The leopard who changed its spots

I watched with awe the final episode and words of Oprah in her farewell show last night. She has interviewed 33 000 people in the 25 years she has been doing her show. It’s fair to say that her experience qualifies her as a credible witness to what it means to be human. She spoke about the few things she has learned that are prevalent to all mankind regardless of age, race, faith, culture or location.  I listened, absorbing every bit of wisdom she had to share. The three lessons she shared that stood out for me the most:

  1. It doesn’t matter what your mama did do and your papa didn’t do for you as a child, when you become an adult you are 100% responsible for your life. There is no blaming anyone, we all have the ability to choose how we respond to circumstances and the choices we make for ourselves.
  2. We are all made of energy. The energy we hold or carry and interact with other creates a cause and effect response. You are responsible for the energy you bring into a space. You need to be aware of how your energy affects those around you and how you are contributing to any problems in your life.
  3. The state of our lives can be attributed to feelings of worthiness. Every human being wants to be validated, to be heard, to feel that what they have to say matters.  Feeling worthy and deserving starts with caring for yourself, even if the caregiver and role models in your life have never done that for you. Its starts with you, treating yourself with the respect you deserve because you are alive. You are worthy, you matter.

I loved the way she shared these lessons, how she learnt them and how her life has changed as a result of integrating them into her life.  I have learnt those lessons too and witnessed my own miracles. My transformation. A leopard who changed its spots. It all began with a little kindness to myself, just enough to allow me to develop my own worthiness. Enough to provide the couarge to respect myself.

To echo one of my favourite teachers and in gratitude of Oprah Winfrey and her dedication to empowering others, I have put together a list to help you to begin to show yourself the love you deserve of what to look out for, signs that tell you it is time to put down a boundary.

Notice your feelings (emotions). Your body sends signals which tell you

  • this is not serving me
  • this is hurting me
  • this disrespects me
  • this denies me dignity
  • this belittles me
  • this undermines me as a woman/man/human being

Notice behaviour which

  • dismisses/disregards your opinion
  • consistently places other peoples’ needs above your own (self imposed or otherwise)
  • puts you down
  • humiliates you
  • tries to make you feel guilty
  • makes you afraid or fearful for your/family’s/pet’s life
  • controls what you do, who you see, who you talk to
  • limits access to other people (family and friends)
  • prevents you from supporting yourself financially
  • treats you like a servant
  • enslaves you in some way
  • disallows you to make your own decisions
  • blaming, name calling and shaming you
  • physically hurts you in any way

It all starts with paying attention. Paying attention to how you feel, how you treat yourself, how others treat you and then noticing how you would like to be treated instead.

They cannot take away our self-respect if we do not give it to them.  ~Mahatma Gandhi

Movies to watch to help you be more aware:

  • She’s out of My League
  • Coach Carter
  • The Last Samurai
  • Precious
  • Bridget Jones’s Diary

Music to sing to, to encourage you on this journey:

  • Respect Yourself- The Staple Singers
  • Moving On Up – M People
  • Proud- Heather Small
  • Beautiful- Christina Aguilera
  • Believe- Cher
  • Self Esteem – The Offspring
  • Self Esteem – Nelly
  • Survivor- Destiny’s Child
  • Search For the Hero – M People
  • The World’s Greatest – R Kelly

Baby Steps Toward Self Respect – A Noticing task:

Write yourself a letter listing all the reasons you like yourself. They might be recent examples of things to feel proud of or past experiences of who you were once. Notice moments in a day/week to feel proud of yourself.  Journal Example: Begin with “I deserve to show myself respect because

I am doing the best I can with what I have, I am kind to animals, I have good intentions etc. etc.

Keep the spots you like, and change those you dont.