In the book The Six Pillars of Self Esteem, Nathaniel Branden tells us that “self acceptance is more primitive than self esteem. It is a per rational, per oral act of self affirmation.”
I think in the caveman days it served to say to the tribe that we, too deserve to eat at the fire, to have a place in the cave for shelter and we have a place at the fire for community and camaraderie.
In modern times this means that girls have the right to eat the same healthy food as her brothers and father. She has the same rights for schooling and she has the right to expect and demand that she and her body be respected.
“Self acceptance is my refusal to be in an adversarial relationship to myself.”
“An attitude of basic self-acceptance is what an effective psychotherapist strives to awaken in a person of even the lowest self esteem. This attitude can inspire an individual to face whatever he or she needs to encounter within without collapsing into self hatred, repudiating the value of his or her person, or relinquishing the will to live. It entails the declaration : “I choose to value myself, to treat myself with respect, to stand up for my right to exist.” This primary act of self affirmation is the base on which self esteem develops.”
When we cannot dig deep enough to uncover this basic self acceptance, we fall prey to what others want to say and do to our minds and our bodies.
We must, at all costs, find the strength to face ourselves and to declare: “This is the day that I stand for ME.”
Will you practice standing up for yourself in small ways?
Maybe at the grocery store, or at the doctors office or perhaps with the your child’s teacher.
If you practice in small places, the larger places will not seem so very dire.
Love and light,
P.S. Read The Six Pillars of Self -Esteem by Nathaniel Branden. It is worth every minute of your time.
It struck me today that one of the first steps we all must take in the fight against gender based violence is to start actively paying attention and noticing gender based violence.
How we each do this will be different, but for me, since starting my work at ILF, it means filtering the world through a new lens and quietly asking myself “was that gender based violence?” or “is there a message here about gender based violence?”
When someone like TMZ decides to post a video that is an extreme and obvious case of gender based violence (as in the Ray Rice situation) it is easy for everyone to say “well yes, that was a case of gender based violence, we need to do something about it.”
But what about all of the non-obvious, non-in-your-face examples?
What about the two kids that I always see playing in the local playground, sometimes with their 2 year old sister. Why do they NEVER want to be at home?
What about the gym teacher at the local high school who constantly smirks at his male students when one of the more well-endowed girls jogs by in class?
What about the sad little girl who went to the day home next door to my house that nobody noticed until the caregiver’s husband went to jail last year for molesting her?
If we are observing the world like everyone else all of these may slip below our radar.
But, if we start actively watching for gender based violence (and I am not saying this is easy, so take care of yourself) the number of incidents starts to become more and more clear, and it is only then we start to realize how important the commitment to ending gender based violence really is.
So, what was it that struck me today and brought this realization into the light?
The song Face Down by Red Jumpsuit Apparatus. This song has been out since 2007 and is tied as the longest-running song on the Modern Rock Tracks chart at 52 weeks. I have heard it countless times and thought nothing about it other than “great song, I like it”.
Today I watched the music video, with my new found GBV filter, and, wow, was I missing the point:
*Psst.. Did you know you can highlight any sentence in this post to automatically share it via Twitter or Facebook? Go ahead, give it a try!**
Allow me to set the stage.
A couple weeks ago I buried my father.
I had the highest honor at the funeral to have delivered his eulogy.
It was, BY FAR, the most important speech I had ever and will ever make in my whole life.
I wrote and rewrote and edited and practiced and was generally very anxious about the whole day, but especially that I would do the greatest job I had ever done as a public speaker.
I wanted to rely on my memory but I choose to bring up the iPad and I stuck to the script because I was afraid I would lose my composure.
A dear friend had advised me that the eulogy should educate the congregation about the greatness of my father.
I spoke to my siblings and I spoke to his friends and to many young people that he had mentored and I composed my poetry on my Dad.
During the delivery, I spoke clearly, pausing to breathe and to allow the words to flutter like and angel’s wings over my family and dear friends who were in attendance.
I managed to get through almost 97% of it before my voice cracked and the tears began to flow.
