The Painful Yardstick

Growing up in the United States in the time period I did, spankings were common.  Heck, even the school principal had a paddle.  In my childhood home the device of preference from mom, that I luckily don’t recall experiencing, was the yardstick  It was either because I hide it, ran fast with my sassy mouth or was such a sweet piggy-tailed little girl it wasn’t necessary.   I’ll let you decide.  Anyway, today I was thinking about the yardstick and judgment.  I often find myself judging myself with the imaginary yard stick.  Then if measuring myself to whatever the yard stick represents at the moment isn’t bad enough, I take that stick and strike myself with it.  I know I am not alone because shoot I hear people beat themselves up all the time. In fact, a few days ago I sat on the floor of our lobby stroking the arm of a patient who was experiencing seizures while waiting for the ambulance to arrive. When she regain partial consciousness, she started crying and when I asked her what was making her sad at the moment, she said something to the effect that she was sorry for being a bother for having seizures.  My heart ached as I saw her beat herself with “the yardstick”.  I told her sweetie, I don’t know you but this one thing I will say, never apologize for being yourself.  I told her I was happy to be by her side and help was on the way.  

Later that same week, I had another experience as someone entered my office and spilled his inner thoughts to me.  I  was puzzled why was this somewhat stranger beating himself with “the yardstick” in my office.  Why was he sharing with me? As I thought this, he explained that I come across as a caring, trustful person and felt I would listen with compassion. I smiled and said yes your story is safe with me but please do not beat yourself up. It hurts yourself too much. I know because I’m an expert.  Heck, I even have given the stick to others to use on me.  I have learned how important it is to be a listener and a trait in which I’m trying to be better.

So why do I share this?   Richard Paul Evans said, “the well from which grace is only filled by sharing it with others”.  This is exactly the reason I started this blog.  To share my experiences, my thoughts and to break the yardstick so it can’t be used; can’t be used on me or others to use it on themselves. 

As I mentioned in my last blog post, I have learned many things this past year.  I have learned that I can’t make everyone happy but I can make myself happy. I have learned the importance of living an authentic life and seeing positive in all things.  It is important to not judge but we need to remember to include not judging ourselves.  Don’t apologize for being your authentic self.  You see when you live authentically, you naturally will attract those that make you happy. 

Here’s one more example from my life.  Years ago, I discontinued a friendship with a dear friend.  Why you ask?  No, it wasn’t because of a disagreement or anything like that.  It was because I was hiding from my past.  I didn’t want those in my “new” life to know about my stupid teenage mishaps and bad decisions and she knows them all.  She was the connection to painful memories.  When I decided to embrace all I am and not care what anyone has to say, I looked her up.  It’s been a sweet reunion.  I have realized that the “secrets” I was hiding weren’t that bad but that I was judging those experiences with a sharp yard stick. I feel so happy to be connected with her and many new friends.  I have nothing to hide and I truly feel blessed.  

When you find yourself judging others, beating yourself up for faults or mistakes, please throw out the yardstick. You are unique; one of a kind with purpose! Stay smiling friends!  

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