The One Greatest Thing You May be Missing to Live Your Best Life
Something was missing for most of the first forty years of my life.
I knew it, but I could not put my finger on the exact missing element. Oh, I functioned alright, faking my way past the shroud of insecurity, yet always uncomfortable inside my trembling, perspiring facade. Perhaps you recognize a bit of yourself in these opening lines? If so, it is my hope that by reading this chapter of my story, you may find your way to the greatest thing that will lead to your best life…
During that earlier time I was shy in the extreme. I felt anxious at parties and in large group settings, always afraid I did not measure up to anyone I might meet. Once I got to know someone, one on one, I opened up a bit, but until I reached a certain level of comfort my stomach churned.
At sixteen I reached a threshold and realized something needed to change when I met a boy I liked. He flirted with me whenever he was within range and all I could do was offer a shy smile and a wave before running back to the safety of my house. My mother intuited my suffering and gave me the book “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/4865.How_to_Win_Friends_and_Influence_People
The book advised me to focus on other people instead of my introversion. Ask others about themselves, listen to the answers, and appreciate who they are. Remember names, smile, and offer encouragement. All of this wonderful advice helped with the boy for awhile, and much of it sticks to this day. However, I still had not found a cure for the general malaise of spirit I carried. I retreated inside myself and strained to recall Mr. Carnegie’s words whenever I faced another human being.
I remember admiring my mother’s older friend when I was thirty. Hazel stood tall and self-assured in her early sixties. She loved her work, loved her church and the people in it, loved to play the piano and sing in the church choir. In short, Hazel loved life and if she didn’t love something at first sight, she found things to love about it. And people loved her.
I ached to be like Hazel.
When we visited her tiny apartment one day, Hazel sat down at the piano and invited us to sing hymns with her. She and mom sang but fear kept me mute. Though I too sang in a church choir of about twenty members, I could not utter a note in such close quarters with only two other voices. What if they heard me? Neither woman said anything about my silence, but I felt terrible about it for years.
Not long after that day I received a record single in the mail from my mother. Even from 350 miles away she knew my marriage was difficult and my inward struggle raged on, though she and I rarely discussed my inner workings. I listened to Whitney Houston’s gorgeous voice fill my family room. I listened several times to feel my mother’s loving intention and although I heard the words I did not comprehend the full meaning…or didn’t want to.
“The Greatest Love of All” tells a coming of age story. https://youtu.be/hRX4ip6PVoo It’s a story of finding your own inner beauty, about never walking in anyone’s shadow. Though I had my own activities, I still believed my pursuits were less important and I walked in the shadows of others. Whenever I spoke the truth of my understandings about life to those in my world at that time, I got shot down. I was afraid to “live as I believe” no matter what others said. Achieving the greatest love did not feel easy at all, because in choosing that path I knew I would have to give up the life I had. Yes, I tried marriage counseling for six grueling months which made our rift grow into a chasm. No one in my life back then could hear or support the real me who inevitably began to leak out. The day came when I felt so tired of not being accepted or respected even by those who claimed to love me. I would have to go it alone.
“Oh comes the dawn!” my math teacher used to say when someone finally got an answer.
The day came when it became clear they only loved the quiet, subdued, humorless , timid me, the dispirited me. A switch flipped in my brain and I knew nothing could hold me back from that moment forward. I did not have to be just like Hazel or anyone else; being who I am could be just as wonderful! I went on a treasure hunt to find new pursuits and discover hidden talents more in keeping with the truest me. I lived in several temporary environments including a ten by ten foot cabin with an outhouse and no electricity. Undaunted I trusted all would work for the better.
My quest plopped me down into the welcoming arms of new friends and chosen family, people who appreciated me for me. People who found me warm, intelligent, gentle, sensitive, courageous, loving, and yes, even funny! After years of ridicule for my sensitive, empathetic nature, I remember feeling elated when a woman I met in a class told me how beautiful I looked when I cried. I went back to school full time landed a career I would love for twenty years, and where I needed my sensitivity to excel in the work.
The greatest gift, the thing that had been missing for so long, finally settled itself inside of me. Yes, I had the encouragement of others, and new adventures to explore.
The most important element is that I started to believe what others saw in me was true.
I found the greatest love of all inside of me. Learning to love yourself is the greatest gift of all! Finding inner love does not always mean you have to leave your current situation, and sometimes it does. Inner love does not come from ego, but rather from tapping into the person you were created to become. Inner love is a heartfelt celebration and application of your gifts, talents, and the innate beauty of you — all that your uniqueness brings to the world.
Find yourself. Believe in yourself. Then lose yourself in the joy and wonder and the gift of YOU.
Heart Seeds© 2020 by Robin Reichert
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