Let Your Self Shine

The other night in preparing for my youngest son’s wedding, we sat looking at old family pictures in my living room.  After my son left, I went outside to reflect on my feelings.  Looking back at the pictures, I was overcome by my beauty, but also a bit saddened by the fact that I didn’t feel attractive internally as a young girl. Then I felt a surge of gratefulness for my life and the lessons I’ve learned. I am no longer compelled to hold onto the emotional influence of my past and when it does surface, I am able to manage it. I’ve come to an age where I know real fulfillment comes from self- acceptance, from daring to be just as you are and expressing it. The sooner we are aware of our reactions the sooner we can find balance.

To grow and expand as a person of strength, we need to validate our feelings, fears, and struggles that we had. Understanding is the key to balancing and managing the experience of who we are. It’s a worthy endeavor to be familiar with those precious wonder children!

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Being Rattled

“If someone comes along and shoots an arrow  into your heart,  it’s fruitless to stand there and yell at the person.  It would be much better to turn your attention to the fact that there’s an arrow  in your heart…” Pema Chodron

Have you ever had someone talk AT you?

Thinking
Words coming at you!
There are times when people harbor frustration, then, without warning they harshly express what’s on their mind.  Their fighting words can catch you off-guard and ignite a rattled feeling.  It strikes an inner-core of familiar yet uncomfortable feelings; feelings of unworthiness or helplessness.
When you aren’t prepared for this type of criticism,  you instinctively react to protect yourself. Either you get agitated and verbally retaliate, or the opposite can happen–feeling hurt and overpowered, you respond with silence.

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Step Out of Stuckness

We all experience feeling stuck from time to time in our lives. It is natural to experience these impasses. Either we encounter them at the end of something; a change or a transition in our lives, or we simply become stuck in a feeling. We find ourselves retreating. I like to call it cocooning. Either way, we get caught in uneasiness, self-doubt, avoidance, and confusion about ourselves and our future.

In his book, “Getting Unstuck”, Timothy Butler describes the fact that impasse is developmentally necessary. He believes that impasse is an internalized notion of inadequacy, and a request for us to change our way of thinking about ourselves. The impasse starts with feeling stuck and ends with finally taking action.

When we find ourselves in the midst of an impasse, it means that we need to rework our approach, and adjust the things we say to ourselves. Old recurring feelings of anger, shame, self-doubt may have crept in. What identity or familiar feelings do you get caught in? It may feel like a comfort zone but it really becomes our stuck point and not very comforting.

When we find ourselves  stuck in an uncomfortable emotional loop, there is something inside us that is being ignored.

To get back on the path where everything seems to flow with ease, it’s essential  to face reality for all of what it is, and is not. With acceptance, understanding and clear seeing, we give the stuck feelings space to move, dissolve or step out from the loop.
Ask yourself ‘how’, ‘what’ and ‘when’ questions. Do not ask yourself ‘why’. ‘Why’ questions are guesswork and keep you in your head.

Perhaps you can ask yourself some of the following questions:

  • “What are the thoughts I am thinking that keep me in a stuck mode?” 
  • “What benefit do I get being in my stuckness?”
  • “What are my personal worries and fears?”
  • “What can I begin to say to myself to over ride my personal worries and fears?”
  • “By staying stuck, what am I taking away from myself?”
  • “What good qualities am I ignoring in my stuckness?”
  • “What am I grateful for?”
  • “What are the things I enjoy?”
  • “How can I encourage myself?”
  • “What specific things can I say to myself to activate good-feelings?”
  • “How will I take responsibility for choosing what action is next?”
  • “What specific actions can I do to build my confidence?”
  • “When will I decide to take these actions?”

With a strong dose of listening, a seed of inspiration can begin to grow. Gather your inner victory team together. Join forces with your strengths; the feel-good feelings. Align with your goals and core values. Build inner-reliance and inner-cooperation. With your inner support team you can balance your strengths with your fears and weaknesses.

In the movie, “A Beautiful Mind”, Nash says, “I still see things that are not here. I just choose not to acknowledge them. Like a diet of the mind, I just choose not to indulge certain appetites.”

Let’s not indulge our self-doubt. Agree to go beyond your insecurities and weaknesses, and   nourish your personal strengths and uniqueness. “The only thing greater than the power of the mind, is the courage of the heart.” Begin to embark on the idea of saturating your mind with the good stuff of the  heart.

Glimmer of Doubt

So many of my clients over the years have asked me, “How is it I can trust?”  Trust is a difficult topic. When we have been disrespected, it becomes challenging to trust.  So, how can we trust again?  Is it possible to rebuild trust in someone who totally disappointed us?

We learn to distrust trust by being hurt or lied to or betrayed or misled. Not only do we lose trust in other people, but we also begin to distrust ourselves. We fear being upset, and we become guarded and expect the worse from people. So, when we have been conditioned to not trust, it takes some effort to realize what healthy trust feels like.

Creating genuine trust is a process that happens over time, and it’s not an easy task. We need to be in tune with our ability to evaluate people. We all have an inner sense; all we need to do is listen to it. A glimmer of doubt will nudge us when we have an uncomfortable feeling in someone’s presence.  So pay attention. Observe their mannerisms, their reactions to situations, or the things they say or doesn’t say. When you listen and observe, you will get a sense of how to proceed.

It takes time to build a trustful foundation, and it only takes moments to shatter it. If someone has let you down, let the rage settle. Trust grows with patience. The springboard to trusting is to investigate the reasons for their behavior. Listen and ask questions in order to become aware of their perspective in the situation. The glimmer of doubt you feel is your gauge to guide you to be empathetic. Look for the sincerity of their words or actions.  Take the time to develop communication. Look for explanations, compassionate feedback and understanding.

