ALLOWING AND ACCEPTANCE

As I was waking up this morning, I meditated.  I felt peace in my body.  When I felt I wanted to get up, I could feel some kind of resistance to getting going with my day.  I realized I was wanting to be happier, more grateful, lighter, more energized.   What was going on here?  Then I said to myself–“I am allowing.  I am allowing.  I am allowing myself to be.”  I don’t have to strive to be something more than I am right now.  I made myself some breakfast and repeated to myself–“I am enough.  I am enough.  I love and accept you just as you are, Donna.”  Already my mood was shifting and could let go of wanting to fix my mood.

I reflected on what I had said in Alanon the night before and more importantly, what I had not said.  I hadn’t spoken about the disappointment and anger I had felt after a phone call with someone close to me.  It was a familiar disappointment and hurt–the wanting for a deeper connection that just didn’t seem to be happening.  I ended up talking only about what I was doing and how the weather was.  I investigated this hurt further than I had previously done.

One realization I had was that my longing was to not only be talking about all the good stuff but to talk about the struggles too.  And then, it came to me that because of this sense of being stifled in my self-expression that it brought out stronger desire to voice my sufferings.  And in that, I was resisting the joy and happiness that was available to me.  I thought to myself as I have recently–“I allow myself to feel good!!!!”  I wrote it down.   “I am worthy of feeling good!!!”

It has been over seven months since I left my husband.  Was I expecting to feel a certain way by now?  Was I expecting to be feeling more confident and calm?  Was I expecting myself to have it “more together”?  Was I expecting it to be easier?  Probably “Yes” to all of those.  I realized, too, that at the Alanon meeting I had talked about wanting to be more confident, calm, joyful and powerful.  And I felt that underneath that was the belief that I’m not enough right now–that I’m not confident, calm and joyful enough just as I am today.

I also asked myself what the feeling of nervous or anxious meant to me.  And I thought to me it meant that I wasn’t confident and this meant that I wasn’t capable. And if I wasn’t capable, I was failing.  So rather that just letting the sensations arise and pass, I was attaching a story to them–a woman who was somehow failing.  And of course, thinking I am failing and needing to prove myself likely only leads to more anxiety.

What if I simply see these feelings as natural?  What if I allow them to be?  I’ve been offering myself compassion often but I sense there was still some–“You shouldn’t really be feeling this way.  Lots of people get separated, live on their own and work full time jobs and raise kids!!!  What was wrong with me?! Why wasn’t I getting it together faster?”

And back to the phone conversation…I looked into that longing for deeper connection.  I really wanted to be more authentic with this person and to have them open up to me more.  I wanted to feel like I could talk about anything with them and that they would share their feelings and experiences and we could learn from each other.  I imagined a safe place where I could share my joys and my pain, knowing I would be received with full acceptance and be truly seen.

I allowed myself to feel this pain and cried it out and then felt a lot of love for this person and everything they have done for me;  the love, care and support they have given me.

Next, I wrote down how I thought I could bring healing to this and what I could let go of.  I wrote–Giving full acceptance to myself, no matter what I’m feeling.  I can let go of my expectations around this relationship and accept this person as they are.  Yes, I could BE THE CHANGE!!  I realized I was really judging this person for not being more accepting of me when I wasn’t being fully accepting them!!!  (This must mean I am really growing up!!  HEHE!!)

What also came to me was that I had been giving that safe space to myself where I can be open about my joys, pains, fears and dreams and that I could widen that space even more.

Through this process, it became even clearer to me how important it is to feel the pain of our experiences–the disappointments, the hurts, the longings.  When we talk about our suffering, we are only circling around it.  To express the true pain is where the freedom lies.  Underneath all suffering is a wanting something to be more or different.  Once we can accept things as they are, we become free to make a mindful choice rather than continue down the road of reaction.  Perhaps it’s letting go of thought or belief, letting go of a situation or relationship or letting go of a how we are perceiving things.

I believe it all starts with believing that I am enough just as I am right now–that I am healthy enough, strong enough, calm enough, confident enough, capable enough, compassionate enough, kind enough, joyful enough and doing enough!  Once we start allowing, rather than attempting to force ourselves to be more or “better”,  then a real acceptance of self can naturally flourish.

It can be a tricky balance to hold a vision of who you want to become along with the acceptance who you are now.  As soon as we image something better than it is, we can go into the thinking that things are not enough as they are now.  As humans we are constantly wanting to improve and evolve–it’s one of our greatest gifts and it can also be the source of great suffering.

I can’t say that I have mastered this yet but I know the answer lies in allowing myself to dream and then letting go of the outcomes, staying focused on all the positives that are in my life right now.  Gratitude, gratitude, gratitude!!!

Acceptance brings the change we so long for.  It’s perhaps one of the biggest paradoxes of life.  By seeing the truth of the way things are, feeling any pain that is there and then healing that pain, we can move on.

Here is the process I used today:

  1.  Write out the limiting belief or “should” that is causing you suffering. For example:  My spouse shouldn’t complain so much.  I should be be more productive.
  2. Ask yourself–What is the pain that is underneath that?  What are you truly wanting?  For example:  I am longing for more loving and positive interactions with my spouse.  I am really wanting to contribute my gifts and talents more.
  3. Ask yourself–How can I bring healing to this?  What do I need to let go of?  For example:  I could see my spouses’ suffering and offer them compassion and understanding thus creating the loving and positive interaction I am desiring.  I could see that I am contributing all I need to right now and let go of the idea that I need to get a lot done to be a worthy person.

My message to you:  You are enough.  You are a beautiful, magnificent, unique creature of this earth and you are all you need to be.  Simply allow the unfolding to happen!!

