ENOUGH

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I AM ENOUGH.   This is one of the affirmations that I have been using recently.  I’m hoping that if I say it enough times to myself, I will eventually start to really believe it.   As you may guess, it is never quite that simple.  I still hear that same old record playing in my head;  the voices that tell me–You’re not strong enough, not smart enough, not interesting enough.  You’re not creative enough, not courageous enough, ambitious enough or adventurous enough.–Why do I still find myself listening to them?  Why can’t I just be satisfied knowing that I am doing the best I can?  Why is it so feakin’ hard to let the past go and move on?

Change can be excruciatingly slow.  It’s seems to be always two steps forward and one step back.  AHHH!  I feel different on the inside but the progress I see on the outside is more subtle and hard to notice.  I do see some changes in my actions and reactions.  My voice is a little stronger and firmer and has more conviction.  I’m more comfortable with speaking up for myself.  I’m less nervous when facing confrontation.  I think I’m getting better at listening with an open mind.  Perhaps I am sounding less judgemental and more compassionate.

I’m definitely better equipped at dealing with these negative voices when they pop up.  I have the tool of awareness. Sometimes I am able to stop them before they get out of control.  Other times, the voices start out softly and then get louder and louder until I realize I’m caught up in a whirlwind of negativity and often ends in a dark place where I’m calling myself a loser.  In these cases, it feels like I’m in a fight–punches are knocking me to the ground and I am begging for mercy until finally I get up and strike back.  These days, I frequently win but I’m not so sure that fighting is really the best solution.  I need to learn to just observe and lovingly let go of these self-defeating thoughts that no longer serve me.

I notice external circumstances that are mirroring my inner battle.  I see that I’m ultra-sensitive these days to people who ‘say’ that I’ve made a mistake or I’m doing something wrong or something is my fault or I don’t have the knowledge or skills.  To me, it’s like they are implying that I am weak, stupid, incompetent, thoughtless or unsuccessful since my interpretations of events is filtered through my belief of not being good enough.  Basically, in my eyes, they are confirming what I had already believed about myself–that I’m a loser.  When I can step back with this perspective, the irony is actually quite hilarious!

My soul knows the truth and it knows that I am perfect just as I am.  When I feel that others are putting me down, inside I scream–You can’t say that to me!  I’m doing things my way and I’m doing just fine, thank you very much!!!  Hey, wait a minute!  It’s not my fault.  I have nothing to feel guilty about here.  So maybe this isn’t my area of expertise but I am an intelligent and intuitive woman who has lots of talents and abilities!

I woke up from a dream last night.  A guy told me that I had a special talent–“You lift people up,” he said.  “You make people feel good.”  My soul felt the truth of his words.  I remembered the mission I had created from myself fifteen years ago–to spread joy.  I feel this is my gift–to uplift.  And now I see that this has two meanings:  1.  to encourage, inspire and share my positivity (spread joy)  2.  to raise and expand people’s awareness–spiritual ascension.

Ascension is enlightenment and evolution of consciousness.  It’s a profound understanding of  the interconnectedness and purpose of all things.  It’s changing negative to positive, fear into courage, misery into joy, hate and indifference into love and compassion.  I believe strongly that if I keep following my intuition, listening to my dreams and being true to myself that will be doing exactly what I need to do…I will continue to have a positive effect on other people by  uplifting them.

This is not an easy path to take when our society is so focused on achieving, being ‘successful’, making money, making logical decisions and listening to external information sources.  People might begin to think I am kind of weird and eccentric…but I’m getting more and more okay with that.

When coworkers ask me what I did on the weekend, I usually reply, “Not much.  It was quiet and relaxing.”  Actually, the truth would sound more like this.  “I thought about my boundaries and how to take responsibility for myself.  I fought with negative self-talk in my head.  I had a dream that gave me an important message.  I cried a lot for both known and unknown reasons.  And I wrote in my blog about my personal struggles, discoveries and insights.”  Looking closely at yourself and examining your life is tons of tough work!

Oh, by the way, crying is not a sign of weakness.  It’s a way of releasing pain and negativity.  It’s a way of cleansing the body and soul.  Some may think, “She is weak.  She is overreacting. She can’t control her emotions.  She should man-up!”  or they may just be afraid to look at her tears because they can’t face their own painful emotions.

The fact is, holding in frustration and anger only gives the voices of doubt and insecurity more power.  Having a good cry is possibly the one of the best things you can do to get unstuck and move forward.   When we allow those tears to fall, it can give us a new perspective on the situation;  clarity of mind .  Suddenly, we realize that all these little dramas are merely superficial human experiences.  These people and events are in our lives to help us learn what we need to learn.

