At some point in my early childhood, I was labeled as a loser. Not the L on your forehead kind of loser but the lose’er of things. What I find interesting is that I don’t have a clear memory of how this flighty, air-heady label came into existence. I do know that my speed of life runs at about 110 mph if we call 55 mph average. Maybe I was always moving too fast. Or maybe my speed demon parents were projecting their own lose’er ways onto their oldest child.
Regardless this label has caused me a decent amount of grief over the years. Mostly through the form of self-abuse. The abusive self-talk might be, “Why are you so stupid?” “Why can’t you ever find anything?” “When will you learn to slow down?” How much faster do you suppose I might have found items if I could have saved myself the lecture? None of this was good for my self-esteem.
While in high school, I got myself a big, heavy, chunky metal keychain to help detour me from locking my keys in the car. I was with girlfriends at McDonald’s. I grabbed my keys and put them securely in my jacket pocket. When I went to the restroom at this fancy new McDonald’s, I leaned over to flush the toilet and out comes that big heavy keychain that my light nylon jacket pocket couldn’t hold. I watched my keys go straight into the toilet as the water is flushing. Keys, keychain, and the organized security I thought I had created with the heavy-duty keychain … gone … in the blink of a flush. As I tried to explain both to my parents but mostly to myself how this genius attempt to solve my key problem created a bigger problem, I became defeated and beat myself up more. By the time I got to college, my mother harped on me to the point of brainwashing, not to lose my wallet on spring break. Because remember, I’m a total ditz! I even took it a step further and lectured my girlfriends to ad nauseum to not lose anything. Guess who by about Day 3 lost her wallet? Starting not to look like an accident, eh? Could it be that God/Life/The Universe was bringing me the exact thing I was putting so much focus on.
At some point in my 30’s, I had back-up planned myself to a comfortable existence. I cleaned up my self-talk and could finally see that I am actually very organized most of the time. So, imagine my surprise when I lost my keys.
It was one of those days that was feeling chaotic. I was frustrated with my luggage situation, I was on yet another trip with makeshift luggage, grumpy, and moving too fast. I lost my keys. The triggers came back in an instant, my parents’ lectures popped into my head, and I had an inkling to turn those memories into abusive self-talk. But I didn’t. Instead I took a deep breath. I grabbed my spare keys, checked in with the ‘lost and found’ a few times, and then calmly moved on to making new keys. Was God/Life/The Universe testing me to see if I’ve learned the lesson? Asking, “Did she really re-program her ditzy side? Does she confidently own that’s she organized?”
How have the labels you were given worked against your self-esteem? How did they shape who you are, both positively and negatively? Are you ready to clean up your self-talk, pass the tests, and learn the lessons?”
By the way, I’m in need of a new keychain if anyone has any suggestions for something fashionable and not too heavy.