 

 

 

 

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SAFE TO BE ME

I have been waking up with more peace and more peace in my body and mind.  This morning, I allowed myself to sleep in a bit and then I easily got out of bed, had breakfast and a bath.  Then I meditated for 15 minutes.  I set intentions for my day–ease, flow, trust, vulnerability, compassion, joy, empowerment, gratitude, humility.  I noticed what was happening in my body and felt my heart beating what seemed to be a little faster and harder than usual.

I went to sit at my desk and started checking emails but having this unsettled feeling.  I jumped up and down and said some positive affirmations.  That sometimes works.  My next thought was to go for a workout–that will bring me the groundedness and calmness I’m wanting.

Then I picked up my picture of my 5-year-old self and held it to my heart, and then I simply said out loud–I’m kind of scared.  And I replied to her–Of course you’re scared sweetheart.  You are looking for work, you left your husband seven months ago, you are living on your own for the first time in 15 years, you are starting a whole new career as a Life Coach and you are beginning to open up to people in a whole new way and having more authentic connections.”  At that, I just began to cry.  And then the tears turned into laughter!  “It’s okay to be scared.  It’s okay to be sad.  Whatever you are feeling is okay”, I told my little one.   What freedom that brought me!!!  What power!  I could feel my heart relax and release.

“Soften to get strong.”  Words from a yoga teacher I know.  And now I’m really seeing the truth of those words.  We don’t get our strength from pretending to be fine all the time.  I had a dream last night and everyone was saying–“I’m good.”  Isn’t that what our society teaches us?  Don’t show your weakness!  Put on a false front.  Show people that you have it all together!

I noticed my ego doing this a couple of times in the last few days.  One time was in the elevator with a friend–my teasing implied that she was paying rent at the last minute.  Of course, I had paid earlier!  How good I was!! (I later apologized for my remark)  And yesterday at work the mother was talking about her difficulty in making good rice.  I said that mine had turned out well.  Again, one upping a person.  Why?  To cover up my own feelings of inadequacy.  They seem like silly things but I notice when I do this now.  It’s putting on the mask of, “I’ve got it together.  I’m better than you in some way.”

I believe gaining a stronger sense of my self-worth has been the foundation for positive change in my life.  I feel it growing every day.  I’m really realizing my intrinsic value as human being.  Being a nanny definitely has helped me to see this truth;  especially now with the 2-year-old boy I care for.  He is worthy and enough just by being himself.  He doesn’t have to behave a certain way to be accepted and loved.  I don’t hold mistakes against children–they are learning.  And so are we, no matter what age we are.  Being in nature also shows me this simple principle.  I am life, just like a tree or a flower.  I don’t criticize a tree.  I am starting to see that I am really not here to try to prove how worthy I am.  I woke up enough!!  I have the right to be here!!!

Feeling safe with others helps me to be more vulnerable with myself and being more vulnerable with myself helps me to feel more safe with others.  And I am now choosing to be with people who I know are safe–people who will listen without judgement and hold space for me to speak and open up.  I have decided to let go of a couple of friendships because they were not offering me that space and feeling of safety.  I realized being with them just triggered my story of–People don’t really care or want to understand me.  It felt very empowering to make that decision–to come to that place of clarity.  When I am around people, I want to feel good!  I realized it’s as simple as that.

I’m learning letting go of other things too–like control, worry, striving and wanting.  I am often wanting to control my schedule and time.  Yesterday I was with the boy and I checked the time.  It was a little after noon.  I needed to get him home for lunch and his nap.  He didn’t want to go and so I decided to go with his natural rhythms.  He might not nap well if he is still feeling energetic anyway.  And a little later I asked him to race home–which served both of us!  I got him home for lunch and he got out some more of his energy.   Worry comes up once and while in the day and I realize I do have the choice to let it go.  I cooked some chicken curry for the first time and had some worry about cooking the chicken enough.  But I knew I had cooked it for a long time and I could relax.

When I first started thinking about my coaching business, it felt like striving–like I had to push really hard and prove myself!  I just got that rainbow beachball on my screen because I had too many windows open!  Hilarious, right!  Even computers don’t respond well to striving!  But lately I realize I can work hard and be in a state of ease and flow.  In fact, I am more effective and efficient when I am going with my natural rhythms just like the 2-year-old boy.  Trying to force things never works well.  Even in writing this post, I’m realizing that perhaps I need to slow down, breathe and let the writing come effortlessly.   I think I sometimes get scared that I will forget my ideas so I write or speak quickly.  This probably comes from the wanting which is another thing to let go of!  When I can let go of having it my way and having things go on my schedule, it becomes so much easier!

Along with being vulnerable and letting go, I am discovering the power of allowing.  Recently, I have been saying in my mind and out loud–I am allowing myself to feel good!  I am allowing myself to be relaxed and happy.  I am allowing myself to be successful and have an abundant life!  I am open to receive joy and serenity.  One song I am singing in choir right now is “Aquarius”.  I love the part where they are singing–Leeeet the sunshine in!!  Leeet the sunshine in.  The suunshine in.”   I realized I was often looking to the future to experience vibrancy, vitality, serenity, abundance, ease and joy but it’s all right HERE, right NOW!!!  I’m finding it especially useful to tune into my body throughout the day.  Where I am holding tension?  Where am I contracting?  For me, it’s often in shallow breathing, tense facial muscles, tight shoulders or neck, or holding my belly in.   When I notice it, I can let it go with a deep breath or a laugh or a dance!

