Loving ME: The Mental War

I’m an introvert; I admit it.

I spend a lot of time thinking and rationalizing things. My latest thoughts center around our perceptions of ourselves vs. the world in which we live. I’ll just get right to it so you’ll be able to see where I’m going with this.

Many of us see ourselves in a totally different light from how others view us. We may think we’re “the best of the best” but others may not agree with our assessment. The opposite is also true, and may be more common. Many of us think of ourselves in lesser terms than others think of us.

Recently I went out with a girlfriend for a late lunch and to talk. As I spoke and shared a few things about me to her, I realized that my self-awareness and personal level of impact was VERY different from what I had imagined. She shared with me how much she felt that she needed to get to know me from the first time she saw me. I sat there, quietly ashamed of the tirade on myself that I had just subjected her to a few minutes before.

You see, I’ve never seen myself as some “grand” person, wanting to be with the “in” crowd or fitting in. When I was a child I learned the hard way that I was too different to blend in, and honestly none of that has changed.  But in my quest to be “me” yet remain likable there were things about myself that I had started nitpicking at, all in an effort to “self-improve”. I think it had the opposite effect on me, as my heart and mind turned into a war zone. It was like a mental debate event where each side tries to prove that the other side is wrong.  I would look at things I didn’t like about myself and either criticize it in an effort to justify doing something about it (or to beat myself up over), or ignore or downplay GOOD things that others may mention that should make me feel better about who I am.

This ongoing mental war has had a profound effect on many aspects of my life. Whenever you tell yourself that there are limits on what you can achieve, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. I’ve told myself that I “didn’t belong” in certain circles, or in the company of certain individuals because I felt odd, and honestly I told myself that I didn’t have anything worthwhile to offer them. The discomfort in breaking away from these self-imposed limits has made the mental debate now a center-stage event, as now I fight consciously against the limiting lies I’ve fed myself for years. I would look at my background (my family, etc) and my personal past and automatically disqualify myself from levels of success that I’ve never experienced before.

Being genuinely happy for others’ success has always been the fuel to my fire. Others’ hurts and celebrations always became mine because of my high level of empathy and caring for others. But here are some questions I’ve had to ask myself lately: What about my opinions on things? How do I truly feel? What about my desires and wants? Do I know what those are, or have I talked myself into saying “Whatever makes (others) happy, makes me happy.” Is that REALLY TRUE???

After my marriage failed, I purposely pushed the world away from me for a couple years in an effort to reconnect with my inner voice. I’d forgotten what I sounded like. Before that period of self-imposed isolation & reflection, there were always people calling to offer unsolicited advice or to rehash the last 3 things my ex-spouse did or said before I moved out. After a while, I realized that the baggage others were placing on me prevented me from living my new life on my terms. I even had people trying to get me to reconnect with an ex-boyfriend after they heard that my marriage had ended! (Really???) Living my life on my terms is in no way meant to minimize my personal relationship with Jesus Christ. It’s just that I loved Jesus and I loved others but did not love ME enough! I felt that others were more important than me, that their desires and opinions were more important than mine – even if they affected the quality of my life. I gave in to demanding friends and their requests. There were no boundaries. My phone rang any time of the day or night and I answered it, fully anticipating the draining conversation I was about to have.

The pain of burying my heart’s dreams and desires continued for years after until I was tired of living vicariously through everyone else. I decided to step out and go after one dream at a time, one day at a time. Some of my desires I kept to myself because others became so used to me “being there” that I saw the uselessness of informing them that things were about to change – until they changed! I published my first book in 2011, and when that happened, I started to see flickers of who I am on the inside. As I read reader reviews and as people stopped to tell me how they were impacted by its contents, it was difficult to receive at first. After a while, I graciously accepted their compliments with a simple “Thank you”.

Graduating with my MBA was definitely a HUGE life-goal for me, one that I felt to give up on many times. As I walked across the stage with my head held high, I realized that there was so much in me that was yet untapped or untouched. Even with that enormous highlight, the mental wars continued.

Now I am at the threshold of another series of changes and challenges, and I’m facing myself and saying “STOP! You CAN’T keep pushing success away just because it’s different from everything you’ve always known!” So I’m saying this to you as well. STOP saying you can’t be a success. Don’t ever say you don’t deserve recognition for a job well-done or for achieving a life goal. NEVER embrace staying where you are because it’s safe, or because that’s what others expect of you.

Expect MORE! Be MORE! Live your life passionately and to the fullest! You are unique, so your life-story is yours to tell. It won’t sound exactly like anyone else’s, and no-one else is more qualified to tell your story than YOU are. If you have a passion, a dream, a desire – GO AFTER IT!

I’m thankful to be surrounded by my great cloud of witnesses. They’re in the form of friends (who are also pursuing greatness) and mentors. My Dad is one of my main cheerleaders, and I’m thankful for that.

Find friends who are also pushing to live productive lives. You can encourage each other as you go. Allow people to offer sincere compliments to you. ACCEPT them as well! You’ve worked hard, so you deserve it!

