Can you help me with something? You know…Im good one on one….but when it comes to larger groups, I just have a lot of trouble. Im not sure if it’ social anxiety???……….
Following my weekly writing workshop class, ‘Journaling For The Self’…….a group of us routinely walk out to our cars together and share our thoughts and feelings about the class.
The workshop is an intimate one, as you can imagine by the title. It, amongst other intentions, is to help one create intimacy with oneself……to really get to know oneself, resolve old conflicts, unfinished business, work out internal conflicts, map out one’s vision, acknowledge one’s gains and accomplishments, etc.
People who came to learn more about the benefits of journaling and writing in general, have come to form a close bond as they share some of the intimate details of their lives in class. Something we don’t intuitively do early on in larger groups. The feeling is alive, warm, secure and comforting.
One of the participants, a bright, friendly, bubbly and very sociable kind woman asked me the above question, while standing outside of our cars. I like this woman, as she is authentic, a deep thinker and feeler, passionate, humorous, amongst many other things.
And here is some of what was shared…….
You know…….that has been part of my personal path. And what I am finding at this stage in my life, is that I have had enough of hiding…..it’s exhausting. I just think when you have this huge bubble inside of you that is wanting to burst with ideas, passions, wisdom, sharing, love, inspiration, song, poetry, connection……you get to a point where you are ready to be free, relinquished, flying, floating, whatever the resonating expression is for you. Sure it takes something to rewire the programming…..courage, faith in yourself and humanity, letting go of fears, old beliefs, sometimes a bit of a fight……but all of this is available to each and everyone of us, why not take full granted of this opportunity to be all that you know and don’t know yourself to be.
I remember an old coach of mine telling me.....'Lillian, you are a sunflower trying to be a daisy'. It was damn painful playing small.
My writing colleague identified with this space, with this feeling. And it has been my experience of late, in my therapy and coaching practice, that many people are now ready to create this kind of freedom for themselves.
Most interestingly, as some higher force might have it, when you are open to receiving, 'the things we are open to is a comin’'. I have had quite a few new clients come into my practice recently…..looking for this type of freedom.
And not surprisingly, today……my sister posted something she found on facebook, something I think you will really enjoy, and it sounds like this…….
There is no fight left in her. And thats the best thing that ever happened for her. For far too long the futile battle of light and dark has left her exhausted. She’s accepting both light and dark as the inherent gifts of the universe. She’s not in a duelling match with them. The light no longer wishes to ‘reform’ her dark, and her dark no longer wants to ‘control’ the light. Suddenly, she’s not playing the polarity game.
She’s not fooled into buying the teaching that there’s something wrong with her that needs fixing, and she’s got work to do before she’s finally ‘good’. Her divinity is in fully embracing her humanity. All of it. So where’s the imperfection?
The myth that one day light will vanquish the dark and there will be peace… would have kept her exhausted and imprisoned. She’s already at peace right now! Even the light and dark within her are sitting at peace with each other. Game over.
What she’s experiencing in the ceasing of war is an unbelievable tranquility and peace. Thank goodness she believed in her own wisdom - Sukhvinder Sircar
So sometimes we have themes in our lives, and it takes reflection at times to notice what the themes are.
What practices do you have in place to notice recent themes, recurring messages, invitations…..
May I suggest something?
One of our journaling exercises was to write a ‘List of 100’. We all have lists…..To Do Lists, Shopping Lists, Payment List, Bucket List……..
It helps to clarify, itemize, gather and notice…..when you want to find out what’s going on beneath the surface of an issue and it’s ok to let yourself repeat and then write the next thing that pops up.
In class I chose wherever my eyes rested and focused on the list of topics…..Things I Once Feared that I No Longer Fear. I surprised myself and wrote down 87 items…..repeating only one item twice. I would never have guessed I could come up with as many……and I imagine perhaps you might think this as well. What a great feeling to know that I have pushed through this many fears.
Give it a try…..see what come up, acknowledge yourself for getting your reluctance, your resistance out of the way and sitting with your yummy self for a cup of tea or coffee.
As usual I'd love to hear what has shown up for you, what you have noticed, what themes you are now awake to….