I watched “Free Willy 1 &2”, fascinated by the power of the orca whales.  It is my animal of inspiration right now.  I imagine myself powerful, dauntless and gracefully flowing through life!!  Power doesn’t come from accomplishments or from showing off to other people awesome I am.  Power comes from a deep knowing of my self-worth and deep trust in myself and a deep trust that I can totally be myself.  It comes from being my authentic self with nothing to prove and nothing to hide.

I realized that what my heart was saying was–I want to feel safe to be me!!!  Safe to be completely vulnerable and naked in all my humanness and safe to bring forth my full power just like that orca whale!  It’s a journey–a blossoming.   I don’t have to play small to be accepted or help others feel better about themselves nor do I have to puff myself up to look better than others and boost my self-esteem.  More and more, I feel I can simply be myself, safe in the world, exactly as I am.

 

 

PEACE IS POSSIBLE

You feel you have a calling to do something–maybe you are longing to help people in profound ways, maybe you feel a strong desire to express your creativity  maybe you are deeply committed to your family and want to provide abundance for them, maybe you want to serve your community, maybe you aspire to be in a loving, mature, authentic, intimate partnership.  Maybe all of the above!

You feel very passionate about want you want to bring to the world.  Your dreams are BIG.  GRAND.  You sense some urgency.  You feel some anxiety.  You sense the gap between where you are now and where you want to be.  You want to zoom to the part where you are living to your fullest potential, doing what you know you do best, doing what you know you are here to do, living in your full presence and power, having a life of abundance, fulfilment and joy!

And yet there is something holding you back.  What is it?  You are struggling to move forward but it feels so slow, frustrating and sometimes agonizing.   You ask yourself.  “Am I ready for it?”  “Can I really reach this dream?”  “Can I handle it?”

How do I know this?  Because I am you.  I have been wanting something more in my life for the last few years and it is coming together, gradually.  I love where I’m living.  I’m building new friendships.  I’m enjoying my work as a nanny.  I am finding my studies in Life Coaching so fulfilling!  And yet, after the breakdown of my marriage, I felt like I was scrambling to put all the pieces back together.  I wanted more work, I want financial stability, I wanted more satisfying relationships and most of all I wanted to serve this world with my unique talents and gifts as a healer, teacher, speaker and leader.  And…I wanted it all NOW!!

Does this sound familiar to you?  We are people who are not willing to settle for mediocracy.   We intuit our own greatness.  Yet we still have these nagging thoughts that something is lacking, that we could be doing more and hence, the anxiety.  No need to hate the anxiety.  I say, congratulations for having the fear!!  It means you’re not willing to be complacent.  It means you ARE dreaming big and expecting wonderful things for yourself.  If you’re playing small and safe, you probably won’t have much fear because you are staying in your comfort zone.  But be compassionate with yourself if you are playing it safe in some areas because you are always doing exactly what you need to do and growing at the exact right pace for you.  We need to respect the fear and have tea with it but not invite it over for dinner if you know what I’m saying!

I have had a few realizations and AHA moments in the last week or so.  I have worked through the anxiety and am cultivating more and more serenity.