We all make mistakes, and if we understand the other’s point of view, it becomes easier to formulate a conclusion as to whether to trust them again or not.  But even when we understand our wrongdoer and possibly even forgive them, we are not necessarily obligated to trust them again. When you simply sit with what you know and you decide to rely on your wisdom, you will come to a conclusion that feels right.

What is most upsetting is not necessarily that our trust has been violated, but that the glimmer of doubt becomes more apparent. As Lady Gaga says, “Trust is like a mirror, you can fix it if it’s broken, but you can still see the crack in that mother fucker’s reflection.” Look within to determine if you can see past the cracks or whether they have been shattered beyond repair. Step back and take some time to find peace and equilibrium. Then you can move forward cautiously trusting again.

Does ‘It’ Get Better ?

A common question many people ask me is, “So does ‘it’ get better?”  I guess the important word here is ‘it.’ What is ‘it’?

To me ‘it’ is the ‘freedom to choose.’ Freedom to choose to gather our courage and confront whatever situation is at hand.  And when I say confront, I don’t mean to go to battle. I mean to look at things honestly. We look at things honestly by choosing to respect and validate our feelings. At any moment, we can choose to step back from a situation, to pause, take a breath and reflect. We have the freedom to choose to view a thought or  situation from a different perspective.  We can choose to change our thinking at any moment.  Changing our thinking may even change how we feel about something. We have the freedom to choose how to respond to or what value we want to place on someone else’s judgments or criticisms. We can choose when  to communicate our concerns or feelings. We have the freedom to choose what actions to take. Sometimes we have the freedom to choose to change something, and sometimes it takes courage to accept things as they are.

When we are children, we are reliant on the actions and decisions of those around us. We don’t have a choice, nor do we fully understand the whys of our experiences. A lot of the time we conform, obey, and even become submissive to avoid further hurt. In so doing, we discount ourselves. We subconsciously build a barrier as a defense to protect our feelings, and then it becomes habit to neglect or doubt them. But just because we’ve experienced disappointment in the past does not mean it has to continue.

How long we stay stuck in what happened in the past is our choice. We often expend our energies blaming people from the past or holding onto resentments, but the reality is,  they may have done the best they could, given their shortcomings.  With  freedom, we are no longer victims. Blame subsides and turns into personal responsibility.

So, ‘it’ does get better when we acknowledge our freedom to choose.  With ‘it,’ we gain the freedom to honor and have trust in the expression of who we are; our deepest feelings, thoughts, desires, aspirations, hopes, and even our fears. We gain the freedom to take responsibility for ourselves, for our thoughts, our feelings and our actions.  When we become true to our self ‘it’ becomes easier and we can relax into being who we are. When I talk about things getting better,  being true to ourself  is at the heart of it. 

“It gets better” does not mean we can take a back seat and wait for things to happen. The ‘it’ puts us in the driver’s seat of life.  ‘It’ sets us in motion.  The roads in life are not always predictable nor smooth, but life flows much easier when we have the ‘freedom to choose’. Choosing to be ‘real’ and to accept life as it is will lead us on the road to creating a life that feels good.

OUR DEFAULT SETTINGS

Your personal default setting is based on past experiences and conditioning.  As a child, you may go through a harmful experience, or even a series of experiences that set your emotional frame of reference. You may have wanted something, and instead you ended up receiving the opposite.  For example, if you wanted attention, and instead, you were neglected or criticized. You may end up with feeling as though no one really cares, and your limiting beliefs could be that you are not important enough or smart enough. Or, you may have apprehension or self doubt as your default mode.

You don’t have to be at the mercy of your default setting. You can shift it, just as you do any other habit. Bertrand Russell has a point in stating, “It is only the intellect that keeps me sane; perhaps this makes me overvalue intellect against feeling”.  I believe that you need to honor your feelings. But when your negative feelings become a common uncomfortable occurrence, then you need to override them with your thinking and intellect.

In order to reset and create a new pattern of feeling, you have to make a conscious effort to pay attention.  Next time you are in your default mode, pause and take a deep breath. Simply by choosing to pause you bring awareness to yourself in the moment.

Notice your feelings and reactions to what you are thinking.  Remember, though, do this as an observer, not as a judge!  

“Once your awareness becomes a flame, it burns up the whole slavery that the mind has created.”  ~Osho~

Self-inquiry is useful in breaking the energy-drain.  While you can’t always control the feelings that pop up, you can manage them and redirect them. This naturally disrupts the rush of personal judgment and doubt.

Each time you consciously recognize your thinking and how it affects you, you will begin to be reminded of the magnificence of your inner mind. The fact is, we have the ability as human beings to balance our intuitive-feeling mind with our rational mind.

As you use the power of choice to lead you toward positive thoughts, your default mode will begin to show up less frequently and with less intensity. And as time goes on, your reactive thinking and negative feelings will last five minutes instead of five hours.  So take pleasure in the subtlest of changes.

Varying Shades

Have you ever watched a sunset and noticed how the colors of the sky gradually change as the sun slowly goes down?

Carl Rogers said it perfectly: “One of the most satisfying experiences I know is fully to appreciate an individual in the same way I  appreciate a sunset.  When I look at a sunset … I don’t find myself saying, ‘Soften the orange a little more on the right hand corner, and put a bit more purple along the base, and use a little more pink in the cloud color … ‘ I don’t try to control a sunset. I watch it with awe as it unfolds.”

Give yourself a kindhearted break, and discover the beauty of your varying shades and the shades of those around you.

Each shade has its own unique quality. So remember, that your stumbles are as complete as your successes.  Each step, each breath, each action is complete as it is.  As you accept this completeness, it encourages you to learn and to develop appreciation for your life as it is.