***Disclosure: This is a sponsored post for SheSpeaks/The Power of The Heart. As always, all opinions are 100% honest and have not been influenced in any way.***
You see, when I first accepted this assignment, I thought, "Okay, a book review. Sounds fun!" But when I received "The Power of the Heart" by Baptist De Pape, I quickly learned that it's more than just a book....It's a tool for self-discovery and self-awareness. This book has forced me to take a long, hard look in the mirror. It's taught me to face the things I don't like about myself, identify the reasons why I am the way I am, and then (hopefully) find the power within myself to change them, making me a happier, stronger, more connected person in the long-run.
I have found this book to be very helpful, especially during my own frequent moments of doubt and uncertainty. Anyone who knows me knows that at times, I am a hot mess. (Just keeping it real, here.) I had a pretty rough childhood where I was surrounded by addiction and shown very little love, followed by a very abusive first marriage. As a result, I am prone to pretty severe anxiety and bouts of depression. I also suffer from ridiculously low self-esteem, and I seem to always second guess myself.
Confidence is certainly not one of my strong suits, and I am trying very hard to change this. I don't want my children, my daughter especially, to ever go through the things that I have. I don't want her to ever question her own worth, or feel that she isn't "good enough" or deserving of love. I don't want her to ever let another human being harm her, physically or emotionally, and I definitely don't want to see her fall victim to an eating disorder in hopes of becoming what others want her to be. (See, I told you, I have been a mess in my lifetime!)
But if I want my daughter to have a kinder view of herself, I have to begin with giving her a positive example. This means battling my own insecurities and inner-demons and learning to love and accept myself. This is easier said than done, but I think that with the help of this book, I am on the right track.
One of the things I have been focusing on is figuring out who I am, what I want from life, and how I can achieve happiness from within. In "The Power of the Heart", there are some great exercises to help one do just that. I am going to bare my soul and give an example of an exercise that I recently completed:
The "Your Calling" Exercise:
Answer these questions
- Who am I?
- What is it I want?
- What is my life's purpose?
- Who are my heroes/heroines in history, in fiction and legend, or in religion? What is it that I admire most about them?
- What are my unique skills and talents for a greater purpose?
Here are my answers:
- I am a mother....A wife...A loyal friend...I am always willing to help others, and care more about other people than I do myself. At the same time, I am also very meek and fearful. For some reason, probably due to being hurt and disappointed so much in my life, I find it very difficult to allow people to get too close to me. I am very reserved, and find it hard to reach out to others. This ultimately fuels my depression, since I constantly feel lonely. I don't have any "good friends" I can turn to in a time of need, or to just shoot the breeze with. This is by my own creation, and I would really love to change this. I need to open myself up to others more, and finally allow myself to have solid, lasting relationships without fear of once again being hurt.
- I just want to be happy. To be at peace. To love myself as much as I love others. I want to beat my social anxiety, once and for all. I want to be able to walk into a room full of people and feel like I belong. I want to finally feel worthy. I want to shed the self-doubt. I want to truly believe that I am loved and wanted. This is hard for me. I often find myself feeling that even my extended family doesn't want me around. I want to shed these negative thoughts, once and for all, so I can be a better daughter, grand-daughter, wife, mother, and friend.
- I truly feel that my life's purpose is to give to others. Whether it's a shoulder to cry on, a helping hand, or even just a soft place to fall, I want to be a person that others can count on. While I have many flaws, some of my strong points are my loyalty, my kindness, and my compassion. I want to be a good example for my children so that they, too, grow up to have compassion, tolerance, and empathy towards those around them.
- Well, a have a couple of heroes. I will start with the fictional. My favorite book of all time is "A Prayer for Owen Meany" by John Irving. The story itself is far too complex to try and tell in a quick blurb, but it's main character, Owen Meany, is truly inspirational. Owen is a bit of an under-dog, and is ridiculed, put down, and worse. However, his unwavering faith and selflessness makes him a true hero in the end. If you haven't read this amazing book, DO IT. It will change your life! Now for my real life hero....This is hard for me to write. Debby West is my hero. She was my middle school choir teacher, but more importantly, she was my "pseudo-mother" and my friend. Debby passed away just over a year ago, and I am still grieving this loss. This woman was the kindest, most loving person I have ever met. She took me under her wing and was the mother I didn't have at home. When I was a confused, angry teen, she was my shoulder to cry on and always believed in me, even when I couldn't believe in myself. She was so much more than just a teacher. Sure, she taught me the notes on the page and how to properly sing, but she also taught me about love. About life. About kindness. I will always be grateful that she chose me to be the daughter she never had, and I hope that as she looks down on me from Heaven, she is proud of the person I have become, as well as the person I am hoping to be. I miss her so much!
- Unique skills and talents...Egads...Umm...Well, like I said, confidence is not my strong suit. I suppose I am a good listener. I also give fairly good advice. I am giving, loyal, and always try and make others feel special and important. I always think before speaking or acting, and I always put the needs and happiness of those I care about at the forefront. That's gotta count for something, right?
This is just one of the many exercises found in "The Power of the Heart". I am making my way through this wonderful book, and really trying to take its words to heart. I hope that by the end of my journey, I am a stronger, gentler, kinder person, and that I am able to forgive myself for my own flaws and insecurities, once and for all. It's not an easy journey. Self-examination is never easy. It means facing things that may be uncomfortable to think about, and dealing with things that have caused great pain. But without doing so, there is no healing or betterment. It takes being truly connected and truly understanding the heart's desires.
You can pre-order "The Power of the Heart" on their website. (This book will become available on October 7, 2014.)
You can also connect with the team behind this book on Facebook and on twitter.
Stay tuned on twitter for more revelations from this powerful book. I will be sharing more of my journey in the weeks to come. Simply check the hashtag #PowerOfTheHeart.