Language is complicated. We can’t police every word and thought in our head – we would never speak or have the confidence to generate our own thoughts.
What we can do, however, is slowly, gently, over time, shape and adjust the way we express our thoughts and feelings with language. It should take a lifetime. That’s what keeps it interesting.
Do you have a friend that delivers the most spectacular truth bombs at a time when you need it the most?
I am fortunate enough to say that I do. I actually am fortunate enough to say I have a few.
I have had one stunning human who has chosen to stay connected with me, chosen to remain in touch and share their life and their fears and their sadness and their joy with me for the better part of our lives.
I have been “schooled” by this friend many times over. I would like to share one learning I got from this friend that has stuck with me for about 5 years now.
It is not my place to be “proud” of you.
Think of how many times you’ve said this (me too!)
- “I am so proud of the way she handled herself in that debate”
- “I am so proud of you. You danced beautifully”
- “We are so proud of the award you received”
It is innocent. It comes from a lovely place and it is not a malicious or loaded compliment.
On this occassion I said I was proud of something a mutual friend had done.
My friend turned to me and told me that our friend is the only one who can be proud of what she has done.
It has stuck me for years and I have a feeling it is because I grew up seeking the pride of others. The respect of others. The validation of others. But in that one sentence, my friend cut all of that out of the picture to say to me “the only person you need to feel pride from is yourself.”
It relieved pressure that I had carried for years, that I didn’t realise I had. It removed a whole layer of conversation with my parents that I didn’t realise I was inserting. It communicated to me that so long as I felt “enough”, so long as I felt like I had put my whole into the thing at hand, that it didn’t particularly matter what anybody else felt about that.
That isn’t to say that when my family or friends tell me they are proud of me that I don’t feel good – of course I do! It tells me they see the hard work I put in. I’m not going to turn around and say to you “you don’t get to be proud of me. Only I get to be proud of me!!”
But ever since my friend said those words to me, it has adjusted the way I think about myself and my actions, it has reshaped how I approached things.
In one sentence my friend gave me permission to let go and just do the things that make me happy. It was permission I didn’t realise I was seeking and it came from such an unexpected place that it has nestled in and stuck with me for years.
It has taken me a number of years to actually start pursuing this without fear, guilt or worry. I am still working on it today. But I feel pretty damn good with how my inner dialogue is when I think about taking on a new challenge and why I am doing that.