I remember the feeling I had when I read Alexandra Stoddard’s book Daring to Be Yourself. Daring—now that is a strong word. Daring to be true to ourselves is quite startling, and many times it is a matter of courage. And why aren’t we “ourselves” on the outside if it differs from the inside? It is always amusing when you hear someone say, “She is just not herself these days.” I would love to ask in response, “How do you know?” Why don’t we express our true feelings when asked?
Now, let me say this: daring to be ourselves does not mean saying whatever comes across our minds without tact. There is a vast difference between being ourselves and being hurtful, especially when we really would like to unleash our inner feelings and empty our minds of feelings we have pent up.
Alexandra’s book is about finding your style and letting it spill over into your home, your dress, and your daily life. For me her book encouraged me to learn to express my thoughts and ideas, especially when someone is leading me in another direction. I just love it when I visit a friend’s home and it truly reflects their personality and interest. It’s a pleasant contrast to other homes where the décor feels installed, with no reflection of the people living there. So I understand Alexandra’s philosophy on establishing a style that reflects you and your taste.
I am sure you have had the same experiences I have had when an overzealous sales person tries to convince you that an outfit looks great but you know it is hideous. Or worse, we try to be someone we are not to be accepted in a group of people that we really don’t enjoy at all. It is time to free ourselves from trying to be accepted by people that do not bring out the best in us. The people that we should be surrounding ourselves with are people that accept us for who we are and enhance our lives.
I had an acquaintance once that just totally sent me over the edge. I soon realized after meeting her that she criticized everyone and everything constantly. You know the kind; they just irritate you when they walk in the room because you know how it will go from the outset. This particular person was in a group of friends that I really enjoyed, but everyone was afraid to voice any opinion that differed from hers for fear of the repercussions.
After a lot of soul-searching, I decided that the only people that I would surround myself with would be people who are positive and uplifting—people who truly love others. I didn’t need all of that negativity; it zapped me of life. That was a life-changing experience. And you know what? It made a huge difference!
Our friends should bring out the best in us and be uplifting when there are struggles in our lives, not be critics to look over their glasses and judge us. A friend will share life’s great moments and not-so-great moments with encouragement and support. You can dare to be yourself and be accepted for who you are!
Is it time for a change in your life? Have you surrounded yourself with your best friends?
Phyllis, you are so right! Life is too short and too beautiful to saddle ourselves with such trivial but undermining negativity. In breaking away from these types of relationships we bring ourselves to greater levels in life…kind of like “taking out the trash.” I think it’s very important too to teach this to our children and grandchildren when they are confronted by this constant negativity in their lives. When this happens, we have to be there for them and help them get through this difficult stage as best we can. New projects, new adventures, new friends and even a new pet or two can do wonders! These are stepping stones to greater, stronger, more appreciative, less burdensome and happier lives!
I just found your website and am very impressed. I am an older woman who loves beauty in every form. The sage advice in your latest comments about friends also makes me realize that by joining your group I will be witness to much more than just outward beauty. I look forward to reading your future blogs
As always, good thoughts. Life is just to short to waste on negativity. We are so blessed with so many joyful things we can focus ourselves on – like our grandchildren, the beauty around us, our homes, a loving spouse. But, we all need a reminder now and then. Thank you…
I’d like to add that somehow in our culture the idea of having many, many friends is some sort of badge of honor. Loving many people is one thing, but having many friends is something else. In some other languages, people don’t mix the meaning of acquaintance and friend the way we do in the U.S. I think people often end up in stifling situations because the door is open for a sort of “deep” friendship with people who really are not kindred spirits. In my experience, just a very few kindred spirits are enough along with an open heart to love people all around. How can we keep up with so much in other people’s lives anyway? It is hard enough to keep up with our own lives. I think daring to be ourselves also means that we understand how true friendships are formed, nurtured and endure.
I gain so much insight from your writing. There are a few things I have had to learn with age and experience. We gain more inner peace in our lives when we stop giving our power, time and sanity away to people and conditions that can steal our joy and our purpose. We need to draw emotional boundaries which negative people cannot cross. Freedom, peace, and more joyful living is the outcome. In your words:”It is time to free ourselves from trying to be accepted by people that do not bring out the best in us.” We need positive uplifting people in our lives. For me this has also made a huge difference. Phyllis thank you and God Bless.
My first book by Alexandra Stoddard was Creating a Beautiful Home.
You offer great insight into many of life’s quandaries, Phyllis! Thanks so much for your thought provoking blog and uplifting comments!
