Improving yourself is a really great goal. If you can quantify your progress and you’re into that? It’s even better, but what actually matters is what’s going on inside of you and that’s hard to quantify.
Emotions are a little bit subjective. Then can change and cascade and they aren’t easy to describe, let alone quantify sometimes. But what we think it’s really about–this whole self-improvement/self-discover thing is about not feeling like poop all the time inside your brain and emotions.
Feeling comfortable with who you are is important. Reconnecting with who you are means that you are so much more free, so much more capable, so much more courageous.
And feeling comfortable with yourself and your weirdness and your moods and the thoughts that filter in and out of your brain is really the thing.
It’s sort of what we all want. But when we want that comfort, it’s as if any internal suffering we have becomes a failure to the goal of self-improvement and that’s not super helpful. We’re allowed to f-up. We’re allowed to not feel constantly comfortable and not be ashamed or feel unworthy. It’s part of being alive and human, and it’s okay.
But most of us don’t want to feel like poop all the time. That’s definitely okay, too.
What matters is living with your whole heart, living with purpose and living with compassion for yourself and others. We have stories in our lives. We have patterns. And when we’re aware of them and where they come from? That helps us understand that we are okay, that we’re worthy, that we can be the good guy in our own damn story.
Tara Brach talks in her book Radical Acceptance about people feeling unworthy. That feeling of unworthiness tends to lead to feelings of shame and so you start looking for ways to be worthy.
But the thing is that worthy? It’s bullshit.
Brach writes, “Feeling compassion for ourselves in no way releases us from responsibility for our actions. Rather, it releases us from the self-hatred that prevents us from responding to our life with clarity and balance.”
We are who we are. And worthy as a concept and a word makes a couple of assumptions:
That means that we are letting other influences determine our worth. Outside influences. And we are accepting those outside metrics as determining factors about how we feel about ourselves. We write a book and it gets published but if it gets a bad review? We feel unworthy. We write a book and it hits the NYT bestseller list but not #1? We feel unworthy. We get cranky at someone in the grocery store line. We feel unworthy.
And then we try to self-medicate or other illegally medicate or compete or be even more productive or better at marketing or kind or whatever to make that feeling go away.
Growing and enjoying life requires taking chances and you know what? With chance comes a risk and that worry of failure, of unworthiness, and it holds so many of us back.
With purpose (no matter what purpose) comes that forward motion, that acceptance, that worthiness that we get to feel ourselves, not from some bullshit outside metric.
Actor Chadwick Boseman said,
“Purpose crosses disciplines. Purpose is an essential element of you. It is the reason you are on the planet at this particular time in history. Your very existence is wrapped up in the things you are here to fulfill. Whatever you choose for a career path, remember, the struggles along the way are only meant to shape you for your purpose.”
People who feel as if they have a purpose tend to deal with stress better, they tend to be more active, they become braver. And to have that purpose you have to believe in yourself, not the outside metrics of success, not the shame, but in your own journey, in your own movement forward.
Kim Kardashian isn’t any more worthy than your auntie; Bill Gates isn’t any more worthy than Shaun Farrar; Oprah isn’t any more worthy than the lady at the register at your local grocery store. Those metrics of looks and money? They’ve got nothing on heart, on skill, on kindness.
And once we all realize that? We’re all going to feel a lot better, a lot more comfortable, and the worthy that we are? We’re going to embrace it, love ourselves by our own metrics, not by what society tells us.
Feel good about whatever you do.
Chris Ross’s website:
The music we’ve clipped and shortened in this podcast is awesome and is made available through the Creative Commons License.
Here’s a link to that and the artist’s website. Who is this artist and what is this song? It’s “Summer Spliff” by Broke For Free.
AND we are transitioning to a new writer podcast called WRITE BETTER NOW! You’ll be able to check it out here starting in 2022!
We have a podcast, LOVING THE STRANGE, which we stream live on Carrie’s Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn on Fridays. Her Facebook and Twitter handles are all carriejonesbooks or carriejonesbook.
Carrie is reading one of her poems every week on CARRIE DOES POEMS. And there you go! Whew! That’s a lot!
Normally we talk about writing somehow, right? Because we're a writing podcast. But we aren't this week. This week, we're talking about fashion advice for men because Carrie saw a post on The Art of Manliness that was "101 Style Tips for Men." First off, let's just give a shout out that there's a website called The Art of Manliness. That is a brilliant name. Carrie's favorite tip was this one: 27. Always dress like you might decide to drop by a restaurant or nightclub with a dress code. Because you might. And even if you don’t, you might as well look like a guy who’s got plans. The Art of Manliness All the advice reminded us of those old 1980s, 1990s talk shows where the women would get their husbands make-overs in a super hetero-normative way and these guys would come out with this total, "Oh my gosh, I'm hot" saunter." Or else they'd try to hide. But it also makes us think about our fixation on fashion and appearance and buying things. If you look at that list it requires buying a lot of things. That requires money. And that's a little frustrating. How about "101 Feel Good Tips for Men" that are about being good people or something? How about if we spend a little more time our souls and our attitudes and our civics instead of worrying about never wearing graphic t-shirts? Oh, ...
Too often we really focus only on the mechanics of story. Writers and student-writers are told to make perfect sentences, understand the use of the semi-colon, and to spell words correctly. "Do not turn in a manuscript to an agent or editor unless it's perfect," is a pretty big industry standard. Be perfect. Write perfectly. Have perfect grammar. Have a perfect plot. Spell everything perfectly. Here's the thing: Your story won't ever be perfect especially if you're working on it all by yourself. Do the best that you can. Spell all the words. But do not fret about it forever. So much of our writing life is spent making sure the mechanics of our stories are perfect, that we sometimes forget about the psychological aspects of our stories, the heart. It happens to us from the very beginning in grade school. Our teachers focus on the paragraphs, the spelling, the grammar because they're trying to teach us to effectively communicate with the written word, but they sometimes forget to talk about our imagination, our cleverness, how our stories show our deeper selves and feelings. How many of us worked super hard on a fourth-grade story that we thought was the most amazing story ever only to receive it with a note like, "Good job with your paragraphs!" Or, "Well done with your spelling!" Random Thoughts Our random thoughts this week both focus on imperfection. Shaun says in the first one, "I'm not exciting today." And the second one? Ho boy. Carrie feels ...
Because our daughter is home for the week, we’re taking the week off in posting BE BRAVE FRIDAY video and podcast and also our LOVING THE STRANGE podcast because we want to make family time a priority for this one week. I know! We never miss a week. And sometimes I have a tiny bit of anxiety over that, but it’s worth it. Family is worth it. So instead, I thought I might quickly talk about what it means to be brave. Ready? WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE A BRAVE PERSON? It’s pretty simple really. Being brave means being tough enough to face your fears. Being brave means knowing something scares you but wanting to defeat that wall of fear, climb over it, chip away at it, knock it down brick by terrifying brick. Your fear may be about failure, about self-doubt, about spiders. Your fear might be about ridicule or judgement. Fears come in all forms. Mine mostly come about sharing my art, speaking in public, good, old public ridicule, being poor again, and making the world a worse place. Being brave means that you go after what you want, you evolve into the person you want to become and you don’t let those fears stop you. SOMETIMES FACING YOUR FEARS HAS TO HAPPEN OVER AND OVER AGAIN. As a lot of you know, I’m terrified of showing people my art, but I’ve always secretly wanted to be an artist even though my family laughed at this idea or rolled their eyes or scoffed. I never took an art class until right before COVID and that was an hour-long session about felting. Oh. Wait. That’s a lie. ...