My husband and I choose themes, rather than resolutions, to orient our year. We’ve found them to be more challenging and helpful than a list of resolutions that are too easily broken. Last year’s theme was Create & Simplify. If you want to be fully up-to-speed, check out my posts on creativity and simplifying.
Our theme for 2014 is Don’t Hush Yourself. I’ve wanted to keep it close and practice living with it for a while before I could write about it, which is why, two months into 2014, I’m just now articulating it.
You can see why this is going to be a good challenge for me.
Why this theme?
One of the first things I realized is that the word “hush” can mean many different things. When I first began to live with this theme in mind, I found I would hush myself by shortening an answer when someone asked me a question, especially when it was about myself, or failing to speak up to correct a misconception or to challenge something that was a little off, let alone really off. But I soon learned that I hushed myself by not taking a risk, or even taking action. And soon many things were falling under this heading. Too often, I am the one who stops myself from doing something good, loving, creative, or bold, for very flimsy reasons. Sometimes what I need is to choose quiet—selective and intentional hushing—and to demand the time from my family to get away for a long walk, but I will even talk myself out of this small imposition.
As a good friend has lately helped me see, it can be a challenge to allow what is on the outside (what I say and project to the world) to match what is inside, especially for introverts like myself. And I feel challenged to bring these two worlds into synch with each other.
What do I allow to hush myself?
The things that hush me usually come from one of three categories. I either hush myself out of fear—usually of what others will think, or sometimes it’s fear of failure. Or out of laziness—sometimes I don’t make time for the thing I ought to do, whatever that may be. Or out of a lack of respect for the situation or the person I’m addressing—kind of a “It’s/You’re not worth it” attitude, and I fail to really engage as a kind of dismissal. Sometimes I turn this on myself, and don’t engage because I feel I’m not worthy. But this is really the same lack of respect, just in reverse.
Or, to put it in more ancient and succinct terms, I hush myself out of fear, sloth, and pride.
This past Wednesday was Ash Wednesday. Our priest challenged us to think of our Lenten Fasts as an opportunity to “kill the thing that’s killing you.” Suddenly my sugar and alcohol fasts seemed like tokenism compared to what really needs to be eradicated from my life: fear, sloth, and pride. So I’m coming up with ways of addressing these, too.
And so I begin
So this is the year I challenge myself to be aware of my flimsy reasoning, so I can confront it. I’ll give the full answer, I’ll challenge bad ideas, I’ll take the risk, and take action. But mostly, I’ll begin to be aware of the ways fear, sloth, and pride are causing me to hush myself.