Welcome to Following the Whispers blog

Thank you so much for taking the time to visit. Hope you enjoy your stay. I blog here whenever I feel the need. This blog was created at the time my memoir came out, in February, 2009. Its motto was: creating a life of inner peace and self-acceptance from the depths of despair. Now, my focus is sharing this journey we call life.

“Only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth, and that is not speaking it.” Naomi Wolf

“We are called human beings, not human doings.” Wes Nisker, Buddhist teacher

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs…(And) if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.” Theodore Roosevelt

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Insecurity versus conceited

When I was a little girl, my mother told me I shouldn't try to win at games because my opponents would feel bad. Now, as an adult, I can analyze that statement and see how odd it is for a parent to encourage their child to lose. The message I got was that it was better that I feel bad than to make someone else feel bad.

To be successful at anything, you must have the drive and ambition to succeed. Now admittedly, playing games is different than living life, working at a career, etc. In life, someone else doesn't have to lose in order for you to win. But the intention is the same. To emerge victorious.

My insecurities kept me from having the confidence in myself to "go for it." I felt "less than" in every way imaginable: looks, brains, athletic ability, creativity. The other extreme, though, is conceit. You know, the ones who strut about, knowing they are stunning, never questioning themselves, believing they are always right and perfect.

To me, somewhere in the middle is where I'd like to be. And I'm getting close. I know I can write. I know my words can touch other people. I also know I'm not the best writer in the world, and that's all right with me. I intend to be the best writer I can be. That's all we can ask for.

As for my insecurities. Some are still there. Others have left or shifted into some other energy. The ones that remain, I am learning to manage. Self-acceptance is key to inner peace and with self-acceptance comes acknowledgement that we have flaws as well as gifts. We're human, after all.



Melissa Bradley said...

These are some very wise words and something I needed to be reminded of. I got the same speech when I was a kid and stunted me. I'm only just now starting to come into my own. Thank you! :)

Liza said...

It is the strong woman who can overcome the lingering lessons of youth. Self-acceptance is a key. I'm working on opening that door. Lovely post.

Jules said...

Yeah, my mom told me never to beat the guys, to which I did. It's not my fault they couldn't shoot a basketball. :)

I think we all just need to strive for the best within in each of us and hopefully find encouragement along the way.
Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

Michelle Gregory said...

middle ground would be nice for me too.

Karen Walker said...

Gosh, I thought it was only my mom who didn't know any better. Sheesh.
Liza, self-acceptance is crucial - I'm still working on it.
Jules, yeah, athletic girls must have had it that much harder. That wasn't me, though.
Michelle, ah yes, balance.

GigglesandGuns said...

Ladies are background is difficult to overcome. I still don't have the confidence I should because I spent so many years trying to be a background lady.

Karen Walker said...

Yeah, I thought I could only be a secretary or a back-up singer, never a business owner (which I was) or a lead singer (which I am on some songs). It takes some of us longer than others. Keep trucking'

Better is Possible said...

I can totally relate to this. My mom's advice was to "be nice". On the surface it sounds like a lovely and wise thing to tell a child. In hindsight I'd have preferred be yourself, be authentic, be kind. Took a lot of years to sort out the 'nice' thing. Thanks for the post!

Charissa Weaks said...

Hi Karen! Found you via the blog hop. My parents told me that I'd never make a living as a writer so it was best to just give up on that dream. So I did. And when nothing else made me happy, I came back to writing. And granted...I've made zero dollars as of yet, but then again...I don't do it for the money. I do it because it's who I am. I have a daughter who is just like I was...writing, reading, singing, dancing all the time. What do I tell her? You can do anything you set your mind to. Work hard. Learn. Strive to always know more. And if you want to write, WRITE. It'll be okay.

E. Arroyo said...

Great post. It is a balance I'm learning. Thanks for this.

L.G.Smith said...

Self-acceptance is the key to happiness, I believe that. :)

Brianna said...

I also grew up with the impression that it's better for me to feel bad than to make others feel bad.

This is a great post for the IWSG! Thanks for the encouragement!

Annalisa Crawford said...

I think Phillip Larkin had it right when it comes to mums and dads :-) One comment can affect you for a long time.

My mum said the same as Charissa's - that I'd never make it as a writer. I ignored her!

Mary Aalgaard, Play off the Page said...

What a sad message you heard. She told you to hold back and allow yourself to be beaten. I'm so sorry. The truth is, when we let our lights shine, with all the glory that God gave us, we inspire others. That is our purpose.
Shine on, Karen!

Talli Roland said...

We are indeed human. I was very lucky to have had encouraging parents growing up!

N. R. Williams said...

Well put. I wonder sometimes what messages I gave my children. They seem to have turned out okay so I guess I won't worry too much.
N. R. Williams, Fantasy Author

Arlee Bird said...

I tend to be highly competitive and strive to win. My insecurity is in joining in the play. Maybe I'm afraid of losing or not doing well. Your advice to accept one's flaws is sagacious. To have that knowledge and just join the game for the fun and challenge opens more doors of opportunity.

Tossing It Out

Kathi Oram Peterson said...

Makes one wonder what our parents were thinking. This reminds me of kids receiving awards for participating instead of winning. I don't think that prepares them for life or success. It may teach them to think of others first, but in a world where they need to make a living and be the best they can it, makes it hard for them to realize awards in life are not just for participating.

I'm glad you're striving to be the best writer you can be. You'll get there. :)

KH LeMoyne said...

