One of my favourite podcasts is The Guilty Feminist. Deborah Francis White is such a hero and I really admire her attitude and assertiveness. I never understood what assertiveness was when I was younger but Deborah Francis White is a pure vision of it. In The Guilty Feminist podcast episode about strengths and weaknesses, her challenge was to do one minute of automatic writing (also called freewriting) about strengths and weaknesses. I decided to give it a go but fully expected to mostly write about the pizza I was making for dinner. I did just the strengths as I often put too much emphasis on my weaknesses. I struggle with my inner critic and I think it would be counter-productive to fuel that right now.
To put this in context, I’ll need to explain something that happened today. I’ve been having EFT sessions, that stands for Emotional Freedom Technique. It’s like a mixture of acupuncture and counselling (sounds weird, I know). You talk through a problem to find a statement and then you tap on points on your body whilst repeating that statement. For example, even though I’m worried about shitting myself on public transport, I trust that I will be fine (that was an actual one I used, no joke!) In today’s session, we focused on a statement about self-worth which brought out a very emotional response in me. When I’ve had counselling in the past I’ve even struggled to say statements like “I’m okay” because of how ingrained my self-esteem issues are. This is why I wanted to do the freewriting exercise just on strengths, to try and bring forward some of that self-love and confidence.
I typed this in the same way I wrote it – trying to hardly let my pen leave the paper! So apologies for the sporadic punctuation but I wanted to avoid changing it at all. I’ll admit I got carried away and went slightly over one minute, but I didn’t want to disrupt the flow.
So I’m doing my free writing so it’s going to be messy with no punctuation it’s about strengths my strengths are my ability to cook pizza dammit I said I wouldn’t mention pizza but sure it’s a strength it’s the Italian side of me wanting to feed people and make people happy. Other strengths I have are kindness which is important in a world really lacking in empathy and also I’m genuine and honest there’s too much bullshit in the world with people doing stuff because they think they have to fit in. My differences set me apart from everybody else trying to conform, another strength is my willingness to tackle things I’m afraid of for example escalators and boats despite the anxiety it causes also another strength is being able to cope as I’m more resilient than I think I always think I won’t cope but I always do.
I’m glad I tried this exercise. I agree with what I wrote, but it’s always hard to say these things about myself because I’ve always been so worried about coming across as arrogant. Do as many men worry about this? I'm not so sure. Sometimes I find much harder to believe the positive thoughts than the critical ones. With practice I hope I’ll continue to try and appreciate my strengths, but it takes a long time to unlearn all these ideas about myself. However, there’s no point in wasting my life giving myself a hard time, I've got a life to fill with wonderful experiences!
I don’t want to come across as a narcissist by sharing all these thoughts, I just hope that my experiences might resonate with people. I know what it’s like to find it easier to hate yourself rather than love yourself, and I hope that by supporting each other we can change this. I recommend trying this exercise, so grab a piece of paper and a pen and write for one minute, but if you get in the flow just keep going! You might learn something about yourself, or worst case it might just end up being funny. Win win.
The Guilty Feminist had been a huge influence on me. It has helped me realise that other people have been through some of the same experiences as me and that it’s okay to speak up. I will no longer apologise all the time just because of my gender.
Thank you to The Guilty Feminist podcast and to Deborah Francis White for being a source of inspiration, confidence, solidarity and wisdom.