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.
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.
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.
’m writing this blog on Mother’s Day. I had a wonderful homemade brunch my daughter prepared, and was thinking about my own mom. I’m like her in many ways and unlike her in many other ways (aren’t we all like that?).
I remember one particular conversation we had where she shared with me that she wished someone (one of her husbands) would have put her first and really made her feel special and important. I think she abandoned part of herself in order to be loved. Imagine how sad that made me feel.
But she’s not the only one I’ve heard that from.
So many of us are waiting for others to notice our brilliance…to notice our genius. We think it’s arrogant to think of ourselves as special, but if someone else can notice our specialness, our uniqueness, that’s not as bad.
Why do we need permission to shine a light on ourselves and our own gifts and contributions?
Do we sulk and pout if no one is recognizing how special we are? Do we try even harder to earn love? Do we go the extra mile? Do we end up feeling like a doormat, over-giving and being under-appreciated?
It’s time to break out of this trance. It’s time to peel off some of your layers of protection and insecurity and people-pleasing tendencies and love what is special about you. It’s time to be you and color outside the lines!
Self-Confidence and Self-Trust go Hand-in-Hand
Have you ever broken a promise or a commitment you made to YOURSELF?
Maybe you wanted to finish a course you purchased, or learn a new skill, or even spend some time on self-care. And then life kicks in. Someone needs you and you drop everything and respond to their need. Perhaps your internal mind chatter (mind monkeys) convinces you that what you’re trying to do isn’t important or it’s too hard or it’ll take too long, and then you give up on your commitment. Perhaps you’ve promised to meditate or journal or exercise daily…and you don’t (*hand raised here, for the journal and exercise part*)
Every time you break a promise or commitment you’ve made to yourself, it negatively impacts your self-trust. And that leads to a lack of confidence. You see, trust and confidence go hand-in-hand.
It isn’t enough that you always keep your promises to others. Don’t get me wrong, that’s an amazing quality. But it isn’t enough to inspire either self-trust or self-confidence. Being at everyone else’s beck and call leads to a life of servitude, and not a life being of service.
What comes first? Self-confidence or self-trust?
Do you consider yourself ambitious?
In 2015, Goldie Hawn presented Reese Witherspoon with an award for her work creating stronger roles for women in film at Glamour’s Women of the Year Awards. Reese had this to say, “I want everybody to close their eyes and think of a dirty word, like a really dirty word. Now open your eyes. Was any of your words ambition? I didn't think so. See, I just kind of started wondering lately why female ambition is a trait that people are so afraid of. Why do people have prejudiced opinions about women who accomplish things? Why is that perceived as a negative?”
March 8 was ‘International Women’s Day’ and it’s a day to celebrate women’s achievement. I think it’s a day to celebrate your own achievement as well. It’s time to stand tall and proud and embrace all that you’ve accomplished. In the workplace. In the kitchen. In the sewing room. In the classroom. In the boardroom (and maybe even in the bedroom!).
As women, we’ve learned to bury our talents and accomplishments. It’s easy for us to deflect and deny. We don’t want to appear too confident. Or too bossy. Or too self-assured. Or too opinionated. Or too passionate. Or too educated.
So we underestimate ourselves. We devalue ourselves.
f you want to be certain that you’ll never face a challenge or find yourself in a difficult or challenging situation, then it’s really important to have tame and realistic goals and dreams. Goals and dreams that you know you can achieve with minimal effort and hardship. Safe dreams. Comfortable goals.
However, if you want to have any degree of excitement and experience real growth in your life, then you’re going to have to make plans and set goals that other people might label as unrealistic.
These kind of goals often come with a high degree of risk (as well as sexiness and satisfaction – and who doesn’t want that, right?) You rarely know how you are going to achieve them until you get started. And more often than not, the result you achieve will not be exactly what you set out to do in the first place.
Chances are, the people you admire the most had some outlandish dreams and set some unrealistic goals. And they had the courage to take those first steps, keep the vision, and persevere despite challenges and set-backs.
Many of us have a deep belief (not shared with others, of course) that we are not good enough or not deserving of love or that something’s wrong with us. We may ‘consciously’ know it isn’t true, but sometimes (dare I say often?) we’ll get triggered and then that hidden belief ends up running the show and then we act as if it were true.
What does an “I’m not good enough” behavior look like when you get triggered? Well…..
Do any of the above behaviors indicate a healthy self-esteem? Not in my book. And I’ve done all of the above. Many times. My entire life. And I lost myself (my bold, brilliant, and brazen self!)
I lost my authenticity. I lost my vulnerability. I lost my courageousness. I lost my passion. I lost my purpose. I lost my dreams. I was living for others and when I bothered to tune into me, I felt destitute and bereft and disheartened. And these were feelings I surely didn’t want to face. They were more painful than the feelings I was already experiencing.
Janet Kingsley is an effective 'Belief Change Expert' who helps clients transform frustration to focus, confusion to clarity, and self-doubt to self-confidence.