Inspiration Report

Guest Blog by Rona Cherry

One of my common forms of self-torture involves my staying with a “game plan.” 

Let’s say two things demand my attention. I deal with “Thing A” first. Soon, I’m haunted by all the reasons I should work on “Thing B instead.” So I abruptly switch gears and work on Thing
B, now hounded by an inner voice that says: “Why did you switch? You should have kept working on Thing A!”
I’m poking fun at myself, but believe me, when I’m in my vacillation mode it’s no fun at all. It’s torture.
We all torture ourselves. Maybe we eat too much. Or obsess about the future. Or live in the saddest parts of the past. We worry about everything from a cheating partner to terrorists bombing our neighborhoods. We scare ourselves to death–almost literally–because a life tyrannized by fear is a life in which we die a little every day.
When our fears grow loud, we have to silence them.

*Be your own “first line of support.”

* Focus on your breathing, blocking out your dire forecasts.

* Say a prayer.

* Or repeat this lovely reflection from Julian of Norwich, a holy woman of medieval England: “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things, shall be well.” As her soothing words find their way into your heart,the voices of doom will grow fainter.
Pollyannish? Try it, then decide. Whatever you do, be gentle with yourself.

A friend of mine was downsized about two years ago and hadn’t found a new job. She was broke, and friends who had always said, “Just let me know if you ever need a loan,” now found a reason to turn her down. To make matter worse, her marriage had fallen apart and her closest childhood friend had recently been diagnosed with a potentially terminal illness. Over coffee, she told me her story, choking back tears. She was overwhelmed and scared.
“What scares you most?” I asked. “Tell me the worst that could happen.” She spoke of never pulling out of her downward spiral. She was afraid things would go from bad to worse forever.
We talked about the real chances of that. Yes, she admitted, life had dealt her some hard blows, but the worst was probably over. As we talked, she affirmed that she was an intelligent, courageous woman-one with all the tools needed to survive–and rebuild.
When worst-case fears assail you–the loss of love, the inability to support yourself–ask yourself: How would I handle that? You may be surprised to hear your own effective action plan. The feeling will empower you.
Do self-affirming exercises, even if by rote at first; gradually your heart will come around. Accept yourself, imperfections and all. Remind yourself always that you are good. Do your best, and if you can’t muster the strength, accept it without self-judgment. That’s okay, too.
Thank God (or fate) for your circumstances – regardless of how you feel about them. Keep a gratitude notebook, adding five entries a day. Don’t look for “biggies”; they’re rare for all of us. Be grateful for a laugh you got from your favorite show. Be grateful for a cool room on a scorching summer afternoon. Your heart will lighten as you acknowledge good things.
Make a commitment to yourself this summer. Give yourself what you need–things that bring you joy and peace –the same good things you would happily give to others you love. We live and love to our full potential only after we make liars of our fears.

Rona Cherry was Editor-in-Chief of the award-winning publications Longevity, Fitness and Golf Digest Woman magazines. She was also Editor and Publisher of Love Magazine.

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