  1.  To quote Lisa Nichols, “You woke up ENOUGH!!”  You are not here to prove how worthy you are.  You are not here to prove anything.  You don’t have to become anyone.  And the freeing thing is, once you really feel this with every cell of your body, the pressure to do more and be more is gone!  I know, you will say, “but I really should be more assertive, I should be doing my work as an artist, I shouldn’t still be in this job/relationship/situation.”  But did you ever create change in yourself by beating yourself up!?  The truth is you are perfect, whole and complete…always!!  And knowing this, you can really begin to look at yourself in an honest and kind way and see where there is room to grow and evolve.
  2.  To quote Tara Brach, “Isn’t what you are longing for already here?”  Wow!  This one really got me.  I was like, “Yeah, my contribution to this world doesn’t exist in some imaginary future, it is here in this moment!”  The other day, I went to the bank and chatted with the security guard at the door and he shared with me his passion for trains and snow.  Yesterday, I was talking with one of the kids I take care of.  I simply said, What’s going on in your world?  And that opened the conversation for her to speak of the writing contest she was in.  Those were simple, beautiful moments.  I was being a Life Coach right there!  I didn’t have to wait until I had built up a thriving business.  The opportunities to connect and contribute are everywhere!  Whatever you think you’re missing out on
  3. Sylvia Boorstein said,  “There really isn’t some way to get everything right and keep it that way.”  As you read in my last post, I realized that it was time to take it easy.  Expecting my life to suddenly all be “perfect”  was totally unrealistic.  I was jumping into this fantasy future and stressing about how I was going to make it all happen.  It’s really pretty crazy!  But we all do it.  We plan, we worry, we strategize trying to get somewhere, trying to make things better, more comfortable, more satisfying.  And yet, do we ever get to this place where we feel totally happy with everything?  No.  We are always wanting more.  And this is not the problem.  The problem is getting caught up and lost in this wanting.  Notice the wanting and give it attention.  Then think, talk, write about all you are grateful for right now!
  4. THIS IS IT.  Life is happening Right NOW.  Life doesn’t begin when you have organized your wardrobe or found that “perfect” job.  It is here right in front of your nose.  It’s the smell of jasmine in the pre-spring air.  It’s the birds chirping.  It’s a child telling showing you her dance routine.  It’s laughing with a friend.  When we really get this with every bone, tissue and fibre of our being, life becomes fresh and alive.  We notice things we didn’t see before.  We are not so busying trying to get to the next thing.  We relax and look around.  We respond creativity to our life.
  5.  “It’s all changing all the time!  Think of where you were 6 months ago or 6 years ago.  It’s probably very different from where you are now.  And 6 months from now, your life will be different again in some ways.  Open up to possibility.  This is just the way it is right now.  Don’t panic.  Keep focusing on what you want but stay grounded in the present.  Trust that everything happens in perfect timing.
  6. Will the real ___please stand up?  (fill your name in the blank)  I heard/read this recently.  I put up a bunch of pictures on my wall from when I was in my 30’s, pictures where I was smiling, happy, radiant, confident, powerful.  A woman I thought I had lost for a while.  I realized that I CAN be the person I want to be right NOW!  It certainly hasn’t happened over night but I see that I have been growing into the woman I imagined myself to be.  She didn’t go anywhere.  I simply need to embody those qualities that I want to have.  What does a confident, happy, relaxed person think like, act like, talk like?  What does her inner voice tell her?
  7. Take action to create something positive in your life TODAY.  This quote came from my “Courage to Change” today which so often seems to have the exact message I need to hear.  I know so many time I have gotten lost in thinking of all the big things I want to do and have forgotten about the small simple steps that I need to do to get there.  Creating a Life Coaching business seems like a gigantic task but now that I am following my intuition and simply taking the next step forward, it has become so much easier.  This is a project that will be continuously developing.  There will be a lot to learn along the way.   I can see it as an fun adventure rather than a daunting task.  Nothing is impossible when you break it down into bite-sized pieces.
  8. Say YES!!! OOh, this was a really juicy one for me.  I realized how often I was shrinking and contracting away from my life.  I would look at something I needed to do and put it off.  I would stay in my bed until I felt calm enough to get up.  I would be telling myself in subtle ways that I couldn’t really handle life on my own.  It was showing up in my body language and how I was speaking.  But something changed when I said out loud,  FEAR, I’m not afraid of you!  I look forward to seeing you again!!!  I said YES!!  And I started to say YES in other ways too.  I started to talk with my ex differently.  I started to get those little things done.  I started to wash my dishes right away.  I started thinking about who my ideal client is.  Instead of buying into that background noise of, “Oh no, this is too much for me to handle!”  I can start to tell myself a new story.  I can replace that timid voice with a voice that is confident and powerful and ready for anything!! “Yeah, I got this!  I am looking forward to today!  Something amazing is just around the corner!” Say YES to whatever is in your life.  If something annoying happening or something seems difficult, say YES!!(either in your head or out loud), and see a noticeable difference in how you feel about the situation.
  9. SERENITY, WELL BEING AND JOY IS MY NATURAL STATE.  Know this.  Repeat it often to yourself.  Even if you are suffering, angry, scared or sad, remember that there is an end to suffering.  We can find our way back to a state of peace and ease.  It will take effort and probably some time but you can get there.  If you’re feeling anxiety, tell yourself, “Even though I am experiencing fear right now, I love and accept myself fully and completely.”  No need to compound your suffering by hating whatever difficult emotion is arising.  Love wherever you are at this moment.   Peace is possible.

TAKE IT EASY

I dreamt of otters last night.  They were playing in the water and I was rushing by in a boat.  I tried to tell the boat driver to slow down.  I wanted to enjoy the otters.  I woke up feeling very calm and clear.  I realized that I have been trying to push myself forward in so many ways–expecting myself to get more done, move faster, get over this loss and have it all more together.  I realized another truth–that there isn’t something wrong with me.  I am moving slow right now.  I am taking time to process my emotions and reflect on things.  I am not feeling energetic and motivated every day.  I am sometimes sad and scared.  ACCEPTANCE.  This is how I move forward.  “Shoulding” myself is not effective!  It’s funny how easily I fall back into this pattern.  If I am just hard enough on myself, then I’ll get more done and progress more quickly.  It’s an insane way of living!  And most of us live in this insanity on a regular basis.  I realize that I am shifting myself into a whole new paradigm.  Old models are not working for me anymore.

I had been noticing low energy since last Friday.  On the weekend, I very consciously decided that I was going to take it easy.  I wasn’t going to push myself to “get things done”.  I went to laugher yoga knowing that this would lift my energy and it did!  I felt like a kid–just enjoying the moment, being spontaneous, imaginative, laughing!

Yesterday at my Tuesday family,  I fell into “shoulding” again.  Having troubles with boundaries last week I was thinking that this week I should be more firm, more strict.  The boy was stalling getting into the bath and I could sense my frustration and impatience.  He wasn’t following the schedule!  It was almost 7:00.  He should be in the bath by now!  What if the parents could see this now!  Being firm and strict didn’t work and didn’t feel good either.  Accepting what was happening in the moment and going with the flow would have been more effective, I’m sure.

Today, I have a list of a few things that I “should” do and all I feel like doing is writing and going for a massage.  It’s can be tricky sorting out the “want tos”  “need tos” and “shoulds”.  There is so much conditioning!

My train of thought feels a little scrambled today.  Maybe there is another should in that!  That I should be writing in paragraphs that make sense and follow a logical order.

When I was doing the business with my ex-husband I felt that same sense of “I should be more;  doing it differently.  Things should be different.”  It caused me so much suffering!

I had another dream about slowing down a few weeks ago.  I had been “trying hard” to find a nanny job.  In my dream, I was at a bus stop and as the bus came speeding by I hid under the bench.  I realized I was really terrified of getting into working a busy schedule.  I didn’t want to lose myself again.  I didn’t want to abandon myself again.  The thought of running around and not having time to connect with myself was really scaring me.  Was this a limiting belief?  Did I simply need to recognize that the thought that I couldn’t pick up my pace and do at the speed that most of our society does was holding me back?

