To the unseen, unheard, the judged and the criticized
We’ve all seen the posts where a brave soul bears it all in a letter to their younger self. Offering up sage advice or lessons they have learned. I’m always impressed with the person’s courage and the willingness to let it all hang out in the most vulnerable of ways.
When I was 46 I wrote a similar letter that I can’t seem to find now. I’ve taken that as my sign that I’m meant to write another. But this time I’m writing a much different letter.
Rather then write a letter to my younger self, I’m writing this letter to anyone who has ever felt misunderstood, not seen or heard, judged, and criticized. I’m writing to anyone who has ever been picked over and made to feel less than. I’m writing to the person who has failed or fallen down. I’m writing to you and I’m writing to me.
If no one has ever told you, or at least told you lately, how incredible you are, how deserving you are of all that’s good, or how capable you are then please let me be that person.
It doesn’t matter if you once cheated on a test or cheated on a partner.
It doesn’t matter if you’ve tried every diet under the sun in hopes of having that “perfect” body.
It doesn’t matter if you said something hurtful to someone else out of your own hurt.
It doesn’t matter if you told a lie, or maybe a few to save face or to avoid criticism.
It doesn’t matter if you…feel free to fill in the blank here with anything you may be using to beat yourself up with or make yourself feel bad for.
It doesn’t matter because shit happens. I don’t say that with flippancy or disregard for whatever you may have done or experienced. And I’m really not trying to minimize those mistakes or even make them OK for you. That would be terribly rude of me and quite presumptuous.
Just know that you are incredible regardless and that those things don’t define you. They don’t negate your level of awesomeness, or the fact that you deserve good things. And they certainly don’t negate just how capable you are as a person.
How do I know this?
Because I’ve cheated on a spouse. I’ve done some pretty damaging things to my body, i.e. yo-yo dieting, drinking too much, smoking. I’ve said some hurtful things to another person out of my own hurt. I’ve lied to save face and to avoid criticism.
I’ve used those and other negatives things to hold me back or to kick the shit out of myself. It hasn’t been worth it. What’s been worth it is learning from those mistakes and moving on from them. Recognizing that to own them not only takes courage, but strength.
I say this because you, my friend, are not only courageous and strong, but also incredible. You have gotten yourself to this very point in time and I’m willing to bet that has been no small feat.
And so as that incredible person, I want you to know a few other things.
There are people who are critical of you and what you do. You can’t change those people and their critical ways. The only thing that you can change is how you deal with that criticism and ultimately those people.
“Often those that criticize others reveal what he himself lacks.”
- Shannon L. Alder
It helps to remember that criticism is just a projection of how that person feels about himself or herself. Chances are they feel inadequate or less than. And while it may cause some barriers, at the end of the day, being able to put it into perspective is your best defense.
Another great defense to criticism is to be who you are in every given moment, not someone you think others want you to be. You know who you are. You can feel it when you’re being true to you. Trust that feeling. You are your most powerful self when you are being your most authentic self.
“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” - Oscar Wilde
About being your authentic self, if there’s something about yourself that you don’t like, that’s OK. We’re all a work in progress. Rather than criticize yourself, make the effort to change what you don’t like. And for God’s sake don’t forget your likable qualities because you do have them.
Maybe you have great eyes.
Maybe you’re the type of friend that never forgets a birthday.
Maybe you have a big, soft heart.
Focus on and leverage those things as you are working on the stuff you don’t like. Oh, and here’s a little insider’s tip…. if you want to feel good enough, focusing on what you like about you helps. Feeling good enough is an inside job and not at all related to a designer label, cool car, big house, or any other exterior thing.
This may seem tangential, but this is a good time to address rejection, because rejection often causes feelings of not good enough.
Here’s the thing about rejection… there’s no such thing. There’s not. If you have been passed over by a person or a potential opportunity know that it’s just the Universe’s (or God’s) way of protecting you from something or someone who’s not a right fit. That way you have the space, time, and energy for someone or something that is.
Speaking of space, time and energy, it’s not a terrible thing to be particular. When it comes to your time, your energy, your heart it’s important to get really clear on what makes someone worthy of receiving the important bits of you. This is not being a snob; it’s about sharing with those that will appreciate you for all that you are. It’s about not settling.
“The biggest human temptation is to settle for too little.” - Thomas Merton
Ah settling, that leads me to this second to last thing you might want to know. Try different relationships on for size. Just don’t forget that you don't ever have to be someone you’re not in order to be loved. If you have to mold and meld yourself in order to fit with another person, that person is NOT a right fit for you. Period. And don’t you dare worry your head over whether you will ever find a person to fit with, because you will. BUT…and this is a big BUT you have to love yourself enough not to settle.
And last, just know you are never too old and it’s never too late. Never!
My friend…you are incredible. You truly are! If you still don’t believe that please ask yourself the following question, “What do I need to let go of in order to know, feel, and believe that I am incredible?” Because you deserve that and all the goodness that life has to offer.
Much love, light, and incredibleness to you…