mindingmybiz

This blog is my shared process in working towards integrating self-awareness with all other aspects of life, while on my way to becoming more authentic and whole.

Archive for the category “personal growth”

Self-Reflections on Real vs. Fake Confidence, In Relationships

I like who I am.  I genuinely do.  Yes, there are parts of me I feel more comfortable with than others, but they all make up who I am.  They all belong to me.  The sum of all my parts make up who I am; deep, passionate, caring, and completely lovable. Not everyone will see me in this way, at least not all the time. I don’t either, and I’m OK with that. 

Others have parts of themselves they’re uncomfortable with too, and when certain parts or emotions are expressed in me, it may provoke a reaction from others which illuminates how they feel or interact with their own similar parts.  It’s very rarely personal, but almost always revealing of how one holds certain parts of themselves, usually unconsciously.  That’s exactly why it isn’t personal, yet to the degree an individual can make space for all their parts it will impact the degree of intimacy or intimate-capacity they have for another.

In conflict, pivotal opportunity arises.  The opportunity to strengthen a connection by showing up with openness.  When the struggle (and it’s often a struggle, hence the conflict) to do this is self-acknowledged, compassionate curiosity can soften the edges.  

As a type 6 on the Enneagram, I can detect extremely subtle emotional energy, for better or for worse.  You see, emotions tell on us. They reveal what we tell ourselves about ourselves, and what we tell ourselves about others, all at lightning speed. Curiosity engages with this process and slows it down, because it all happens so rapidly. Slowing the speed down serves to prevent defensively disengaging and shutting down the process, or reacting to it by going on the offense against whatever or whomever we feel defensive towards. What often happens when we don’t consciously slow down to reflect, is a missed opportunity at best, and a self-sabotaging repeat of things we’ve later come to regret.

When an individual shows up with a non-defensive presence and can attune, or meet me where I’m at with sincere, non-judgmental engagement i.e. empathy – it is extremely subtle but profound. This is how intimacy is built, and it is also where it is lost if someone cannot engage with this process. The capacity to be intimate and emotionally available with themselves, and therefore with others is what’s illuminated in these moments. And with that, the opportunity to grow. And, there is always room to grow individually and relationally.

When the opportunity is seized, it’s truly a gift.  A gift that’s birthed in imperfection. It’s a privilege to witness this. What I’m witnessing is another sacred human’s strength and profound trust in themselves, and the impact of being trusted by them as well. There’s risk involved. I want to show up as honestly and authentically as I can, there’s little room for perfectionism in this process.

The natural slower rhythms of synchronicity within this level of intimacy spring from doing enough of this on an individual level first. When two individuals mutually cultivate this kind of space between each other there’s a shared protectiveness and enjoyment, and it’s quite nice and quite rare! So, treasure it.

And while enduring the experiences where there’s a lack of synchronicity, I’m learning to not take the misattunements personally.  It’s more than likely a ripple effect of the rapid past-time insecurities, anxieties, and defenses at play. The key word is: rapid. It cannot be overemphasized how important slowing down is, in order to engage in this process productively.

In certain cases you may find yourself in isolation when it comes to having the intention to evolve, and strengthen your own self and the relationship. When another individual (of which you have no control over) is more invested in their ego boosting their self-esteem, they will defend and resist with great effort. It’s hard to believe because it feels so personal, and it is, but it’s not about YOUR personhood, it’s about theirs. Their very own sense of self-esteem is dependent on a false self (ego) to feel secure, and there is rigidity, not flexibility, in the ego. It’s ego-preservation vs. self-preservation.

When the True self is the one fueling self-esteem, there’s an openness that emerges because the True Self, knows itself and all of its parts (the good the bad and the ugly) can belong so clearly to itself regardless of how anyone may react. It’s an integrated Self that is self-accepting.

So when you experience resistance, understand this is where you can also grow. And to be clear, resistance and defensive reactions can range anywhere from avoidance to fleeing to going on the offense by becoming either passive-aggressive or blatantly aggressive. This is indicative of ego-preservation, that results from having a fragile source of self-esteem (the ego).

When (not if, but when) this happens, you’ll have an opportunity with yourself to get very clarifying information around your own ego-preservation activities, which we all have to different degrees, and of different levels of awareness and intensity depending on how your personality operates (read up on Enneagram). The cracks in your own armor around this may likely get exposed.  Ouch. And welcome to the human race, once again. How you respond has impact. Invite yourself to become empowered.

Some of us are more easily duped by our egos than others. To those who have very sophisticated egos when it comes to self-awareness and where we are on our growth maps, you may want to ask yourself some discerning questions:

  • Do you value or dismiss what’s triggering you? 
  • Do you engage in vulnerable and compassionate self-reflection, sharing this with at least one individual who will challenge and vet your narrative?

