Many times in the past, I have wondered if I could handle someone telling me, “Michelle, you look like you’re gaining weight. Are you okay with that? Is there something going on?” What about a similar question: “Michelle, you’re getting pretty thin. Are you okay with that? Is there something going on?” Could I handle those comments?
The answer is yes. I can. People have given me enough negative comments over the years that now I know I can deal with the pang of criticism. The pain goes away. I can withstand that. I would rather hear something—anything—that could steer me in a healthy direction; I would rather a stinging comment lodge itself in my head than have nothing tugging at me as I head down an unhealthy road. The criticism may not save me at the time it is given., but it could very likely come to mind later, when I lack clarity and am open for change.
I’m finally getting old enough that I recognize emotions when they pop up. When I feel the pain of a criticism or a deep sadness rises to the surface, they aren’t foreign, strange visitors anymore. I don’t look around, bewildered, wondering what to do with those feelings. I feel them. I recognize them. I name them.
I talk to them, and they fade away. They may bring things for me to think about. They may lead me toward some action. But the feeling fades. And I am not afraid of them anymore.
These are the lessons for today:
- Feel your emotions and remember them. Eventually, you will have enough victories dealing with emotions that you will feel secure and not completely overwhelmed every time you feel them. (And if you feel overwhelmed, you will one day firmly know that overwhelming states pass as well and that you can find treasures inside those moments.)
- Be lovingly honest with people. Don’t shy away from telling people your concerns if you have them. Any words of encouragement, even if something that could potentially sting must be included in the statement, are better than no words at all when someone truly is in need. But please, choose your words in love—don’t take so long in choosing that you say nothing—but choose loving language.