Sometimes life actually sends you the answers you ask for.
My friend and I were talking on the phone about how hard it is to just accept ourselves as we are – and not how we wish we could be or how others expect us to be. We were also discussing the idea of trying to go with the flow more often rather than making so many things we do into an effort – or adding so many of our own dams!
I know. Easier said than done.
When she told me she’s been working on learning to like herself more even though she gained some weight, the word “working” stuck out like a sore thumb to me. Do we always have to work on ourselves or can we simply accept ourselves as we are without making a job of it?
So I suggested that for just one moment she allow herself to let go and accept herself totally – imperfections and all. Perfectly imperfect as my pal Liz puts it. Like yourself exactly as you are. No greater goal than that. Just for one moment.
Still it felt out of reach to her. Maybe next week. Or next year when she’s a lot better person – and hopefully thinner. But not now. That’s too soon. She just didn’t feel ready.
How well I understand. Liking myself warts and all is something I struggle with all the time. (Oops. “Struggle” sounds a lot like “work.”)
Still, since we were on the topic of finding ways to break through our own mental barriers, I tried to come up with something that might provide a jump-start. Then I remembered she was going for a walk later in the day to watch the birds in the park, something she’s been doing almost meditatively on a daily basis.
“If you’re willing, here’s what I want you to do, ” I said with a twinkle. “When you go out to watch the birds, look for a butterfly. The first one you see, just for that moment when he appears, let that remind you to allow yourself to feel what it feels like to accept yourself completely. Even if you don’t believe it – just let yourself feel what it would feel like if you did. And then as the butterfly flies off, just remember how lovely that felt.”
She got it and agreed enthusiastically to do just that. Then we talked some more about personal stuff I’ve been dealing with. There’s nothing as wonderful as a good friend to whom you can say anything and everything!
Suddenly she blurted out that she had seen a butterfly outside her window just after I made my suggestion. She just hadn’t mentioned it.
“WHAT??? You saw a butterfly?” I was astounded – and maybe a little spooked. “Did you accept yourself for that one moment like we discussed?” I asked excitedly.
“Well…no,” she answered sheepishly. “You said I should do it when I go bird watching. There were no birds.”
We burst out laughing. We both got how absurd that was. And we also got how we ourselves sometimes get in the way of the flow of our own lives.
But there had been a butterfly! Certainly seems like the universe was cooperating with the plan. Weird that it showed up right after I mentioned it – but how perfect too. We got to see first-hand just how rigid we can be even when it comes to something as nice as being easy on ourselves!
Life flies towards us and then flits away. What a gift to let go and just grab each moment as it comes. Go with the flow.
Luckily we know there will be more butterflies. Lots of them. And laughter. And good friends.
Note: My instinct is to apologize for being so corny. Sigh. My instinct is almost always to apologize. But screw it. There isn’t one person out there who doesn’t know how it feels to be criticized or to criticize ourselves. If someone needs to read this and judge, then I bet they judge themselves even harder. So go find a butterfly already! OK? (-;