“Im just feeling sad, realizing that all this time, I have actually allowed myself to be in this place for a whole decade”
A courageous admission from a group participant I am co-coaching. The program has just started, we are in our third week….and like clockwork, the nature of being involved in any growth program that promises a shift in our lives…..calls up resistance, anger, sadness and the like……to be dealt with.
As we address what comes up….we start disarming the barriers we have in place to the life we want for ourselves. And this is the key…..addressing the walls that have been built throughout our lifetime to protect us, but simultaneously preventing the very thing we pine for.
She has been resisting this emotion, keeping herself busy…..”It’s thankfully been so busy at work that I haven’t lost myself in it”….she says. A common and understandable fear. “But I am bringing this to you to tell me what to do with it”. She is clearly sad, recognizing that she has been denying herself, unconsciously, the very thing that she has been craving, working towards, dreaming about.
Our beautiful minds create these tensions……this conflict……for a purpose.
Part of you wants to stay safe, and why not? Who would walk into a fire knowing it will hurt and scar them? Simple cause and effect. Walk into the fire, get burned!!!
Can you relate to this?
But did you know that you developed this belief when you were under the age of 8 years? Hard to believe, but we actually create a road map for life by the time we are 8 years old. But if you give it some thought…….8 years involves many new experiences. And if we don’t share our experiences, or if we don’t have the guidance necessary to navigate through our emotional terrain…..then we are left to our own devices to come up with guidelines around our self conduct in relationship to the world. And to be fair, even in the best of upbringings…..our parents cannot possibly know all that is going on within us…all the beliefs we are forming….and it is barely within our awareness that we are creating these beliefs in the first place.
Another woman shares about her resistance to doing the homework assigned in the program. When asked what the resistance is about, she shares “I wont’ be able to be who I am if I open myself up to a relationship”. A relationship is what is on her particular radar at this time in her life.
Afraid of change, afraid of not knowing what it will entail, perhaps an experience of being unaware of what she gave up in the past to be in a relationship ( having the awareness only after the fact), and…..a belief that no man will fully accept her for all that she is…..this self-protective part of her brain is rightly saying……don’t go there!!!!!
However, the conflict is in our biological pre-programming to be attached, connected, loved, adored, supported, cared for……. We begin this attachment, this programming.....the moment we come out of the womb…if not before. Without this attachment, safety and survival are impossible.
This lovely woman wants what attachment and connection promises without the growing pains of deepening intimacy….both with herself and with the potential partner. Logical.....no one wants the pain.
In a perfect world….that would be great wouldn’t it? Perhaps. It would save us from the suffering we have experienced.
But I would like to offer here that without any sort of suffering….whether it’s just in the knowledge that we want something we don’t have.....to the other end of the spectrum…..we would know very little about ourselves, and have very little personal intimacy. Without that…..we don’t get to experience the joy of knowing all that we offer, loving who we are, loving our lives….the people and circumstances within it.
How much would you like that kind of joy in your life?
Shifting and transforming are amongst the most delicious rights of passage we are gifted here, what are you doing to completely capitalize on this opportunity offered to you? What are the joys you have gotten to experience along the way?
I would love to hear……transformation is delicious!!!
Hi there again......
I hope this entry finds you well.
Opening our hearts to love also opens our hearts to pain. We know this intuitively, we know it from experience, we don’t need to read it anywhere.
Sure we may have had a few, or perhaps many experiences of pain when we opened our hearts to love, or anticipated love. And sure…..it’s real, it hurts, it can send us to dark places, keep us from being involved with others (at least for a while), even our own lives, be the trigger for alienation and isolation, and so on.
But here is something to consider.
Is it opening our hearts to love that causes the pain?
Or could it be a whole other set of variables that we were uninitiated to, that was the trigger? By uninitiated, I mean….we were young and unworldly…..we could not see past opening our hearts and immediately associating pain with it.......if our expectations were not met. Sometimes that "youngness" or "naivite" stays with us into our adulthood until we are in fact initiated into our own wisdom, our own worldliness.
For example…..lets take a teenager, age 15. She falls in love with a school mate of a differing race and religion. He reciprocates these feelings with poems and love letters at school and they are both sure of their feelings. It’s new, exciting, warm, comforting……safe and secure. After some time, the fellow calls to say he is coming to visit after her surgery. He comes to her door, with a new poem and one flower, but she won’t let him in. She explains that her parents won’t let him in because of his race and religion.
