While walking along the path of my life's journey I've bumped into quite a few people who WILL NOT because they CANNOT acknowledge their authentic self. If they've helped you in some way, please don't try to extend a thank-you, their embarrassment is palpable. God forbid should you compliment them on a job well-done, or for exhibiting a certain skill or talent since they find praise to be excruciatingly mortifying, adamantly refusing positive recognition directed towards themselves in any way, shape, or form.
Why. I wondered, do such individuals find it so difficult to embrace their worth? Perhaps they’ve experienced a dysfunctional and abusive childhood, maybe they were immersed in misconstrued ethical beliefs from the get-go, and then there's always the possibility they shy away from praise of any kind because of the responsibilities attached to paying it forward.
I surmise these bewildered souls have been inundated with many an age-old adage during their developmental years:
· Children should be seen and not heard
· Listen to your elders
· Do what I say not what I do
· You’ll never amount to anything
· Pride cometh before the fall
· Blah, blah, blah!
After hearing these and other mandates over an extended period of time, acceptance of positive feedback for one’s innate or acquired aptitudes and talents is understandably insufferable, actually painful in many cases.
Troubled souls such as I’ve mentioned are labeled in our society as suffering from low self-esteem, lacking in self-confidence and unable to function normally, let alone being capable of embracing who and what they are. There are those who believe that without ‘professional help’ their chances of living a happy life seem obscure.
Now don’t get me wrong, yes ‘professional help’ is not only appropriate for many who are mentally and emotionally afflicted, but indeed necessary. Yet there are others who on their own can realize the existence of their personal value and relish in it.
Here’s an easy exercise I’ve happened upon that can produce wonders in changing how one views himself or herself:
Look into a mirror, staring directly into your eyes, in search of the ‘real you’. While doing so, visualize all the people who have contributed to your well-being: parents, grandparents, family, friends, neighbors, fellow workers, etc. Remember the times you were appreciated by them, taught by them, loved by them. Allow yourself to experience the feelings you’ve had when in their presence. Accept the compliments paid you for trying something new, or perfecting a skill you’ve worked on for a considerable amount of time. See the smiles of approval on their faces regarding your determination and grit to succeed. And lastly and most importantly, listen to their words of praise rightly bestowed upon you for the steps you’ve taken towards becoming your authentic self.
Continue doing this simple yet beneficial practice, and over time, I promise you will begin to see who and what you are in a positive light, you will come to realize you have been blessed with and developed unique qualities and talents, and you will finally be able to acknowledge your personal attributes with humility and grace, no longer embarrassed or mortified when recognized.
Embracing your worth isn’t a sin of pride, but rather a celebration of the valuable YOU you have become! And the best way to thank all who have contributed to your evolution is to do so happily!
One of the poems in my debuted anthology of verse ‘Soul-Powered Poetry: From the Gates of Heaven to the Depths of Hell’ is entitled, ‘Behind the Smile’ which addresses the devastation and ultimate demise of a sad, weary young girl who never embraces her worth and therefore never discovers her authentic self. I present it here for your consideration:
Behind the Smile
Real or fake,
Fluid or forced,
Innate or contrived,
Dead or alive?
Did you see her,
The girl behind the smile?
Caught just a glimpse,
I know she was there
Hard to see her,
That wall’s in the way.
A wall I’ve tried climbing
A million times before,
And, most likely,
A million times more
I wonder why I try.
I know I’ve heard her cry,
At least once,
Is she in pain,
Bloodied and bruised,
Will she come out?
Would she if she could?
Or stay hidden
Acting as she SHOULD?
Misery loves company
So, it’s been said,
In her case though
Company causes dread.
Keep it collected, Peering below
Don’t let it show To my guarded delight,
What would they think? The girl behind the smile
They can’t ever know. Is directly in sight.
How awful was life Will she run?
Causing her to hide? Will she stay?
Who ripped out her tongue? Drop myself down,
For her own good, they lied! That’s the only way.
What clouded her mind I sit beside her,
Making thoughts obscure? A few feet away
How many wrongs Staring intently
Was she forced to endure? With nothing to say.
Listen…you hear that? Her eyes fill with tears,
A whimper, weak, small Her lips quiver some.
Can’t be ignored though, Four words she speaks
I must climb that wall. ‘Why have you come?’
I’ll take my chances ‘You live in darkness
Aware I could fall No sun nor warmth No second glances Hiding from people
For Death takes us all. Your plight, your worth.
From your prison within
One step up, I promise to lead you
I’ve come to free you Out of the hell you burn in.’
Slide down two,
Try again, The girl behind the smile
I’m not through. Remains where she sits,
Cold and withdrawn,
One step more, Finally she quits.
Slip to the ground,
Search for a door Not another word
But no door is found. Though I linger awhile
Up for a third time, Despite all my tries
They say, ‘that’s the charm. The girl behind the smile
Nearing the top now,
Don’t trip her alarm. Dies.