Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Are You Honoring Yourself?

The first problem for all of us, men and women, is not to learn but to unlearn.
~Gloria Steinhem

When I read this quote, I fell in love with it immediately. I loved it because it gave me permission to let go of what no longer serves my truest self—and the permission to do what does.

I've spent years unlearning old patterns of behavior. How about you? These are patterns that keep us

~small and insecure, or
~voiceless and afraid, or
~exhausted and overwhelmed, or
~carrying around a lot of shoulds, or
~self-sacrificing and martyring, or
~being a "responsibility sponge" (as my friend & mentor, Sue Patton Thoele says)

Sigh ... sometimes it seems there are so many! Each of these is a pattern we learned from any number of sources—parents, elders, teachers, church, culture, media—mostly when we were very young and didn't know any better.

But now we do. We are women on the path to awakening. We have the ability to consciously choose new thoughts, new feelings, new ways of being in the world. Yes, we can choose!

So today, what are you unlearning? What are you choosing to do to honor yourself?

If you are tired, are you resting?

If you are overburdened, can you say "No, thank you"?

If you are being treated unkindly, can you walk away?

If you are overworked, are you playing? 

If you are shouldering "shoulds," can you do only what feels right for you in this moment? 

Today I am choosing to not take on the responsibilities that a dear loved one could be taking on for herself. I am letting go. I am setting a healthy new boundary for myself.

Wow! Does that feel good.

So,  how are you honoring yourself today? 

And if not, what might a new, healthy, self-honoring choice be instead? 

I'm eager to hear ... 

(This post was inspired by the book, The Courage to Be Yourself: A Woman's Guide to Emotional Strength and Self-Esteem by Sue Patton Thoele. It's a classic that every woman should have in her home library.

Image of "Women Dancing with Torah" by salomedesigns.com)


Nina P. said...

I'd never thought of this, or heard this quote before. It is so true. We must unlearn the records we keep playing over and over again and change the music to our own tune and dance our own dance. Part of my past that I'm changing up some is my "door mat-ism" Rather than being a stopping place for everyone to come and unload, wipe their feet upon and then move on, I am now a doorway. I can welcome guests in, talk with them through the door, or go out and greet them outside the door. It is my choice as to who or what will cross my door and enter my sanctuary. I invite today rather than silently allow. I play an active role in my life... Always a work in progress, changing, molding, evolving.... Wonderful Post Jan. Thank you for inviting us to grow. Love and Light, Nina P
(Beautiful painting! Who's the artist? I love the color and energy)

Jan said...

Love your comment. Many of us were raised to be quite docile or timid, and allow others to "have their way with us," so to speak. So glad to hear that now you are being a "doorway." Truly, a profound statement and intention for yourself. It IS all about choice, that's for sure! May your openings be blessed.

p.s. The name of the work and the artist's website is at the bottom of the post. I love it too. :-)

One Woman's Journey said...

Nina, you said it all. In the past I have allowed people into my home trying to be polite. No longer do I do this. My home is a home of peace - my sanctuary.
There were times that I would be asked to take part in some sort of a home tour. I do not want people coming into my home that do not come with love, compassion and that I feel a bond with.

Cheryl Wright said...

That picture zapped me with its colors. I was tired and considering going to bed after reading your post. But no longer. I'm wide awake and feeling quite inspired.

I am re-learning:

- to walk away when I am being treated unkindly

- to waste no time worrying about the things I cannot change

Nadia - Happy Lotus said...

Hi Jan,

I loved that quote. It is so true. Society teaches and promotes the concept of conforming. The reality is that we each have to honor who we truly are and speak our truth. It may not be popular but who ever said being popular was right?

Hope all is well!

Cheryl Wright said...

Hi Nina

I am struck by the similarities in our stories. I too, suffered from "door-matism" but no longer. Like you I went through the process to learning to invite people in instead of silently allowing them to walk in, off-load their troubles, say their piece and do as they please in my life and in my emotional space.

No longer do I tip-toe around insensitive people who proclaim that they are sensitive.

I've found a happy balance between compassion for others and honoring myself.

Sharmila said...

