Sunday, April 20, 2014

Because of Him

Because of Him, my family is mine forever.

Because of Him, my life is filled with people and opportunities that bring me joy.

Because of Him, I always have a friend that will be there through all my triumphs and all my downfalls.

Because of Him, I have purpose.

Because of Him, my sins no longer weigh my soul down and the Savior as saved me, something I could never do for myself.

Because of Him, my possibilities are endless and I have no limits.

Because of Him, I can do hard things.

Because of Him, I can love and be loved.

Because of Him, my heart is fuller and my countenance is brighter.

Because of Him, I know where I came from, I know where I am at, and I know where I am going.

Because of Him, I am free to make choices and experience consequences.

Because of Him, every day is a new opportunity to be a better me than I was the day before.

Because of Him, I can change people's lives every day.

Because of Him, I am free.

I know that my Redeemer lives. I know He loves me. I know He has bright things in store for me. I know I can do all things in him.

As he died to make men holy, let us live to make men free.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Kiss Me With Your Eyes So Sweetly

What am I doing wrong?

They continue to argue.

No I'm right. You made the mistake. No, you made the mistake. She leaves. He sits.

"You're doing really well Caylin. You understand these things much better than the other assistants."

Well if you put it that way, maybe I am doing it right...

She returns. They argue. She turns to me.

"I can tell you're smart. I'll work with you instead."

I glow. Well if you put it that way, maybe I am doing it right.

"She's a pretty smart girl Lee. I think we're all done finally."

She stands. I stand. I walk to the door.

"You were magnificent today Caylin."

"Yes, you really were. Thanks Caylin."

Well if you put it that way, maybe I am doing it right. 

I crave attention. I seek flattery. I desire recognition. I covet acknowledgement. I want adoration.

I'm addicted to praise.

We can all agree that little compliments are nice. They brighten our day, bring a little smile to our face, lighten our eyes a little bit more. But praise is like a drug for me. If I don't have it constantly, I start to break down mentally and emotionally. If my presence isn't acknowledged when I enter a room, I automatically panic and assume that I'm unwelcome or unloved. If I don't get complimented on a new outfit, I probably won't ever wear it again because it means it didn't look good on me. If someone doesn't compliment how I look that day, to me it means I look ugly or something is out of place. If I don't get encouraged while doing a task, I assume that I'm doing things incorrectly and my ability to focus tumbles. If I don't receive praise, I'm doing it wrong.

This is a problem that has been growing as I've grown older and my daily pressures have grown tougher and tougher. I think this problem arrived from the incredibly competitive atmosphere I created for myself since I started school. I always fought to be better than everyone in class, to be involved in more things than everyone else, to achieve more accomplishments than everyone else, to receive more recognition than everyone else. I wanted to be the best student, the best child, the best worker, the best friend, the best person. Sometimes I don't even have a clear opponent or a tangible target I needed to outbeat. I just have to be better than WHOEVER else might be in my way. In high school, I called this perfectionism. But now I realize I only wanted things to be perfect so I could be recognized as a perfect person. My personal worth has always felt like it depended on achievements and victories, not on who I was as a person.

Of course no one wants to admit they're narcissistic. I spend a lot of time and energy trying to restrain and hide this obsession for praise. I try my hardest to reach out to others, to put others' needs before my own. I try to resist begging for praise. But it all comes back to this desire for praise. I want to be recognized for being selfless and humble. How sad it is that the thing I try to do to become less self-absorbed is just another way I feed this crippling obsession.

This addiction to praise puts a huge emotional strain on my relationships with people. If I'm not getting recognized consistently by those I love or look up too, it's devastating and panic-inducing. No consistent praise means something is wrong about me. I try to never lead a person to praise me because if I lead on the compliment, I feel that it's fake and insincere. But if someone ends a conversation without acknowledging me in some fashion, I'm crushed and start mentally analyzing the reasons why I wasn't commended for anything.

Trying to beat this frame of mind is hard. I've been trying to establish enough confidence in myself that I don't need as much praise to function every day. But it's hard to build that personal strength when you rely so heavily on the words of others for your strength. I've been trying to do more meaningful service but that too has been a struggle because I need to be praised in order for me to feel accomplished. I know this restructuring of the mind is going to require personal reflection and affirmation but any other guidance is much appreciated. It's time to start relying on myself for strength instead of the words of others.

Well if you put it that way, maybe I am doing it right.