A llst for Clemmie Telford - The Mother of all lists . See the original post here
- I’ve always been unbelievably hard on myself.
Even from the age of 8 I remember internally berating myself when I was bullied, believing it was something ‘wrong’ with me and willing myself to be different to be liked.
I always felt like I wasn’t enough and everything in my life reflected that.
I over-achieved, thinking if I did enough on the outside how I felt on the inside would change – straight A’s, 1st class degree, landed a competitive graduate scheme at a prestigious brand.
In my early 20’s I pushed myself working way too hard, staying in jobs I hated, saying yes when I meant no.
I was driven by fear.
I was expert at avoiding myself, keeping busy all the time and creating mini-dramas to keep the focus off having to look at myself.
I was massive people pleaser – I thought what other people wanted was more important than what I wanted.
I punished my body with an unkind mix of too much cheap wine, white carbs, sugar and stress.
I spoke to myself in a way I wouldn’t talk to my worst enemy. I was anxious and totally unsure of myself.
I was miserable – everything looked great on the outside but inside I was a mess.
When I was 24 a huge family crisis forced me to look within (and I’m bloody grateful for that crisis today, hands down the best thing that ever happened to me, but at the time it was horrific).
I joined a 12 step recovery group called Al Anon, went to therapy and decided to do everything I could to work on my relationship with myself.
I wanted to be truly happy, to like myself and learn to loosen up and actually enjoy life.
When I learnt to be with myself, I saw how most the time I was acting as if I hated myself.
It was quite shocking.
I started to understand why I was so hard on myself.
I did the sometimes painful work to look at my patterns and conditioning.
I came to understand why I found it so hard to be my own cheerleader, give myself a break and believe in myself.
I came to see how I was lost inside, I had no idea who I was or what I really wanted (beyond what society told me I ‘should’ want), so I was chasing something ‘out there’ to make me feel better (jobs, success, clothes, boyfriends, stuff).
THAT DOESN’T WORK.
I realised I had to learn to be kinder to myself, to love myself (was that even possible?) if I was going to create the joyful, free, happy life I so badly wanted.
I had to accept that only I could do that work and no amount of the right job, the right man or the right friends would fix what was an inside problem.
I became pretty obsessed with my healing, recovery and inner life.
It fascinated me, lit me up and made me feel so hopeful and excited about the future.
I read about 500+ books on self development, spirituality and psychology and went to 1000’s of recovery meetings.
I was a bit obsessed.
It was all I’d all talk about for a while (sorry friends).
I learnt that I had pretty wonky view of life and that my beliefs about life (there’s not enough of anything, life is scary, the worse is likely to happen etc) weren’t serving me.
I learnt I was biased towards negativity, lack and fear and this is what I needed to change.
I started to change my inner dialogue using meditation to get to know the negative chatter and then affirmations to replace some of the harsh internal words when l caught them.
I found that 99% of what I was saying to myself was harsh and untrue
I learnt I was a perfectionist and held myself (and others) to impossibly high standards.
I learned how I had a need to control people and events in my life to feel safe, which was an exhausting way to live.
I wrote down the things I believed about myself – some of the big ones were: I wasn’t good enough, deep down I was flawed, I needed a big, successful career to feel acceptable, I would never be truly happy. There were many more.
I started to look for evidence that the opposite was true and I found loads.
I started focusing on what I liked about myself, what I was grateful for and what I’d like more of in my life.
I accepted myself, exactly as I was. I started to accept others exactly as they were. All my relationships improved.
I allowed myself for the first time ever to dream, to start to explore what really made me feel alive and happy (Spoiler: it wasn’t becoming CEO in the city as my previous self believed…).
I started being kinder to my body, reading every positive nutrition book I could get my hands on.
I started to eat like I loved myself (even when I had to fake it to make it).
I stopped drinking (I haven’t drunk for 5 years now) as I saw that it wasn’t serving me.
In fact, everything that wasn’t good for me dropped away.
That was really scary at first.
Still is sometimes.
I started to see myself as a real, imperfect, struggling woman trying her best.
My shoulders dropped 5 inches and I started to smile more.
I had weekly talking therapy (it’s been 10 years now and I’ve had every kind out there) went on retreats and started looking after myself like I was the precious, wonderful human I am.
I’ve developed a deep trust in life and I’ve learnt to go with flow and enjoy it all.
I don’t suffer with worry, fear, anxiety, negativity, depression much anymore and when that thinking comes back I have a set of tools that put me back on an even keel (meditation, yoga, therapy, recovery meetings, journaling and sleep in case you’re interested).
But my inner-kindness journey continues, daily.
I feel really lucky that I was forced to work on myself from a relatively young age and that a result I’ve totally transformed the trajectory of my life.
I think I would have ended up with severe depression, anxiety, illness, going through the motions of life ticking boxes, stuck in the ‘shoulds.’
From being kinder to myself I’ve now married a lovely guy, had a baby and started a new career which is my absolute passion (I trained as a coach and meditation teacher).
I’ve learnt that self kindness often isn’t the easy thing.
Sometimes the hardest thing in the world is sticking to my promise to be kind to myself no matter what.
Refusing to let guilt consume me.
Resting without the weight on my chest of what I ‘should’ be doing.
Saying ‘no’ when the people pleaser in me screams at me to say ‘yes.’
Letting go of control, perfection and I how I think things ‘should’ be.
Constantly challenging my thoughts about myself.
It’s a daily practice that I’m committed to.
Even more so now I’m a mum, when I’m kind to myself i’m a much better parent.
Setting and holding boundaries are still a work in progress for me.
But today I know I’m doing the best I can.
I’m more than kind to myself today, I think I actually *love* myself (still feels odd writing that).
I see so many of us mums being so unkind to ourselves.
Pushing harder, feeling guilty, feeling unworthy, full of fear, going through the motions, stressed and overwhelmed.
At the end of my podcast (The Motherkind Podcast, check it out – sorry shameless plug) I always ask my guests the same question ‘what gift would you give to all the mums in the world and why?’.
My answer would be self-kindness.
I would give every mum out there the ability to give themselves a break, to realise how perfectly imperfect we all are and how we’re all just doing our best.
If I could say one thing to you it would be to do the inner work, it’s tough but trust me will be the best thing you ever do, find your true self, make the tough choices, love the real you, cherish her and most of all, be kind to her.