I was taking minutes in an all day meeting this week and had to remind myself that I wasn't being paid to offer my opinion. I was being paid to record what others were saying. I thought I was less opinionated than I used to be but really I'm continually learning that the world will survive without me voicing my opinion, that's all.
Group dynamics are an interesting thing to observe when all you're there for is to observe, not contribute. Watching one person take things personally and confuse the issue with their very own selves gave me food for thought because I am much more like that person than like any other person in the meeting. I felt both compassion and irritation at her lack of awareness. What is that saying? There's how you see yourself, there's how others see you, there's how you think others see you and there's how you are.
I have two friends who drilled it into my head for years before I believed them, that what I thought of myself was far more important than what others thought of me. When I realized how much negative self talk I had going on I started to believe them. When you hear someone say out loud that they are such an idiot, stupid,......fill in the blank, then you can be sure what's going on in their head is much worse and more insistent. And they probably don't even know it. I had to train myself to recognize my internal negative self talk and re frame it or discount it altogether. In the beginning it was like being interrupted a gazillion times a day.
I'm of the belief that only when we get honest about ourselves can we like ourselves. For myself, personally, going to Confession has been the biggest gift in learning to like myself as I am. Which most likely makes no sense to some people who mistakenly believe that confession is a guilt trip, shame inducing, totally pointless thing to do because after all, Jesus has already forgiven us.
And really that`s the point. Knowing I was already forgiven (because if it`s up to me and not in the Hands of Mercy then I`ll quit trying right now) didn`t help cause that was a head knowledge thing. But process, the gut honest things I have said in Confession and received absolution for, has been so freeing and helped me own who I am in my humanity. It made it a heart thing. My shadow side doesn`t freak me out so much anymore. It`s just there. And always will be, so I can stop pretending that being a Christian makes it go away.
We all need someone, somewhere, to hear who we are at our worst and still accept us in order to even begin to change at a heart level. At least I did. Before that I was too busy spending energy on denying what I was capable of doing, what I had done. And if I didn't believe underneath it all that God loves me exactly as I am then I wouldn't even try. Man, I have cried some gut wrenching tears during absolution, God`s love so tender and full of mercy and impossible to comprehend.
(My apologies to Catholic apologists if I am slaughtering Church teaching. There was a time when I could and wanted to get all technical about all things Catholic (as in wanting to memorize the big green Catechism of the Catholic Church so I could have an answer to everything) and eventually I decided I just needed to live my story and hope to love in the process. People`s eyes tend to glaze over when I get technical or I get on my high and mighty need to be right horse and so far I haven`t learned how to be gracious and technical.)
Okay, time to chuckle, because this post is all about my opinion. It has to land somewhere. My head would explode otherwise.