Deb Sofield

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Be gentle with everyone you meet

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If there is one thing I have learned in life it is this, Be gentle with everyone you meet–you have no idea what has happened to them on their life journey.

As most of you know, I am a speaker. I stand before audiences of 100 to 1,000 on any given week, and it never fails–really, it never fails–that someone who looks like a million bucks or who is the life of the party or who carries themselves with such apparent ease is the one who carries the deepest scars.

Over the years, I think I’ve developed something like a sixth sense that allows me to either see, to feel or to hear what is not being said or seen. I’m sure that I’m not always right, but if you study people long enough, you begin to glean a bit of–I don’t know–essence or matter or sense of someone’s heart, and if you’re careful, you might be in a position to speak truth into them about their situation in life. Doesn’t happen often, but occasionally a break opens up and you’re able to see inside.

Because I received so much email and chatter about last week’s show where I focused on the age old truth that will stand the test of time, which is that no matter what you think about yourself, when it all comes down to it, you matter. Yes, you. You matter, and although, as some pointed out, they didn’t seem to matter to the one or ones they wanted to matter to, they had to admit when pushed, that they do matter. May be there is someone you’d like to be more meaningful to? We’ll get to some of that today, but let me remind you that this doesn’t negate the truth that you still matter.

So in thinking about the response from the last show, I wanted to go one step further and focus on why so many people seem to be uncomfortable with the truth or value of their self-worth.

It’s always interesting to me when one line from a one-hour show is what people end up talking about, and the line that got many in my audience buzzing was the quote that said, It’s better to be alone than be with someone who makes you feel alone.

Yes, that is a hard line to have rattling around in your head. Feeling alone, well, we all know that’s not a great feeling at all, so with that in mind, today I want to talk about the person who looks in the mirror every day and wonders why no one seems to have taken an interest in them and that they are alone. As wonderful as they are, they have yet to find anyone who will love them, and that confusion makes it hard to believe that they have worth and value, because, as I have had many a client and friend say to me, “…if I believe what you say–that I’m so amazing–then why am I so alone?”

That’s a hard one, and since I’m a speech coach and not a therapist, I can only tell you what I see and then ask that you look at yourself and honestly tell me what you see, and not from a negative point of view–many of you do that enough as it is–but from an observer point of view, and maybe–just maybe–I can shed some light on the issues that weigh heavy on your heart and mind.

Because by my faith and core beliefs I believe that you are fearfully and wonderfully made… you have a purpose that you need to fulfill; you were put where you are for a reason, and instead of bemoaning that fact, let’s accept it and use it as our starting point today.

So, starting with you… let me remind you of my thought for the day.

Be gentle with everyone you meet–you have no idea what has happened to them on their life journey.

In this case, the person I want you to be gentle with is YOU. Yes, you, the person who looks in the mirror every day and wonders why no one seems to have taken an interest in them, and while that is a hard answer to digest, I want you to think bigger and refocus on a few things that you’re most likely doing that you need to reconsider. Some of this you know and some of this might be a new thought to help you on your journey.

Let me start with the most important rule that many have ignored or set aside and it is this: Some of you need to stop neglecting your body and treat it like the temple that it is. Friend, if you don’t take care of you, why do you think someone else would want to? Look, I know that’s hard, but conversations like this don’t take place enough for many people to talk it out to a resolved ending, but together let’s really think this through.

Now before you beat yourself up for being, oh, I like the word chunky, hear me. I’m not actually worried about your weight…as long as you are healthy. Meaning, if you can walk up a flight of stairs without having to have an oxygen tank or you can walk briskly around the block a few times without passing out, I’m good with that…and you should be also, unless, of course, you want to make a change.

Because at any moment you choose, you can change your number on a scale. Okay, so that’s not my message today, because that is easy–well, hard, but easy. What is not easy is to face the fact that the keys to your happiness are no longer in somebody else’s pocket from the past; they’re in yours, and now you need to figure out what key opens the door to the life you want.

Print and social media make it about the look, but it goes deeper than that–or at least it should–to an internal belief that you love you. I heard the quote that If your compassion doesn’t include yourself, it is incomplete. I love that line because it is true. If you’re going to worry, then worry about loving yourself, instead of loving the idea of other people loving you. Once you get this aspect of your personal life right, all other things will fall into place.

Self-love, self-respect and self-worth. There is a reason they all start with self. Because, friend, you can’t find them in anyone else–it has to start with you. Caroline Kirk said, “Self-love requires you to be honest about your current choices and thought patterns and undertake new practices that reflect self-worth.”

This one is hard, because only you can make something happen, so now what are you going to do to help redirect your thoughts and choices to help you regain your sense of worth or self esteem?

I’m always asking my audience when did they go from carefree to careful? from fearless to fearful? from open to closed? What happened when you were younger that made you stop living in a manner that suited your personality? Unfortunately, not many people are bold enough to face the truth of what broke; most can tell me of a vague sense of one day making a choice to close up and close out the world around them, and they wonder why they’re alone now. The way to change this is to open up again–take a chance on being a friend or to find a friend. Let others see inside the gentle side of you–no matter your past. Never let the mistakes of your past and the fear of your future ruin the happiness of your present. You make the choice.

There is no doubt about it, that many people dwell on their outward appearance and neglect their inward beauty, but let me remind you to be gentle with yourself, because life is a hard journey no matter how attractive you are or strive to be.

There is something about the feeling of loneliness that seems to be designed to help you discover who you are… and to stop looking outside yourself for your worth.

Another aspect I should talk about is not only how you treat yourself, but also how you treat others. People won’t have an interest in you if you don’t have an interest in them. I have always loved this quote, Always leave people better than you found them. Hug the hurt. Kiss the broken. Befriend the lost. Love the lonely.

Not only am I going to include you in the love the lonely; I am going to ask that you reach out and do the work to make others feel a sense of safety in your presence. Remember, people learn how to treat you based on what you accept from them…so if you’ll stop the self-introspection and self-loathing and open your heart to others, things will change. You will change, and those around you will see the change–it’s just the way the world works.

You probably won’t go from lonely to being the life of the party overnight, but you will find a place of peace where you can either rediscover or regain your strength to keep moving forward to a place where you feel you belong…inside and out.

The challenge is to put your self-care and self-worth to the forefront of your personal actions so others will see your true heart and true being, because that is what is so attractive about you.

Deb Sofield

Deb Sofield is a Keynote Speaker, Author of the book, Speak without Fear – Rock Star Presentation Skills to get People to Hear What You Say and Encouragement For Your Life ~ Tough Love Memos to Help You Fight Your Battles and Change the World, Radio Talk Show Host in the Salem Network, Podcaster and President of her own Executive Speech Coaching Co., which trains women and men for success in speaking, crisis communications, presentation skills, media and message development in the U.S. and abroad.

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