#SeLoFest17 – Day 1
(For the next 28 days, I will be writing a blog a day with something that has to do with my own discovery into self-love, self-esteem, and confidence. I did this two years ago, and I feel like it’s time for an update. Everything I will be writing about will be pertaining to my experience personally and my global perspective in regards to who I am as a person and human being, and my duty to myself.
If you’d like to follow along, you can do so by following this blog, and if you like what I have to say, you can always sign up to my Love Letters. This is my last month in France and I will be exposing my art, and reading The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, Darin Greatly by Brené Brown, and Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. I believe that depression brain trains me and teaches me to be too hard on myself, and sometimes I need a hard reset, get myself back on the horse, and ride out into the sunset of living a creative life. If you’d like to be a part of the Facebook group that will be sharing their stories along with these prompts, feel free to RSVP to this event. Or just write me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know. You can also just do it on your own, and/or post your thoughts on instagram and tag me at @colormaelle and hashtag it #SeLoFest17.)
And now for today’s actual Blog (prompt and activity below):
I was 29 years old when the importance of positive feedback really truly smacked me in the face in a lesson I never forgot. We’re always learning lessons at an emotional or cerebral level but that doesn’t always mean we necessarily know how to live that lesson.
I had a boyfriend at that time whose family I was close to, and for me, their dynamic was one where they encouraged each other through very positive means of feedback. For me, the contrast was that I had grown up with having been scolded very often in pretty harsh ways.
I’d like to take a moment to say that as children we can be our parents’ worst critics, and through these dissertations of my feelings that I dissect, I am in no way faulting my mother or blaming her for my issues anymore than any other human could, being a result of their surrounding, context, and parents successes and mistakes. I love my mother and am privileged, lucky, and boundlessly grateful for her commitment to motherhood and her powerful love, and the way she raised me. There were certain things that are simply a part of my experience and context, and I share these matter-of-factly, knowing that every parent and family has their flaws and qualities.
My context remained, that my mother’s way of handling my explosive feelings were through scolding perhaps out of fear or simply a reaction that parents have that I will most likely never understand as I do not wish to be a mother. However, scolding was what my mother did to help me grow, and as such my way of registering what I should and shouldn’t do was how to avoid being yelled at. I was familiar with positive reinforcements and words of love because when something ached, many times it was my mother’s soothing words that were the only ones capable of helping me heal the wounds inflicted by life, heartache, and such. My mother is also kind in nature. As her first child, she went through a learning curb with me and I learned to operate through the fear of not being yelled at.
At 28, however, I was welcomed into a family that had a disposition that I would relate to many American families. The southern hospitality mixed in with my then boyfriend’s mother’s tenderness, and both parents’ overflowing pride and love for their only child, made for a household that felt a bit like soft Christmas mornings every day and somehow always smelled of Chai tea. Of course I was now an adult and only a temporary installment, so there were layers upon layers that I was not privy to, but what I did get to experience was their constant friendliness. It was an American friendliness but with their own unique set of attributes as individual characters. A lot of positive reinforcement. Not compliments, but I don’t think I had ever been told what a talented writer and artist I was as I was told by my “In-law’s” back then. It made me want to flourish more, prove them right, be the person they said they saw in me, to deserve their praise. I felt love and appreciated, unconditionally, and yet encouraged to do better, explore deeper, strive further; not out of fear, but confidence. I knew I could, because they saw it in me.
That, along with my studies in Spiritual Psychology, a therapist, two unbelievable friends, and loving parents ever committed to our growth as a family, is what allowed me to first understand the undeniable need of self-love, or self-respect, for my own survival.
As an adult, my mother is now one of my main sources of positive feedback and reinforcement, as we have learned to listen to each other. Should anyone ever criticize her as a mother, I would have them know they have understood nothing about parenting or what my mother has done for the sake of my siblings and I and her family. She is a warrior goddess and I am proud of our relationship and how she’s grown.
As for the family that had accepted me through simply being the girlfriend of their son, I will always love them and consider them close to my heart.
Being kind to myself, learning to believe in myself, speaking to myself kindly, all of these things were practices I had to learn because they did not come naturally to me. As a child, I had it, as I believe most children naturally do. But the world taught me to reject myself for who I was. That wasn’t my fault. But owning up to that, and knowing that I have the power to undo that damage and understand the Truth, that is on me. I will not deny myself the responsibility because I do not want to deny myself that freedom. There is also the added pleasure of being able to be the source of pride for someone you love and respect. It is not only freeing, but a pleasure to live for.
The Prompt: When did you learn about positive affirmation? Was your family and context something that taught it to you naturally or did you learn it later on? Did you ever learn it? Do you think you apply it now? Are you conscious of how you speak to yourself and what your inner voice sounds like?
The activity: Be the voice of loving. Think about this sentence “I love myself because…” and think of where you’ve come from, what you’ve been through, what you give, what you offer, how valuable you are. Understand the reality that everyone has a value but we determine what it’s worth based on what we put forth.
In your journal: Write yourself a letter. Make it a love letter. Make it authentic. Get over the fact that it’s silly, think about how much you actually truly do deserve a love letter, think about what you would say to someone who you love and appreciate and the things they’ve done for you. Realize that you’ve been with yourself this entire time. Write a letter saying the things you wished someone would say it to you. Be as creative as you’d like, but make it beautiful and well-written. Take pride in it. If writing a letter is difficult, try making a list of things you appreciate about yourself. With your affirmations, use positive and affirming language. (Don’t put “do not” for example. Put what you DO want, not what you don’t want.)
Street Art in Genova – January 2017