I am a middle-aged woman and I am my harshest critic. There, I’ve said it. My half-century of living is rapidly approaching and that auspicious occasion has been an excuse to evaluate some of the behaviour traits I still persist with.
~ I am using this photo to illustrate point one ~
Here’s five behaviours that should have been binned by the time I was in my late 20s.
- Criticising every photo of myself. This one is a hard habit to break. I should be able to look of photos of myself from over the years and see the progress of someone who has lived a full and interesting life. I shouldn’t notice that my teeth were horrible/braces are not flattering.
- Deflecting compliments. I began my working life in the British military during an era of what is now recognised as one of blatant sexism and harassment. I soon built a wall to deflect anything coming my way. I was good at a smart-mouthed riposte and wasn’t above reverting to an expletive or two if I felt it necessary. These days, if told I look nice, I do my best to say thank you, instead of becoming automatically defensive. It’s a work in progress.
- Comparing myself to others. I grew up in a family where it was clear that I was not my grandmother’s favourite. I was always compared unfavourably to those who were and I learned to try and not be upset by it. But those early criticisms and bewilderments are hard to forget and still shape how I see myself. Mark Twain was correct when he said, “comparison is the death of joy”.
- Saying ‘Yes’ when I actually mean ‘No’. Life is short and, as someone facing fewer tomorrows that I have yesterdays, it suddenly seems a lot shorter. In 2018, I am capable of saying ‘yes’ to an evening in my pjs, a cuppa and an episode of The Bridge over a ‘yes’-but-I-mean-‘no’ to the annual purgatory of the PTA’s Quiz Night.
- Holding onto a friendship that doesn’t bring me joy. Friendships are a choice and my circle of friends is now made up of those people who don’t judge me, love me and all my flaws and ask for nothing is return. Gone are those who made me feel inadequate, inferior and somehow, just less. It was strangely liberating.