’t disregard it by claiming they are making an, “attempt to play victim.”

Everyone in this world is going through something at some time or another.  And no one can speak to anyone else’s experience in this world because they can’t exactly walk in their shoes.  Instead of quickly labeling someone a “victim”, why not take the time to find out what the world is like for them.  Because just because you don’t see, doesn’t mean it’s not real.  I’ve never seen our planetary universe with my own eyes, but I know it’s there.

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Dear “Scared White People”

(Disclaimer- I proofread this post a dozen times and used Grammarly to help. If you see any mistakes, I’m only human. And I am not perfect. Thanks for reading and please share!)

Dear “Scared White People”,

Hi.  My name is Nyikia and I am a concerned black woman.  And just so I’m clear here from the start: This is NOT CLICK-BAIT and I’m not talking to ALL WHITE PEOPLE. Nor, and I can’t even believe I have to say this, racist.  I have the working knowledge to know that people of color have white allies out there.  Thank you for that and this letter isn’t for you.   I’m writing this letter to the “scared” or “concerned” white people out there because I’m growing quite worried (and pissed off) by your behavior toward black people.   I have listed a few examples to clarify:

1.) Calling the police when black people are waiting for their friends in the local Starbucks. (Happened in Philadelphia.)

2.) Calling the police when black people gather peacefully in the park to have a BBQ with friends and family. (Google BBQ Becky.)

3.) Calling the police when black people are going to view a house that is for sale. Even though the person is a real estate agent, and had been authorized to do so.

4.) Calling the police when black people check out of an Airbnb (with their luggage in full view) because you thought they might be burglars.

5.) Calling the police because a black father was cheering his son on during his soccer game. (Google Golf cart Gail)

And most recently, a man named Christopher Cukor called the police on Wesley Michel (a black man) waiting outside of an apartment building for his friend.  After asking Mr. Michel what was his friend’s name that he was waiting for (as if he’s someone’s authority figure), he proceeds to call the police to report a “trespasser.”  In a video, you can see Mr. Cukor’s son say to him, “Daddy, please don’t I agree with him, daddy.  Please don’t.  I don’t like this.  I don’t like this.  Let’s go.”  Mr. Cukor proceeds to tell the 911 dispatcher, “He appears to be African-American.”

(Side Note: Appears. Clearly, you can see since you’re standing less than ten feet away that this man is African-American.)

When Mr. Michel’s friend shows up, Mr. Cukor quickly changes his story to the dispatcher telling them that he was actually waiting for his friend.  As he had already been told by Mr. Michel before wasting the 911 dispatcher’s time with a bogus call.

I’ll stop here because, with the list and story above, I could go on and on with examples of your less than stellar behavior.   here is a consistent pattern of all the things that I wrote about.  This pattern of calling the police on people who don’t look like you.  Or who you feel are in the wrong place for their color.  Why is that?  I could understand if they were doing something that warrantied your suspicion.  But clearly, in the instances listed above, they were not.  The suspicion you had was based merely on the color of their skin.  What you THINK you know of how African-Americans behave.  And also, the prejudices you have acquired over the years due to what you THINK.  Now I understand that your prejudices could stem from a learned behavior passed down from generation to generation.  And some have come from outside sources:  literature, television, hearsay and most notorious the media.  I’m really trying to work with you “scared white people,” I really am.  But at a certain point in life, you have to take inventory of yourself.  Not everything you see and hear about people is true.  Even the cheeto in chief (aka America’s current reality star president) knows this.  Hence the term his administration loves to overuse, “fake news.”  Although in his case most of what we hear about him turns out to be absolutely true.  But that’s a post for another day.

Let’s get back to the task at hand.  I understand having a little concern for the unknown. Dark places, stray animals, emails from strange addresses and yes our fellow humans.  I grew up in the ‘80s with McGruff the Crime Dog, so I learned all about stranger danger. Whose lessons on safety I still use today.  But the one thing McGruff never taught was to be afraid of someone based solely on their skin color.  If you asked the average child today to describe someone that frightens them, I’m pretty sure a stranger’s skin color wouldn’t come up.  Unless the child was taught that type of racial bias in the home by their family members.  So why is it children are wiser in this regard than most adults   I work with children for a living, and I notice that they have a tendency of seeing people for exactly who they are.  Race not included.  When they judge you, they judge you on your merits.  Race not included.  When they are leery of someone, it is because of the vibe they get from the person.  RACE NOT INCLUDED.  The other day I was in a library waiting in line and this small Caucasian little boy kept looking at me.  I smiled at him and he gave me a really big cute smile back and then hid his face.  This went on and on for a few minutes until it was my time to go to the counter.  Was he afraid of me because I looked different than him?  No.  Was he afraid of me because my skin is brown?  No.  He just saw a friendly person who smiled at him, so he smiled back.  Children are usually both open and eager to get to know someone who is different than themselves.  They ask questions without assuming they know the answer.  Children just see a person much like themselves with zero prejudgments.

