I was watching television recently when it happened … I saw the first commercial for the Valentine’s Day diamond collection – you know, the gift that every woman will treasure. As I listened to the music and watched as the camera panned the romantic setting, waves of emotion overcame me like a tsunami. At that moment, in my mind, everyone in the world was in a loving, committed relationship and I was going to be the only person sitting home alone on February 14 (most likely eating ice cream).
Realistic assumption? Of course not. But for a few minutes the drama queen in me took over and my emotions ran wild. Fortunately, I was able to reign them in, but the feelings I experienced are very common.
How we feel about ourselves dictates the way we live life. It impacts the way we approach just about everything we do. Yet, sadly, many people struggle to believe in their worth and abilities.
Throughout my life, my levels of self-confidence have ebbed and flowed. Growing up I was an overweight adolescent, which had a significant effect on how I viewed myself. When you’re young, external validation is so important and when that is compromised, it can stay with you forever. When I became a teenager, I lost weight, but, to be honest, my self-image didn’t change. The programming was written, and, as I later learned, only I could modify it.
February is the month of the heart, the time when we celebrate love. We buy chocolate, flowers, jewelry, and greeting cards to profess our undying love to that special someone. But, in all the hoopla of the season, perhaps we forget to honor the affection provided by the people that sustain us and enable us to thrive – our friends.
We hear so much about marriages, committed relationships, and romantic breakups, but I believe we neglect to truly understand the dynamics of what may be the most important relationships in our life – friendships.
Recently, I was in a round table discussion in which we talked about interpersonal relationships. A repeating theme of the conversation was that people felt like they were replaceable, that there was no value given to them and/or a relationship by a friend, partner, family member, or employer.
Hearing so many people express the same feeling made me start to wonder if we have become a society of disposables. It reminded me of an expression my mother used to say: “Out with the old and in with the new.”
It seems like just about every aspect of our life today is disposable. We throw away televisions, computers, clothing, phones, food, furniture, and so much more.
By contrast, when I was growing up, we fixed everything. There was a neighborhood television repairman. We ate leftovers for dinner. We took our shoes to the local shoemaker for new heels. Baby diapers were cloth and appliances were kept until they could no longer be repaired. We drove the same car until it died on the road. And most marriages lasted “until death do us part.”
This month, July 8 to be exact, marks the eighth anniversary of the premiere of the Change Your Attitude…Change Your Life (CYACYL) radio show.
Back in 2009, I was going through a bit of an identity crisis trying to figure out my next move. I had given so much of myself to my family that I got lost. I had no career, my children were growing up, and my marriage was stagnant. It was during that time, from what I was feeling, that I had the idea to create a medium that would bridge the gap between people who needed information for self empowerment, and those who could provide it.
Eight years ago, my life was pretty ordinary – I was a wife, mother, daughter and sister – just an average woman experiencing what many wives and mothers feel. To this day, I cannot say from where this seed was planted. I had no special training, or no radio or business ownership experience. And yet, I wanted to take it on. Looking back, I must have appeared insane. A few told me I was, but I didn’t care.
Just when my career was starting to gain traction, my life took a tumultuous turn. Within a period of six months, my 23-year marriage ended, my mother died, my sister died, and my oldest son left for college. The life I knew ceased to exist. I was broken hearted, depressed, and exhausted. I didn’t see much of a future for me.
There are certain days of the year to which we attach expectations of how we believe it should be. New Year’s Eve. Valentine’s Day. A birthday. And, when those days don’t go as we planned, and our expectations are shattered, we can be easily devastated.
I have lived much of my life in fear of being alone. I always hated it and did anything humanly possible to keep myself busy; surrounded by friends and family. I’m not sure why, but I was never comfortable in my own company – I despised it – and so I tap danced. It’s only in recent years, by necessity, that I have learned to be content and at peace in my solitude.
But, even as evolved as I like to believe I have become, the prospect of being alone on my birthday rattled me.
My birthday week began with a celebration with lifelong friends and was slated to close with another group party.
But, on the actual day, as fate would have it, I was going to be alone.
I recently presented a keynote address to a group of business professionals. During the speech I talked about the importance of eliminating negative voices – our own and those from external sources. I explained that there are many people, for whatever reason, consciously or unconsciously, who will say things that can have a detrimental impact one’s self-esteem and ability to move forward.
Anyone that puts him/herself “out there” and takes a risk knows what I’m talking about. The well-meaning people who offer “friendly” advice designed to “help” you out. Or, the direct words of condemnation that tell you exactly why you will never succeed at what you are attempting to do.
The aftermath of this presentation was no different than what I have experienced for years. I was greeted by most with words of affirmation and encouragement. But, then there were a few …
Are you a giver? I am. I’ll do anything possible for anyone, any time. I have spent most of my life taking care of others, putting myself second, and sometimes, third, fourth or fifth. After many years, I found myself feeling hurt, rejected, used, and resentful. I created an unhealthy pattern for my life, for which I have paid the price.
While it is important to take care of others, it is equally important to understand your motivation. I thought it was my way of expressing love and affection. What I have come to learn is that, while part of it was from love, another part was my need to be accepted and loved. I was trying to make others care for me, so I gave to them and worked hard to please them.
The problem with my M.O. is that I was coming from a place of insecurity and low self worth. I was trying, in essence, to buy affection.
With the right people, the approach may work out as they are giving as much as you. But, with the wrong people, you will be left feeling alone, depleted, and even more insecure.
Do you often think about doing something different or implementing a new idea only to allow fear to stop you dead in your tracks? Do you frequently conjure up a list of reasons to be inactive, why you shouldn’t try or can’t accomplish something?
All too often we build roadblocks to personal and professional success because we allow fear to be a governing force in our life. I was once that type of person, but no more!
The number seven is significant to many aspects of life. It is deeply rooted in much of what we do. Seven is considered by many to be a lucky number. There are seven days in the week, seven dwarfs, seven chakras, seven seas, seven continents, seven deadly sins, seven wonders of the world, seventh heaven, and the seventh inning stretch.
For me, the number seven is of major importance because it represents transformation, growth, and survival. You see, in this month (the seventh month of the year), seven years ago, I took a leap of faith and followed my heart, for the first time in my life.