Isn’t this a fabulous quote?
It was a writing prompt in Kathy Kane’s inaugural Purple Ink Cafe Writers’ Circle, and so appropriate for those of us navigating the School of Love!
How can I get more comfortable with being who I am, and saying what I feel?
As I’ve gotten older, this task is a little less daunting than it once was. It’s been a long time coming, but it has finally dawned on me that I’m really not the focus of everyone’s attention. (Older women, by the way, can become virtually invisible—especially once you cross that great divide between ‘miss’ and ‘ma’m’!)
When we are teenagers, we have this self-consciousness that stems from the conviction that everyone is looking at us and judging us. The reality? Everyone else is so busy worrying about what others are thinking of them that they have very little time or energy to notice us.
This can be pretty obvious, too, in general conversations. How often do we really listen to what the other person is saying, right in the present moment, and absorb it? Frequently, we are forming our responses in our heads while the other person is still speaking. We miss the import of what they are saying, because we want to make our point or share our experience.
I get this mental image of two heads facing each other, with a mirror separating them. Each person’s words are bouncing back to the speaker, never penetrating the partition.
If we don’t believe we’re being heard, it’s hard to share our feelings. Feelings, after all, are messy things. Just going inside ourselves and sitting with them can make us feel pretty uncomfortable. Then to have to bring them to the surface and reveal them? Possibly to someone who may deflect them or disagree with them? Not easy.
But this is the curriculum in the School of Love—learning to identify and share our feelings, appropriately and at a proper volume.
Sometimes, we get a bit obsessed about the negative feelings that dwell beneath the surface, and forget that there are a lot of positive things down there as well. School of Love folks have the lifelong challenge of digging down, understanding what’s going on with our emotions, and then expressing them authentically and appropriately.
And when it gets scary, channel Dr. Seuss!