But after this second dream of the otters, I wondered if there were more to it.  I really sensed that my inner being was wanting me to SLOW DOWN!  Everytime I started trying to get ahead, writing lists of what I needed to do and trying to tick them off–feeling like YAY!  I am moving forward!  I’m getting somewhere!  There was a part of me that became tight.  Even as I sat this morning and wrote out my list of “shoulds”  I could feel my heart starting to beat faster.  As I sit here writing that same feeling of contraction comes up, too.  Trying to get it done!  Looking at the clock and wondering if I will say everything I want to say before I need to have lunch and go out.

I realized too how much I have been getting attached to my “wants” and “don’t wants”.  I didn’t simply want to become a Life Coach and build a successful business, it became a “must have!”  And then that tight, contracted feeling comes up.  And wanting to be really healthy and energetic all the time is another “must have!”  I realized at a deeper level what the Buddha was talking about.  It’s not the wanting that causes us suffering.  It’s the “must have it” (or absolutely don’t want it)  In my dream there was also a scene where I going to give away a piece of black fabric was saying that I was less attached to my clothes now.  It’s great to have goals and direction but then it’s time to let go!

Let go!  Ahhh!  This is a very difficult one for me.  I want to control it;  have it go my way!  What does it even look like to let go?  How would my life be different?

What I know is “hard” doesn’t work.  Pushing hard, working hard, trying hard are not effective.  Going “fast”  doesn’t work either.  Hurrying up, speeding along rarely help.  I want to live in a SOFTER way.  I want to be gentle with myself.  I want to take my time and find moments in my day among the activity where I can pause.  I want to figure out how I can create abundance in my life while still maintaining balance.  I want to feel energized and exuberant yet still be grounded and centered.

I looked up the spirit animal otter and it said–“The power of otter is in the knowing that you have to take care of yourself first in order to be of use to others.  Go with the natural flow and ebb and tides of your life and find joy and wonder in the small things that give you pleasure.”  The otter may be reminding you “that universal acceptance of ‘what is’  in your life is the only way to move forward. “Embracing the good with the bad and seeking out the joy in the moment will manifest a new freedom of love and acceptance. Honour the right of everything and everyone to be as they are.  Simply allow things to unfold in your life.”

Children, like otters, don’t have a concept of time or of “getting things done”  or “becoming something/someone”.  They live spontaneously, creatively, playfully, joyfully with curiosity moment by moment.  It’s not until we get into school that we start to learn idea that our value comes from how much we accomplish and how well we do it.

When we honour ourself and our needs, I believe a whole new world opens up.  Instead of living from “shoulds”, we start living from our hearts and souls.  (Funny, the word soul is in the word should)  In my daily reader, Courage to Change the quote was one by Shakespeare–“This above all:  to thine own self be true.”  Living in a world of shoulds is suffering.  Living from our own truth is liberation and joy and ease!!  If things are feeling like a struggle, take a look at what “shoulds” are going on in your head.  Take it easy and dare to simply be yourself as you are right now!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FORGIVENESS

I have been practicing forgiveness for the last few weeks–mostly forgiving myself.  Out of my pain, confusion and ignorance, I hurt myself in the past.  I abandoned myself at times.  I denied my feelings.  I ignored my intuition.  I didn’t pay attention to my body.  I made some not-so-wise choices.   I said “Yes” when I wanted to say “NO”.   I failed to set healthy boundaries.  I stayed when I wanted to leave.  I criticized myself.

Before the forgiveness, I was holding onto shame and guilt.  They kept me locked in a story of someone who did something wrong;  someone who was fundamentally flawed.  Perhaps it seemed easier to feel guilty and victimized, hoping to gain some sympathy.   Maybe it seemed easier to stay in the –I’m trying so hard but I just keep screwing up.  What’s the point?–story than it was to really admit to what I had done and own up to it.

Owning our mis-takes is hard;  very hard.  It means coming face to face with the ways in which we have lived in a trance, sold ourselves short, or otherwise betrayed ourselves.  For me there have been waves of sadness, grief, guilt and shame over what I had done and what I had lost.  Ouch!  But I know feeling the pain of these feelings will be better for me in the long run–certainly better than to continue to live from a small, contracted place with tightness in my chest.

I realized that by feeling ashamed of my mistakes and not owning up to them, I was continuing to feel bad about myself which in turn was often leading to making similar mistakes.  Then the story of what a terrible and incapable person I was could go on.  I think I made a mini-breakthrough this week when I just thought, “Ok, I had a moment where my judgment was not very sharp.  I can spend the rest of the evening beating myself up about it or I can take responsibility, learn from it and move on.”  So much more freeing!

I think having humility is key–seeing my humanness and realizing that I am not perfect.  I don’t get it right all the time.  No one does.  This might seem small but for me it is a huge relief.  For most of my life I have been set on getting it right, doing it perfectly and also wanting everything around me to go perfectly smoothly.  A pretty tall and impossible order!  I really thought that everyone else knew some magical formula that I had missed out on!

Getting stuck in perfectionist thinking can be paralyzing–it literally keeps us from moving forward because we are so afraid of making a mis-take.  (I say mis-take because it really it just that:  like an actress, we sometimes need to it over and over until we get it right)  For me, it often shows up as a lack of motivation, a tiredness.  In the past, I think I didn’t give it my all because I thought if I failed I would not have an excuse.  If I only did 80% then I could always secretly think that I didn’t succeed because I didn’t really try my best.  But of course, this only leads to mediocrity.  Now I want to reveal my greatness!

Taking the mind-set of a learner is liberating, too!  Instead of believing that I need to know how to do everything the first time, I can become curious and objective about the results of my actions.  I can course correct without the whole–Oh, I’m so bad!–story.  I can simply say–I’m trying something new or I’ve never encountered this situation before and I’m not sure what to do.  I wonder what will happen if I do A.  Maybe B would have worked better.