Almost everyone came up or called up to tell me what a beautiful honoring I had done for my father.
Ok Dear Reader,
The stage has been set.
Fast forward to the actual night of the funeral. My siblings and children and nephews and mother are gathered in the humble living room in Trinidad and a friend of my mother comes to visit.
She walks in, loudly announcing that she has spent the whole day in church and has just offered up prayers for my mother.
THEN, she looks at me…
“Indrani,” she says loud and clear, “the eulogy was lovely BUT you should have said how devoted and loving your father was to your mother.”
The WHOLE room of people fell silent.
Everyone is now looking at ME, for my reaction.
Let me remind you Dear Reader, that the funeral would have been less than 8 hours prior and we were all still raw and in pain.
My sister, God bless her, sits upright from a slouched and relaxed position and says, “I MUST DISAGREE WITH YOU. You clearly did not hear the beginning when MY sister talked about their marriage of 62 years!”
The “nasty know it all” woman began to defend her position…she REALLY DID begin to defend her position!
If I wouldn’t have been so pissed I would have been laughing.
I then spoke up in a LOUD and VERY CLEAR VOICE.
And this is what I said….
“I have had many comments on the eulogy and everyone has said how lovely and honoring it was. I must tell YOU, you are the ONLY critic. I MUST give YOU a prize for the honor of being the sole critic.”
I then arose from the sofa, I walked to the dining room table and I picked up a piece of crumpled paper and I PRESENTED it to her.
I said, “THIS is your prize. Congratulations for criticizing the eulogy I spoke at my Dad’s funeral.”
Dear reader of this blog post, YOU should have seen the look on her face.
She could NOT believe that I was indeed defending myself against her attack.
She scampered out of my childhood home as fast as she could.
The lesson of this blog is this…
DO NOT allow nasty people to hijack your beautiful brain. Bring out the big response, stand on your sacred honor and let your brilliance fly.
**Psst.. Did you know you can highlight any sentence in this post to automatically share it via Twitter or Facebook? Go ahead, give it a try!**
My DEAR friend Emily Anne Webber and I just had a great conversation about how abused people feel. We recorded it and there was so much goodness that I wanted to share the recording with YOU!
She has learned how to LAUGH and BE HAPPY.
YOU CAN TOO.
Give it a listen and please pass along to anyone who could benefit from these words:
Love & light,
Emily and I will be doing a summer call series called ASK THE SURVIVOR. You can send in questions about abuse, surviving abuse, living with an abuser, etc and she will answer. She has so much to share.
Stay tuned for more information on our Ask the Survivor Summer Series!
…and some lives look just like what you thought you wanted. Open carefully and give back when necessary.
Recently, on a domestic trip, I grabbed the wrong suitcase from the luggage carousel and went to my hotel room.
The suitcase looked exactly like mine until I gave a closer look.
When I tried to open it, I saw that a zip tie had been used to secure the zippers.
Odd, I thought, but I just called down to Guest Services and they sent someone with a pair of scissors.
When the hotel staff member arrived he offered to also cut off the luggage tag and I told him, “Sure, go ahead.” How nice of him.
So now, I did not have the tag to check the name on the suitcase.
I laid the suitcase on the floor and then saw the “heavy” tag which, again, I thought was odd….I did not think it was that heavy. Perhaps I am just really strong!
Then I saw that the outer lining that protected the zipper was torn but I knew that my lining was perfect when I left home.
I opened the suitcase, MY suitcase, and WHOA……
A man’s belt and men’s shoes.
I slammed the suitcase SHUT and immediately called the airline.
I admitted my error, jumped into a taxi and WHEW, my suitcase was patiently waiting and I made the exchange.
The only question I asked was this, “Was the owner of this bag coming home? Did he at least get to go to a home stocked with lots of extra clothes?” She said, “Yes, this is home for him.” The airline person DID NOT even ask for my ID! It was clear to her from the whole story that the suitcase was indeed mine!
How can I turn this into a life lesson?
