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.
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:
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.
How do you react to change?
We know change is inevitable. We even say, “the only constant is change.” And yet, when change comes, it can be hard. We’re not prepared. We don’t like it. We fight against it. We don’t feel like we’re in control.
Yes, change always brings us an opportunity to redefine the story we tell about who we think we are, but knowing that doesn’t make change any easier, does it?
Instead of resisting, we can choose to embrace a process of moving through change that helps us feel empowered and leverage change in our favor. And the sooner we can move through the process, the sooner change can morph from something that needs to be ‘endured’ to something that can ‘enlighten.’
The first step is allowing yourself to ‘feel your feelings’ and to let yourself fall apart if you need to. Feeling your feelings (and the emotional release that comes with that) is an important part of moving through change. The problem is that many of us (most of us?) have either been told to stuff our negative feelings or else were criticized for them. And so we are now experts at stuffing our emotions, feelings, and needs. We try and only think positive thoughts and force affirmations from our lips.
Not all change is traumatic, but sometimes change (and our experience with it) can be a traumatic experience. If the change you are experiencing feels traumatic, don’t sweep those feelings under the rug.
I had a traumatic birth with my daughter.
I was only 30 weeks pregnant when I was having contractions. I went to the hospital and was told I was dehydrated. So, they hydrated me and sent me home. Within hours I was back.
I’ve found that many of us are so focused on goals, achievement, workaholism, being productive, getting a million things done, and being busy that taking care of ourselves isn’t on our priority list.
Maybe you’re really good at juggling all of the balls you have in the air but not so good at balancing the rest of your life. That’s where self-care (and self-reflection) comes in.
It’s easy to let self-care slip down the priority list. With the demands of a job, family, and friends, there’s not a lot of time or energy to devote to yourself. And before you know it, you’re stressed, exhausted, and maybe even sick. It’s time to take back control and schedule some self-care.
The good news is that self-care doesn’t need to be expensive holidays or massages or yoga retreats (although they do sound pretty good). Self-care be can simple, easy, and straightforward. In fact, the best self-care is the constant repetition of small acts of self-love and kindness. Doing small things every day is easy and effective. In fact, self-care is not a ‘one and done’ sort of thing; it isn’t something you put on your ‘to-do’ list just to check off and then be done with it.
Self-care can be tiny things you do for yourself every day (and no, they don’t need to be time-consuming or expensive). I have 20 simple and small ideas to get you started.
Franklin Roosevelt is quoted as saying, “When you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.” Now, that was appropriate for the time he was living in. I think he was trying to be encouraging and let people know that if they can just “hang on” long enough, things will turn around. But who wants to just “hang on”? Not only that, but think of the bicep muscles it would take.
I want to thrive, not just “hang on.”
How many have you heard someone say “I’m hanging in there” when you asked how they were? Have you said it yourself? I know I’ve said it even when I didn’t necessarily feel sluggish, lifeless and a little hopeless. But we need to remember that the words coming out of our mouths are powerful.
This reminds me of a story about eleven people who were hanging on a rope under a helicopter - ten men and one woman...
“We write, we speak, we tell the truth about our lives- that's what we do. Why is being yourself considered brave? Or something you have to build up to doing? What is dying inside you while you wait until you are brave or courageous enough to be yourself? How many years are going by while we work on self-improvement, self-discovery and trying to turn ourselves into someone we are not?” ~ Denise Dee
I spent a lot of 2018 on ‘being myself.’
Of course, I had to first figure out who I was, and that’s different than who I thought I was. You know, the me without the labels or the ‘shoulds.’ So, when 2019 was approaching and my inbox was filled with promises to help me create my best year, programs to help me have my most productive year, or products to help me have my most successful year, I resisted that hype.
That’s not to say I didn’t do anything, because I did. But I did things ‘my way’ based on my work on ‘being myself.’ We’re almost at the end of January and I’m still continuing with the forward momentum I started at the beginning of the year. I haven’t’ abandoned my resolutions (of course, I don’t make any), but I haven’t abandoned any goals, desires, or dreams either. I feel like I’m moving in the direction I want to go with poise and purpose.
So, I thought I’d share some of what I did and maybe you can use these as an example of something you can try (maybe starting February 1) and see if by the end of February you still feel like you’re moving in the direction you want to go with poise and purpose.
It’s never too late to start.
I celebrated my accomplishments in 2018
I looked back at my calendar (and the notes from the Mustang Sallies group) and reflected on the areas that went well and the fun I had. I listed things like taking road trips, losing 20 pounds, purchasing a home, beginning to learn Hebrew, speaking at Unity Churches, and launching new products (and of course, much more). Then I reflected on how I did these things (taking action, scheduling it on my calendar, asking for help, etc.) and if there was further progress I wanted to make on any of these accomplishments.
Takeaway: This got me in a really good mood and made me realize all the opportunities that came my way, the impact I had, the fun I had, and how I got a lot of things right. There was a lot to be grateful for.
Janet Kingsley is an effective 'Belief Change Expert' who helps clients transform frustration to focus, confusion to clarity, and self-doubt to self-confidence.