handle with care

At the beginning of last year I had one pretty steady, straightforward goal in mind: I wanted to tap into (or cultivate, I thought at the time) my courage. This year my goals have been a little more difficult to pinpoint. A very important wish is that I can work on my relationship with myself, which is a difficult topic to explore particularly because it’s not something I ever gave all that much thought to.

In the last year I’ve learned the importance of getting in touch with the many facets of yourself; especially the parts that tend to stay hidden, because those are often the parts that need the most attention. Those are also the parts that usually don’t get any attention, and that makes everything – our perspective, our happiness, our strength – feel like it’s faltering.

I think it’s increasingly common in our fast-paced, technology-infused society that you’ll eventually take yourself (or at least some aspect of yourself) for granted. It’s amazing how easy that is to do, considering we see ourselves every day, and goodness knows we talk to ourselves every day. I keep myself alive every day; I sustain myself every day. But do I validate myself every day? Do I accept myself every day? Do I love myself every day? Fully? And I don’t mean “validate” like “refrain from judgment” and I don’t mean “accept” like “eh, good enough”. I mean to the bone, to the core, to the heart. Every aspect of myself – my fear, my failure, my not-enoughness. The fact is, there are parts of myself that I forget even exist, fragile feelings that I forget to handle with care; and banging around these highly sensitive parts of myself with blame and judgment is the sort of careless behavior that has caused me a lot of struggle. I’ve realized that for all the thankless parts of myself – the fear, the shame, the insecurity – there’s a greater, stronger part of myself that can offer compassion, but the communication doesn’t happen often because I forget to pay attention to that relationship. I’ve gotten into behaviors that I think we all inherently fall into: ignoring the shame, feeding into the fear. Until recently, I never thought to handle them with patience, respect, and love.

So, that’s my journey for 2015: to remember to pay attention to myself, and to practice accepting every feeling that comes up rather than acting out against it or repressing it to achieve a temporary (but ultimately flawed) sense of comfort. My goal is for a year of the Self: self-love, self-respect, and self-trust. And, hopefully, through those practices and by continuing to adopt an attitude of patience with myself, I’ll be able to take further steps toward correcting the many misconceptions I carry.

My word for the year is delicate, not because I want to think of myself as something fragile but because I want to live delicately, to be open and aware and gentle with my feelings. I often lament that I’m not particularly graceful or elegant, but that in itself is the sort of judgment disguised as truth that I want to try to correct. My journey will hopefully lead me to a place where I’ll be able to meet thoughts like, “I’m not graceful or elegant or good enough” with thoughts like, “I’m doing the best I can and that is enough; it’s a cause for celebration.”

(Unraveling the Year Ahead workbook via Susannah Conway)