If not, you’ll stay stuck and your evolution will pass this opportunity by, and will return again and again until you’ve worked this through to completion.  And, may then visit your descendents for the opportunity to evolve in the next generation.

Little by little, (which is the pace that organic life grows) you’ll stretch your window of tolerating discomfort as you receive these Divinely inspired opportunities to say yes to building a sense of genuine self-confidence that stems from grace and truth.

This is how ultimately how I see adult development works, whether I like parts of it or not. 

Know Your Place

Where do you look, in order to know your place?

Allow me to show you. . .

Please, have a look in the mirror.

Get to know the one staring back at you. Understand the person in the mirror – deeply, intimately, slowly, steadily, and thoroughly. You’ll find your place, inside.

In the words of Maya Angelou: “You only are free when you realize you belong no place – you belong every place – no place at all.”

This used to make no sense to me. Until, I understood for myself that freedom is found within. In making space by letting go of finding your place, outside of you.

When you truly and thoroughly claim yourself, you belong to you. Another person’s disapproval or judgment cannot displace you. You cannot be internally exiled, by another’s exile of you.

This is about personal responsibility, which is what leads to personal freedom.

To truly claim and belong from the inside out, you’ve got to allow yourself to travel the depths of all you are. You’ve got to allow yourself to feel what arises while looking inside yourself. Is there discomfort? Stay there. Gently. This is the gateway to freedom.

To the extent that you disown and deny aspects of yourself when it feels uncomfortable (often subconsciously because it’s what you experienced in your formative years) you’re abandoning yourself. It may feel “familiar” to do so. I know it has for me. I didn’t know any other way. But by doing this I was putting myself, out.

Self-abandonment will keep you in a prison cell, while giving away your power to others to define who you are. Or, to acknowledge that you even exist.

There will be certain aspects of yourself which make you feel uncomfortable. Intensely so. You may feel the urge to reject and shame certain parts of yourself. This is all a part of the healing journey. There’s nothing wrong with you if you experience this discomfort. You can start by being present and curious with your inner-banisher, for this too is a part of you. Why does this part feel the urge to banish certain parts of you? Which parts of you get the boot? Those are parts that need to receive special attention, from you.

When you abandon parts of yourself, you’re likely going to inadvertently depend on an external source to do what you aren’t doing for yourself. Perhaps because you weren’t consciously aware you did this, or haven’t trusted that you’re enough to do this.

You can and you are.

In fact, only you have the power to set yourself free. Accepting the vulnerable parts of you is an act of true inner security, strength, and courage. This is necessary and therapeutic when it happens through another person’s validation who assists in filling developmental gaps from childhood, but don’t stop here. It’s only when you start doing this for yourself, that transformation and freedom unfolds.

If you’re constantly looking for others to accept your vulnerable parts while you reject them, and you get their temporary validation – you’re still not free; regardless of how much another may love or validate you. It can be a great start, but you’ve got to take the baton sooner or later and do this for yourself as a practice. In other words; again and again.

Take note; you cannot bypass parts of yourself which make you feel the most uncomfortable. Actually let me restate that. Of course you can do whatever you want on your journey. You are the one who lives it. But know this – you will be housing a fragile sense of self that gets easily triggered by factors outside of your control. So, consider this side-effect of discomfort-avoidance as you evolve. As you evolve, you’ll likely notice yourself tolerating avoidance less, and becoming more sensitive to what you’re missing out on when bypassing the rich opportunity that discomfort often presents.

I’ve found it’s also immensely empowering to become well acquainted with different aspects within, which seem in direct conflict with one another. Give yourself time and gentleness, and convene. This is profoundly healing work. Work that pays off because it empowers you to trust yourself more and more, which includes owning your right to make mistakes and learn from them.

By doing this inner work, you give yourself the conscious awareness of how these parts have formed your personality and parts of your identity in ways that don’t serve you like they once did, and perhaps you’ve never questioned any of this because you believed “you” were rigidly set in stone. Not so. You are malleable. Neuroscience call this neuroplasticity. As a human being, you are able to form new neural pathways and always add onto your learning, throughout your entire lifespan according to your level of openness. That is how we’ve survived this long. But you don’t just have to merely survive (aka not be dead). You can awaken, thrive, and be fully ALIVE.

I believe all of us formed a “self” as a means to adapt and survive while we were young, within whatever emotional environment we grew up in, by no choice of our own. This is my understanding of what an “ego” is. The ego isn’t inherently good or bad. It’s an adaptation, a pretty sophisticated but manufactured identity or “false self” that was formed without a conscious awareness in order to protect the True-Self, while your brain was still developing, and the mechanisms to defend our True Self got wired in along the way, and often become how we see our “self” vs how we survived our childhood environments which were less than ideal for the True Self to be engage with others. These defensive strategies can also be re-learned to serve us better as we receive feedback from present day life. IF – you are not offended by the feedback because you understand it’s not about your worth, but about your programming.

