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"working hard"

Posted Sep 03 2009 1:59pm

Here's something related to the idea of tolerance, so I thought it'd be good to bring it up: working hard on ourselves and what that means.


Just like the word Tolerance, people develop narrow definitions, and particular feelings about, the term "working on ourselves." 

When I talk to someone about what it means to work on herself and if she feels like she is working on herself, usually she'll come up with an idealistic, perfectionistic vision of what working on herself is "supposed" to look like. I'm not even sure I can describe what her version looks like (mostly because she can't either! She only "knows" that it means to be "pushing" herself really, really hard). What I can say is that the version doesn't usually include things like rest or paying attention to what she really might want or need.

Her version is something like all out sprinting- going full out without ever letting up and just wearing yourself out by the end of a brief period of time- it's like she feels that doing this would "prove" she's working hard enough or doing it "right" or something...

We should really explore what working on ourselves is and how it truly looks. I was talking to someone the other day who had this exact "sprinting" mentality about working on herself- and because of this she wasn't recognizing all the ways she actually was working (and quite successfully I might add!) on herself.

I think we need a list (haven't had one in SO long...), so here's "7 Things Working on Ourselves Could Look Like"
1. noticing what we feel like in any given moment
2. having that last bite of bagel even though we don't want to
3. calling a friend when we feel lonely, instead of hiding and reinforcing our belief that "no one wants" us to call
4. ending a run/walk/whatever 25 seconds early if we feel like it in the moment, or if our legs have just had it for the day (this one is for those of you who should be moving around in the first place! Not for those of you who for whom working on yourselves means you need to NOT move around these days)
5. telling the truth about what movie you'd like to see tonight, instead of "sucking it up" and "not having an opinion" when your friend asks "hey, what do you want to see?"
6. acknowledging that you are human, and therefore regular just like the rest of us
7.trying something new just because you've thought it sounded fun
8. doing something totally frivolous, just because you can.

Oops, that's 8. But I could go on and on with this list because working on ourselves really has infinite possibilities. The bottom line for the idea is "doing what we need to do right at this moment to further our evolution in relationship with ourselves." How's that for a basic definition?? It's totally off the top of my head, so I'm not pretending it's the end all be all definition... but it's not bad. You guys can add others- we can come up with some cool Bumper Sticker of The Week ideas I bet :)

Oh, one other thought for now- what constitutes working on ourselves is a dynamic, ever-changing thing, AND it can differ for all of us. Just as an example, for one person, telling the truth about what movie she wants to see may not be a big deal at all, or it may only be a challenge with certain friends, or only a challenge for some kinds of movies, or only randomly. And (because you knew you wouldn't get away without a scrupulously honest reminder!!!) here's where we have to be honest with ourselves. We have to tell ourselves the truth (which, of course, is working on ourselves) about what we really need to challenge ourselves to do in any particular situation. And it doesn't mean that working on ourselves has to be hard all the time (in fact, when we get good at it, a lot of the time we're in maitenance mode, where we simply keep doing what we've learned is right for us)- it just has to be what we need.
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