Thursday, February 25, 2016

Becoming Beautiful

 Becoming Beautiful

Beauty is a difficult topic to cover. It’s been said to be in the eye of the beholder, but I’ve come to see that Beauty is in the heart of the beautiful.

Beauty is defined mathematically as symmetry, balance and harmony. Webster’s defines it as “The quality or aggregate of qualities in a person or thing that gives pleasure to the senses or pleasurably exalts the mind or spirit.
Beauty then, is a subjective interpretation of a thing or person by a thing or person that may or may not see themselves as beautiful. Do you see where I’m going?

We have bought into an industry that makes a living by making us all believe that we could be beautiful if only our breasts were bigger, our nose and hips were smaller; skin lighter, abs tighter, hair longer, teeth whiter, lashes longer and everything (except those breasts) were much, much smaller.

On the wall of my bathroom, I’ve hung a picture of myself when I was 20. I was beautiful. The picture is not there to remind me of how beautiful I was.  It’s there to remind me that I did not know, accept or believe that I was beautiful.

Now, at age 55, I see the beauty in that 20 year old. When I look into the sad eyes of that young woman, she implores me to know that I am beautiful right now.

Beauty is as it believes. Choose to know that you already are beautiful, right now; as you are today.
My beauty is not determined by the industry that enslaves me. The slaver will not determine my score on a scale from one to ten.

I’m asking, no imploring you to see your beauty.   

Then I’d like you to pass it on. Tell someone that they are beautiful. Tell an older woman, and a young child. Tell this truth to the world.

See yourself as beautiful, and you will see the world that way too.

Be you, be well, Be beautiful. Because you already are.

Bertice Berry, PhD.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Hearing vs. Listening

Did I Hear What I Thought You Said?

If we see the world through the filter of our own perspective, then we hear it through the sound proofing of our own mind.

Several years ago, I suffered a head injury. During that time of recovery, hearing was one of the most difficult things I had to endure. One specialist explained it like this; “You listen with your ears, but you hear with your brain.”

As clouded as my mind was, this simple explanation was beautifully profound.

My children are all adopted. They came into the world with fetal alcohol syndrome and crack addiction. They have had tremendous struggles; the greatest being the ability to truly hear what someone is saying.

I’m coming to see that we all have this struggle. We hear a compliment as a complaint and criticism as disrespect.

I am a talker; I do so for a living.

Some would say that I talk too much, and I would have to agree.

But what I know about myself that most don’t is that I am an amazing listener.. I listen for tone and intonation; for breathing and pauses. I listen to the silence between the thought and I listen to the sighs.

I not only hear exceptionally well (I’ve had it tested,) I truly listen. In fact, a great deal of my talking is to get the other person to speak their heart.  

I listen so intently, that even in a crowded auditorium, a speaker on a stage will often find me and point their comments in my direction. They can see and even feel that I am intently listening.

Listening, not hearing, is an act of empathy. It is about truly feeling what someone else is trying to convey or reflect.

While active listening is about the listener, reflective listening is about the speaker.

Active listening requires that the listener intentionally hear, understand and remember.

Reflective listening, developed by Carl Rogers and the School of Patient Centered Therapy, requires that the listener seeks to understand the speaker’s idea by reflecting that idea back to them. “So, I think I hear you saying?”

If all we hear is what we already think, then we are not listening.

Clean your filter and listen. If you are not sure, reflect it back until you can feel the intention of the speaker.

Then you will truly say to yourself, “What a wonderful world.”

Be you, be well, be listening.

Bertice Berry, PhD

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

“You’ve got to learn to leave well-enough alone.” My mother said these words to me practically every day of my youth, but it took years for me to fully grasp the meaning.

I’m a tad on the OCD side of things. If I’m cleaning something, I have a difficult time stopping. 

When I sit down to write, I have a difficult time getting up. My mother could see that even as a child I was what some would call “Type A.”