Until consciously examined, the ego is an adaptive autopilot personality or “false self” consisting of various unexamined beliefs which run you. It learned quickly in early childhood about what kind of “person” you should be in order to position yourself to receive external validation at best, or not be abused or neglected (physically and/or emotionally) at worst.

In childhood we develop our sense of “self” from the outside in. Our brain codes our experiences along with the emotions we carry at the time, based on how others (initially our primary caregivers) reflect us back. This starts during our preverbal years. That is how all children start to develop, from the outside in. It takes a long time for our brains and nervous systems to fully mature and develop. During our development, from the time in utero until we are well into our 20’s, lots of experiences happen (lots of which are not optimal) which get wired in as we try to make meaning of our world; internally and externally. When we don’t have caregivers or adults in our lives who can help us make meaning from our experiences in a way that validates our worth (from them knowing their own worth) we are left to fill in a lot of blanks as young kids. That’s a pretty grown-up job for a child to fill in for, so be gentle on yourself. And this isn’t about your parents being consciously and willfully neglectful or incompetent. In most cases it’s done without their conscious awareness. In any case, this is about how you now can consciously respond.

In adulthood we have more choices. We can choose who we reach out to, we’re not confined to our parents, our family of origins ,or school teachers, etc. We have more say-so. Often we filter through who we reach out to with what feels most familiar on an unconscious level. It’s the most energy conserving way, at first. Until life gives us feedback in the form of pain. Learning to expand what is “familiar” takes intention and time. Taking one step at a time through unfamiliarity will eventually lead to new “normals” of to what feels familiar. Again, this takes time. Be patient with yourself.

In adulthood I can practice accepting parts of me that were judged in childhood. They no longer need to hide for protection, they just need connection to the rest of me, and to others who’ve earned my trust.

When you can boldly accept all your parts, even especially the weird ones – you will set yourself up to receive acceptance that is available externally and freely. If you are still not accepted externally and are respectfully being authentic; it is most likely not an issue between you and them, but an issue between that other person and an aspect of themselves they are not accepting. Often without their conscious awareness. Wish them well or farewell, you may need to grieve a loss depending on what is lost but know you are not losing your own place,, within you. It isn’t your place to force another to accept you or to force yourself to contort yourself so they can pseudo “accept” you. You don’t have to do that anymore.

Know that your place is still securely within you regardless of where others place you.

Wherever you go, you belong. Because wherever you go, there you are. And you belong to you. Saith who? Saith you.

Trust Your Anger

Say what?

Yes. I am here to tell you that you can trust your anger. This emotion has been so poorly misunderstood for many folks, including myself. And I understand why. When we don’t understand that our anger is offering us a love-based power, we tend to distrust, fear, resist and/or misdirect it.

I’ve done all the above. Yet the thing is with anger (and all of our “negative” emotions) it doesn’t magically disappear just because we ignore it. Emotions are energy, and according to my high school daughter’s science teacher; energy cannot be destroyed or created, but transferred. Now, whether the act of transferring of energy is conscious or not, that’s where having an empowerment lens regarding emotions comes into play.

What if anger is meant to be a loving and persistent wake up call? A clarion call to expand, first within yourself.

When we keep hitting the ‘snooze’ button on our anger, it doesn’t work out too well for long. Anger is meant to wake you up and the more you try to resist it, the more it will persist even if it means it has to come out sideways. And when our emotions have to come out sideways, there are usually unforeseen and undesirable “side effects”, pun intended.

Common ways anger comes out sideways is by being super judgmental and intolerant of certain differences, while feeling a sense of self-righteousness. It also comes out by being covertly aggressive while feigning this helpless victim/vindictive mode of operation, triangulation, gossip, “isms”, divisiveness, and ultimately consumes a ton of energy to keep anger, on lock-down. Sometimes there is so much energy used up to lock-down anger (which again is energy itself) that people will collapse or implode from basically going to war with their own energy. Depression comes to mind.

I see depression as energy literally used to depress energy; an emotional civil war of sorts that presents in a multitude of self-harming ways in order to release this built up tension from a civil or internal war. There will be success in the sense of temporarily avoiding the anger, but this comes at a huge cost. Consider countries who are engaged in civil wars; burning up valuable resources to fight themselves.

The goal of avoiding anger may be reached by not ever authentically expressing it, but usually this results in ultimately feeling: ISOLATED and drained, while blaming external factors or people, for the internal civil war. That IS depressing.

