Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Opposites Attract

I love the fact that my husband and I were so different. He was always more of a "glass half full" kind of guy, while I found it remarkably easy to see the doom and gloom side of life. I used to tease him on his polly-anna outlook and now I find that I subscribe to the same positivity that's kept him so happy for so many years - and I can see why he loves it so much!

I guess my outlook was a result of how I grew up. I never really pushed myself to succeed. I kind of just floated through things and let life take its course. I did well enough, but I always could have done better. There was this one incident in high school that will always stick out in my mind. I had an honors class when I was a sophmore. The teachers were very sophisticated and allowed the class to be like a college class - we could eat in the class and they had coffee machines so we could have coffee if we'd like. We'd look at art and how it connected to history and they would read us articles from the New York Times. I didn't feel like I belonged in a class like that so I just slacked. After about 2 months I asked to be transferred out and I had to get a signature from one of the teachers. The one I went to didn't even try to hide her frustration with me. She pulled out her grading book and showed me my marks.... zero, A, zero, A, zero, A, etc. She said to me "when you apply yourself, you do wonderfully - but you don't commit."

I blew her off, got her signature and left the class.

I missed the lesson than, but I understand what she was saying now. I never followed through, never pushed boundaries, never reached for stars. And therefore, when I missed an opportunity or didn't get something I wanted, I got down on the world for not making it happen. My husband always pushed and strived to succeed. He had his first job when he was 12. He doesn't settle. When he wants something he goes after it. He's always been like that. And it was interesting to see how those past experiences shaped us.

We learned from each other. I think he learned from me that it's ok to try new things and you don't have to master everything you attempt. It's ok to try something and not like it and move onto the next thing. I tried so many things people often thought I had the attention span of a fruit fly. But it was really that I just never found anything I was super passionate about so I just kept looking.

I learned from him that it's ok to push yourself for something you want and it's ok to be successful and believe in yourself. High self esteem is such a beautiful thing and not nearly enough people have it. I never thought I was worthy of anything - and that teacher tried to show me that I sabotaged myself. I felt I wasn't good enough and I "proved" it to myself by getting bad grades (even though with a little effort I got great grades).

More often than not, people that suffer with anxiety also find it easier to get down on themselves than give themselves the credit they deserve. It's so easy to fall into the habit of negativity. It's comfortable and it's safe. You feel like you won't fail if you don't try... but not trying is the failure. It's not giving yourself a chance. It's holding back. Anxiety tends to build up walls and fences around people and locks in dreams and aspirations by threatening failure or anything short of perfection.

It took a long time, but I'm now a "glass half full" kind of girl. Yeah, I get self conscious and unsure... but I know deep down it's always going to be ok and it's always going to work out. And this way of living is much more fun!

Think about the messages you give yourself everyday - are you falling more on the negative side or positive? If you get down on yourself a lot, try to make an effort to ease up. Talk to yourself the way you'd talk to a bummed out friend. Or take 10 minutes out of your day to appreciate yourself. Say one empowering thing to yourself every night before you go to sleep or say something positive about the day ahead when you just wake up. Be your biggest supporter!

And while you're at it - spread the wealth. Make someone else's day by saying something nice and pumping up their self esteem too. Not only will they feel great, but you'll feel pretty good too.

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