TheIn that moment, the racing thoughts are that there is no possible future for the two of them. He feels judged, hurt, rejected, not only by her parents, but now by her, because in his thinking…..she has sided with them by not letting him in.. He feels alone in this unnecessary conflict. Surely love trumps all this? She, in turn, feels bad because she does not share her parents views, but feels powerless in her wish to defy their position. They both have a new experience of love……it hurts!!!
These types of experiences begin to trigger the innate self-protective mechanism to guard against future similar experiences. If we have enough of these "types" of experiences, we might find ourselves closed off from taking risks in the are of love, or vulnerability in general.
The variables involved in this scene are mindset, religious and cultural wiring, gender power, youth and its relative power to parents/adults, and so on. They are young and dependent upon their parents for survival….defying her parents involves great risk to that instinct. She is also very emotionally connected to her parents and their “story” of surviving annihilation of their race, and to stand up against them, would entail a betrayal her young mind is not prepared for. She is also a female in a traditional home…..and here again, challenging gender roles and power would open up a conflict that a 15 year old is unprepared for.
So here is the rest of the story…..despite this experience, he continues to give her poems at school. The romantic love wanes, but the fundamental base of love does not, as both know it is not themselves that stand in the divide, but the dependence upon their parents for survival that prevents them from taking a stronger stand.
And here is the point……..
It is not opening our hearts that hurts, it is not love that hurts…..
What did hurt were the judgements, assumptions, and the fears that are carried over through generations of culture, religion, race…..however you decide it…..that created the divide. Through this young couples persistence to continue the expression of their feelings for one another, despite the hurt, testifies to the benefits of keeping an open heart. The important life lessons learned….. that they can stand apart from the values they do not share, that the larger society will not dictate their inner truth, that love see’s past differences, past fears and hurt. And they become initiated into the complexities of “relationship”, love relationships and otherwise. They also become initiated into their truth vs the larger truth of any set of groups or society at large, and what they wish to do about it once their personal power is fully developed.
Furthermore, they have created an experience, specifically their continued expression of love….contributing to their resiliency in the world of trust, love, faith, persistence, taking a stand for their truth…..etc. Resiliency is created by exposure to hardship. And resiliency is a necessary variable in living a full and joyous life.
If you are finding yourself with a closed off heart......know that you are doing this to protect yourself from a particular belief about the world, about lovers, family, colleagues…..
Discover, at a deeper level,
And you don’t have to go it alone…..we are not solitary creatures by nature. We find comfort and solace in shared experiences, shared world views……
Find the supports to help you heal. Find the supports that nurture your shared values. A community of like-hearted people can transform your life in great ways. Sharing your story with someone, with a different set of lenses…..who can walk through it with you, can make all the difference in creating a supportive mindset around opening your heart again.
Until next time ……
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Are you here by accident or by design?
What I mean by this question and to help you go deeper, is ……
Your Truth perhaps?
The next time you find your mind reelng out of control, whether it’s in Anger, Disappointment, Hurt or making “To Do” lists in your head, ask yourself these questions. Write them down. Start writing down the answers, fast, ….perhaps at first they will be angry or hurting answers…..but as the energy neutralizes…..you will find your wisdom, your truth.
The Kaballah, an esoteric method, discipline, and school of thought, originating in Judaism……..asserts that a seed is always planted for any one and all of our circumstances, whether moments ago, or 30 years ago. Resting your cell phone on the back of a public toilet (instead of taking the time to put it safely away) might land your phone in the toilet, a seed planted a moment ago ( a silly example I know, but it has happened to some of us for sure). Investing in an Retirement Savings Plan or Education Savings Plan will reap you the rewards you have 30 years later (however little or large).
Some seeds take longer than others to come to fruition, and if we look hard enough we can find that ONE or MANY seeds that brought us to our circumstances. They come in the form of decisions, beliefs, words, actions and more.
Saying “good morning” to the staff at your morning coffee stop may land you a free coffee some morning. Acknowledging the eyes of a stranger could land you best friend, a lover, or a connection to someone you used to know many years ago.