I grew up in a strict Pentecostal church. No one in my family went, I went on my own. All of the rules and regulations were just right for one who believed that there was no such thing as “well-enough.”

Something in that church socialization led me to think and then believe that I could never be good enough for God.

I couldn’t give enough, do enough or be enough. We were told by many-a-folk who had the microphone that our best was a filthy offering to God.

Amazingly, our pastor, a quiet soft-spoken man didn’t see things that way. But Rev. Rainey was not the firebrand that could bring down the fire.

The loud emotion tugging ministers were the ones who let us know that God was never pleased.

The combination of poverty, Pentecostalism and a poor perspective of my own self led me to believe that I could never be enough.

Enoughness is the state or condition of being enough. Until you can see yourself as sufficiently adequate for the task before you, you will find it very hard to believe in yourself, love yourself, or do any of those things the good songs tell us to do.

Enoughness is not about having or doing; it is about being. I could write much more on this; I can make this better, but I’m going to leave well-enough alone.

Be you, be well, be enough.

Bertice Berrry, PhD.

For more lessons, follow me on Periscope.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Feeling Joy at HOME
Is Your House A Home?

For years folks have been searching for chupacabras, the Loch Ness Monster and Life-Work Balance. 

There have been sightings of the chupacabra and Nessie; still no life balance.

Even the Life-Work folks have taken balance out of their name; they like the idea of integration.

After years of talking and listening to the struggles of hundreds of thousands of working folks, I’ve come to see that a great deal of the struggle on the job is caused by the stuff that happens before we even get there.

More women are staying up all night with the homework of a second grader than they ever did in my mother’s day.

Today’s working women are re-thinking that whole “having it all,” thing but I believe we need to think about having support.

We have become both Ozzie and Harriett; paying the bills and making the meals, and I’m not even talking about single mothers.

The idea of sharing the load has taken on a new meaning and people are not only working to work, they are working to get a break from the place they call home.

Research in subjective well-being points out that people who have a good support system at home are much happier than those who do not.

So I’m asking the simple question; is your house a home?

Do you feel loved, supported and wanted when you drive up to your house and even more when you cross the threshold?

Is there a feeling of joy that comes over you when you stand in the center of your hard work and diligence?

Is your home a reflection of you or does it represent what someone else said that you should have?

Are you totally comfortable in your own space or does it belong to someone else?

If your own house is not a home, it’s no wonder that your job feels like work.

Today and every day that follows, find ways to get the support, love, encouragement that you need from the environment that you call home. Everyone will be glad that you did.

Be you, be well, be at home with yourself.

Bertice Berry, PhD.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Copy Cats, Scapegoats and Other Such Animals

Have you ever watched a cat? They won’t do anything you want them to do. Dogs on the other hand, will follow where you lead.

A scapegoat is a person or animal that takes on the sins and blames of another.

So even though I have a rather severe allergic reaction to cats; I still believe that they have been unfairly scapegoated.

The real point with the goats, cats and even the dogs is that we project our behavior, power and even desires onto and through someone else.

Projection is a psychological concept that defines the act of transferring your unpleasant and undesirable thoughts, actions and desires onto another.

Most copycats don’t even know that their doing it, while scapegoats may or may not be conscious of their behavior.

I laugh (and correct) when I hear people talk about lazy Mexican workers---you know, the ones who toil at those jobs most of us would never even attempt.

Fat people are believed to lack will power and yet they/we endure diet after diet and all the name calling that goes with it.

When we copy the behavior of someone else, we have given up on picking and choosing for our own self and when we scapegoat we are refusing to take responsibility for our stuff.

Leave the animals out of it and be yourself, take responsibility for yourself and enjoy who you become.

Be you, be well, be you.

Bertice Berry, PhD

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Doing Too Much

Are You Overcompensating?

Throughout my life, I have been accused of doing too much. When I was a girl, the accusations came from my siblings and classmates; they said that I worked too hard, too fast too-too and that I did it to try to show them up.