The other thing you can do when you are feeling stuck, depressed or unmotivated is to get up a move!  Getting your energy flowing is a fantastic way to change your mind set and get you out of your thinking loop.  Building core strength is especially important to increasing your ability to follow through with your ideas and goals, dreams and ambitions.   So do some crunches and some planks!  Another great exercise is twisting your upper body from the waist, side to side, while keeping your hips in one place.  This detox yoga asana is sure to make you feel cleansed and energized.

I AM ENOUGH.  We are all enough.  We all have our unique path to follow and our special gifts to share.  All you really need to do is keep your awareness and clarity so you can make choices that come from your inner wisdom rather than from fear.  If you have the sense that you need to make some changes in your life, LISTEN to your intuition rather than beating yourself up over not being enough.  For example, maybe you keep feeling that you want to be more creative.  Instead of getting angry with yourself for not being artistic enough, be open to creative opportunities and be ready to say YES!

At the end of your life do you think you will be saying to yourself, “I didn’t have a big enough house.  I didn’t know enough about politics.  I didn’t travel enough.”?  I doubt it.  I imagine the things that people most likely regret the most are not being true enough to themselves, not being brave enough, not giving enough, not being compassionate enough and not loving enough.  Perhaps what we really need to do is focus less on accomplishment and more on contribution.  We all have so much to give–our love, our gifts, our wisdom and ourselves.   And that’s enough.

 

 

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TAKING RESPONSIBILITY

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A girl asked me to read this book to her twice. (Hmmm…could there be a message here?)   It was about knight who was sent to find a magician.  The magician had made it rain so much that it flooded the village.  Everyone was angry at him so the magician said he was sorry and cleaned up the mess he had created.  But the knight noticed that there was still a cloud above the magician’s head which continued to rain on him.  The magician admitted that he was angry with himself.  When everyone saw him, they began to laugh.  Finally, the magician laughed too.  The cloud vanished and a rainbow appeared over his head.

As I read this story, I could see it’s truth and relevance in my own life.  I had woken up from dreams a few nights earlier with a strong feeling that I needed to forgive myself and start trusting myself again.  Yes, I had made a lot of mistakes and had betrayed myself in many ways.  But I have experienced the consequences and most importantly, I have learned from them.  Deep down, though, I think I am still carrying that cloud over my head–angry at myself for going against my better judgement, for not speaking up for myself, for not living my truth and living up to my fullest potential.

The problem is, we don’t like being mad at ourselves, and we definitely don’t like admitting our weaknesses, so we look around for others to shoulder the responsibility when we feel frustrated and life isn’t quite going our way.  It’s much easier to blame others when things aren’t to our liking.  But this strategy is neither healthy nor helpful.

If we are not happy with a situation or person in our lives, we always have three choices:  1.  we can make changes to that situation or relationship.  2.  we can remove ourselves from that situation or relationship  3.  we can accept the situation or person as it is and change our reaction to it.  In theory, it sounds pretty simple but old patterns die hard.

Lately, I have been frustrated with not being able to express myself and feeling that people don’t listen to me or understand me.  And I have been frustrated with not having enough support and encouragement and feeling that my needs are coming second.  So I’ve looked outside myself for someone to blame.  I’ve been pointing the finger at others in my life thinking–he/she’s the bad guy.  He doesn’t listen or she talks too much.  He isn’t empathetic enough or she is too aggressive.  He is being selfish, harsh and disrespectful.  She is being arrogant, bossy, domineering.

Why do these particular characteristics push my buttons?  Because I know in my heart that what I am so conveniently avoiding is MY part in all of this and all of MY weak points which just happen to be the opposing traits–not speaking up enough, being overly empathetic and emotional, too sensitive, passive, modest, meek and disrespectful of my own needs.

OUCH!  The truth hurts!   But if I don’t face the truth of who I am and my responsibility in my life situations and relationships, I will remain stuck and keep going in circles.  By placing the blame on others, I would keep confirming my belief that I am unimportant and unworthy.  (It’s not my fault that I can’t be more assertive–it’s their fault because I can never get a word in edgewise!)  By pointing the finger at the people closest to me, I could continue clinging onto my schema of being helpless, weak and dependent on others.  (It’s their fault that I’m not living up to my fullest potential because they are not supporting me enough!)  My mind could even trick me into believing that I should just give up trying to speak my truth and voicing my needs.  (What’s the point! They will never really listen to me!  They will never understand who I truly am!)

I don’t want to be stuck anymore.  I don’t want to stayed locked inside, feeling angry and resentful.  It’s time to break free from this pattern and get out of this rut.  No more blaming!  I need to really step up and take responsibility for my own life.  I do have choices.  If I don’t like the way someone is talking to me, I can tell them to speak with kinder words or I can walk away.  If I feel I’m not getting my fair share of speaking time in a conversation, I can say so, bring up topics that I want to talk about or decide to cut the conversation short.  If I feel that someone is taking advantage of me or not being respectful of my time or space, it’s up to me to stand up for myself.  If someone is not being as empathetic or supportive as I want, then it’s up to me to tell them what I need or how they can help or find someone who will be more understanding.