Jan, Yes, I am honoring myself gradually and it is such a sacred process. I am learning rather than trying to order the chaos, to focus on clearing my plate and then I have more loving space to figure out the rest! I am excited to take a sabbatical from 2 of my blogs for the rest of this year and enjoy the holidays and just being refreshed! ;) Often I set expectations for myself that can become so overwhelming! Since I am so good at persisting and showing up, I continue them but really it is not noble in the area of essential self-care ... so I am looking forward to easing into more kindness in my routines and in new avenues. I'm really taking time to focus on my health right now also and making some more 'mindful' shifts like never before.. harmony starts here.. and I think I was focusing solely on the spirit journey and forgetting all of us is sacred, our own temple and so I am going to bring harmony into my mind to add that value back to my body ;) These are my loving steps forward to honor my values. Thank you for a loving post! I look forward to returning to network here after this time of rest! ;) hugs, Jen p,s. thank you for being such a blessing in my life, Jan! I appreciate you!

Wilma Ham said...

I am unlearning many unhealthy habits and I find it works even better when unlearning happens in loving company.
Unlearning puts me on unknown path and it helps when there is someone on the path with me.
Gloria also said the status quo is pulling us back and we need others to not have that happen.
Thanks all for being here, love Wilma, she who looks beyond.

Sharon said...

Thank you, Jan, for the opportunity to share the self-honoring choice I am learning to make. I am learning to let others feel what they feel, while I do not take responsibility for their feelings. For fifty years I have felt that it is my job, one that I am very good at, to make sure the people I care about are feeling okay, and if they're not that I do what I can to make it better. It has become obvious to me that I need to take a step back and let those closest to me learn to take care of their own feelings, while I learn to take responsibility for myself. [It's not that others ask me for my help; I jump in because I think I know best. BIG lesson here.]

Rose - The Center of My Self said...

You've really given me something to think about, Jan. What am I unlearning? What am I doing to honor myself? I like the concept of being a doorway, of being helpful to others while letting them own their own journey.

mermaid said...

I'm taking the time to be with just me. I'm learning to love all parts of myself. I'm reading your blog:)

Jan said...

One Woman,
How wonderful you, too, like Nina have found ways to honor yourself and your sacred space. It never ceases to amaze me how we woman are so inclined to say 'Yes' to whatever. Saying 'No, thank you' can be a powerful doorway to self-recovery. Glad you are walking that path.

You too! This is so great! I love the thought you offer here: a happy balance between honoring myself and having compassion for others. A powerful invitation to blending inner hospitality with outer hospitality.

And I appreciate the unlearnings you shared. Walking away when needed; no more wasteful worrying. These are big! I know your heart will guide you home. xo

Jan said...

Oh, I do agree! Speaking up and out is often a challenge, obviously so much more for women than for men. May we stay faithful and true to the spirit within us, whatever that requires.

These are VERY loving steps and I am celebrating that you are taking them. Especially at holiday times. (I will definitely have to post more on this this month.) You have set such powerful intentions for yourself and I hope that you feel the support of others as you continue on this path. Kindness to self seems to take care of it all, eh? It's just giving ourselves permission to be as loving and kind to ourselves as we are to others.

Today, I am resting up after some whirlwind travel again. Getting off here shortly to engage in some self-care. Like you, I am being very mindful and setting new intentions for the week that approaches. To go slowly, breathe and smile and do only that which honors my sacred self. We are each a work in progress, for sure!

Doing this journey in community is so important! My greatest growth has always come in a circle of supportive women. Actually, I feel that again myself with all of you here. :-)

And I love what Gloria says. (I loved her biography, by the way.) I agree with this statement and it really concerns me that we are losing ground because of the status quo. I just heard the other day that now a full 70% of women are the primary wage earners in the family-- and yet are still the primary childcare givers and also housekeepers! We must seriously think and talk about this! We must be on alert for not losing our freedoms because of money and things....

Jan said...

Thank you for this open sharing. You are not alone in this one! This has (and is) a big issue for so many of us—myself included! I love the term "Responsibility Sponge" that my friend Sue Thoele uses. It describes this to a T. We take on the responsibility for everyone being happy or at peace or getting along. And, as you are discovering (me too!) this weakens and depletes us.

How to disconnect from this pattern? For me, it is about learning to trust that each person is on his/her own path with lessons to be learned. I've got mine and you've got yours. We all do! So may we allow each person to find their way when necessary...Letting go with love.

I am happy to hear that this post launched some new thinking for you. Unlearning is very important. Just think about all that we need to unlearn about what parents told us. Or teachers. Or religious elders. So much of who we are is tied up in what others told us was necessary to be liked or productive or "good." Whew! The list can be long. :-)

Loving all parts of ourself. What a beautiful journey! And a powerful invitation to the rest of us. Thank you!