So why haven’t adults learned to do this already?  For people who are older and supposed to be intellectually smarter, we sure lack the intelligence of the average child. I’m going to take this time to let you in on something you should have already figured out by now: NOT ALL BLACK PEOPLE ARE BAD PEOPLE.  That is shocking right?  I know the truth can be most times.  But I feel you really need to know and understand that fact. Let me be clear here, there are bad people in every race, gender, and country.  Being a bad person is not relegated to a racial thing.  It’s a personality and behavioral thing.  If I went around thinking certain things about certain races, then my belief right now would be that all white people are racist.  Out to get me, want to see me dead and think I’m lower than the dirt on the bottom of their shoes.  And clearly, that is not the case.

I have a suggestion on how to help you “scared white people” in working through your prejudices.  Provided you actually want to get rid of your judgmental nature and possibly make a few new friends.  BE OPEN.  Get to know more about the black people that you encounter in your everyday life.  Learn different things involving black culture and ask questions.  Take a genuine interest in getting to know a person that just so happens to have pigment darker than yours.  Those sounds like lofty goals, but it can be made easy. You can simply start by saying, “Hello.”  Easy enough right?  Have a friendly conversation with your black co-worker that you see all the time.  Get to know them on a level that’s based on common ground, common interest and a humane level.  You’ll be surprised at how much you’ll have in common with the average black person.  Everyone has that one family member that they don’t like in their family.  You avoid them at all costs at family functions until another relative asked you if you said hi to them.  You can easily bond over that.  Or how you love your kids to death, but could sometimes punt them like a football when they get on your nerves.  You can’t always judge a book by its cover.  You have to pick it up, read the description on the back or inside cover in order to learn what it’s about.  And the same goes for people.  All I’m saying is get to know someone who’s different than you before you judge them.  And for the love of God:

STOP CALLING THE POLICE ON BLACK PEOPLE FOR NO GOOD REASON.

With all love and sincerity,

Nyikia

Who’s Assuming Who?

(Disclaimer- I proofread this post a dozen times and used Grammarly to help. If you see any mistakes, I’m only human. And I am not perfect. Thanks for reading!)

Last week I posted a blog post called, “Dear Scared White People” that received mostly positive comments.  But three people took issue with the title… (Insert dramatic music here) without having read the post.  On the Facebook blog post, one woman said, “I am not a sensitive woman, but the title of your post turned me off.  I am just being honest. While I am sure it is all in good humor, I wouldn’t click it.”  Although she said that she wasn’t a “sensitive woman”, the fact that she felt a strong emotion to just the title tells me she is.  I promptly let her know that I wasn’t trying to be humorous.  I told her that the post wasn’t directed at ALL WHITE PEOPLE.  I have the where with all to know that not ALL WHITE PEOPLE behave in the manner in which I was speaking of in my post.  I go on to explain that the title is directed at the so-called “scared” ones.  The second person left a comment that said, “Wow racist to a T.”  (Insert the emoji with the person with their hand over their face.)  The sheer ignorance and cluelessness of that person didn’t surprise me one bit.  And the third person said it was, “terrible click bait” and “kind of offensive, too.”  He went on to say that it was a “terrible assumption to make with the title.”  He continued by saying, “The way you’re approaching, what I would assume is an important matter based on other comments here, is terrible.  You’re projecting an assumption of an entire racial class.”  To which I responded, “So from your statement, I can tell that not only didn’t you read the post to find out exactly what and whom I’m talking about.  You didn’t even read all the comments posted here by others.  You are ASSUMING you know what I’m talking about based solely on the title.  The exterior.  So don’t say I’m projecting an assumption when clearly you are doing the same.”  After addressing all three (politely I might add) what do you think happened?  Absolutely nothing.  Complete radio silence from all three, just as I expected.

