Better Than Yesterday
“She Doesn’t Live Here Anymore”
Shanika asked for my thoughts on self-improvement. When anyone asks me that I invariably start with this. All improvement requires you to embrace what’s wrong with you.
Owning your weaknesses is not always an easy sell. It’s no fun to stare at the least of yourself but …
Do it anyway.
There is no shame in it. In fact, you actually need to get comfortable with it. You can’t fix something you are hiding from. But if you can look at where you’re weak without feeling embarrassed or ashamed then you’ll be able to pick apart what you do so you can figure how to do something else.
I have always thought that the easiest way to make others comfortable owning their weaknesses was to do it myself. So when I wrote my book, My Mother’s Rules back in 2007, I listed as many of my inadequacies that I could put my arms around. This is how it went:
I too much and I talk too fast and if I’m talking to someone who I think talks to slowly I will finish his sentences for them. I tend to look for the worst in everything and the best in every body. I bore quickly and spooked even faster. I have been known to get distracted by my own thoughts. I engage in worry as an art form and let the most mundane things unnerve me. Details can walk right by me and I’ll never even see them. I have no domestic abilities despite my ongoing and deliberate attempt to acquire them. I am a control freak and tend to suffer from all of the fears and power absorption that this trait often inspires.
My Mother’s Rules p. 19
The funny thing is as I look back on it now I realize that the woman I laid bare in my book doesn’t live here anymore. (Further supporting my contention that getting up close and personal with what’s wrong with you is the best way to be a better you.)
Of course, I am not perfect. In fact, I have a whole new list of things that I’m working on. But my new weaknesses are lower order inadequacies. I am better than I was. Which just goes to show
You can be true to yourself without
being glued to yourself.
Here’s what I realized the other day.
The woman who engaged in worry like it was an art form, while not gone, rarely gets a hearing anymore. She’s still there, to be sure, but when I see her coming, I can give the hand, “Bye, Felicia!”
The chick who couldn’t find a detail to save her life has been replaced with a grown woman who can decide to be focused and well-oriented when circumstances require and dog a detail with the best of them.
I can, again when focused, slow my speech and let others get to the end of their own sentences.
Most importantly, the little girl whose peace was in pieces all the time has simply grown out of it. Took her 50 years but she’s gone. I can find peace On the Regular. Not On the Always but On the Regular.
Still can’t cook. The only change there is I don’t care as much anymore. Kids are grown. Eric’s a big boy. I have nothing to prove.
Here’s my list of new weaknesses:
I over-mother sons #5 and #6 and (according to popular local opinion) the dog as well. I want things to work out. I tend to dip in when I should lean back. I understand that I drive my men a little crazy.
I have not seen nor do I know anything about the concept of moderation. I am either at dead stop or over-drive. I am either taking over the world or taking a nap. I am an exhausting woman to live with.
I still talk too much … I can curb that propensity when it’s brought to my attention, but otherwise I am all words all of the time.
Though I no longer engage in worry as an art form I do it far too often. I am pressed, stressed and under duress when there is no need for it at all.
I start things that I don’t finish. My life is a series of sentences that end with an ellipsis.
I am cheap. I can hold on to a dollar so hard it makes George Washington squeal.
So there it is, my first recommendation:
Don’t just put your best foot forward focus on the one dragging behind.
That way you know what needs fixing.
In Better Than Yesterday Part II
I’ll tell you a few things I use to help me improve.