From the time I was about 4 until around 9 years of age it felt like I couldn’t take a deep breath when I focused on taking one. The more I paid attention to it, the more difficult it became. The dynamics of my household at the time were that my mother was a stay-at-home mom, my dad a major in the Air Force, and my pretty sister, who was three years older than me, had an active scholastic and social existence that I measured myself against constantly.
My ‘breathing condition’ drove my family crazy, particularly my mother. As a result of this breathing ‘problem’ I required a lot of her attention. She was the one who tried to soothe me, who took me to the doctors repeatedly for EKGs to prove that my lungs and heart were just fine, and she was the one who slapped me out of frustration when the problem continued. I needed her attention because in this dynamic family, for whatever reason, I didn’t feel like I was enough.
At the time we all were totally ignorant about why this might be happening to me, and I don’t know what changed – either physically or emotionally – to eventually make it stop happening. I do know, however, even to this day, when I’m stressed I can sometimes still feel like I can’t take a deep breath.
Learning to know you’re enough starts early in childhood. Many who feel like they never quite live up to the expectations of their parents grow into a lifetime of putting their own needs and desires behind those of others. This happened to me.
As a wise adult, it is our opportunity to remind others, especially younger children that they matter just the way they are and that they bring so many special gifts into the world. We can do this by listening to them with rapt attention, by bursting into a bright smile when they enter the room, by letting them do things their way – without interference – and by encouraging them when their results don’t measure up to their own expectations or the expectations of others.
The Gift of Making Others Feel Worthy
Making others feel like they are worthy and enough is a tremendous gift that is priceless. Remember what it feels like to have someone acknowledge your tasks or merely your presence alone. If you yourself or someone you know feels less than, focusing on the positive is a good place to start to change. Time spent on appreciating compliments as opposed to wallowing in negative criticism is an indication of how we value ourselves.
Have you always felt like you were enough? If not, what did you do to reverse the emotional tide? How much time do you allow yourself to luxuriate in a compliment?
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