By their comments, I feel, they clearly fit the narrative of people making assumptions about certain things without learning the truth.  It piggybacks a little off last week’s post about people calling the cops on people of color because they made assumptions about them.  The assumptions being who they think these people are or what they think they may do.  Let me be very clear here:  ALL HUMANS make assumptions about others at one time or another.  (Raises hand…..I’m guilty of this.)  I have a friend named Kevin that I have known for ten years now.  When I first met Kevin, I didn’t think we would have anything in common.  He listened to different music, he wore Insane Clown Posse tee shirts and he wasn’t the friendliest looking guy.  I made assumptions about him based on what I saw and nothing else.  Fast forward to now, and he’s one of my dearest friends.  I’ll be attending his wedding next summer.

I developed inaccurate and stupid opinions about people.  Most of which were truly unwarranted and unfair.  The one that I used to make was if a particular white person I encountered would be racist.  These thoughts stem from interactions I had while growing up black in America.  I’ve been followed around a store while shopping on a few occasions.  Sometimes I’m still nervous that someone thinks I may steal from a store just because I’m black.  I’ve heard things said like (insert their idea of a compliment here) for a black girl.  And the infamous, “You’re different than other black people.  You’re not like them.”  I’m still not sure how to process that last one.  The fact that I have encountered a few bad apples in the bunch is in no way an excuse for me to think all white people are racist.  But I wanted to give you some context as to where my thoughts came from.

As I stated above, we all make assumptions.  We assume that we will not like the taste of certain foods because of the way it looks or smells.  We assume that we won’t like a movie because of reviews it received from our family or friends.  We assume that the title of a post is “terrible click bait” without knowing that the person titled it that way to convey an important message.  And we assume that a whole race of people are bad because we have heard things or had an unpleasant experience with someone of that race.  Assumptions get people in a lot of unnecessary trouble.  So take the time to dig a little bit further beneath the surface before you project your own thoughts onto a situation.  Who knows?  Maybe you’ll make a new friend you thought you wouldn’t have anything in common with.  Or maybe, just maybe, you learn something you didn’t know about yourself.

Dear “Scared White People,”

(Disclaimer- I proofread this post a dozen times and used an online site to help. If you see any mistakes, I’m only human. And I am not perfect. Thanks for reading!)

Dear “Scared White People”,

Hi. My name is Nyikia and I am a concerned black woman.  I’m writing this letter to you because I’m growing quite concerned (and getting pissed off) by your recent behavior toward black people.  I have listed a few examples:

1.) Calling the cops when black people are waiting for our friends in the local Starbucks. (Happened in Philadelphia.)
2.) Calling the cops when black people gather peacefully in the park to have a BBQ with friends and family. (Google BBQ Becky.)
3.) Calling the cops when black people are going to view a house that is for sale. Even though the person is a real estate agent, and had been authorized to do so.
4.) Calling the cops when black people check out of an Airbnb (with their luggage in full view) because you thought they might be burglars.
5.) Calling the police on a 9-year old that was just buying something at the local corner store because you think they “grabbed your butt.” (Google Corner store Caroline)
6.) Calling the police because a black father was cheering his son on during his soccer game. (Google Golf cart Gail)

I’ll stop here because the list goes on and on with your less than stellar behavior.  If you notice from the list, there is a consistent pattern.  That pattern is the calling of the police on people who don’t look like you.  Why is that?  I could understand if they were doing something that was suspicious.  But clearly, in the instances listed above, they were not. The suspicion you had was based merely on the color of their skin.  And also, the prejudices you have acquired over the years.  Now I understand that your prejudices could stem from a learned behavior passed down from generation to generation.  And some have come from outside sources:  literature, television, hearsay and most notorious the media.  I’m really trying to work with you “scared white people,” I really am.  But at a certain point in life, you have to take inventory of yourself.  Not everything you see and hear about people is true.  Even the cheeto in chief (aka our current realty star president) knows this.  Hence the term his administration loves to overuse, “fake news.” Although in his case most of what we hear about him turns out to be absolutely true.  But that’s a post for another day.

Let’s get back to the task at hand.  I understand having a little concern for the unknown. Dark places, stray animals, emails from strange addresses and yes our fellow humans.  I grew up in the 80’s with McGruff the Crime Dog, so I learned all about stranger danger. But the one thing McGruff never taught us was to be afraid of someone based solely on their skin color.  If you asked the average child today to describe someone that frightens them, I’m pretty sure a stranger’s skin color wouldn’t come up.  Unless of course, they were taught that type of racial bias in the home.  So why is it children are wiser in this regard than most adults?  I work with children for a living, and I notice that they have a tendency of seeing people for exactly who they are.  Race not included.  When they judge you, they judge you on your merits.  Race not included.  When they are leery of someone, it is because of the vibe they get from the person.  RACE NOT INCLUDED.  Children are usually both open and eager to get to know someone who is different than themselves. They ask questions without assuming they know the answer.  Children just see a person much like themselves with zero prejudgments.