Such a true struggle. Self-acceptance and the fact that you have the ability to see the picture and want to change it. Very nice.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Karen .. it's funny isn't those effects of life for ever more - I was reasonable at ball games and just battled on - but when as a kid I was to read in Church .. my father had me practising, and practising .. and I've just realised recently - that it probably held me back .. because memorising things was a pitfall for ever!! and speaking in public .. I'm probably finally getting over my insecurities .. life is life - finally! I wasn't put down - it was the fact I was meant to be perfect and he was used to public speaking .. I suppose his eldest he expected to follow suit! Interesting to read .. Cheers Hilary

Karen Walker said...

BetterisPossible, yes, the whole being "nice" thing also impacted how we functioned, didn't it?
Charissa, so glad you came back to writing and that you encourage your daughter to follow her dreams
E. Arroyo, balance is so crucial in everything, isn't it?
L.G., Amen,
Brianna, you are welcome
Annalisa, yes, Philip Larkin got it right - at least for me that was the case
Mary, I'm working on it...
Talli, yes, you were very lucky - count your blessings!
N.R. If our kids are grown, we can't do anything about what we might have told them anyway - don't worry
Arlee, it sure does, doesn't it?
Kathy, I've learned that's all I can really do anyway, is do the best I can - at anything
Kate, thank you
Hilary, I always find it so odd that some people can expect others to do something easily just because they can do it easily

Michelle said...

Your blog post hit home with me. I can't even begin to tell you how much your words encouraged me. Thank you for sharing.

Author of Concilium, available July 2012
Concilium: The Departure, November 2012


Ella said...

Well said Karen. You snapped my attention belt! I met someone on line that is in the running for the art articles I am. She is succeeding more than me. She has a romantic style and I don't. I feel bad she constantly emails me to tell me her great news, with no consideration to my feelings. Yes, she rubs salt in the wound. Thanks for reminding me it is about our words, our voice, our vision~ :D

julie fedderson said...

This was such a thoughtful and wise post! Of all the trials we face in life, I think self-love and self-acceptance may be one of the most difficult. A pleasure to meet you through Alex's fest!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

And if we do it right and with the right spirit, we can be victorious without ever making anyone feel bad.
Thanks for your kind words on my post today, Karen!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

That is a sad thing for a mother to tell a child. That's too 'play fair' and PC.

Karen Walker said...

Michelle, that makes me very happy - that my words helped in some way.
Ella, when someone is treating us that way it's hard to remember it's their problem, not ours. But we can choose who we allow in our space.
Julie, same here - Alex is awesome.
Alex, you deserved them!
Diane, yes, it is sad that some people just don't know better. My mom did the best she could, though.

Carrie said...

Now I have a new goal. Not to find security or confidence, but rather to find self-acceptance.

Thanks! Beautiful post!

MISH said...

Found you through the blog hop.
Self-acceptance is an ongoing process..
Thanks for sharing this wonderful post!

welcome to my world of poetry said...

I may not be good at games( never have been) but I am a winner in knowing I do my best in life, whether it's family or friends. I may not be wealthy in moneytary terms but have wealth in the knowledge I am a winner in life.


Isis Rushdan said...

Self-acceptance is vital. Our imperfections make us unique. It took me a long time to appreciate that.

Karen Walker said...

Great goal, Carrie.
Mish, you are very welcome
Yvonne, yeah for you!
Isis, took me a long time as well

Tonja said...

I loved your post. Being the best we can be is the best we can do.

My mom used to play to win - like when I was five years old. Brutal. I level the playing field in family games (my kids are 15, 10 and 3) - we don't let the small people win exactly - we just adjust the rules so they have a solid chance. :)

Karen Walker said...

Tonja, I love that.

Laura Eno said...

Yes! And the don't show that you're smart...boys won't like it if you're smarter than them. Jeesh! It's a wonder any of us have survived our upbringing!

J. A. Bennett said...

Lovely post! Great attitude! I think "somewhere in the middle" is right for all of us.

Liz Fichera said...

I also think that conceit (over-compensation) is another way for someone to hide their insecurities.

Well said, Karen!

Manzanita said...

Karen, I feel bad for you that you had to struggle to gain your self confidence. I think the old movie Forest Gump had good advice when Forest's mother kept encouraging him to do/be anything he wanted. I like your writing because it's from the heart and it's easy to understand your meaning.
By the way, it was not a typo on my post. I meant 72 years that I've been reading/writing. Even longer. The plain English Handbook was published in 1936 and I'm still using it.

Karen Walker said...

Laura, ain't that the truth?
J.A. somewhere in the middle is right for me
Liz, I agree with you - it is.
Manzanita, I just didn't think you were in your 70s - not that that's bad, you're just so youthful.

Melissa Ann Goodwin said...

Geez, just exactly who IS the best writer in the world? Everyone loves Faulkner and I can't stand him! :-) I think you are a damn fine writer. That is an amazing thing your mom said to you. It's such a lesson to realize the effect words can have. Now, as a writer, you use your words to affect people in a positive way.Buddhists say we choose the parents we are born to so we will learn the lessons we need to learn. So, you have learned so much and now you are so brave about sharing! I think that is the definition of SUCCESS.

Anonymous said...

That's my philosophy too, Karen. Strive to be the best you can be. You're not competing with anyone, not in God's eyes. I don't think I'm the best writer in the world either, and don't think I'll ever be. But I'm a good writer and so are you, and through our writing we've connected with others. To me this is worth a lot!!
Ann Best, Author of In the Mirror, A Memoir of Shattered Secrets

DL Hammons said...

There's nothing wrong with winning...as long as you don't gloat afterwards. That's the message I was taught, and the one I passed onto my children. Funny how life lessons can really affect us down the road! :)

Karen Walker said...

Melissa, that's so true about Faulkner, or any famous person - some love and some hate them.
Ann, thanks, you are so right, my friend
DL, you were lucky to have parents who taught you good messages and that you passed those on to your kids.

Clarissa Draper said...

There are some days where I flip between the two extremes. Always trying to find a balance. This is a great post.