We thought putting our dreams on hold was the answer.
Bills needed to be paid and families needed our support. We were told we had to act like a grown-up and be responsible. We were told it was better to give than to receive and some of us were told our dreams were foolish and we learned to bury our desires, dreams, and passion.
And we began to make some false assumptions about ourselves and our lives. We assumed dreams (or following our purpose) were folly and we felt unworthy. These false assumptions may have grown over the years to include:
Does any of this sound familiar?
We may feel unworthy, but it isn’t the truth about who we are. We feel unworthy because we feel “less than.”
Let me ask some questions: If you are broke, are you “less than?” If you live in a shack or are homeless, are you “less than?” If you failed at business, are you “less than?” If you are unemployed, are you “less than?” If your kids aren’t successful, are you “less than?” If you are in an abusive relationship, are you “less than?” If you have an addiction, are you “less than.” I don’t know what you silently answered to yourself, but I’m here to tell you the answer is NO.
We are the ones who deem ourselves worthy or unworthy.
Pre-blog Note: I recently completed my coursework to become a Certified Life Purpose Coach (you know me, always learning and always taking classes). It felt like a good match for me because even when I was doing ministerial counseling, it seemed like over half of the people seeking help were asking “What’s next?” or “What’s my purpose” or “I want to live a fulfilling and purpose-driven life, I just don’t know what that looks like” or variations of that theme.
Having a sense of purpose is said to be associated with overall better physical and mental health. Because of the importance of feeling worthwhile, many people do whatever they can to discover their life purpose or passions.
Personally, I took classes, seminars, read books, asked others, looked to astrology, scientific hand analysis, Human Design, and more. Even today, I continue to tweak my purpose – but that’s part of my personality. Overall, my purpose hasn’t changed much over the past 15 years. But just in case, I still like to keep my hand in the ‘what’s my purpose’ pot.
Fulfilling your purpose helps you feel motivated. Feeling like you are living the life you came here to live also enables you to be happier, healthier, and more content overall. There are easy ways to discover your life purpose without making it daunting or stressful. But remember, over a long life, your purpose – or mission – might evolve.
Change Your Perspective
Before you can identify your life purpose, you need to understand the concept first fully. Discovering your life purpose and living it doesn’t mean that you’ll never be disappointed, unhappy, or deal with difficult situations.
In fact, you may even deal with it more. For example, if your life purpose is to be a business owner, you’ll most likely have to work more than you ever have before. Just because fulfilling your purpose (or even looking for it) isn’t as perfect or relaxed as you thought it would be, keep at it.
Just because something isn't 'easy' and 'effortless' doesn't mean you are on the wrong path or that the universe is sending you a message to stop. Sometimes (often) the things we want the most take effort, commitment, discipline, and dedication.
It takes an enormous amount of energy to try to be someone you’re not.
Your true self - your AUTHENTIC self - longs to come out and reveal herself (or himself) to the world. The downside of keeping your authentic self in hiding is that it ultimately results in pain: spiritual pain, emotional pain, relationship pain, or even physical pain.
Most of us spend our entire lives avoiding pain, criticism, and rejection. We think by pretending to be something (or someone) we’re not, we’ll avoid being vulnerable. We don’t make waves. We don’t rock the boat. We look for ways to be acceptable to those around us. We bite our tongue and don’t speak up.
Why are we so damn scared of being who we were created to be? Remember, you are a once-in-a-lifetime-never-to-be-repeated-or-duplicated-cosmic-event. Why do we try and pretend to be otherwise? What early messages did we receive (and ultimately believe) that keeps us stuck, small, and in a box?
I share a little of my early days as a shape-shifting people-pleaser in my blog.
Ultimately, if you spend so much of your energy trying to be someone you’re not, you’ll end up self-sabotaging yourself and burning yourself out. What sort of pain will you experience then?
Yes, it’s vulnerable and scary to reveal your heart and soul to the world. But it’s also one of the most courageous and healing things you can do. Our mind gremlins have convinced us that the scariness far outweighs any benefits. We project how other people will react or what they’ll say. Our projections are probably wrong.
You see, when you show up authentically, you give others permission to show up the same way. It’s just that nobody wants to talk about it. Nobody wants to appear vulnerable. Nobody wants to go first. But somebody has to go first. Maybe that can be you.
To say that 2020 has been an unusual, challenging, or tough year would be an understatement. Little did I know when I was enjoying the musical “Chicago” on February 29, that my social calendar was going to take a 180 degree turn.