None of us got the manual on how to live life.  We are all playing it by ear as we go.  Sometimes succeeding and sometimes feeling that we didn’t get the outcome we wanted.  When I am humble and open to learn, there is a lot more ease and a lot less fear.  I’m am not wound up tight, bracing myself for my next error or dreading the next thing that might go wrong.  As I write this, I realize I still have work to do in this area.  I’m seriously considering plastering a large poster on my wall that says–I ALLOW MYSELF TO BE IMPERFECT.  I AM AT PEACE WITH THE WAY THINGS ARE.

I think expecting perfection from myself and from life ironically led me to go to extremes–searching for some sense of control.  Now, my goal is balance, harmony and forgiveness rather than perfection.  And the more I am able to forgive myself, the more I am able to forgive others.  I notice when I am judging someone, it’s always something that I am judging myself for.  A common one for me right now is judging people for not doing enough or not getting it right.  But it doesn’t feel good to judge myself or others and I WANT TO FEEL GOOD!  (feel GOD!)

I feel so grateful that I can spend time with children.  It has truly been a healing experience for me.  They are so pure.  More and more I realize I would never ever talk to them the way I sometimes talk to myself.   Children, I believe are closer to God because they haven’t yet been covered up in layers of conditioning.  It’s beautiful to watch them playing in the moment, moving from one activity to the next in a natural and spontaneous flow.  A huge contrast from the way most adults (including me!) go about their day with schedules and goals, trying to achieve and perform, wishing something were different, wanting more or less of something.

For a long time, I have not believed in God.  I didn’t like the word.  (Nor did I like the fact that it was sexist!)  I always imagined some old guy with long, white hair looking down from the sky, judging my behaviour and determining if I am good enough to go to heaven.  This is definitely not the kind of God I now believe in.  To me, God, or the Universe, is within me and is everywhere.  God is everything.  We are all connected.  We are each a unique expression of the greater whole, a wave in the infinite ocean.   There is no judgement or condemnation.  There is grace–nothing to forgive.

Note that by not forgiving yourself, you are essentially disempowering yourself.  Our ego will trick us, making us think that if we forgive ourselves, we will go soft and surely mess up again in the future.  The critic wants us to hold on to that guilt and shame with the intention that it will keep us in line.  However, as I have pointed out, this only keeps us in the loop of shame and fear followed by more unwise actions to prove that we were right–the ego waits in the wings for it’s chance to speak up and say, “Ah ha!  There IS something wrong with me!  I am a total failure! I knew it all along!!”

Forgiveness get us out of that loop.  It breaks the chain of shame.  It holds us in the warmth of compassion and kindness.  It says softly, “It’s ok, sweetheart.  You were doing the best you could at the time with what you knew.  It wasn’t your fault.  There were so many causes and conditions that led you to do that.  Forgiven.  Forgiven.”  And as with many spiritual practices the paradox is that when we recognize it wasn’t our fault, we can begin to take responsibility for ourselves, our choices and our lives.

Forgiveness EMPOWERS us to make more skillful choices the next time.   It gives us a second chance.  It allows us to have a future where we are responding from our loving, wise SELF rather than repeating patterns than are based in the conditioned ego self.

Forgiving yourself may take time and patience.  Acknowledge the courage you have for even wanting to be willing to forgive yourself.  Keep in mind that you are a human, not a robot! (and even robots make mistakes, I’m sure).   If you feel you are not ready yet, then simply bring some compassion to yourself for the suffering you are experiencing.   And keep in mind that you WANT to feel good.  Letting go will happen in it’s own time, at it’s own pace.  (We can easily get caught up in wanting this to happen within a certain timeframe so be aware of this, too!)

A beautiful Deva Premal song I heard this afternoon said in the lyrics–This is your second chance.  Be open to receive it!–In fact, we do all get a second chance–every day can be a fresh day to start over with a beginner’s mind.  Forgive yourself and others regularly and I believe your heart will open and be filled with so much JOY!  Allow yourself to become a humble learner of life.  Feel the possibility of that!!  Wow!  I can actually sense a difference in how I am feeling as I write this!  From a small insufficient world of “should be’s and should have’s”  to an abundant world of new chances and possibilities!  That’s something to get excited about!  Forgive and set yourself FREE!!!

 

 

STEPPING INTO OUR GREATNESS

It takes a lot of courage to step out of our comfort zones and into our greatness.  I am reminded of the quote by Marianne Williamson:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be?

Yesterday morning I went to this amazing yoga-dance party.  I knew that feelings of inadequacy were bound to pop up so I set the intention to remember that I was just like everyone else and to have fun.  I felt really happy when I saw two women that I knew.  One of the last songs inspired me to really let loose and I held nothing back.  It felt so good!  I think part of me longs for the attention, too.  Like, Hey, look at me!  Aren’t I cool?!

After the event we stood and talked about our intentions for the new year, our passions, our dreams and our challenges.  I notice the jealousy arising.  I was thinking they were younger than me and doing so much more than me.  One woman was working on an album and going on a world tour and the other was into acting and looking to take on bigger roles.  I think I literally felt myself shrinking but did my best to acknowledge their greatness.  When it was my turn to talk, I spoke with passion about the things I was doing and tried to make it sound as glorious as possible but somehow I still felt like I wasn’t measuring up to these two seemingly accomplished women.

Funny, how the ego will, at one minute be feeling bigger and better than everyone else and the next be feeling like a total shmuck.  When I compare myself to others, I inevitably end up feeling separate, isolated and fearful.  When I accept my imperfections and see the humanness of others, I feel connected and safe.  I see that we are really all the same–experiencing the same feelings and suffering in similar ways.

