“What are you willing to give up?” I asked my students.
“What standard are you holding yourself to that isn’t real or fair or right? Maybe it’s a scale. Maybe it’s the idea of being effortlessly perfect. Maybe it is something else. You have to figure out why it is you don’t feel enough and give that rule up. Because for every day that you don’t feel enough, you really can’t be you. And not being you is the greatest loss of all because we’re all here for a reason. We’re all here on purpose.”
Not long after that, a student shared that she liked to use a measuring tape to gauge her body. Everyday. Compared to the day before. And it broke my heart. And, so, I offered a gentle thought– maybe that measuring tape could be something that she gave up. But I didn’t push it because sometimes we all just need to work through things in our own time. We need to let the idea germinate and see whether or not it takes root for us.
A couple weeks later, that student approached me before class and handed me a small white circular object. My eyes opened wide, trying to figure out what it was.
“It’s my measuring tape. I am ready to give it up.”
I wanted to hoot and holler. I wanted to hug her. I wanted to make a proclamation. Instead, I just quietly told her how proud I was of her. And slipped it into the side pocket of my school bag.
I thought about that moment a lot over the rest of the semester. But I didn’t look at the measuring tape again until summer, when my hands reached into that pocket, looking for a pen, and instead found the round disc.
“What’s this?” I thought.
And then I realized what it was– literally and figuratively. A measuring tape, yes, but more than that, right? A rule. A standard. A soul reducer when the body wouldn’t reduce itself enough.
I was reminded, too, of the question I had asked my students. That rhetorical question, I thought.
What are you willing to give up?
Today: I am asking you the same question. What belief or practice are you willing to give up in order to quit punishing yourself or rating yourself or diminishing yourself? What practice or viewpoint no longer serves you?
Name that thing that no longer serves you– like my student so bravely named her measuring tape. And make this commitment today, I will no longer measure my worth with _____________. If it is something tangible (a scale, a measuring tape, an old photo), throw it or pack it away where you can’t get it right now. This will cause anxiety, I know it. But the most important things are always the hardest to do. If it is not a tangible thing but a scale in your mind, for example, then come up with a sentence that you will use to respond to yourself when you bring that scale out. For example, “I am not longer 25 and I will not use the idea of that body to punish me today.”
1. What did you commit to giving up today and why?
2. How did it feel to either literally or figuratively pack away your measure?
3. How might this change your life? How might it allow you to more definitely live your purpose and give your gifts to the world?
The only way that we can give up that which harms up, that which limits us, is by both imagining that it is possible to give it up and flirting with the life that would come if we didn’t live that way.
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