And I have to admit, I didn’t always take this change in plans with a grin and a shoulder shrug (at least not at first). After all, I had big plans for the summer: season tickets to see 15 minor league baseball games, season tickets for the Coeur d’Alene Summer Theater and the Coeur d’Alene Playhouse, tickets to see Tanya Tucker and ‘Grits and Glamor,’ a trip to Wyoming, and a trip to Arizona. All scrapped. Just like your plans, I imagine.
What ended up happening for me was that I used this ‘extra’ time (the time not spent at ballgames, plays, concerts, community events, etc.) on my business. And while that sounds like a good idea, I forgot one of my most important practices: self-care. You see, part of my self-care practice is going out to these various events where I can change my environment and decompress. I allow myself to get lost in the music and the enjoyment of the people, the scenery, and the scents. Instead, I was spending more and more time in front of my computer.
And by July, I was burned out. The very thing that used to enliven me and give legs to my purpose, felt draining and tiresome. It felt like W.O.R.K. So, I took some time off. No blogs, no content creation, no Facebook posts. I only continued to work with existing groups or clients. It was 4 months before I was ready to show up for my business (and in my business) again.
Lesson learned: I need more balance
But I did have some wins
Let’s face it, I’m busy. How about you?
I keep signing up for more and more classes (the ones I’m interested in, of course). I have a growing ‘to read’ list. I participate in two meditation groups and two coaching support groups. I facilitate the most-wonderful-and-awesome ‘upliftment’ group, write blogs, create classes, work with clients, and work full-time. Whew!
So it can become really easy for me to buy into the lie that “I don’t have enough time.” And when that happens, I can come to nearly a complete standstill. My mind can become so overactive that I don’t know what to do first. And I end up doing nothing. Nada. Zilch.
And even though this doing nothing should alleviate the feeling of ‘busy-ness,’ it doesn’t. It adds to the frustration that I’m getting further and further behind. And I don’t do the things I know will help me feel better, like breathe, or go for a walk, or just unplug. Talk about not ‘living in the moment’ - - big time! (just in case I was wondering why I’ve been writing about that so much for the past few weeks)
I’m writing this today in case you sometimes feel the same way, too. It’s all well and good to read my blogs about how to be present and live in the moment, but what about when we struggle with that? I want you to know that if you are challenged by being consistent in your spiritual practice or with keeping yourself aligned or if you have bad days or bad weeks, it’s okay.
In fact, it’s normal. You’re normal.
You’re not broken. You don’t need to apologize. You’re not weak. You’re doing fine. Don’t let these struggles affect your sense of ‘enoughness’ or sense of self-worth.
Is the practice of ‘trusting the universe’ just another way that we choose to NOT make a decision? Is it a form of giving our power away?
You know how it goes: rather than making a definitive choice or asking ourselves crucial questions, we look for signs and coincidences that verify we’re on the right track. Or not on the right track. If things don’t work out, we can ‘blame’ the universe saying, ‘it wasn’t meant to be.’ But if things do turn out, we applaud our ability to tune in and listen to the Divine! (at least, I’ve done that in the past).
In this week’s reading, Abraham sends his servant Eliezer back to their homeland to find a wife for Isaac. When Eliezer arrives at the city of Nahor, he finds a spring and prays: “Hashem… let the maiden to whom I say, ‘Please lower your jar that I may drink,’ and who replies, ‘Drink, and I will also water your camels,’ let her be the one to whom you have decreed for your servant, for Isaac…”
Is Eliezar taking this opportunity NOT to make a decision on his own? Is he relying on an external sign to tell him what to do, rather than using his own intelligence to find the right wife for Isaac?
Reading carefully, Eliezer says that she should offer water to him and his camels. In other words, she should be a kind, caring, and generous person.
He’s not giving away his power in favor of superstition. He’s actually specifying the exact criteria by which to make his decision - she should be kind, caring, and generous. He doesn’t want Isaac to marry someone who will steal his money and his livestock! If she doesn’t have these qualities, he’s not interested.
If you want to live with clarity and purpose, if you want to truly say “yes” to your life, you’ve got to be able to say a clear “no” as well. The “yes” and the “no” go together!
I wonder if the ‘appearance of God’ is always a welcome sight.
Here’s the scene: Abraham just circumcised himself (ouch) and it’s really hot outside. I imagine he’s in a great deal of pain and discomfort. There’s no morphine drip or pain medication with codeine. And yet, he’s not lounging in bed or recovering inside his tent; he’s sitting at the entrance of his tent, outside and in the heat.
To make matters worse, suddenly three strangers show up. What does he do? He runs out to greet them! I don’t know about you, but when I’m recovering or am in great pain, I can be grouchy, withdrawn, and perhaps a little self-pitying. But not Abraham! Not only did he run out to greet these strangers, he fetches water to wash their feet and he and Sarah prepare a feast. Abraham welcomed the moment!