What I see now is that I was drawn towards these two women because we all were stepping out of our comfort zones and stepping into our greatness.  We had taken risks, we had felt the pain of loss AND we had reclaimed our power, rediscovered our creativity and reconnected with our intuition.  We were living with PURPOSE.

I used to just kind of drift along a little in life.  I had followed my intuition when making some big decisions for sure but many of my day to day choices were on automatic.  I don’t think I really believed that there was greatness in me.  Not in an egotistical “I’m-better-than-you” way but in the sense that I am a unique creation of life and I have something unique to offer this world.  No one else dances like me.  No one else sings like me.  No one else writes like me.  I am a one-of-a-kind.  I have a unique combination of special talents and gifts that NO ONE ELSE has.  My self-expression is different from everyone else on this planet!

I truly believe that we are all here on this earth to express our unique SELVES to the fullest!  We are not here to play it small and safe.  We are here to LIVE LARGE!

So these limiting beliefs of mine keep popping up but I do believe they are loosing their power.  It’s weird that some of them can feel really true though.  Damn, they can be tenacious!  It’s like a broken record playing over and over–You’re not as good as they are.  You’ll never catch up.  You’re not healthy enough, energetic enough, strong enough, creative enough, confident enough, capable enough, blah, blah, blah…

So I ask myself, what is stopping me from completely letting go of these limiting beliefs?  Even though they make me feel bad about myself there is something oddly comforting about sticking to what I know.   It seems the more I step out and take risks the more that old record plays.  You can’t really do that!  You really think you are going to make a living being a Life Coach, a writer and a motivational speaker?

I think people who step into their greatness are often feeling anxious and uncomfortable because so much of the time, they are going out into unchartered territory.  The ego senses danger and no doubt puts out it’s alerts!  Danger ahead!  Don’t go there!  Perhaps the trick is to get used to this feeling;  this feeling of uncertainty and possible failure.  Maybe the trick is to get comfortable in this gap of discomfort.  When we begin to leave the person we once were behind and move ahead into unknown areas, it’s scary.  Not only because of the uncertainty of where we are going but the uncertainty of WHO we will become.

Things in nature, do this quite naturally–Imagine a caterpillar that becomes a butterfly or a snake that sheds it’s skin over and over, continually becoming something new.   For humans, our identities become quite sticky.  We like to hold onto our familiar ways of being.  We like to be liked and accepted by our tribe.  We like the tried and true.

But have our old ways REALLY been effective?  This is where the deep exploration is.  We need to dig deep and uncover the ways that these beliefs have served us, even if it’s in a dysfunctional way.  Has believing these beliefs gotten us sympathy, attention, acceptance or kept us from the pain of failure?   Or are we waiting until we are more perfect to make our move?  Are we thinking that because we have screwed up in the past that we are bound to screw up again?

I heard a poem yesterday:  Why Wait For Your Awakening, by Danna Faulds

Why wait for your awakening?

The moment your eyes are open, seize the day.

Would you hold back when the Beloved beckons?

Would you deliver your litany of sins like a child’s collection of sea shells, prized and labeled?

“No, I can’t step across the threshold,” you say, eyes downcast.

“I’m not worthy” I’m afraid, and my motives aren’t pure.

I’m not perfect, and surely I haven’t practiced nearly enough.

My meditation isn’t deep, and my prayers are sometimes insincere.

I still chew my fingernails, and the refrigerator isn’t clean.

“Do you value your reasons for staying small more than the light shining through the open door?

Forgive yourself.

Now is the only time you have to be whole.

Now is the sole moment that exists to live in the light of your true Self.
Perfection is not a prerequisite for anything but pain.

Please, oh please, don’t continue to believe in your disbelief.

This is the day of your awakening

Do yourself a huge favour today and acknowledge the amazing and great being you already are!  Make a list of all the things you like about yourself as you are now.  Make a list of all the things you have done that you are proud of, big or small.  Make a list of the ways that you are unique and and the special talents and gifts you have, even if you think they’re silly.  Make a list of all of the skillful choices you’ve made.

So often our mind will focus on all of our flaws, the “mistakes” we’ve made and all the ways in which we have “failed”.  We need to intentionally bring our attention to the wholesome qualities we have, to the victories we have had, to the goals we have reached.

And not only can we do this for ourselves, but we can do it for others, too.  Acknowledging your friends, family and loved ones for their special qualities and accomplishments is a powerful thing!  It builds connection.  It helps people to feel SEEN which is such a basic human need.  It’s just like saying, I see you.  I see who you are.  I see your efforts.  I see how far you’ve come.  I see where you’re going.  I see what you’re passionate about.  I see what makes you come alive!

You don’t need to do or be anything more than you already are.  Your GREATNESS exists right here, right now!  Once you see that you are already enough, the fear, the disconnection and the striving for perfection can end and you can simply be free to be authentically YOU!  Forgive yourself.  Release the past.  Wake up and step into your full power and greatness today!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

BE FRIENDLY WITH EVERYTHING!

We all have an inner critic.  It sometimes goes something like–You’re not smart enough.  You’re not capable enough.  You’re not good enough.  You should be stronger.  You should be thinner.  You should be more successful.  It’s says–Don’t do that!  It could be dangerous.  Oh, you shouldn’t do that.  You could fail.   I can’t believe you made that stupid mistake!  You are such an idiot!

Believe it or not, this voice in our heads, which is often labelled as our ego, has good intentions.  It wants to keep us safe.  It wants to protect us.  It want to make sure we don’t get hurt.  It wants to make sure we don’t feel the pain of rejection and failure.   But when we are not aware of it, it can rule our lives, keeping us small;  keeping us from being as magnificent as we really are.

