It’s always so wonderful when winter ends and you can drive without worrying about the weather. Of course, winter leaves behind its legacy – potholes. We have some here in New England in which I think you could lose a Smart car and driving over them always leads to moans, groans and brief concerns about the welfare of the car – and your internal organs.
There is no journey of any length that doesn’t come with bumps, potholes and unexpected detours.
This is true for personal, emotional journeys as well.
As I mentioned last week, acceptance and self-acceptance are lifelong journeys for many of us. In fact, I’m not sure if I’ve met anyone, even those who do have a consistently high level of self-acceptance, who doesn’t experience setbacks at times.
I had a real doozy just the other day.
A non-fiction essay of mine was accepted into a themed anthology from my publisher. It was the first time I submitted something under my actual name (Rachel Kenley is a pen name) and the focus, which connected to the anthology theme, was close to my heart – the importance of being able to know and pursue our deepest desires. Two levels of personal – my name and my passion – were put into this piece which was then put out for the world to see.
Including those who would write nasty, negative reviews.
Yes, my essay – along with my name – was singled out in a terrible review on Amazon. Talk about feeling like you fell into a pothole. It’s amazing how you can read something and your reaction to it is physical.
My heart rate increased, my stomach clenched, and there was a pounding in my head. It was almost as if I’d been struck, and, I suppose, I had. My self-acceptance and confidence took and immediate hit.
And as if it didn’t hurt enough the first time – I read the damn thing over and over. Have you ever done that? It’s like pressing on a cut or picking at a scab. You can’t move on because you are intensifying the hurt with your actions and your focus remains on the negative thing that hurt you in the first place.
It took a few hours – a serious improvement over other times in my life – before I was able to reach out to people I trust, who I have shown the real me, and told them what had happened. Their gift to me was reflecting back the truth, both of the situation and of who I am.
One review, one setback, doesn’t say anything about me as a whole – as a writer or a person. It is one person’s view of one thing they read and I cannot possibly know the filter through which they read it. I wrote about the importance of living your heart’s desire. To them, that may feel unnecessarily risky and terrifying.
It doesn’t matter why the review was written, or this person’s option of something I wrote. Why?
Because I know how to understand and accept myself, and I do not give up that knowledge, that personal power, to a total stranger, no matter what they wrote or said. Sure, in the moment it hurt – a lot – but it doesn’t, cannot, change the truth that I have come to understand about myself over time.
That is the journey. My personal confidence didn’t arrive one day in a box that someone simply handed to me. And it cannot disappear because someone says something less than flattering. The results of my journey are mine to keep.
Yes, there are times where we give that confidence away. I’ve done it in the past and I expect I will do it again, but that is why I have kept the tools that brought me to this more self-assured place. This core group of people in my life who I know I can trust with my heart and my truest self are invaluable to me. I have taken risks with them, made mistakes with them, celebrated and grieved with them. They know me as I know them and reaching out for their love and support is one of the things that gets me out of the negative space. And it’s not how they see me that’s important – it’s how they allow me and remind me to honestly see myself
Getting to a place of self-acceptance is a journey that takes time and commitment. Everyone’s trip is different but learning and knowing what returns you to that place of personal power – for me, good friends are a huge part of that – will make the times of struggle much shorter. And then you can be on your way again.
I’d love to hear what tools you’ve used effectively. How did you learn them? How have they helped you?