What if you could have a conversation with your younger self? What experiences would you share? What advice would you give? Drop in on the unfiltered conversation between Annie Younger, aged 25, and Annie Older, 35 years her senior. As references are made to prior episodes, the conversation is best understood if followed sequentially from the beginning. Click here to read the first installment.
Annie Younger: So, Annie Older, you just now caught me in the act of blaming myself for feeling stuck in life. Which totally confused me, because you said earlier I’m going to be spending a lot of the next few years blaming others and circumstances and that’s what will keep me stuck, unable to change, for a long while. Then you said, we all do that—blaming others and things—so that we don’t have to seriously look at ourselves and find out there’s something wrong with ourselves.
Annie Older: I didn’t quite say it like that Annie Y. You got the gist of it, but I would never suggest we have to look at ourselves to find out what is wrong with ourselves. In fact, I believe the very first thing we have to do to get unstuck from wherever we’re at in life is to honestly, truly accept the notion that there is nothing wrong with who we are in the moment. You have to be able to look in the mirror and say “I may not be perfect, I may not be where I want to be, but this is where I’m at in the moment and this is the perfect starting place to become who I want to be.”
Annie Y: Not sure I can do that. I mean, I could say it, but I honestly don’t think I can believe there’s nothing wrong with me.
Annie O: I know. I remember what I was feeling about myself when I was you, Annie Y. I get not being able to believe there is nothing wrong with you. When I was you looking in the mirror, who I saw was a young woman physically unattractive because her thighs and nose were too big, her boobs too small and her hair just plain mousy. And, look at the unstylish clothes! I saw a woman who reflected back a huge lack of self-confidence in herself, who always felt like a square peg in a round hole—never really fitting in, was sure she was unlikable. She had to play it safe and sweet because failure and rejection were totally too painful. The woman I saw hated conflict and would give in on just about everything to keep the peace and then feel badly for not standing up for herself. What a stupid, timid coward! The woman in the mirror was unhappy, but couldn’t let anyone know that. It was all her own fault. She deserved it.
Annie Y: I’m getting teary, Annie O, but only because it’s true. All of it.
Annie O: It’s true, only in the sense of that’s how I felt—how you feel now. But what I’ve come to learn over more recent years is that it was only my perception of myself that was making me unhappy and keeping me stuck.
Annie Y: Huh?
Annie O: Those things you see and feel about yourself, the things that appear negative to you, what if I told you they’re not faults, they’re not shortcomings, they’re not negatives. They simply are what you are deducing about yourself based on everything that has gone before in your life. Everything about you—your physicality, your emotional, mental and spiritual makeup—is the sum total of your genes, all your life experiences, and life decisions to date. Who you see when you look in the mirror is the outcome of all your interconnections with your family, faith, culture, society, friends, education, employment and so on. In this very moment you are who you are because of everything that has gone before. How can who you are in this moment, be wrong because of your past? You might not like everything that has happened in the past and you might not like who you are now, but that doesn’t mean there is something wrong with you.
Annie Y: Okay, maybe not wrong as in bad, but certainly a long way from perfect!
Annie O: And what is perfect, other than some ideal we’ve created in our minds based on all those influencing factors I just mentioned. To get traction to start moving in a direction we want to move in, we need to first accept ourselves exactly as we are, warts and all. Perfectly imperfect. With that acceptance of yourself “as is”, you have a solid base to start pushing away from, to get unstuck. Without that self-acceptance, it’s like trying to get out of a bottomless pit of quicksand; the more you get agitated about where you’re at, the further you sink in.
Annie Y: What a great sensation to know there is nothing wrong with me, even if I’m a long, long way from perfect! It’s really…It’s really…what? That knowing makes me feel free, somehow. So, with self-acceptance of who I am right now, well, not warts and all, but a big nose, tiny self-esteem and all, what’s next for me to become the person I am in my fantasies?