The wonderful part of this conscious awakening is that you are now in a position of CHOICE - you can see the seeds before you, like a rack of spring seeds at your local market. The pictures on the front of those packets, are the pictures of your life. If you take the time to imagine the vision you hold dear for your life, you can pick out the seeds that will reap those experiences and outcomes. No different than planting and designing a garden that will give you the beauty, bounty, and shelter that you are looking for.
Intention is key here……being acutely aware or conscious of what it is you are sowing. Every time we hurt someone we teach them that they can be hurt by us. We teach them to hold back, to withdraw, to attack. Every time we dare to look at our bank account, we are able to make decisions that secure our financial future, with few if any surprises. Every time we choose to eat nutrient rich foods, the stronger and more resilient our bodies and minds become.
Not too long ago, I found such an example from my own life. I planted a seed in the form of a belief, long before I was even developmentally interested in a romantic relationship, however its fruit showed itself to me in my first long term relationship.
My learning by example, was to make my relationship priority over all else. To serve, to please, to be with “him” as much as possible…..to focus, till, cultivate, sow regularly. As the relationship progressed through its natural stages, specifically, past the honeymoon stage…..I stayed stuck in this belief. I couldn’t understand the reduced focus and attention on my partners part. This belief didn’t just apply to me in the relationship, but to the both of us. I felt betrayed, let down and hurt that he began to become focused on his own life. I wanted more, and felt empty and unattached.
That progressed to anger, resentment, bewilderment and the creation of another belief…….that he didn’t care about me (at least not in the way I wanted him to).
It took some time, but with great introspection over
……had me come to one of the greatest “aha moments” of my life, and not without some suffering along the way. That “aha moment” was “MY LIFE SOOOOO MATTERS AND CAN BE SO REDICULOUSLY EXCITING IF I JUST DO WHAT MAKES ME HAPPY.”
My life required equal focus, cultivation, sowing, pruning, weeding……and not just for short term. At that moment, the entire garden became visible and I could see what needed tending to. I could see myself compelled to, attracted by, a full life of work, hobbies, projects and social life of my own design. It would involve all the things and people that I love, that inflate my soul, that make me laugh and smile and connect with the world and myself. There would be no divisions, no detachment, no loneliness and finally no more pining and suffering.
If you don’t take responsibility over your own life satisfaction, and focus on what you have control over instead of what you don’t……you will continue this pattern of hope, wish, desire……leading to hurt, disappointment, anger and resentment.
Important questions came up…..
Do I really want to live this life of unconscious repetition…….of a drama all to familiar to me? (Ancestry)
My mother and father lived out this theatrical play all their lives - being born in the 20’s, with a strict and regimented recipe for relationships, living abroad away from family and supports…….they made each other and their children their lives.
I still remember the goosebumps I felt when I realized I was following their footsteps, creating the very same drama with this old partner of mine. How incredibly unconscious our wiring is, no matter how conscious we are becomming….there is always more to be found. And the heavy burden of responsibility to make me happy was an unfair one to my partner.
So…..back to the original questions……
When we tell ourselves, that this crisis, this hurt, anger, disappointment……is not supposed to be happening…..”Why me”, “I never asked for this”…..we are resisting some of the best teachers, the best lessons of our lives. We are inspired by these profound insights in movies, books…….in victories over struggle from our friends and family. We are one of them, our lives run the same course.
If we look at these challenges as our truest, dearest friends who are trying to make us uncomfortable enough to motivate us to make changes for a better life, then we may not resist……..and in fact, we could just finally surrender to the abundance it has to offer.
To answer these questions, we need to go to that place of knowing within ourselves. That place that says “Yes, he or she is right for me”, “No, I will not partake in that activity and collude with __________(fill in the blank). “She/He is that friend I can trust with my life”, “I will never agree with my child using________(fill in the blank again).
We have this deep place that resides in all of us. It’s what has us still here on this planet, individually and as a race. Whenever we have faced danger, perceived or real, we move into action and place ourselves out of harm’s way, even when we didn’t know how.
I would just like to share one more illustration here and I hope you get to look at your own life in this productive way.