In college and graduate school, my colleagues implored me to do less because I had “messed up the grading curve.”

In work situations, I often encounter clients who think that my “extra effort” is some kind of gimmick to get them to buy something they don’t want or need.

When my children got in the act, I felt that it was time to take a stand, to say something about this idea of “Doing too much.”

Let me be clear, I don’t think we can ever be too kind, too caring, too compassionate nor can you give too much. The world needs more folks who are determined to give their best.

I have learned however, that we can put our efforts in the wrong places at the wrong time.

As I look over my life and search my motives and motivations for rejecting the idea of being the best and instead striving to give my best, I find that I have often overcompensated.

To compensate means to give something to someone to make up for or make repay for a loss, suffering or injury. To overcompensate then, is to reimburse beyond the value or worth of the loss.

I’ve often had to ask myself if I am overcompensating for injuries occurred but not inflicted by me.

I know I’ve done this with my children, who have suffered loss, grief, death, illness and disability.The questions, then become: 

       Can you give compensation to someone for something you haven’t done or benefited from?

Can you or rather should you pay compensation to your bullies?

Can you overcompensate to the point of causing even more pain?

Look, I’m just asking the questions. You have to supply your own answers.

Be you, be well, Be balanced.

Bertice Berry, PhD.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Fluctuating Confidence

Does your confidence in yourself fluctuate from high to not-so-much? One day you’re the super woman to all of your colleagues, but the next, you find yourself crying over the simplest of task.

Fluctuating confidence also occurs when you have a great degree of confidence in one area of your life, but very little in another. Oftentimes, the strength of one area could be draining to another. This could be the result of a life changing event, like divorce, or the death of a parent.

A change in life stages can also bring about this fluctuation of confidence.

For some reason, people think that you either have it, or you don’t; but I’m finding that this is just not the case.

Most people who are fully confident in one aspect of work, lack certainty in others.
So what can you do?

Focus on the area of your strength--- right now, focus on it. Actually see it.

Is it consistent, the result of hard work? Is it fun and based in reality; not romanticism? You probably answered yes to all of those questions. Now begin to see the area where you are lacking and ask yourself what the strong area can teach the other.

In the words of Bill Withers, “Sometimes in our lives, we all have pain, we all have sorrow…We all need somebody to lean on.”
Sometimes that somebody is you.
Be you, be well, be strong.

Bertice Berry, PhD

Monday, February 15, 2016

Don’t Get Mad At Your Own Choices
Do I look bothered?

My children have had to endure many things; but they truly hate it when I say, “Don’t get mad at the choices you’ve made.”

From time to time, we all make choices that are uninformed, not well thought out and downright bad. But if you spend too much time being mad at yourself for the choices you’ve made, you will find it very hard to change the course of that choice.

I should know; I got married and divorced in the same year.

No need to bore you with the details, (I say this knowing that the story is anything but boring) just suffice it to say that after packing up my entire family and moving from one side of the United States to the other, all in the name of love, I didn’t just want to wallow, I felt that I needed to sit in sack cloth and ashes.

When the obvious became painful, I was afraid to tell my family, the bridal party, the 500 people who’d flown in for the ceremonies and even my own self. Once I got up the courage to face the fact that getting in was a choice and getting out was one too, I was able to relax in the awareness that I had done the right thing.

I live in an amazing life in a beautiful place; one I would not have chosen had I never married. I know the pain of lost love and the restoration of love renewed.

Before my mother passed away, she told me that the experience of the wedding and the move had been some of the best in her life and that no matter how things ended, I made the right choice.

When you wallow in the anger of a choice that doesn’t go as planned, you will find yourself frozen in time. Your head and your heart will have a hard time moving forward to the joy that life has for you and you will fail to see that all things truly work together.

Be you, be well, be happy.

Bertice Berry, PhD.