It took a night’s sleep for the lesson to form. Here goes!
Suppose that the suitcase represented a LIFE that I knowingly signed up for.
So let’s suppose marriage and being a married woman was the lot that was chosen.
How would I know IF the type of marriage (suitcase) was the kind that I signed up for?
I would have to live with the marriage for a while and see how it suited my values and desires.
I would do my best and be my best and respect my husband as I would hope he would respect me.
Suppose that I began to see signs of “Umm, this seems ODD.”
Much like the few times I thought ODD when I further inspected the luggage that was not mine.
I might begin to see that the “fabric” of my soul was being torn and ripped; much like the lining of the bag that I noticed was torn.
I might say, “Whoa, I came into this union whole and complete with good values and morals but now I see things that I did not see before.”
Perhaps, my spouse begins to cheat and get drunk and come home being belligerent. Perhaps, I keep making excuses and deny what I am seeing….a sign that things need to be addressed.
Next, I might be told that “women in this family do not __________.” This could be anything from talking to people outside the family or having to wear certain clothing, to not even showing your face when visitors arrive at your home.
I may continue to think… ODD, this is not the kind of restricted life for which I entered into legal contract!
Like the zip tie that I saw on the zippers that I did not put there, I may have again, not paid in depth attention to the first signs of a shrinking and bound life.
How about the “Heavy” sticker that I saw on the suitcase that was not mine? I may not realize that my feelings of self worth seem to be gone and my heart is heavy with grief. I may again, decide to ignore the signs that things are not what I want for my life.
Until, I take the time to actually OPEN the marriage and LOOK inside, I may NOT realize that what I am seeing is NOT what I want to have in my life.
Clarissa Pinkola Estes in “Women Who Run with Wolves” tells us that women who must break from a life that is not what they envisioned must “be able to see and STAND what they see.”
Able to See and Stand what you see!
What a powerful thought.
As far as the suitcase goes, I saw and I clearly understood that IT was not mine and I returned it.
In an abusive marriage, the woman MUST be able to open up her eyes and SEE very clearly that THIS ABUSE is NOT what she had agreed to and that she has been fooled.
Can she STAND to see the truth to save herself?
Please do not think that I am equating an abusive marriage with as simple a thing as a suitcase, I am not. I am only trying to tell you a story that would open up a few new windows in your soul, should you have to make a hard decision about your marriage or any relationship.
Clarissa Pinkola Estes also tells us that a woman MUST be able to answer a few questions and be ok with the responses.
One of these questions is, “What do I know deep in my ovarios that I wished I did not know?”
She refers to ovarios as the mythological part of the women that carries deep wisdom, where the seeds of knowledge are stored.
Life is not as easy as returning a suitcase that belongs to someone else.
It does not have to be as horrific as living with an abuser or predator either.
The choice is that of the one being abused.
The abused MUST be able to stand what she is seeing and make plans to save her life.
The abuser is NOT the one with the internal power.
The ABUSED has the internal power and she has to be willing to look into the darkness and see what only SHE can see.
Be brave and be strong and ASK for help.
Love and light,
I have been on the road for almost 18 days and my body felt the effects of always being UP and AWARE and OPEN.
I need some time to be DOWN and INTROSPECTIVE and CLOSED.
I need to be closed to the outer world and open to me.
What happens when we to give too much to others?
We have less to keep for ourselves.
We must strike a never ending balance to the outer and the inner world.
This Holiday season makes giving the norm.
I ask you to save some of the giving for yourself.
Save some of the awareness of what others need for being aware of what you need.
It may mean saying a NO to yet another gathering.
It may mean saying YES to being still and listening to the aches and pains of your body.
ONLY you can decide this.
Take some time to sort out where you are investing your precious energy.
Love and light,
Give to Indrani’s Light Foundation
Your support will be used towards covering the costs of the free one-day or two-day, in-person training the ILF Team provides to the advocates at domestic violence organizations across the United States. Your support has already paid for training in Texas, Oregon, Washington, California, Pennsylvania, Alabama, and Illinois.