Everybody struggles with self-acceptance. It’s hard not to base our self-acceptance on how much others accept us. The problem is, “What do we do when others don’t accept us?” Changing to conform to other people’s expectations is never ending; you will please one group and gain the disrespect of others who see you as caving. It’s hard enough to accept yourself, much less please others!
In this interview Jean struggles to not let the attitudes of others define her own self-image and her own self-worth.
What life issue are you dealing with now in your life?
I went through a nasty divorce after my husband discovered that I had multiple affairs over the years. He tried to destroy my career and alienate my son and my brothers. He succeeded in part. I still get anonymous harsh, brutal, ugly hate mail from at least one person who must really identify with my x – we’ll call him Ralph – and who is clearly threatened by me and what happened. Maybe the same thing happened to that guy – I don’t know. In any case, all this brings up a lot of emotions in me. I am very sorry that things happened in a way that hurt Ralph. While blaming people, playing the victim, and sending anonymous attacking emails, even if they contain some truth, are not my style, it still gets to me some. Maybe it’s because I want everyone to like me and think well of me. Maybe it’s because it brings up feelings of regret and remorse in me. At any rate, I know that it’s not about me at this point, but emotionally it still is. I know it’s not about anyone else because when I think about it I’m having a dialogue with myself. No one is around giving me grief, just me tormenting myself, even though I know it is a waste of time and energy.
If those feelings had a color (or colors), what would it be?
Imagine that color filling the space in front of you so that it has depth, height, width, and aliveness.
Now watch that color swirl, congeal, and condense into a shape. Don’t make it take a shape, just watch it and say the first thing that you see or that comes to your mind: An animal? Object? Plant? What?
I see a rather stupid looking frog. Maybe he’s a toad.
Frog-Toad, would you please tell me about yourself and what you are doing?
I am a toad, I’m female, and my name is Drucilla. I can go without water for a long time. I can migrate across land. We toads are a hearty bunch. Right now I am in reeds by a lake, eating mosquitos. Yum.
What do you like most about yourself? What are your strengths?
I am adaptable and I don’t complain. The world is an abundant place. There is plenty to eat, many other toads, and many great places to visit.
What do you dislike most about yourself? Do you have weaknesses? What are they?
None that I can think of. Some people think I’m ugly or nasty to touch, but whose problem is that?
Drucilla, you are in Jean’s life experience, correct? She created you, right? What aspect of Jean do you represent or most closely personify?
The independent, socially unacceptable, adaptable, content part.
Drucilla, if you could be anywhere you wanted to be and take any form you desired, would you change? If so, how?
Nope. I’d stay who and what I am. I’m not here to live up to anyone’s expectations of beauty or good behavior. If others don’t like the way I croak they don’t have to listen.
(Continue, answering as the transformed object, if it chose to change.)
Drucilla, how would you score yourself 0-10, in each of the following six qualities: confidence, compassion, wisdom, acceptance, inner peace, and witnessing? Why?
Confidence: 10 What’s there not to be confident about?
Compassion: ? What’s that? I’m not a vicious toad, but I’m not selfless, either. I respect others, in that I don’t go looking for fights, and I respect myself.
Wisdom: 8 I’ve been around. I know some things about life and the world.
Inner Peace: 10
Witnessing: 8 I am pretty engaged in life, but I don’t take it personally.
Drucilla, if you scored tens in all six of these qualities, would you be different? If so, how?
I don’t know. I feel very in balance with my world and my life. I can’t imagine how things would be different.
How would Jean’s life be different if she naturally scored like you do in all six of these qualities all the time?
Things wouldn’t bother her. She wouldn’t care what other toads or people thought about her. It wouldn’t matter. It wouldn’t be any of her business.
If you could live Jean’s life for her, how would you live it differently?
I would live my life to its fullest and not worry about whether other people were doing the same or not. I wouldn’t worry about what society or others thought about me. How will that make anything better? Just focus on living life!
If you could live Jean’s waking life for her today, would you handle Jean’s life issue differently? If so, how?
It wouldn’t concern me at all. That’s the best way to deal with people in drama – make them and their dramas irrelevant.
What life issues would you focus on if you were in charge of Jean’s life?
Live now! You can’t change the past. You can’t change what people think of you. All you can do is be yourself right now. What else is there to do??
In what life situations would it be most beneficial for Jean to imagine that she is you and act as you would?
When she gets hate mail or thinks about what it says or about the past in a regretful way. Just be me, sitting in the reeds catching mosquitos near a lake. Feel the sun and the wind. Feel the abundance of life. Know it’s all good.
Character, do you do drama? If not, why not?
No. I don’t have time for it.
What is your secret for staying out of drama?
Being in the now.
Why do you think that you are in Jean’s life?
To give her a better way to deal with drama.
How is Jean most likely to ignore what you are saying to her?
She may think being a toad catching mosquitos is stupid. She may forget to become me.
What would you recommend that she do about that?
Drop value judgments, be me, and see what happens. She can read over this interview to remind her that I’m here and real.
Jean, what have you heard yourself say?
There is a part of me that lives in the here and now. It is adaptable and experiences life as abundant. It doesn’t do drama. It is not the most high-scoring self-aspect I’ve met, but it is very healthy and does not get stuck in the past or with regrets the way I sometimes do. I admire this toad.
If this experience were a wake-up call from your soul, what do you think it would be saying to you?
There’s always going to be people who don’t like me or who want to make me bad or wrong. There’s always going to be stuff that hurts or that I don’t like. So what? Just shrug it off and catch another mosquito…
How would YOUR life be different if you lived it with Drucilla’s approach? What excuses do you give yourself for not trying it out? That you’re not a toad? That this is all just imagination and your problems are real world stuff? Realize that your reasons/excuses/rationalizations serve the purpose of keeping you stuck in the comfort of the status quo so you don’t have to change. Change means rethinking basic assumptions about who you are, why you are who you are, and how best to relate to others, the world, and most importantly, yourself. However, the question is not whether change is hard or easy, but whether it is worth it or not. There are few activities more worthwhile than rethinking the assumptions that keep you stuck in misery. What assumptions block your growth? What are you doing to rethink them? Share them with us!