3D book cover - imlailh

Proudly being hooded Sept 23 2012

“There’s more to come, ’cause I’m not done!” ~Michelle Cameron. How about YOU?

Pursuing What Counts in 2013

This blog was first launched on December 29, 2010. Two years of triumphs and tragedies have passed since then, and I am thankful that I am still here to share this special moment with you – the end of yet another year.

We’ve seen significant changes financially, spiritually, socially, in politics, and in our communities all around us. We’ve buried many children due to violence, like the recent Sandy Hook Elementary School horror in Newtown, Connecticut (USA) and Trayvon Martin’s untimely death in Florida. Some cities like Chicago, Illinois (USA) have buried over 500 people in 2012 due to violence alone. Wars have erupted in the Middle East and in other world regions as governments and regimes fight for various rights or privileges. People crush each other any moment they get a chance (on social media, in the workplace) because of the fierce competition that is now ensuing.

What about our futures? What type of world are we creating for the generations coming up behind us? Are we proud to show our children how materialistic we’ve become? Is having all the latest gadgets, clothes, shoes and cars the only way to show that we’re “really living”? Do we make the effort to extend ourselves to help others, or are we content with the “us four, no more” mentality?

When we are at work, can anyone say that we genuinely care about their well-being, even if we are managers? Or is self-preservation the name of the game?

What about our church circles? The shame and embarrassment seems unending when news is broadcasted about our issues. Are we willing at all to step aside and allow God to take full control of our private appetites so they do not boil over and become public disgraces?

We need a revival of our souls. We are thirsty and are reaching for things that will never satisfy us!

2 Chronicles 7: 14 – 15 (NKJV, Holy Bible) states:
“….if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 15 Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to prayer made in this place.”

I have such a spiritual hunger and thirst deep within me now that I cannot truly explain. I’m at a place in my life now where dressing in the latest labels and designs are a nice-to-have and is not required. Driving the latest model car means nothing to me now; I’ve done that twice before. Living in the “right” zip-code means very little; I’ve done that before too. What I NEED, more than anything else, is more of GOD. He speaks to me in the small things and in the big things. His care is evident. His love is precious. He speaks to my soul in ways I cannot describe adequately. Dreams, desires and ministries are birthed when we submit our lives into His hands.

As we embark on a new journey that begins in just a few hours (less than 12 hours), let us stop the busyness, step away from our electronic devices for some time and give God our undivided attention. He longs to commune with us. His presence gives us unexplainable peace of mind. His presence brings divine revelations on how to proceed in our lives. His love envelops us and heals us of past hurts and disappointments. These are not just cute sayings; these are REAL results when we stay and pray. Meditation on the Bible is vitally important in growing and developing us as living examples. Reading biblically-grounded books help as well. Take notes as you meditate, read and reflect. Allow God to push you into your next place of blessing (or testing).

I want to worship God with ALL my heart, mind, soul and spirit. I want to worship Him as I approach a new year with new challenges and new blessings.

Will you join me?

I wish a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous 2013 to you and your families!

11 More to Go….

Can you believe that January is FINISHED??? Didn’t we just wish each other “Happy New Year”?

So what do you have to show for the last four weeks? Did you make any progress toward your goals? Remember, the months are all going to fly by just like this one did, so make the most of every moment. Don’t waste a day worrying about anything you cannot change or over which you have no control.

We still have eleven months to make a difference!!! Let’s do it!

Transitions

I sense a change in my life-situation now. People are drawing close, others are drifting away and things are definitely changing. Changing for the good, is what I believe. It may not FEEL good, but I know it is for my good.

As fear leaves (because fear hinders growth), I feel myself stretching to attain what others dare to say I cannot do. I know I need to press forward in the areas that need development. I won’t list them here, but I know everyone can relate to this.

More on this later……

The Naked Truth (Sept 2009)

For many years I have struggled with loving who I am and fully embracing my unique personality. I have heard many descriptive words, but being misunderstood (or misinterpreted) must be ranked first on the list.

Today as I prepared to go to church I realized this:

1. Wishing you were someone else means you are assuming that God made a mistake when He created you.

2. When you see others’ lives and wish yours were something like theirs, you would need to see the entire  story first. You may not want what they have after learning the entire story.

3. If you are just like everyone else, that would make your existence unnecessary.

4. God created all of us to fill in a niche that no-one else can. That fact was demonstrated clearly to me when I attended a cafe spot recently. As various audience participants walked up to advertise whatever show/event/initiative they were promoting, it was interesting to note that no-one’s event was exactly the same as the other person’s. Each had a different angle; each person was tapping into the gifts and passionate pursuits that God had placed within them. For example, if 2 people did poetry, one was more thought-penetrating or funnier than the other. If 3 groups sang, all had a different sound.

If I am so different that many people shake their head in wonderment as I pass by, then God must have very interesting plans up ahead – just for me!

 

Thank you GOD!

 

Your Motivation – Your Purpose

Have you ever been asked questions (implied and direct) on the reasons for what you do?

“Who are you, anyway?”

“Are you just like everyone else, seeking popularity?”

“Are you just gifted or is there more behind the gifts?”

Continue reading “Your Motivation – Your Purpose”