Hissy Fit - May 2021 - Others, Yes: Me, No
...because everyone needs one every once in awhile
May 2021 Issue
by Elizabeth Skenes Millen
I have always been dependable, so much so, I won Most Dependable in the 7th grade, and every year after. I was taught that if you say you’re going to do something, you need to follow through. I never took commitment lightly. If I agreed to wear a dress to school (remember how we called our friends and we would all agree to wear dresseson the same day?), then by golly I had a dress on. If I held an office in a club, I did my duty to the fullest extent. In other words, my reputation was stellar in that people could count on me just like the sun coming up.
However, as dependable and trustworthy as I was (and still am) for others, there was one person I let down over and over again…me. I was talking to my life coach many years ago and she just came right out and said it: “Elizabeth, you have lost your reputation with yourself.”
What an eye opener…a rude awakening. How dare her. Didn’t she know how dependable I was? Hadn’t I, in fact, shown her my calculable characteristics by never missing a session? What was she talking about? I don’t let people down!
“You don’t do what you tell yourself you’re going to do, Sweetie,” she continued, as if calling me Sweetie would somehow soften the blow. I can still feel the sting. All my life, I was nothing if not dependable, and she had just stolen that from me.
Well, not exactly.
I took her words and allowed them to browbeat my brain for weeks (maybe even years since I’m still thinking and writing about it). But that’s what needed to happen. I needed to ponder those words and let the sting seep deep into my thoughts. After all, admitting you have a problem is the first step to solving it. Lo and behold, I did, and do, have a problem. I set intentions with no intention of keeping them.
Let take a walk down memory lane to recap a few of my lapses:
I’m going to get up early in the morning and go to the gym.
I’m not going to eat any sugar today.
I’m going to get to the office by 8:00.
I’m only going to have one drink and be home by 7:00.
I’m not having dessert.
I’m not going to spend over $50.
I’m going to clean my closet out this Saturday.
I’m going to wash my face every night before bed.
I’m going to church this Sunday.
I’m going to start writing long before deadline.
I’m only going to be on social media 10 minutes this time.
The list can go on and on. These very common tasks are empty promises I make to myself over and over again. I’ve done it for so long, I have no problem blowing off any one of them without a second thought. Except, that’s not true. This back and forth battle in my brain requires energy to sustain, and it’s exhausting. Beyond that, the worst consequence is never believing yourself and not even expecting any result other than negative. There it is…a complete loss of reputation with my own damn self.
All of this self-reputation stuff is fresh again for me because I have made some intentional changes lately, and it feels good. For instance, I went to a wine tasting at Roller’s recently with a group of friends. It was from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. I told myself I wanted to be home by 7:30, which is way out of character for me. But I did it! As I was about 15 minutes from home around 7:15, a feeling washed over me. It was pride. I was proud of myself, and I can’t explain the bolstered feeling of how pleased I was with myself; it felt like happiness.
It was definitely a step in the right direction—a win, and wins add up. Just like rebuilding trust with anyone after they have let you down, we have to rebuild trust with ourselves. It is harder than with others, though, because we can hear both sides of the conversation, meaning all the chatter running through our brains, such as: “Yeah, right.” “As if.” “You never do that.” “Who do you think you are?” The great news is we are the ones controlling both sides of our “brain” dialogue, and it only takes a few times of sticking to your word for your brain to be on your side. The negative self-talk fades once you prove to yourself you are trustworthy again.
I am slowly rebuilding my reputation with myself, and it is noticeable. I think my brain is rewarding me with dopamine or something because it feels good. I feel as though I’m coming together as a whole person. I like myself better when I follow through on things that are important to me, and it makes life easier, in better order. There is a sense of security when you can hold yourself accountable and know you will come through for yourself. After all, if you can’t believe yourself, who can you believe?
I have been dedicated to walking the beach at sunrise. I have made huge strides in getting organized—did you see the garage makeover? I finally went back to church. I cook at home more. I still have a long way to go, as it is press day, and I am banging out these words on the keyboard with mere minutes to spare, but I know each and every thing I do is a win towards believing in myself again. You can’t build Rome in a day, but you can get determined and start holding yourself accountable. Even if it’s tiny things, your brain gives you an A for effort, lights up for a checked box and keeps track with a mental “You did it!” list.
Now, enough of my shortcomings. Let’s focus on yours. (How dare me!)
What are you doing to lose your reputation with yourself?
And the bigger question: Are you ready to feel great about yourself again?
It's easy. Just keep your word to yourself,
and your reputation will be renewed in no time.