By Dr. Steve
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the midst of winter, I discovered an invincible summer.
We will experience a shift in the relationship
we have with ourselves when we start healing
our insides rather than trying to change who
we are on the outside.
grandfather loved to tell us stories when we were growing up. He was one of those guys
that thought that everything should have a lesson to it and he was the one who was going
to teach us those lessons. Every story had a moral to it that he wanted us to learn, so he
would lecture us for hours on end after telling us one of his stories.
is a story he once told about a young girl who possessed great joy and beauty. She lived
on a small farm in a simple house. Several times a week she would go to town to buy food
for the family.
time she came to town people spoke to her. Her spirit had an unusual way of attracting
example, the woman who worked at the market often would say to her, My dear, your
eyes are so pretty today, they glimmer with a natural beauty. I was saying to Mrs. Hobbs
next-door just this morning, that you may soon catch a husband without ever enhancing your
eyes with shadow at all. Of course, can you imagine how much more attractive you might
appear to a man if you put on a beautiful shadow?
young girl would nod her appreciation and leave.
next time the girl would come to the market, the woman might comment on her hair. For
instance she would ask, Is it difficult to braid your hair? Your hair seems so
course and stained by the rays of the sun. I have noticed that the times you tie your hair
with a ribbon and bow, large curls form as it falls around your shoulders. I was thinking
that such conditions might make your hair unmanageable and difficult to control. Is that
really. I just let it be what it will be, the girl replied.
course you do, dear, said the woman. I imagine that will change when you want
to show the world who you really are. When you want more from life.
would it change? asked the girl.
you will want to be really beautiful! said the woman. Everyone knows that
beauty comes from appealing to what others want. When you are ready, come to my house,
then I will make you beautiful.
girl spent the evening thinking about what the woman from the market said to her. Never
before had she looked outside herself to find beauty, but what if there was a special
secret that she did not know. After all, she was still single and lived with her parents
while most of the women of the town had been married with homes of their own.
thinking about the market womans offer for several months, the girl finally relented
and went to the woman to ask that she make herself beautiful.
woman gathered all her friends and together they set out to make the girl beautiful. She
instructed her friends, Her hair has to be parted and pulled back tight.
it was decided to lace the girls hair with vines and dried flowers.
that the job was not just right, the woman added a small stuffed bird.
they went to work on her face. Now the instructions were, Her face should be painted
white with powder and then red on the cheeks to stimulate the golden rays of the sun.
Finally, we must cover her in perfume that will attract men and at the same time repel
things like bees.
the girl returned home later her mother had a fit. Her brother laughed. Her father was
silent with shock.
to clean away the make-up and dilute the smell of the perfume, the girl avoided going into
town over the winter months. Finally, by spring most of the make-up had worn away.
going into town for the first time, the woman at the market greeted her with shock.
dear, what has happened to you? When I last saw you, you were beautiful, the way we had
made you up. Now you are only a simple farm girl again.
girl replied, I can only be who I am. Everything I add to try and change myself,
only takes something away. I appreciate your help. Your intentions were good, but I have
learned that to change so much I have to forfeit who I am.
I lived through this winter season, I thought to myself how complex this change really
was. The outside is where it began, but I felt like I would have to lose myself on the
inside in order to be able to keep the masquerade going.
would need to change my attitudes and feelings until soon they were not mine at all, but
rather attitudes and feelings of someone else. In the end, by changing myself on the
outside I would not be me on the inside, just an imitation of someone else.
winter taught me to be happy with who I am on the inside and leave the outside
that the woman in the market never said another word to the girl. She merely sold her
goods and watched as she came and went.
girl did quite well on her own.
this is one of the oldest messages in the world. But, for how many of us is this one of
the oldest traps in the world as well? We are inundated everyday with messages for
products who profess to hold the magic to our physical and emotional well-being.
Theres just no escaping them.
the truth of the matter is, no matter how much we toy with the externals, its our
insides that we need to bring honor to. Without the proper appreciation for who we are and
what we are becoming, theres nothing that can free us from the shadows.
of the work weve done to this point has really focused on that very point.
Awakening. Liberating. Honoring. Reclaiming. Transforming. All means at our disposal for
one thing and one thing only.
who we are, rather than abandoning our very essence. Claiming the Truth about ourselves
rather than turning to prescriptions to bury that Truth. Embracing a path of forgiveness
and acceptance rather than clinging to our critical and judgmental ways.
an important point to all of these experiences. To experience the sense of wonder and joy
that lives within ourselves. But more importantly, those things can only be created by
I talk about our need to experience a shift in the relationship we have with ourselves,
that shift will occur only when we turn our gaze inward. Not only turn inward, but
celebrate what we discover about ourselves as well.
end this section on a positive note of encouragement and hope. Its important to
connect with those parts of yourself that need to be recognized and honored. Too often we
spend our time focused on those parts of ourselves that we dont cherish, those parts
we believe we have to fix or make disappear. The way I do this is regularly writing a
Letter of Thanks.
right, I express my gratitude to those parts of myself that have shown themselves to me. I
honor those parts for who they are, how they appear in my life, and how wonderfully they
serve me. Perhaps my courage has gotten me through a difficult project. Or my anger
has protected me from something that was frightening me. Or my playfulness has rescued me
from too much work. Perhaps my sense of humor has brought sanity to an otherwise crazy
situation. Perhaps my ability to love has brought care and comfort to somebody else.
point is, how often do we take the time to express gratitude to ourselves for who we are?
This exercise is a way of providing equal time for all the air play we give to our
critical voice inside.
is one of those exercises whose power picks up steam the more its done. Give this
one some thought, for many of us may not be used to exercising our thoughts about
ourselves in such a way. However, the more time you give to this exercise, the more
automatic it will become in your day-to-day life.
the secret to this tip. Inward celebration. When I mention this in the Relationship
Bridge-Building groups, people roll their eyes at me, but it works, I know it works, most
importantly they have discovered that it works. Quite simply, we all need to develop an
attitude of gratitude.
best to live the attitude of gratitude? Discover
the majesty of who you are rather than search for temporary solutions for the things that
you are not.
chemical dependency and its toxic impact on family members. Raise your
children to choose to be alcohol and other drugs
free. Learn how
to in Dr. Frischs, Psy.D. Recovery book series.