Recently, a client shared with me that he wrote an initial assessment into a Summer Academy. On this questionnaire, one item asked if he had missed extended periods of school. He went against shared advice from family and friends, and truthfully answered. He stated that he had, due to insomnia and depression. He explained to me (at age 21) that he strongly values accountability and authenticity, and hiding this on the questionnaire would be a lie he could not live with if he were accepted. Without knowing it, and just maybe without conscious intention, this young man “planted a seed”……creating a life in alignment with his core values. Should the academy accept him, he will not need to hide. He will be spending his valuable time in a setting that accepts and embraces all that he is. He can allow himself to be seen, he will be at home at his work, and all his colleagues will relate to him accordingly.
It was an honor to work with this young man. He reminded me of this beautiful wisdom, and honored me with the presence of such at his young age. What a Victory!!!!
There is a reason why you are where you are. If you are feeling stuck, the reason is that there is a beautiful life changing lesson around the corner.....always...just ask these questions, and see what answers flow through your pen....fo you to witness and behold.
Have a beautiful day dear reader::))
"….because I can relate to this….i will offer you this insight into myself and others who operate this way. There is a fundamental and entrenched narrative (for me) that will likely never leave”, but can be handled any time I choose. The narrative is…..”I am alone and I can only rely on myself”, or….”no one but me can do this the way I want it”. It works in the way of self-reliance, self sufficiency, power, strength and effectiveness. But…..when we need connection and trust in others to show up for us….a different narrative might work and may sound like…..”I know myself to be someone who can handle anything (on my own)….but I also know myself to be someone who revels in connection and community”. When I need to do it on my own….this old narrative has supported me and served me….but when I need connection…..the new narrative is needed. Perhaps its not an either/or, but a “what do I need right now?”
This was a reply I sent to a message posted in one of my communities from a fellow “self-developer”, an amazingly ambitious, brilliant, loving, and kind young woman in her late 20’s. I call her a fellow “self developer”, because we met at an Emotional Intelligence/Leadership Training Program in Philadelphia. Had it not been for that course, our lives may have never intersected.
She explained that she had been feeling a bit like a lone wolf, because her “normal inner support system has been dealing with other things in their lives and we haven’t been as connected.” The people in her life, on whom she relies for support, were not available to her. She goes on to say….”AND it has nothing to do with me as a person or my ability to be a leader in all that I’m up to. My ability to shift and handle breakdowns has definitely increased, and there’s nothing really *wrong*, I just feel off and a bit disconnected.”
How often have any of us felt that at one point or another in our lives?
She further and at last offers…..”The hard truth is that I get to really and truly lean into myself, to create what I want to create and create other connections. Actually open up and not just in an environment where it’s safe”.
Every one has their own hard truth…..and this was hers, at this particular time. She shared it to our community, a community of 36 people who had shared 6 months of their most intimate lives, where they took a good hard look at themselves, and how to shift their mindset and their actions, to align with the vision of their Best Lives.
With this share, a conversation ensued involving this wonderful community for a few days following.
For those of us who enjoy time on our own, who enjoy our own company, and in fact may need it to keep ourselves centred, living in our truth, in order to give of our time, whole and fully……it is an imperative that we become comfortable with this part of ourselves. We lose no one who see’s our true gifts, who witnesses our core goodness, who experiences us as precious and sacred in their lives.
By fully accepting this part and any part of ourselves we wish to keep in the shadows….we enable a full life, a meaningful and purposeful life that opens its arms to all that we are. We live a life that has meaning because it is a life where we no longer need to deny anything about ourselves, nor deny anything to ourselves.
There is a saying “we are only as needy, as our unmet needs”. What this means to say is…. we are only as hungry as the extent to which we deny ourselves food. (And one must keep in mind what food will feed our particular need/desire). Our needs will always let themselves be known…… in our life dissatisfaction, our complaints, our anger, disappointments and hurts, and in our search to meet those needs through addiction and the like. We are always striving to be whole and complete…..and all of the above expressions are signaling flags, at times small and at times enormous, waving to get attention. Your lovely attention.
Balancing those needs, and specifically to this topic, the need to be connected and supported…..with the need to be individuated (grown up), independent, and self reliant….helps us stay centered in our truth and help us create connections that support this truth. Essentially…..we are surrounded by a life that supports and nourishes our core.
Here’s to your truth, whatever that looks like.
In full support of your authentic gifts, your deep core truth……..
With love and admiration,
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