So why haven’t adults learned to do this already?  For people who are older and intellectually smarter, we sure lack the intelligence of the average child.  I’m going to take this time to let you in on something you should have already figured out:  NOT ALL BLACK PEOPLE ARE BAD PEOPLE.  That is shocking right?  I know the truth can be most times.  But I feel you really need to know and understand that fact.  Let me be clear here, there are bad people in every race, gender, and country.  Being a bad person is not relegated to a racial thing.  It’s a personality and behavioral thing.  If I went around thinking certain things about certain races, then my belief right now would be that all white people are racist.  And clearly, that is not the case.

I have a suggestion on how to help you “scared white people” in working through your prejudices.  Provided you actually want to get rid of your judgmental nature and possibly make a few new friends.  BE OPEN.  Get to know more about the black people that you encounter in your everyday life.  That sounds like a lofty task, but it can be made easy. You can simply start by saying, “Hello.”  Easy enough right?  Have a real genuine conversation with that co-worker that you see all the time.  Get to know them on a level that’s based on common ground, common interest and a humane level.  You’ll be surprised at how much you’ll have in common with the average black person.  Everyone has that one family member that they don’t like in their family.  You avoid them at all costs at family functions until another relative asked you if you said hi to them.  You can easily bond over that.  Or how you love your kids to death, but could sometimes punt them like a football when they get on your nerves.  You can’t always judge a book by its cover.  You have to pick it up, read the description on the back or inside cover in order to learn what it’s about.  And the same goes for people.  All I’m saying is get to know someone who’s different than you before you judge them.  And for the love of God:  STOP CALLING THE POLICE.

With all love and sincerity,

Nyikia

 

Resting Bitch Face: It’s Real

(Disclaimer- I proofread this thing a dozen times and used an online site to help.  If you see any mistakes, I’m only human and not perfect.  Thanks for reading!)

According to Urban Dictionary.com, the formal definition for Resting Bitch Face is:  “A phenomenon in which the resting face lacks animation and appears to look bitchy at all times, thus leading people to believe a person must be upset, a snob or a bitch.”

I am a sufferer of this misunderstood facial phenomenon.  Thinking back on it for the majority of my life, I had absolutely no idea!  I would get the usual questions like, “What’s wrong with you?” or “Who pissed you off today?”  Or worse I would hear later that comments were made about me to others basically saying that I looked bitchy and “unapproachable.”  I wanted to say to them, “This is just my face.”  Who knows how many dates or hangouts I missed out on because someone was afraid to talk to me.  Who knows how many times someone may have looked at me and thought I was an angry person that would kick their ass in a minute.  Now to be completed honest and fair, back in the day I was not always the nicest person in the world.  I had what some would describe as a “bad attitude” and I was a bit of a “Debbie Downer.”  And I take full responsibility for that.  But I’m a totally different person from who I used to be.  I worked really hard to be a happier person for myself and toward others around me.  But do you know for all that work I did, I STILL have Resting Bitch Face?  Smh….

On a brighter note though, having Resting Bitch Face probably kept me from having a lot of unpleasant experiences.  So that’s good!  I feel like I shouldn’t be solely judged because I’m not walking around smiling 24/7.  Who the hell does that?  You know damn well if I did, people would think that I was either high or crazy.  Before when I saw someone sitting alone minding their own business smiling for seemingly no reason, I would have definitely been leery of them.  I would have more than likely thought to myself, “Is that person up to something?  They are smiling way too hard over there and they’re sitting alone.  I better get out of here.”  I know it isn’t right, but that’s what I would have been thinking.  Deep down in my mind, everyone is the potential killer/ rapist.  Weird thinking I know, but hey it has kept me alive and well so far.  I attribute this to watching and listening to far too many true crime shows and podcast.  But seriously though, it’s perfectly ok to be cautious.  But I was judging someone in the way that others judged me. And that isn’t right.