Whatever the moment brings, it’s all just different forms of the One Reality.
The last couple of weeks, I’ve been writing about living in the moment and staying in the present. And here’s this week’s Torah portion which is telling us the same thing. Imagine that! But what if the present moment seems terrible? What if the present moment is painful and awful? Why would we want to saddle ourselves in the present moment when thinking about a wonderful and exciting future seems so much better and happier?
The times when I’m able to live in the moment, I experience a sense of peace, contentment, spaciousness, and freedom. I love these feelings. Anything and everything is possible. I’m on purpose. I experience joy and supreme self-acceptance (not to mention acceptance of others). I’m open to receive. I’m courageous and know that my life matters.
And even though I love these feelings, living in the moment seems to be a fleeting practice. I get distracted, worried, frustrated, discouraged, or stressed. I live in the future wondering how long I’ll need to be semi-isolated and wearing masks. I want to go back to the ‘way things were’. And sometimes I just zone out and watch TV.
And then I remember.
I remember my strength, my courage, my resilience, my spiritual practice, and how much I love to feel free, spacious, content, and peaceful. It’s always about remembering the following ideas:
Life is full of uncertainty.
Who could have anticipated 9 months ago that we’d be wearing masks every time we went out? Or that we simply couldn’t just walk into our favorite restaurant and have lunch with a group of our friends? Or that our normal way of greeting our friends (with hugs) would be frowned upon?
There will be times in your life when the rug gets pulled out from under your feet, whether it's sickness, losing your job, a major crisis, or even something called COVID-19. Have you heard the idea that “sometimes your breakthrough follows your breakdown?”
How do we maintain our equilibrium and our hopefulness during times of crisis or hardship? Can we still remain open to the mystery in order for magic to happen?
I feel like 2020 is breaking us down and cracking us open. Part of me is excited about this ‘cracking open.’ I can’t wait to see what the breakthrough will be as life shows us what is absolutely precious, valuable, and worth fighting for.
And then there’s a part of me that’s just tired. Sometimes I feel constricted and diminished. I lack motivation and drive. It’s as if a mere 7 months ago, times were simpler and all of my plans were possible. Now, I feel like I’m waiting to see what will unfold before I make any definitive plans.
Yes, uncertainty is part of the human condition (maybe now more than ever), but how do we deal with it? And how do we approach a situation where we might feel inadequate and helpless? Is there a way we can lasso hope and allow it to propel us toward surrender, alignment, peace, contentment, and purpose?
Here are three tricks that have helped me over the past few months to help me stay grounded, hopeful, resilient, and engaged.
Have you tried all sorts of ‘formulas’ in order to live a fulfilled, successful, optimistic, positive, and happy life?
Are you a die-hard optimist?
The ‘sound bite’ goes something like this: “Think positive thoughts and you’ll experience a positive outcome.” We believe that if we think only good, high vibration, positive thoughts, we’ll always experience only good, high vibration, positive outcomes. And if we aren’t manifesting what our heart desires, we get discouraged or think there’s something wrong with us and that we aren’t doing things the right way.
We’re taught that our thoughts create our reality. We’re trained that if we simply think ‘positive’ then we’ll have a good outcome or experience. What if this isn’t exactly 100% true?
Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE New Thought principles and ideas. It is the path of my life. However, there’s more to it than just positive thinking.
For one thing, only thinking positive can help us avoid dealing with core issues and feelings. Feelings of unworthiness, abandonment, rejection (or fill in your own issue you want to avoid talking about or thinking about at all costs) often get covered over and never healed because we pile a ton of affirmations into our day.
For years, I resisted ‘sinking into my heart’ during deep meditations or healing sessions. I was convinced that inside I wasn’t ‘love and light’ but ‘darkness.’ I had a lot of fear about discovering the real me and worried that if I did discover the real me (dark, phony, impostor, flawed, and unworthy), I’d get stuck there and never be able to pull myself out.
So I put on a happy face and followed the positive thinking formula. I fooled myself (or maybe not). I fooled others (or maybe not). And I told myself the story that this was the path to authentic, fulfilled, and joyful living.
Except I was never quite fulfilled. Or happy. Or joyful. And this pretending to be fulfilled, happy, and joyful only cemented the belief that I was filled with darkness inside. Because, after all, I was following the formula but wasn’t getting the life-transforming results I was looking for.
Maybe it’s about the story we’ve been told.
Janet Kingsley is an effective 'Belief Change Expert' who helps clients transform frustration to focus, confusion to clarity, and self-doubt to self-confidence.