I need to be more assertive and I need to stand up for myself when I feel my boundaries are being stepped on or crossed.  I need to believe that I am important and worthy of being heard.  And I think I need to be more accepting of who I am, too.  I think the more I speak up, the more strong and confident I will feel and then the more I will really believe in my worthiness.  And possibly, the more I believe in my own worthiness, the less I will feel this desperate urge to prove that I am assertive and strong.  One day, maybe I will have enough inner strength to be able to just sit back and let the other person do the talking, trusting that I will create chances for myself to speak my truth.

Taking responsibility is accepting your strength and power.  You are not a victim.  YOU ALWAYS HAVE CHOICES.  Accepting your full power is actually a very scary thing.  It puts YOU in the driver seat.  YOU are in charge.  YOU are responsible for your actions and your attitude.  Take a moment to deeply think about this idea.  What if there were no one else to blame for your frustrations?  What if you, alone, had the power to create your life exactly how you wanted it to be?  Yes, it’s terrifying and exhilarating all at once.  Take a few breaths, and really feel your power.  Get excited about being responsible!  It’s your day–live it your way!!!  Let your rainbow show!

 

 

AUTHENTICITY

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I woke up this morning feeling relaxed and pretty rested;  wondering how I would fill up my weekend.  I wanted to do something worthwhile.  “Maybe I could write today,” I thought.  But I really didn’t feel particularly inspired;  no flashes of insight or vivid dreams or any intense urges to put all my thoughts down on paper.  Is this writers block?  Am I running out of ideas?  What if all these insights and ideas have come from this difficult transition but once life gets back to being stable and ‘normal’ they stop coming?  What will I do then?  Expressing myself is the one thing that seems to keep me sane.

Life has seemed pretty ordinary lately.  I’m used to my routine and feeling more comfortable and confident.  What now?  I have been thinking about a few different things lately–empathy, wholeness and overcoming fear but when I started to jot some things down, I just felt flat.  But I was determined that today was going to be a writing day.

I had read a quote from Buddha which said–The only real failure in life is not to be true to the best one knows.–It had struck a chord with me.  If I had to sum up what I think is most important to me…a motto for my life, I would say–BE TRUE TO MYSELF.  LIVE JOYOUSLY AND COURAGEOUSLY!   EXPRESS, CREATE, CONNECT.  MAKE, MOVE, MOTIVATE.   That is my mission in life.

One vague dream that I had last night came back to me:  Jill (a childhood friend) had gotten into trouble for misrepresenting herself.  We were in this water canal and suddenly a big, long underwater ‘train’ was coming and we had to get out of the way.

I just looked up the meaning of canal in dreams and it said–“To see a canal in your dream symbolizes restraint and constricted emotions.  It also suggests that you are unyielding in your thinking and beliefs, which may hinder you in the pursuit of your goals. You are being too controlling.” (dreammoods.com)  

The word that pops out there for me is “unyielding”, which means rigid, inflexible, stubborn.  Prior to looking up this dream, I read an article on Psychology Today called “Dare To Be Yourself” (by Karen Wright) which said that one of the biggest barriers to living authentically is being too rigid.  Am I being too rigid, too hard on myself?  

I thought back over my week and all the times when I felt that I had said the wrong thing.  Words came tumbling out of my mouth and they weren’t what I had intended at all!  I didn’t want to sound mean, self-centred, self-righteous, aloof, disinterested, uncaring, self-pitying or pessimistic.  I didn’t want to appear self-conscious, timid, nervous, weak, fearful, awkward.

Sometimes I feel that I have something important to say and  I want to express myself strongly, clearly, elaborately but all I can manage is a few peeps.  I feel I have some wisdom I can share but I can rarely seem to come up with a clever, spontaneous response. What is going on?!  Why can’t I seem to say what I really want to say?  Why can’t I be the person I really want to be?  I wonder if the way others see me is anything close to how I see myself.

What does it mean to be authentic and how do I achieve it?  Or maybe it is unrealistic to want to be completely authentic all the time.  Who is this true self that I am so desperate to know, understand and share?  I know that authenticity begins with awareness of yourself–the good and the bad.  So how come the more awareness I have, the more I inauthentic I feel?

From the article, I learned that two psychologists, Kernis and Goldman, named four components of authenticity–1. self-awareness–knowing your feelings, desires, likes & dislikes  2. being able to objectively evaluate your strengths and weaknesses.  3. aligning your behaviour with your values, beliefs and needs   4.  relating to others openly and honestly.  Borrowing from their ideas, I would say these four elements are 1. self-knowledge  2. self-acceptance  3. integrity  4.  vulnerability.