So appreciate these words!! A few years ago I extricated myself from a friendship that had become increasingly uncomfortable. The woman seemed to feed on any problem I had and always wanted to “counsel” me. I began to dread our lunch dates! Finally, I realized that enough was enough. Now, I am happy to say, all my friends are life-giving, non-judgmental, respectful and kind. – Karen
Phyllis and Dr. Alice you are both so right! I try to surround myself with positive people, for way too long I put up with too many complaints from friends… Of course that was many years ago, but for me it took a long time to recognize who my true friends really were…. That can only come from wisdom! At the age that I’am now I do not have nor do I want to use up my quality time on people who only think about themselves. I will be there for only the people that I love and care about and that includes family and friends and if I meet a stranger and they need my help for whatever reason and I can do some good for them I certainly will, because now I know how to see people for who they really are.
Phyllis, My day is complete, I am not alone. Sarah’s comment; well, the same thing happened to me by my best friend from the 6th grade. She broke my heart when I discovered her evil doings. I will not apologize for my success’s I’ve earned them all and my wonderful husband. I no longer share stories good, bad or indifferent with her as she will distort them. I can only pray for her. Can’t wait to purchase the book tomorrow.
Thank you again its been a most grateful day for me, thanks to you Phyllis and Sarah. God Bless, Carmel
Timely advice for today’s world when many friendships can be superficial. Such an important truth for older women to pass down to young ladies. Valuable wisdom for a lifetime of true joy. Thank you, Phyllis.
Thank you for these Inspirational words of wisdom.
I love this advice on a magnet on my fridge: Be yourself, everyone else is taken.
Such good advice and thoughts! I think you have to be older and wiser to see through those who are using you and those who are not true friends. True friends sre there for the good times and the hard times.
I completely agree – thank you!
Phyllis, thank you for your insightful words in this post. I had a “friend” for many years with whom I shared life and all that it entails, work, marriage and death. When I learned she had been spreading many negative comments about me to others, it hurt more than you can imagine. No one needs to have someone like that in their life even though it hurts to cut them out. Others often have insecurities that they turn on you because in their mind you represent something they lack – real or unreal. Negativity breeds negativity and life is really too short not to be happy. Thank you again for your wisdom and that of Alexandra Stoddard – I have her book too.
Dear Phyllis, Thank you for your thoughts today they meant so much to me. Last week-end attended a class reunion gathering it was perfect to share what has happened in their lives, health and success. They are all like extended family. I have been e-mail and writing several for over couple years now and really enjoy sharing stories. We still see each other as we were in high school it such a warm feeling. I will purchase the book as I read all things inspirational. You touch many lives and today I thank God for you. Carmel
What a breath of fresh air you are. Thank you for the uplift and hugs to you and Alexandra Stoddard for being your true selves. Love it.
Inspiring words as it does make a world of difference when we surround ourselves with positive people.
Someone very wise once told me that to be healthy, “your inside needs to match your outside.” You and Alexandria Stoddard have enlarged that definition, suggesting that we surround ourselves only with people and things that reflect what we value. What a great post!
Thank you, Phyllis, for tactfully stating an absolute truth of life. Friends must support each other. As a parent of young children, this is an area where people are unnecessarily critical and judgmental. Most of us are doing the best we can under the circumstances. It helps to know we have friends who love and support us as we muddle on through.
Thank you Phyllis. I needed to hear those words today.
Alexandra Stoddard is a real gem. Her monthly post on her sight is full of reflection and insight.
Your words and thoughts have come on a day when I have been reflecting on some of these things myself. Thank you for always providing us with soul searching ideas.
alexandra stoddard .. her advice and wisdom i have appreciated for years…
Thank you so much Phyllis for all that you do to enrich my life and the lives of many others. This message today is such a gentle reminder of how important it is to be centered and positive. I am heading to the bookstore to get the book! Thank you again!
That is wonderful advice. It should be taught to every child in kindergarten. I look forward to reading your blog every day. Thank you!
Thank you so very much Phyllis. You surely did hit the nail on the head with your
words. They helped me to put into perspective some issue that I have been struggling with.
God bless you.
I, too, read this book a very long time ago. It affected me the same way it did you. One reads many books over a long life. Few of them have lasting impact, but Alexandra Stoddard’s book did.
I am an avid reader of A. STODDARD’S books. Glad to read that you are too.
Very good Phyllis. Great reminder to be ourselves (if we are not, “the one” :)!