Shortly after I left the judge, my therapist told me abuse isn’t love. “Well, duh!” And, she suggested I needed to re-parent myself. Say what?
Liz Claiborne’s “respect is love” campaign settled the first issue.
Learning to re-parent myself, however, was more elusive and complex. A research study which I unfortunately failed to chronicle gave me a great framework and natural progression for the second issue.
The academics followed a group of children until they reached retirement age. They discovered that to thrive and be successful, we need to master three essential traits: intellectual curiosity, a healthy sense of responsibility, and self-confidence. As soon as each person developed this trio of traits, they began to blossom and flourish. The good news is that it is never too late.
Intellectual curiosity is perhaps the easiest. Essentially, it means you ask questions and find answers. It is the ability to work your way through the six questions of good journalism: who, what, when where, why and how?
Most abuse survivors struggle with a Healthy Sense of Responsibility. Experts call it setting healthy boundaries ~ constructing a fence around our lives and deciding who and what to let in through the gate and who and what to keep out.
I think it is much more complicated. We all get 24 hours each day. Do you manage yours wisely? Each day do you move closer to achieving your goals? If we don’t have a clear idea of our life’s purpose, we don’t know when to say “yes” and when to say “no” to an opportunity. We can be easily distracted or manipulated. In other words, we can waste our 24 hours.
Yet, we can’t know our life’s purpose unless we’ve experimented. We can’t experiment unless we relax our boundaries. We get there by leveraging our intellectual curiosity.
A healthy sense of responsibility is also about how we respond to life’s challenges. Are we resilient? Do we blame others? Do we allow others to project blame onto us? Is this my job/load or it is your job/load? What do we need to carry? What do we need to jettison? The answers are key to independent living and maintaining healthy relationships.
Self-confidence naturally blossoms when we have a healthy sense of responsibility. Self-confidence helps us morph “impossible” into “I’m possible.” We develop self-confidence by taking on tough challenges and mastering them. First, we need to learn to take prudent risks. . .baby steps before giant leaps. Malcolm Gladwell in Outliers: The Story of Successsuggests mastery requires 10,000 hours of concentrated effort.
We can start by standing tall and smiling. And, I believe it is important to celebrate our accomplishments along the way.