I think I am constantly circling through these in search of that authentic core self:  I learn about myself, I accept a little more, I act with more integrity and I open up a little more.  This is a slow and ongoing process.  And what I am realizing now is that instead of only circling inwards, what I need to be doing is circling outwards as well! –contraction and expansion.

Going forwards, I intend to continue the journey to my inner core and essence but I will also aim to have a more expansive and inclusive concept of myself.   Without this inclusiveness, we are left feeling empty, unsatisfied and possibly even depressed.

The truth is, I can be a compassionate person who is a good listener one moment and be self-centred and disinterested the next.  I can be caring and connected in some circumstances and awkward and aloof in others.  ALL of these are me.  No one is perfectly compassionate 100% of the time and I imagine no one says exactly what they want to say 100%of the time either.

I need to let go of that old, rigid perfectionist way thinking and start seeing myself and my behaviour on a continuum.   What’s important is being realistic with my expectations of myself and accepting that things are not just black or white–there is a lot of complex grey in all of us.

If you find yourself often using ‘shoulds’ (or ‘should haves’) in your self-talk and conversation with others, you may want to investigate as to where they are coming from.  They can be good indicators of where in your life you may not be living authentically.  You may think–Oh, I should eat healthier and exercise more.  You may have the nagging feeling–I should really find a partner and settle down.

The tricky part is finding out whether this ‘should’ is a seed sprouting from your inner, true self or whether it came to you from an external source.  Maybe you actually don’t want to settle down but you feel pressure (real or imagined) from your parents.   Maybe you really do know that you need to be leading a healthier lifestyle and you want to make changes but there is some obstacle (concrete or psychological) that is stopping you.

Being authentic takes a lot of work.  It means being willing to evaluate everything you do.  No wonder I have been agonizing over my every word and action!!  It is mentally painful to truly look at what you are doing and saying for every waking (and non-waking!) moment.  Just knowing that this is normal gives me a ton of relief!!

Occasionally, I have felt like I was a little crazy going over every detail of my day!   Wondering to myself–Why the heck did I tell the cashier that it was ‘obvious’ that I needed the extra bag?  (Hello Donna, the self-righteous know-it-all!)  Why did I say that my dentist appointment was ‘horrible’ when I could have just said it wasn’t very pleasant.  (Hello Donna, the self-pitying drama queen!)

We all have every human characteristic in us to some extent.  Recognizing this can be truly liberating!!  My true self is not some perfect goddess who always makes perfect choices, says the perfect thing, and is perfectly courageous, compassionate, calm and confident.

My ‘true’ self is a goddess who tries to make conscious, informed choices but sometimes makes mistakes.  She is a goddess who tries to be empathetic and caring but sometimes gets wrapped up in her own fears and sorrows.  She is a goddess who is brave and strong but sometimes gets scared, feels insecure or vulnerable.  She is a goddess who is intuitive, creative and wise but finds it easier to express herself and her ideas through movement or writing.  She may not seem different day by day but if you look closer she might surprise you!

This ‘true self’ we are seeking is always changing.  This is also good news because it means that our characteristics and our behaviour are fluid.   My mathematical mind wants to imagine this abstract self that is like some formula:  x +2y +3z = Donna;  so Donna could be something constant; someone who behaved in predictable ways .  Uncertainty might feel strange but change is good!  It allows us to become more courageous and compassion if we so choose.  It allows us to release those parts of ourselves we no longer need.  With every passing day, your self is shifting, adapting, revising.  You are always in transition!

If you have been living much of your life or parts of your life in denial, waking up will likely not feel very comfortable for a while.  You will have to face that some of your actions have gone against what you have known, or have recently discovered, to be true for yourself.

For example, you have been drinking every night and your true self has been trying to get you the message that this is not good for your body but you have ignored it.  Finally, you get a wake up call, in one form or another, and you realize that you have not been true to yourself.. Or maybe you have a boss that has been doing things you disagree with for years but you have kept quiet in fear of losing your job.  Then one day, you suddenly cannot hold back your true opinion any longer and you must express yourself.  Make the necessary changes to get back on track and forgive yourself!  We all stray from our higher knowing once in a while.

We all have to put up with some discomfort and contradiction.  This is okay.  Just as long be aware of it and accept it; don’t beat yourself up or bury your head in the sand.  Keep your curiosity and objectivity. — Wow!  That didn’t seem like me at all.  I wonder why I said that?  That didn’t feel right;  I will have to make a change next time. –I think I would change the wise Buddha’s quote a little and say–You are always succeeding at being YOU.–  Be aware of your fluid true self and do your best to live in congruence with that self.  There is no failure because no matter how much awareness you have now, you are surely doing the best that you know.