My inner critic has been working extra hard lately.  It has been telling me that I’m not capable enough to make it on my own;  that I can’t handle it.  It tells me I’m not smart enough, not tough enough.  It tells me that I’ll never really make my reach my goals.  It tells me that I can’t.  It says–Who do you think you are, dreaming big!?  You’re a loser and you’ll always be a loser.  You’ll never succeed.  –Sounds extremely harsh, doesn’t it.    When it was just in my head, it still had power over me.  If felt like they were true statements.

So for a while now, I have been talking to my inner child, giving it attention, comfort, love, empathy and compassion.  It’s the part of me that it sometimes crying out–I’m scared!  I feel sad and confused.  I feel lost!  I don’t know what to do next?  Help me!–I talk to her from my wise and compassion self.  I don’t just reassure her that everything will be ok but I try to really listen to see what she is feeling and needing.

Yes, I feel a bit like a crazy person these days, talking to myself.  But it has brought me so much healing that I feel I need to pass it on.  The real breakthrough came when I had the critic talk and inner child have a conversation and then have the compassion one talk to both.  This is when I really let it rip!  Although, I was kind of aware of the negativity in my head, I had never really allowed the critic to speak.  And when I gave it permission–Whoo!  It was some pretty dark stuff.  Is this really what’s in my head–Yikes!  I would never talk that way to anyone else!

Before we go on, I want to tell you that this is perfectly normal!  This is actually the way our mind works.  We sway towards negative thinking in order to protect ourselves from perceived dangers.  We shame ourselves to keep us safe!  Sounds bizarre, doesn’t it?  But take public speaking for example.  Our critic comes out in full force saying–You can’t do that!  You’ll make a fool of yourself.  You’ll forget what to say.  Everyone will see that you’re a fraud!  You will be totally humiliated.–Yup, that’s why public speaking is such a huge fear for us.  Take another example–going to the dentist.  I don’t know what comes up for you but for me it’s fear of pain, shame, fear of lack of control, fear of the unknown.  (I just had a gum graft done–perhaps I’ll tell you in the next post!)

When we are feeling some strong emotion like fear, shame, anger, disgust, we can be sure that the critic is there, filling our heads with limiting beliefs about ourselves (or cutting down someone else to make us feel better).

So back to the conversations between my critic, inner child and compassionate self.  I was amazed at how this brought me inner peace!  It was like ending a war.  Seriously.  It was like the compassion self was mediating the other two.  Pretty wild, right?!  The compassionate self acknowledged what the critic was thinking and feeling and also empathized with the inner child.  Then it reasoned with the critic, giving it evidence to the contrary, showing it how much I have changed.

I realized at an even more profound level what healing really meant.  I was an integration of all the parts of me.  It was loving and accepting it all.  It was bringing wholeness to my being.  It was being friendly to everything!!  What a revelation!

I find myself saying as I often do–Why can’t children be learning THIS in school?!  Why aren’t more adults learning this and sharing this?  Imagine a world where people had peace within themselves!  Outer peace would be the beautiful result!

I was just watching a Lisa Nichols interview and she had a great idea for getting in touch with our limiting beliefs, the lies we tell ourselves.  She said, write down all of your lies in pencil, leaving space to write underneath each one.  Then under each lie, write the TRUTH in red (or I suppose any bright colour!)  and say them together each day.  Finally, when the truth feels true, erase the lies.  Brilliant, I thought.

Another wonderful technique I have heard comes from Tara Brach.  She says if you are in suffering (confusion, worry, resentment), ask yourself–What am I believing?  Investigate and find out what limiting belief is there.  Do some digging.  Bring some compassion to it.  You can also ask–What would my life be like if I didn’t have this belief?  Who would I be without it?  Then realize that it is not you.  Release your identification with it.

Byron Katie has an amazing method that has really worked well for me.  Simply write down the judgements you have about another person.  Change it into a “should” statement.  For example, My partner is always late! –My partner should always be on time.  Then ask yourself–Is it true?  Is it true that your partner is always on time–NO!  The reality shows you that it is not the case…Your partner is often late.  (noticed I changed “always” to “often”.  Words like “should”, “always” and “never” indicate a judgment)  Now you know the truth and you can take action!  How freeing is that?!

In my Life Coach course we learned a way to delve into limiting beliefs, too.  Basically, you write (or say) a sentence that expresses your strong emotion about something.  For instance, I was really angry when my partner showed up late for dinner.  Then find out more about the anger:  I was angry because I had to wait and I wasn’t sure if he was going to show up.  Next uncover what that means for you:   It means that he doesn’t really care and doesn’t respect me.  And you can continue asking what that means to you until you get to the root belief.

Be gentle with your ego critic.  It is really doing the best it can to keep you safe and insecure.  Talk to it.  Let it know that it’s ok to make mistakes;  it’s ok to “fail” and let it know that you will get up again.  Show it all the times you have been resilient and strong.  I do believe that the voices will dissipate and lose it’s power over you.  It’ll certainly come up again.  But you will be prepared!  You will be ready with your tools!

Also, let your critic know that it’s ok to SUCCEED!   That you will be able to handle that, too!  We are not here on this planet to play it small and safe.  We are here to THRIVE–to live abundant, joyful, uninhibited lives!!!  I truly believe this and I will make it my mission to share this message with the world–There is nothing wrong with you.  You are absolutely okay!  You are enough!  Allow yourself to SHINE and be the RADIANT, POWERFUL being that you are!!  RISE UP!  See that you can be so much more.  Believe in POSSIBILITIES and MIRACLES!!