I’ve been reflecting on the past year, thinking about things I accomplished, what I failed at and learned from, and how I grew and evolved. There are some things from 2021 I’m working on leaving behind, and a few things I learned last year that I’m taking with me as I move on to this new year. I want to share those things with you and encourage you to take them with you into 2022.
First, I’m leaving behind judgement and I’m taking with me Curiosity. Curiosity is “a desire to know or learn.” There’s a quote, some say by Walt Whitman but I’m going to credit Ted Lasso, it goes,
Let’s talk about how you can apply this to both yourself and others.
Have you ever had an idea but immediately talked yourself out of it? Or you wanted to know more about something but you didn’t look into it? Why is that? Sometimes we girls add a judgement filter to our thoughts. As soon as an idea pops in our head, it’s like we’ve already decided it’s no-good and immediately we dismiss it without even giving it a chance. Why are you shutting down your ideas? Why are you holding yourself back? I know there’s more out there that you want to know.
If you have a question or idea or lightbulb moment, I want you to grab on to it and pursue it. Be curious to learn more about who you are, your interests and abilities, about people and cultures, about animals and ecosystems, about science and technology, about history and the future, about how things work or why they didn’t. Ask questions and find out. And then, when you get your answer, be curious again and ask another question.
Raise your hand, girl. Speak up. Research. Experiment. Share what you learn. Keep asking questions, finding out, and being curious.
You can show curiosity toward other people, too. Be honest – have you ever judged someone because of their looks, clothes, friends, beliefs, or choices? I’ll admit, I have. That same judgement filter I mentioned, it makes assumptions about others, it’s like we’ve already decided they’re no-good and immediately we dismiss them without even giving them a chance. I experienced both sides of this in school and as an adult, and frankly it’s unfair and judgemental and prevents us from understanding and connecting with each other. When I made assumptions about someone, and then learned more about them and listened to them, I realized my judgments were inaccurate, based on incomplete information, and I was wrong about them. Don’t assume you know everything that’s going on; be curious. There’s always more to know about someone and something. Remember, curiosity is “a desire to know or learn.”
This year, leave behind judging yourself and others, and take with you curiosity.
Next, I’m leaving behind criticism and I’m taking with me Compassion. I learned a lot about it this year, specifically self-compassion, from Dr. Kristin Neff, a psychologist and expert on the subject. Self-compassion is simply treating yourself the same way you’d treat a good friend. For example, if your friend made a mistake, you wouldn’t criticize her and point out all of the things she did wrong (probably wouldn’t be friends anymore). You would offer kindness and support. You’d remind her that it’s ok to make mistakes, that she’s human and not expected to be perfect. You’d acknowledge her disappointment and be mindful of her feelings.
We tend to be better at offering compassion to friends and sometimes even strangers. For some reason though, we are more harsh with ourselves. I’m not sure why, or if there’s even a good reason. You deserve care from you, too.
Give yourself kindness and support. Remember it’s ok for you to make mistakes, too, that you’re human, too, and not perfect. Acknowledge your disappointment, and be mindful of your feelings as you process them. Kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness – those are the three elements of self-compassion.
This year, when you forget something, bomb a test, say something you regret, don’t make a team, or epically fail, leave behind criticism, treat yourself like a good friend, and give yourself compassion.
Lastly, I’m leaving behind doubt, and I’m taking with me Confidence. This means more than having self-esteem. Confidence is belief in and trust in yourself. Sometimes thoughts creep in and fill your head with doubts. Remember in ep.001, the negative self-talk that says you aren’t enough, and uses words like not, don’t, won’t, can’t, never, or always in a bad way. Those are doubts, and they chase away confidence.
Doubt is often paired with comparison. Again, keeping with the theme of not enough, comparison says you need to be more this and less that to be noticed, accepted, loved, and worthy. U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” When we measure ourselves against others, it doesn’t ever help us. Comparison will only lead to more doubt, envy, inadequacy, and wrongly thinking you’re not enough as you are.
Side note: social media constantly bombards you with comparison traps. If certain accounts/channels/friends cause comparison to creep in, you need to mute or unfollow or unsubscribe from them, like now. The way to get out of a comparison trap is acceptance, which is part confidence and part compassion. Acceptance is embracing who you are, and who you aren’t, and loving yourself for it.
You don’t need doubt in your life, you don’t have time for that, you have things you gotta do – because you ARE enough. Call out the doubts and remind them who you are by using confidence, using positive self-talk like I am, I do, I will, I can, I might, or YET.
Believe in yourself. Trust in yourself. Accept yourself. Leave behind doubt and have confidence in yourself.
So to recap, I want you to leave behind judgment, criticism, and doubt, and take with you curiosity, compassion, and confidence.
To help you remember those ALL year long, I created a poster that you can print out, personalize, and post on your wall where you’ll see it, remember it, practice it, and believe it — that’s the important part.
A few books that illustrate curiosity, compassion, and confidence are
What Do You Do With an Idea? By Kobi Yamada
I am Love, by Susan Verde
A Little SPOT of Confidence, by Diane Alber
And if you have favorites to add to this list, or have a topic suggestion, I’d love to hear from you! Send an email (tweens get the OK from your parents) to hello@EmpowerfulGirls.com .
And if you have social media already, follow me on Insta or tiktok @empowerfulgirls. I’m not encouraging or endorsing social media, I’m on there to offer an uplifting alternative to what’s in your feed. 😉
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