We’ve heard from her a few times before. When I listen to Dr Finlayson-Fife, her words always resonate with me. I always find encouragement in her shared experiences and her words of counsel. In this podcast, Dr Finlayson-Fife talks about her experience with self-doubt and with suffering, and the lessons she learned about herself, life, and God, in these challenges.

And the whole episode was really encouraging. I will share some of my notes from listening, and some of my thoughts, today, from where I am sitting at today.

“It’s developmentally appropriate to have self-doubt. But I think where a lot of us get stuck is that we spend too much time, and get stuck in a pattern of referencing how other people feel about us and trying to keep other people happy with us, as a way to feel good about ourselves. And while that is normal … if we keep doing that, we really will struggle to ever have a solid sense of self.”

This is an area where I spend a lot of time in thoughtwork. Really. How much time daily do I spend thinking about what others think about me, and trying to keep other people happy with me? And, if I were to spend that time instead improving myself in ways that I want to improve myself and my life experience, where would I be next year or in five years, or in ten?

And that’s really two things there, right? Working my way through thoughts of self-doubt caused by the thoughts I think about the thoughts other people may or may not be thinking about me. Ha ha. That’s NUMBER ONE.

Dr Finlayson-Fife came from a family that didn’t really value women’s education. She was kind of stuck – she wanted more for herself, but didn’t feel a lot of support from her family. But she was taught, and she believed at a very young age, that God loved her. And when she prayed to Him, she only ever felt His love and His support:

“It was okay for me to become strong, it was right for me to lean into my desires and lean into the woman I wanted to become…

God was saying YES to me, so it made it okay that other people didn’t understand me, or other people thought I was wrong.”

From 2 Nephi 4:34:

“O Lord, I have trusted in Thee, and I will trust in Thee forever. I will not put my trust in the arm of flesh; for I know that cursed is he that putteth his trust in the arm of flesh.”

And I don’t think believing in God and in His love and His approval makes the process of improving ourselves less complicated, necessarily. It is an immature view of God to assume if we do A, then He will make B happen. Dr Finlayson-Fife really struggled, even with her belief fully intact. And then, as she was finally nearing the end of her formal education, she gave birth to a high-needs son. It was such a struggle for her.

Brooke would say that that is just part of the 50/50. I really appreciated what Dr Finlayson-Fife had to say about this struggle and about life and about God:

“I didn’t tend to look at hard things and think that God had ‘done this to me’. Some people offered me that advice: ‘There is a reason for this’ or ‘You needed to learn something from this’ or ‘God trusted you because He knew you could do this’, and it was all very kind… But I tended to think, ‘This is just that hand that we’ve been dealt…it just is.’

Life is deeply imperfect. That is just the case. And that was a helpful thought for me because it allowed me to say, ‘This is just part of the human experience.’ And it is painful, and it’s okay that it’s painful. That’s normal… I wasn’t shaming myself for the fact that it was painful and that I was uncertain, that I was grieving. That’s all pretty normal. And then we could give ourselves to space to grieve, and to have compassion for ourselves around that…

Eventually the question I started asking myself was not ‘What does God want me to learn from this?’ but rather ‘God, what can I learn from this? What can I learn from having this experience as a human being? What can I learn about what it means to love? What can I learn about what it means to be human? What can I learn about who I want to be in the face of this challenge?'”

And these are questions that I would like to take the time to ask myself, in my own struggle, as a human having my own life experience. God, what can I learn from having this experience as a human being? What can I learn about what it means to love? What can I learn about what it means to be human? What can I learn about who I want to be in the face of this challenge?

Let me look closer at those questions in my brain self-care time tomorrow morning. Let’s move on to the second point.

NUMBER TWO, let’s take out the middle-guy – instead of exerting any energy in thoughts about what thoughts other people may or may not have about me, what thoughts do I have about me? Who am I, and do I like that? What is my current life-experience, and do I like that?

“Many women often hide from knowing their own desires, in part because they don’t know if other people will validate them, if other people will be okay with them… But when you don’t attend to your own desires and develop your own self in the world, not only do you deprive others of your gift, but I think you corrupt something inside of yourself…

Treat yourself like someone you love.”

And self-care, especially in the little day-to-day things, is something that we have discussed and worked on. I sleep with a list next to my bed of options: “What is the most healthiful thing I can do for myself right now?” Poor English aside, this list is where I go to when I need to better care for myself.

  • Massage
  • Thought dump
  • Exercise
  • Go outside
  • Drink water
  • Nap
  • Eat a healthy meal
  • Pray

Those are just some things that I do for me, that keeps me out of buffering, because buffering is not how we care for ourselves. And when I can see that I want to lean toward buffering, I literally ask myself, What do I need right now, for me?

And what about the big things?

“Attend to your own development.”

What are my big goals? Where can I lean more into the woman that I want to become? Where is God saying YES, and I can really pick it up from there and improve myself and improve my life-experience?

I think these things are probably the impossible goals. The ones I keep coming back to:

  • I want to publish something
  • I want to travel for one year with my husband and children
  • I want to go back to Africa with my family
  • I want to build a house – well, I want to design it and hire someone to build it, anyway
  • I want to learn to speak a second language fluently
  • I want a Masters Degree

1 Comment

  1. Bryant
    September 26, 2020

    I love the six goals. And I think it’ll be fun to do them together. Something I recognized about myself this week was in relation to this thought: “It’s developmentally appropriate to have self-doubt. But I think where a lot of us get stuck is that we spend too much time, and get stuck in a pattern…”
    It’s interesting to ponder my “thinking about” this self-doubt.

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