4.12.2011

The Best Me I Can Be

I had an eye-opening experience last night.

In an inadvertent way, I found out how someone in my husband's family views me (I'll give you a hint--it wasn't pretty).  Now, this really isn't anything new.  My battle to fit in with Cole's family has been constantly waging since we were married nearly 5 years ago.  What was so different this time was my reaction to it.

Usually I withdraw into my little depressed shell, hate myself a little, and wonder why I can't seem to figure out what I need to do to be accepted by Cole's brothers and his parents.*

*Disclaimer: I promise it's really not that terrible all the time.  There have been a few incidents that have been PRETTY bad on both sides, but usually it's just me reading too much into what is or isn't said to me at family gatherings.  I fully acknowledge that I have a flair for the dramatic.

This time, though, I thought a bit deeper before jumping into the depression whirlpool.

Anyone that knows me is aware that I can be very negative, caustic, and critical at times.  I'm not sure where it comes from; the rest of my family isn't really like that.  This has created a number of bigger problems in my life, including, but not limited to, my situation with my in-laws.  This aspect of my personality clashes with some of the members of Cole's family and causes the conflicts over which I spend so much time stressing.  It also has created massive insecurity, self-doubt, and low self-esteem (because I myself am usually the target of all my negativity and criticism) and a tendency to gossip.

Mostly, I'm the nastiest person in the world.

So, last night when I realized that my husband's family member (well, probably all of them, but there was only proof of one) saw this personality flaw of mine all too clearly, I was already starting the perpetual descent into depression when I had a thought that stopped me in my tracks.

Sunday it was my turn to do Sharing Time in Primary.  We were talking about Jesus being the perfect example, and I prepared a game for the kids called "If I were Jesus, what would I do?"  One of the situations was, "My friend started to say something bad about another friend, so I..."  The kids and I had a mini discussion about why saying mean things about others was wrong and that Jesus definitely wouldn't do it.

Last night, I realized I should have had a huge HYPOCRITE sign taped to my forehead during this conversation.  It was extremely humbling and thought-provoking.  I realized that I'm supposed to be an example to these sweet children in Primary.  Even more, I'm supposed to be an example to my OWN children.  I don't ever want them to think that it's okay to say unkind things about each other, their friends, their cousins, or anyone else as long as it's not to their faces.

My birthday is this Friday.  I'll be 26--closer to being 30 than 20.  I'm getting older, and the time for me to change my evil ways is diminishing.  So, I decided that I'm going to make a birthday resolution this year (since I never make New Years' resolutions).

Basically, I want to significantly reduce (if not eliminate altogether) the amount of time I spend criticizing others.

Since I'm like the Anakin Skywalker of gossip ("the force is strong with that one") I know it's not going to be easy.  My first impulse in most situations is to look for something negative.  So, if I find myself thinking a negative thought about someone else, I'm going to instead say out loud something positive about that person.  If I find myself wanting to gossip about another person, I'm going to say three positive things about that person instead.  I'm hoping that this will help overcome my impulse to always have something negative to say.

When I discussed all of this with Cole last night, he asked me why I wanted to blog about it since it's such a personal matter.  I told him that my desire to change wouldn't work if I wasn't accountable to someone.  By blogging about this resolution, I'm making myself accountable to anyone who reads this blog.  So, I'm asking a favor from each of you: if any of you hear me start to say something negative about someone else, I give you permission to remind me of this resolution in any way you see fit, even if it means punching me in the arm.

I think I found the reason for my being called to the Primary: the simple, straightforward teachings make it the best place for a stubborn, hardheaded soul like me to learn how to be the best person I can be.
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