What Do You Say?

“Remember what you are and let this knowing
take you home to the Beloved with every breath.
Hold tenderly who you are and let a deeper knowing
colour the shape of your humanness”

~  Oriah Mountain Dreamer – The Call  ~

I hurt my colleague’s feelings on Friday.  It wasn’t intentional, although I must admit that I am not beating myself up over it.  It has however led to another moment of introspection.

I am loathe to talk about (I am going to call her) Sue at length, because she reads my blog from time to time, and I know that talking about her on here will most probably throw more salt on the wound.  But at the same time, there was something of value that I was reminded of,  and I would like to share it with you.

Our company attended an awards luncheon and Sue was seated beside me at the table.  I can’t remember what brought it on, but our conversation eventually led to this:

Sue:  “David, do you think that I am beautiful?”

Me:  “What do you say?  Do you think that you are beautiful?”

Hurt flashed across her eyes like lightning flashes across the sky – swift but intense, while illuminating everything in its path.  She paused and responded timidly, “I am beautiful, David.”  I could swear that I detected a hint of shame in her voice.

I then made the conscious decision to allow her to sit with what had taken place, so I ensured that our discussion died sudden death by changing the subject.

Now, before you decide to throw a Ming vase at me or call me, ‘Dracula’s Aunty,’ let me explain why I handled things in the way that I did.

You see, in the midst of what took place, lies a woman suffering from low self esteem, and she truly is suffering because of the way that she allows herself to be a doormat to everyone.  She has led a very sheltered life and found herself being flung out into the real world overnight, which I believe is part of why she relies so heavily on the affirmation on others.  I can relate with all of this because I see a lot of myself and where I used to be, in her.

I refuse to demean her by petting her on the head.  Over and above this, my choice not to affirm her beauty on Friday came from a place of, “don’t give me your power!”  She has been with our company for a month and a half, so why should my opinion be of any consequence to her?  It is ultimately her right (and responsibility) to define herself and determine that she is a beautiful human being.  And I certainly have no need to take that right away from her.

What saddens me about that experience is not so much that I had hurt her, but that there was no conviction in her voice when she said that she is a beautiful person.

It raises the questions:

Why are we willing to place more value on the opinion of others than on our own, most especially when it comes to things concerning ourselves?  Why are we so afraid (and possibly ashamed) of admitting that we believe that we are beautiful people?  Could it be that we don’t know who we are, so we allow others to define who we are for us?

“Never let someone’s opinion become your reality.
Never sacrifice who you are, or who you aspire to be,
because someone else has a problem with it.
Love who you are inside and out, and keep pushing forward.
No one else has the power to make you feel small unless you give them that power.
You are the only one who can create your dreams and happiness”

~  Marc Chernoff  ~

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