Monday, July 4, 2011

Letting the Good In

It's been several months since I wrote in my blog. There have been gaps in my writings before and it's always because I get lazy and stop trying to look for good in life. I get tired of the "theme". I get bored. I get frustrated when things don't come together for me like I want them to and when I want them to. I let myself slip into a negative frame of mind and my life becomes frustrating and mundane. I lose the enchantment and the fascination with the world around me that is evident from my previous writings. But eventually I come back and I start practicing my "look for the good" philosophy again.

One of the areas of my life where I have struggled the most is the area of self-esteem. I often think to myself that there's nobody in my life that appreciates me or "gets" me or values me at all. But then, when someone does come into my life who shows me some appreciation, I don't believe it's real. I assume they're just being polite or just patronizing me for whatever reason.

After I published my book, "Looking For The Good", which is basically a hard copy of this blog, I had a number of people treat me like I was some kind of guru. I even had one person ask me to "autograph" her copy of my book!!! Autograph???? I really hated the attention and I hated being put up on a pedestal. It was lonely up there and I felt very separate from the very people I was trying to reach with my writings. I'm just an ordinary person! It says so right on the back cover of my book! My only reason for putting the book together was to try to help other "ordinary" people to see that they can find happiness even in their "ordinary" lives. There was a certain amount of "celebrity" status that the book brought to me and I hated every bit of it! I hated the praise I got from people. I just couldn't accept it. I didn't think the book was that big of a deal. I knew of a lot of mistakes in it. I couldn't even see the good in my own book or in myself. It was horribly uncomfortable for me and I was very relieved when all the hooplah died down.

It reminds me of another experience I had years ago when I was active in Toastmasters. In Toastmasters, each speech you give is connected to a particular lesson. That night, I had given a speech that required the use of props. I always tried to make my speeches funny and lighthearted. Sometimes people use Toastmasters meetings to practice being "minister" wannabes and their talks can be really heavy and serious. I always liked to lighten things up. My speech for the night was about how bad my cooking was. I still remember the props I used. I had a rubber chicken that I marked up with a black magic marker and I held it up and called it "Blackened Chicken". LOL! Anyway, after the speech was over and I turned the platform back over to the Toastmaster and headed back to my seat, there was the obligatory applause that you always get after a speech. But after that died down, a second round of enthusiastic applause started and everyone was smiling and looking at me. It was a moment when I knew I had been really really good. I was blown away. It was exciting! But on the way home, something happened inside me.

After the meeting, I had several people come up and shake my hand and tell me I should be a professional public speaker. I just laughed it off and said I was glad they enjoyed my speech. Then, as I drove home, these voices in my head started talking to me. " Who do you think you are?" they said. "You made such a fool of yourself showing off in front of those people pretending to be something you're not!" By the time I got home, I was in tears and was embarrassed about the speech. I'm not sure if I ever went back to another Toastmasters meeting again after that. Just like with my book, I just couldn't handle the praise. I couldn't handle being loved. So I pushed it away. I pushed away the very thing that I so longed for; being appreciated and valued.

Yesterday, yet another experience spoke to me. A young girl I know who recently had her best friend die in a boating accident told me that my book is really helping her get through it. She said that when she gets down about things, she pulls out my book and reads some and it makes her feel better. That scared the crap out of me and I quickly changed the subject and then said I had to leave. Again, I couldn't let it in. I couldn't accept the very thing we all need, which is validation.

I wish I could close this post by saying that I have learned to allow love, acceptance and approval into my life but I truly have not. And the longer I go without it, the more painful it is. I'm not even sure if this post even belongs on a blog about looking for the good in life. But it's what I felt the need to write about today. I guess I need to look for the good in myself and allow others to see good in me too. And if someone does try to love me, I hope I can allow them to and not get scared and push them away.

I think that the only way we can have good in our lives is if we let it in. So lets look for the good and then allow it in.


  1. Hey Jo Ann, I'm happy to see another entry on your blog. A thought occurred to me as you were saying, "Again, I couldn't let it in. I couldn't accept the very thing we all need, which is validation." Perhaps not only "looking for the good" is what we need to do, but "letting the good in", accepting it, and believing it, is also what we need.

    I understand what you are saying about how you felt after your speech where you were questioning yourself about who do you think you are, etc. I've had those moments. I've found Mandea's speech 'Our Deepest Fear' always puts things into perspective for me:

    "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?

    You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn't serve the world. There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."

    Keep writing, Jo Ann, especially if people are finding your experiences are helping them. I know it is for me. :)

  2. Julia, thank you so much for your comments and for the quote. It really did hit the nail on the head for me. I think I really did pull back from being "good" so that others wouldn't feel uncomfortable with me. And I remember my family telling me at the time that they liked me better when I was "being myself". That meant they liked me better when I was being like them and being like they wanted me to be. And I bought into their program too! Dumb me!