Amazing thought, right? But how do we actually do that?
I’m a (relatively) confident adult. I work hard, at my job, on my partnership with my husband and on raising my kids well. I have a blessed life and a strong faith in my Buddhist practice.
My brain “knows” that I have a beautiful life and am a good person.
2 weeks ago, I made a statement that startled me with how truthful it felt and how deeply I meant it;
“I hate myself right now”
The irony of that statement was not lost on me. There I was, sad, depressed, and experiencing a self-loathing I hadn’t dealt with in a very long time, and all because of my personal decision to NOT make the long and tiring trip to see BTS perform live in their “Love Yourself Tour”. (I know right now ARMY’s are stopping and thinking “You WHAT?!”. Yes, I know fam, hence the thoughts I was having.) For whatever reason, missing that tour brought on a whole onslaught of personal issues that I had spent years not dealing with.
And then, our wise young leader said these words during his speech at the United Nations UNICEF summit:
“Maybe I made a mistake yesterday, but yesterday’s me is still me, today I am who I am with all of my faults and mistakes. Tomorrow I might be a tiny bit wiser and that will be me too. These faults and mistakes are what I am, making up the brightest stars in the constellation of my life. I have come to love myself for who I am, who I was and who I hope to become.”
“No matter who you are, where you are from, your skin color your gender identity just speak yourself. Find your name and find your voice by speaking yourself. I am Kim Namjoon and also RM of BTS, I am an idol and an artist from a small town in Korea.”
And friends this ARMY heart was lifted for a moment. I WANTED to get past these painful feelings and I WANTED to speak a self that I loved, truly loved. But would it be true? Does saying something enough times make it a reality? How far does “fake it until you make it” get you, when it comes to respecting the dignity of your own life?
The answer came right after this speech, as so often happens in my life, from a TEDtalk by Emily Esfahani Smith “There’s More To Life Than Being Happy”.
(I’m about to give you the speed dating version so I highly recommending listening to this woman’s entire talk here to get the full impact)
“The 4th pillar of a meaningful life is Storytelling, the story you tell yourself about yourself. Creating a narrative from the events of your life brings clarity. It helps you understand how you became you. But we don’t always realize that we are the authors of our stories and can change the way we are telling them. Your life isn’t just a list of events. You can edit, interpret and retell your story even as you are constrained by the facts… You can do it by reflecting on your life thoughtfully, how you’re defining experiences shaped you, what you lost, what you gained.”
WHAT STORY WAS I TELLING MYSELF ABOUT MYSELF? Forget what I was speaking to the world, what was I speaking to myself? This seemed so simple and yet as I changed and re-worded my inner story I felt lighter and new.
“Why is this happening to me” turned into “I’m happy others are experiencing that”
“Why are my wants last?!” turned to “Missing this event allowed me to put my own mental and physical health first”
“I will always regret missing this” turned to “This is giving me an opportunity to learn how to speak to myself”
I don’t know what the next step is in my progression. But I do know that I feel differently now. I see the value in staying home when I could have gone. I see the value in the disappointment and sadness I felt. I see the compassion I’ve had this week for my kids and husband, and more importantly the compassion I’ve had for myself. And while I also know that I’ll be disappointed and sad again in life (hopefully not over missing another BTS concert!) I’ve learned a valuable lesson. To speak myself and the story of myself with grace, kindness, and love.
To my ARMY friends who already Love Yourselves, I commend you. And to those of us that still have some work to do on that I encourage you to keep fighting, to work hard on changing your inner story, because the name you speak to yourself is the one that’s most important, and often the one we listen to last.
My name is Mama B and also Bethany. I am an ARMY, Wife, Mom, Friend and Buddhist and I Love Myself.