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Self-Care Minder

Exploring Womanhood > Mind, Body & Soul > Self-Care Minder

Banish Shoulds
by Jennifer Louden

Why is it hard for some of us to recognize what we easily give to the world? How often do we dismiss what we are good at, thinking, "That's too easy." or "Anybody can do that." or "That is not what I want to do, what I really want to do is..."

I went to film school at the University of Southern California in the early 80's with a young man who we all thought was destined for a great film career. It was clear his talent expressed itself best through cinematography. But he wasn't interested in cinematography -- what he really wanted to do was direct.

He has spent the last 20 years programming computers.

I always swore to myself I wouldn't be one of those people who ignored her own talents and kept her eye on something bigger or better or harder to achieve (why is ease so dismissed in our Western culture?) I swore I knew what I was good at and was very thankful for being good at it, thank you very much.

Be careful what you swear, pride comes before a fall, and all that. Because I realized on Thursday morning in Portland, Oregon outside a hotel ballroom, compliments of my wise friend master coach Molly Gordon that I have been doing just what I swore I would never do.

I've been missing what I can't help but give.

I've been dismissing what I'm good at.

Whether in the grocery store, at my daughter's school, at the supermarket, in this newsletter, on my website, with my coaching clients, leading retreats, even in my novel, I can't help but deliver... Nurturing. Comfort. Permission to be kind to yourself. Permission to be exactly who you are at this moment--warts and all.

We were attending a marketing seminar together, along with our shared multi-amazing assistant Deb, and I was really having a hard time with the whole thing. I couldn't see myself having anything to offer people, so why optimize search engines? When Molly told me nurturing is my "core deliverable," I stamped my foot and declared, "But I'm not nurturing. I don't cook, I don't sew, I don't send thoughtful gifts to friends, I interrupt in conversations, I'm very impatient, I don't knit, and besides," I glared at her, "I don't want to be a nurturer. What I REALLY want to do is be a hip intellectual who writes best-selling novels and goes to intellectual dinner parties wearing chic clothes and has a guest column for the New Yorker and..."

Molly gave me a fierce hug. "Tough. What you do is nurture. You can't help but do it."

"But," I said slowly, genuinely mystified, "I don't see myself that way."

"That's good," Molly said. "Then you won't be consumed by what you do." And she headed off the bathroom, leaving me standing in the hall, mouth open, mind agape.

It was one of those big Aha moments. Molly has sparked several in me since I've known her but this one was a humdinger, a personal Fourth of July, an inner bonfire. The more I thought about it, the more I could see what she saw. I declare over and over I'm not writing self-help books anymore, I tell this story that I moved to the Northwest to retire and write novels with a little coaching on the side because I have to be in contact with people. Meanwhile, I've probably written the equivalent of two books via these newsletters, plus retreat and class materials. I've coached, I've taught, I've spoken, I've allowed one book to be reprinted and the other four to be given new covers. I've become a contributor at Body and Soul magazine. Not to mention the Inner Organizer, the Audio Muse, the Daily Dollop (all with fantastic help, of course!)...

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It does just comes out of me.

In the days following this insight, I've become aware of a question stirring in me: How much easier would life be if I stopped denying and fighting being the Comfort Queen? If I accepted that I give nurturing -- not perfectly, not in a traditional sense of the word -- and that giving this doesn't define me. In fact, by accepting what my core deliverable is, I actually create energy to pursue all my interests -- from yoga to fiction writing.

Least you think I am the most dull person in the world for not seeing what my core deliverable is -- let alone embracing it -- ask yourself, "What gift do you deliver to the world, no matter what? How accepting and embracing are you of what you give? What do you fear happening if you do accept it?" I suspect I'm not alone in my blind spot -- at least I hope not!

Jennifer LoudenJennifer Louden is a best-selling author of The Woman's Comfort Book, The Comfort Queen's Guide to Life and three other titles. You can visit her popular website at ComfortQueen.com where over 600 articles about self-care, an interactive Inner Organizer, and a wonderful CQ store await you. Jennifer also works with a few clients at a time as a life coach.

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