I currently work as a Teacher’s Assistant for a living until my successfully (and very profitable) writing career takes off.  I have to say children never think I have Resting Bitch Face.  Not that they would know exactly what that is, but they don’t judge me on my lack of a happy facial expression.  They usually just see another person that they can talk too about whatever is on their minds.  Children are extremely comfortable around me. I even have children in public places start talking to me without any motivation from me to do so.  I once had cute little girl start a conversation with me in a ladies line bathroom.  I’m sure to the adults around;  I may not have looked like I was interested in talking.  But she didn’t see that.  She saw a person that she wanted to talk to about her Little Mermaid shoes her mother bought her.  And that was the best.

Since I’ve discovered that I suffer from RBF, I do my best to be mindful of it.  Sometimes though, I can’t help it.  I get lost in my own thoughts of things I have to do or want to do. And my facial expressions (or lack thereof) get away from me.  That doesn’t make me not a nice person or unapproachable.  It just means I have a lot of things on my mind at that given time.  So next time you see someone who may suffer from Rest Bitch Face, don’t judge them too quickly.  There may be nothing at wrong with them at all.  For all you know, they could be thinking about how much they really want a taco.

Clean up the milk and move on…

(Disclaimer- I proofread this thing a dozen times and used an online site to help. If you see any mistakes, I’m only human and not perfect. Thanks for reading!)

If you read last week’s post, then you know that I love listening to a podcast called, “The Read” hosted by Crissle and Kid Fury.  In the episode called, “Cheerleader”, Crissle spoke on her depression, seeing her therapist and the advice given by the therapist.  The therapist compared negative self-talk to running a race. (See last week’s post for full description.)  Crissle’s therapist went on to give an example about forgiving your past mistakes.  Her therapist said, “Let’s say a child spilled a cup of milk.  Are you going to every time you see that child, every day for the rest of their life be like, remember the time when you were 5 and 38 days and you spilled milk?  And I had to use three of my good Bounty’s to clean it up?  And replace my eight ounces of milk.  Are you going to drag that baby for that?  Or are we going to clean up the milk and move on with our fucking lives?”  From that moment on, Crissle decided that she had to clean up the milk in her life.  She would stop blaming herself non-stop and start looking forward again. Bam!  It hit me like a ton of bricks!  Is that what I have been doing the majority of my adult life?  Bitching over milk I spilled when I was young, naive and didn’t know any better.  Constantly berating myself over and over for situations that no longer exist and couldn’t be changed anyway.  Being my own biggest critic/ hater has always been a real hotbed issue for me.  After hearing the example that Crissle’s therapist gave her, I fully comprehend what my problem has been.  I have a lack of compassion for myself.  Isn’t that a fucked up thing to find out about yourself.

My understanding and heart is always so large for others.  I am able to fully support others with mistakes they have made in the past with my encouraging words.  But when it comes to having those same words for myself, there’s been little to none.  It is as if I don’t allow myself space to make mistakes or bad decisions.  For some reason, that is not allowed in my world.  For me, it’s not so much that I’m trying to be perfect.  I know this will never happen.  And that is completely all right with me.  Trying to be perfect, looks like a lot of work that I simply wouldn’t be dedicated to doing.  So where does my lack of self-compassion stem from?  Why is it that I can be so kind and uplifting for others, but not myself?  I am very skilled at stopping someone from beating themselves up.  I’m also very good at telling someone to have more patience with themselves and quick to say, “Everyone makes mistakes.”  Sometimes I can see the potential in others way more than I can see it in myself.  I have given myself far too much cruel kindness.  That is clearly something I would never do to another person.  Maybe I thought I was helping myself by giving cruel kindness.  By reminding myself of unpleasant situations I have been through, this would somehow help me to never to make those mistakes again.  By constantly replaying situations and poor choices, I would somehow learn to never do it again.  I found that this is unacceptable behavior and an oxymoron that simply makes no sense.  So what are the steps I plan on doing to change this behavior?

Step 1- Acknowledge that I am not compassion with myself.  Seems easy enough right?  But until one can admit to themselves that they have a problem, the situation can’t be fixed.

Step 2- Accept that mistakes have been made.  I’m human and humans make mistakes.  Some of the mistakes I made were necessary in order for me to learn and grow.  They taught me to make better choices and to listen to my gut.  Without making certain mistakes, I wouldn’t have become the person I am today.  And right now, I think I’m pretty awesome.  🙂

Step 3- Change the thought.  When NENE just won’t seem to shut her negative pie hole, I have to quickly remind myself of how awesome I am.  I begin to think of all the accomplishments that I have made over the years.  I will speak positive affirmations that prompt my brain to go down a more optimistic path.

