Okay, let’s just admit it, getting honest with ourselves is painful. I look back to when I was married (round 1) and I hate to admit, but I blamed a lot. I blamed him for my unhappiness.
“Blame is the discharging of discomfort and pain”. ~Brene Brown
I really believed that if he would quit looking at other women, that if he would just love me, I would be gloriously happy. The shocking part happened when my ex-husband was no longer around for me to blame and I had to take an honest look at myself. To this day I am so thankful for counselors that validated that I was married to an addict, but then set him aside and said, “now let’s look at you.” At first, I was a little shocked. Look at me? What did they mean? If I wouldn’t have married an addict then I would be fine. Right?
It was time for me to take a hard look at myself and what I found was not always pretty. Truth: Some of my unhealthy behavior did come because I was married to an addict, but other behaviors were in place before I ever met him. Yuck! Not fun to own my stuff.
How to become honest with ourselves
Step 1: Recognizing and Getting Past the Shame
At first, I felt so much shame when I was honest with myself. It was hard for me to listen because hearing the truth didn’t mean that I was human with mortal faults, it meant that I was BAD. So for me, the first step was owning that I had a lot of shame, and then I had to diligently start working on shame resilience. I had to tell myself over and over again
Recognition: First I had to recognize that what was keeping me from taking a look actually was Shame.So for me, the first step was owning that I had a lot of shame, and then I had to diligently start working on shame resilience. I had to tell myself over and over again
Learning: Once I realized that I had shame it was time to learn about it. I researched what shame was, what I could do about it, and where to begin. I started with “The Gifts of Imperfection” by Brene Brown. I listened to her talks online. The I found other authors like Jon Bradshaw.
Practice: Once I learned what shame resilience was, I had to start practicing it. Every day I would look for times when I felt shame and I practiced catching my shame, calling it what it was, and counteracting it. I had to tell myself over and over again that bad choices, and bad behavior did not get to define me. I started by getting rid of absolutes. I quit telling myself things like,” I am a bad mom,” That statement leaves no room for anything else… it is hard to dispute, it sounds like a fact. Instead, I started saying “I didn’t handle that situation well, but I am not a bad mom.” Then I would have to remind myself of all the reasons I am a good mom. This principal started to permeate all parts of my life. I quit letting bad moments that happened under irritating and stressful events determine what I was.
Keep in mind all of this had to happen before I could get really honest with myself.
Step 2: Negative Self Talk isn’t Honest
The next step was almost as painful as the first. I had to come to the realization that my negative self-talk was not honest. It felt honest. This took the help of divinity. Some people call it the spirit, I call it the Holy Ghost, but I had to follow his guide because the negative talk seemed true, I had to ask the spirit to help me distinguish between lies and truth. Again, the steps happened the same as above.I want to point out loudly, “NEGATIVE SELF TALK IS NOT HONESTY!”
Recognition: I had to recognize how badly I actually did speak to myself. It was worse than I would ever talk to anyone that I loved. No wonder that I did not love myself. I didn’t need anyone pointing out my faults. I was very aware of them and could tear myself down… faster than a cowboy could get bucked off a crazy bucking bull.
Learning: Rather than a book I had to begin learning from myself why I was so hard on myself. This took a lot of internal reflection and reviewing my past to understand why I thought and felt that way about myself. Often times it had started with the negativity of others, but I had to own that sometimes it started with me. For most of my life I fell into the trap, and sometimes I still do. Negative thoughts ruled my thinking, I had to start questioning those messages to become honest with myself.
Practice: This was the hard part, When I would have a negative thought I would catch it, and I would change it. I had trained my brain to go one direction without a second thought. I had to retrain my brain to stop and choose a different path. I still have to work on this, but it has gotten a lot easier.
Step 3: In Being Honest We Have To Accept our Gifts Too
This might not make any sense, but it was and still is one of the most difficult parts of being honest with myself. I don’t understand it, but I think there is something really vulnerable and scary about accepting that we have gifts. For me, I was afraid that I might find my gift and others would say, “Yea right.” And then what?
And then what? The I realized a truth, spoken to me by the spirit. That other people did not have to see, recognize, or acknowledge my gifts for me to have them. That my gifts were directly from God and the only thing I had to do was claim them and use them.
Recognition: I was pretty torn down when I started this journey. I really didn’t think I had any gifts. I first started to learn about my gifts from others. My counselor offered the first one. She said, “Norma, I meet with the wives of addicts every day and the women who have been through what you have been through, they HATE their husbands, but you don’t. Each session you come in and despite the pain and heartache you can see him….beneath the addiction and the pain and you love him so much.”
That day I learned that I don’t love others because of their actions, I love them because of them.
Another acknowledgment came from a friend, Telling me over and over again that during hard and crazy circumstances when I am being attacked, I am able to look past the attack and see the person, and I am able to slow things down and respond to the person, not to the attack.
As I started to accept these gifts as mine more gifts started to surface.
Learning: I started to watch for moments when I would see myself doing the things mentioned above, and as I watched for them I saw them in my everyday life. I really do love people how they are, and I genuinely try to understand the feelings of the person who may be attacking me. Learn from others and what they say to you, your gifts might begin to surface through the words of others.
Practice: Now that I know what my gifts are I can choose to practice them and get even better.
As you begin to get honest with yourself you can use this tool that I created. RLP
Recognition: Start to recognize when you are being honest with yourself. Recognize when you are not.
Learning: Give yourself compassion as you fine tune and learn honesty. This takes a lot of bravery and it is okay to take a step back and work through shame if you need to. Learn that faults do not define you. Learn and begin to feel that honesty with yourself can be life changing.
Practice: Use the spirit to help you know if you are truly being honest. Ask yourself questions: Is that truthful? Let God guide you to make the changes that will enhance your life.
Know that this is a process and it takes time. You can do it, you are not alone.