I don’t know about you, but I’ve been notorious for not being able to give myself credit for things.
It used to come out when I’d get complimented on something. “I love your dress!” someone would say. “Thanks. It’s just one I found on sale at the department store,” I’d reply, as if to diminish the compliment.
Then there were the compliments I didn’t feel I actually deserved. “You sang so well today!” people would tell me after I’d sing in church when I was much younger. “Thanks,” I’d reply quietly, through gritted teeth. Truth was, I felt like I sang horribly that day. But how could I tell them that when they’d so genuinely appreciated my offering?
By far, though, the most difficult way for me to give myself credit has been to accept all of the growth I’ve done over the years of my life so far. Intellectually, I can accept it, but emotionally, so often I actually have forgotten so much of where I’ve come from.
Sure, I remember with a memory here or there. But to me, it seems as if I’ve already lived at least 7 or 8 lifetimes within this one! So much has happened already in my past 3-1/2 decades. When I reach a new level of growth, sometimes daily, it becomes so easy for me to take it for granted and just brush it off. “Well, of course I’ve grown again. Why wouldn’t I? It’s what I do. What else is new? Why should this be a big deal?”
But it is a big deal.
I think one of the hardest parts of accepting my growth comes just because so many of my life experiences seem so surreal to me now. They really feel so much like a dream.
Unlike many people, I haven’t had a singular core group of people around me as I’ve moved throughout many of my earlier life experiences. My core groups have changed for many reasons, sometimes in direct proportion to another one of my emotional growth spurts. I think this is part of why my life feels so surreal. I can’t generally just call someone up on the phone and say, “Remember that time when such and such happened?” Because many of the people I could call are deceased, or they've grown in different directions which makes communication difficult between us, or they've fallen out of touch and have continued in their own lives, even if at times I've tried to re-initiate contact.
That's why my greatest validation of so many of my past childhood experiences often comes from my own memories, which are liable to fade and even to change as time goes on. And even though I’m so grateful to have my husband to help me look back on our own shared experiences, we’ve both experienced and remember some of the same things differently ourselves, because we’re two different people.
I bring this up because recently I was led up into the attic in search of some old memorabilia. While there, I came across a lot of things I’d written in the past, probably around 15 years ago. (I’ve been a writer for decades. I’ve just not always been a public one.) ;)
I was shocked to discover how much of my core personality has really remained the same after all those years and so many more experiences and changes in my life. My sense of reflection and observation, my intensity and emotional honesty, my questioning and vehemently disagreeing with things happening within my life that didn’t seem right, and my sense of the power of love within myself and others—all of that shone through in my writing already—15 years ago!
Oftentimes, I find it challenging to talk about my life experiences here on this blog in an honest yet compelling way. I think that’s really because I’ve worked through and transformed so much of the raw emotions that they initially brought forth. However, it can make for a rather dry narrative when I attempt to describe them through the eyes of my present self, more emotionally removed from those raw experiences.
I’ve been contemplating some kind of change of direction with this blog for a couple of months now. And truth be told, I’ve actually exhausted a lot of the initial ideas I wanted to reflect with you about! I have a few ideas of where to go next, but I haven’t completely settled on them. As I do, you can bet you will be the first to know. Hopefully by next week, I’ll have made a decision about where to go next. I’ll still be sharing my work through my writing. It just may take a bit of a different turn. :)
If you are like me in that you've been raised by people who seemingly demanded impossible standards from you, or if somewhere in your life, you’ve decided to expect so much from yourself for whatever reasons, maybe you can understand how hard it can be to give yourself credit when credit is due. And credit is due so much more often than you may think it is. ;)
It can also be challenging due to societal conceptions of self-credit as somehow being arrogant or bragging. We can tend to shy away from giving ourselves credit. We want to “stay humble.” We don’t want to appear better than those around us.
Truthfully, on a very human level, we are no better or worse than anyone else in this world. But we do each grow at different rates, through different stages, and are asked to learn and master different lessons. And when we do move through those lessons, sometimes stumbling or falling each step of the way, yet still continuing to grow, to learn, to feel, to put one foot in front of the other, we are indeed living a brave, courageous life. And that is no small feat, especially in a world where we can find so many things to fear and so many ways to numb our feelings and our pain.
With so much change in my life, it was beautiful for me to come across so much of what I wrote 15 long years (lifetimes) ago. It was such a different stage of my life, and yet, so much the same. Some of those lessons I was working on then, I’ve mastered at deeper levels. Some of the lessons were and are amazingly similar, although now life has given me some different classrooms to work on them in. :) There was so much wisdom in my writing then—so many things I learned and knew that were “way before my time” (whatever that really means!) And yet, now I feel that I have better tools and life experience to apply some of that wisdom. Some of it I’m still working on applying!
I’m giving you a challenge this week—something I haven’t done for a long while, and something I promised I’d do more of in the beginning of this blog. :) I’m challenging you to take some time this week to take a quick look back at your own life. If you have tangible things that show you where you were in years past, like journals or other things, give them a look.
Think back, and look back. See how far you’ve really come in the different stages of your life. If you don’t have tangible evidence (people to talk with or things to look at), just try to imagine a bit deeper into a particular past time of your life, more than you usually might. Doing this may indeed bring up some bittersweet memories. But it’s also likely to show you how much you’ve really grown since that time in your life. Maybe you’ll even happen upon things that you already knew about yourself way back then, things that you may have more insight in how to apply now.
As you do this, give yourself some credit. It’s not arrogant or selfish to do so. In fact, it’s very self-affirming! Even if there are regrets, if there are things you wish you could change, give those some space in your mind as well. But give yourself credit for how far you’ve come and how much you’ve grown. Give yourself credit for all those life experiences you bravely stumbled through and fell around, for the fact that you still got up and kept walking anyway. And give yourself credit for still being the greatest constant in your life that you will ever have. You deserve it. You’ve come a long way, dear heart.
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I’d love to hear from you! Shoot me a personal note through my Contact page, or leave a comment below. Do you give yourself credit easily? Have you allowed yourself to see just how much you've grown in your life? How have you grown?
Want to look back even more on your past to see just how far you've come? ;) Check out my first book. It’s specifically made to help you do exactly that. :)
No matter what, always remember this: You are deserving, you are worthy, and you are good enough. Keep being you, keep shining, and keep growing!
With great love,