Step 4- Forgive myself. This one will truly be the hardest to do of all the steps. I’ll have to learn that I’m still a good, smart person, who has flaws. No more or less than anyone else, just flaws. My past choices or decisions do not dictate how much I have grown. They also don’t determine my future. I will give myself a pep talk when I think of a mistake and move on. I will not dwell on choices and things in the past that can’t be changed.

As long as I’m walking the Earth, I will make mistakes.  It’s an important fact of life that I must remember.  I will acknowledge when I have done so, learn from said mistake, forgive myself and move on.  Because I’m tired of beating myself up over old, spilled milk.

How Are You Running Your Race?

(Disclaimer- I proofread this thing a dozen times and used an online site to help. If you see any mistakes, oh well, I’m only human. Thanks for reading!)
A little over a month ago I was listening to one of my favorite podcast called, “The Read” hosted by Kid Fury and Crissle.  The episode is called, “Cheerleading” and in it, Crissle talks about her history of depression and negative self-talk.  She said something that her therapist told her that made her take a serious look at how she speaks to herself.  And after hearing it, it also made me take a look at how I speak to myself?  Her therapist said to her, “Picture life like a race. And one person is beaten along the path.  Like someone is whipping at their back. Chastising them and telling them all the ways that they suck.  And they’re moving forward trying to be motivated by the negativity.  And the other person has cheerleaders in the distance who are rooting for them and encouraging them to keep going.  And when they fall saying, ‘That’s fine.  You know we all stumble sometimes.  Just get back up, dust your knees off and keep going at it.’  And you can choose how you’re going to talk to yourself through life.  Are you going to beat yourself through it?  Or are you going to cheerlead yourself through it?”  Crissle said as soon as her therapist told her that, she began to change the way that she spoke to herself.

I know for an absolute fact that most times I am not kind to myself.  My words can be harsh, rude, mean and downright disrespectful.  Sometimes so that the things that I say to myself I wouldn’t dare allow anyone to say to me.  So why is it ok that I say those things to myself?  Ideally, I know that it’s not.  But that doesn’t stop me from constantly doing it.  At one point the negative self-talk was loud and often, it became the only self-language I knew.  I have come a long way from the constant beating myself up.  But I still have a tendency of whipping my own back instead of rooting myself on in this race called life.  My problem is I’m often living the past or worried about the future.  Neither of which is mentally healthy for me to do.  One reason is that I can’t seem to forgive or forget my past mistakes.  The second reason is that I’m not presently where I want to be in life, and I worry I’ll never get there.

My negative self-talk appears to come from my own vision of lack and comparison.  Since I don’t have the things that I want, all I see is lack.  Here’s how it usually goes:  “I’m not currently working as a full-time writer because I lack the skills needed in order to achieve that.  I’m single because I lack the beauty it takes to draw someone’s interests.  I’ll never move ahead in life because I made that awful decision five years ago.”  You get the idea.  The comparison comes from looking at what everyone else is doing instead of looking directly at my own path.  I’m watching how everyone else is performing in their race of life and that slows me down.  I get slowed down because I think I should be where they are in life.  Often times I forget the fact that everyone runs at their own pace. So where does the negative self-talk, my vision of lack and compassion get me?  The short answer is:  NOWHERE.  And who the hell wants to stay there?

After hearing Crissle give the race example that her therapist gave her, it really made me want to change my internal dialogue.  I want to cheer myself on the way I would cheer for others.  I’m a fantastic cheerleader for everyone else.  Why shouldn’t I do the same for myself?  Learning to not beat myself up will surely be an everyday struggle.  This isn’t something that will suddenly stop overnight.  I will probably have to work hard each and every day to see the good in myself.  I can do this by learning to ignore those things I don’t see as being “good enough.”  For every discouraging thought that comes across my mind, I will quickly follow it up with something I love about myself.  I will keep my eyes on my own journey and pace, and not worry so much about what others are doing.  And not comparing my speed to theirs.  Knowing that comparison only serves to injure me in my own race.  Daily, I will think of a least three things I like about myself or that I’m good at.  This will serve as the encouragement that I need to hit the finish line. I want to run a strong race, with all the strength that I can muster.  I must learn to not be my biggest adversary.  And become my biggest supporter, encourager and overall best friend.  Because after all I am the one running this race, and this race I fully intend to win.