What if your anger wants to bring you connection, first within. What if anger was a bridge between the gap of who you think you “ought” to be and who you are, authentically?

Anger is an alarm. It’s a wake up call. What is anger waking you up to?

Your TRUE SELF and the power you have in being true to this self.

You may keep hitting snooze on your anger if you fear and judge aspects of yourself, as well as your own sense of personal power. You may believe it’s better to give away your power, and hold someone else responsible for this. Yet when they inevitably disappoint you with your power you’ve given away, you blame them. This keeps you stuck. If this is what you want, don’t change a thing. Don’t look within.

If you want something different, you’ll have to be willing to do something, different.

The way out, is through your anger. Listen to it.

When I’ve tapped into my own anger, this is what I’ve heard it saying: 
Hear Me. See Me. The REAL Me.  Stop giving me away to other people. Stop giving away my Power. Stop abandoning me. I know you can handle me. You can handle my power. I am trustworthy, but I will not shut up. I am not evil. I will not make you “sin”. I do not want to harm you or others. I want to wake you up to something bigger and better, but you are asleep within your comfort zone, fearing the unknown. Fearing the unfamiliar. I am here to provide you with the necessary fuel to trek through uncharted territory and do things that are not within your norm. The norm is boring and lulling you to sleep. I am here to WAKE YOUR LOVELY ASS UP to how parts of you have been indoctrinated with bullshit. Do you want to hold onto bullshit? I am here to wake you up to living a life that you truly mean to live, yet there are limiting subconscious beliefs getting in the way. I’m not afraid to confront bullshit, I can handle it. Trust me, and WAKE UP.”

This is the empowered message of anger. It’s a wake up call to live more consciously and authentically. Ironically, the more you snooze your anger, the more you will distrust it because you are experiencing the side-effects of denied anger, which comes out SIDEWAYS.

And you SHOULD be leery of anger that comes out sideways. It ain’t pretty, it’s quite depressing actually. And yet you can let your anger direct you, back to yourself, one step at a time.

I am unapologetically ME.

Sorry, but I’m not sorry for being; me.

Though, I will seek to apologize for my reactions which fall below my behavioral standards as I learn to receive or perceive rejection, judgment, and criticism while being WHO I AM. 

External rejection, judgment, and criticism are all welcome, as I consciously welcome MY AUTHENTICITY’S HOMECOMING.

There’s a cost that comes with being who you truly are.  Minimally, it will cost you the loss of temporary approval.  It could cost you more though, rather than just someone’s temporary approval, it could cost you the entire relationship if the foundation is based on you being a certain “you” that is not even really you.

There is also a cost to NOT living authentically.  And this comes through managing the effectiveness of all the ways to numb the pain that is calling you to live in alignment with YOU and to stop living a life in self-betrayal, to varying degrees.

Living inauthentically can cause you to develop a dependency on whatever in life may make you temporarily APPEAR to be secure and self-confident. You will need to invest more and more resources towards appearing this way (to others or yourself) by altering your image or even your own moods in some form to fool yourself, until YOU say – “ENOUGH”. Until then, you may settle with living a deeply insecure life, where you depend entirely on numbing out from this insecure and painful place.

In short – this insecure relationship you have with yourself is built on bullshit, and builds relationships with others built on more bullshit.  For some, a bullshit relationship is the only kind of acceptable relationship. It’s the only way they can feel safe because it’s so damn familiar; showing up in various masks, with familiar scripts. I’ve done this.  I empathize with the masked life. AND, I want more out of life than what my masks can deliver, no matter how sophisticated or glamorous they may look.

One of the masks I most comfortably wore (unconsciously) was this religious mask, mine happened to be “Christian”. While I still loosely identify as a Progressive Christian, hiding behind a rigid religious identity paid off for awhile, until my heart desired more

I’m consciously deconstructing and reconstructing my way of relating to all aspects of me, which is deep spiritual work. It no longer satisfies my soul to turn to a system of religious beliefs and practices defined by others in order to feel acceptable to the Divine and therefore, myself. Because I consciously resonant with the belief that I, as a human being am innately of the Divine.

I’m seeking to be more authentic, not “Christian” or even “spiritual”. This is what I see when I contemplate the life of Jesus or other spiritual beings who lived human lives, which inspire me.

I’ve been on this journey for a little bit. I’m finding that my tolerance level for numbing out and buying into bullshit becomes lower and lower. Simultaneously my appetite for deeper and more authentic connection internally and with others, expands.

I’m practicing authenticity, one imperfect step at a time. For me, this is what it means to be a spiritual being, having my unique human experience.

Self-Love Accountability Act

I’m holding myself accountable for, loving myself well. And to love myself well, is to know myself well, not just the parts I’m comfortable with.

This Self-Love Accountability Act will set you free, but more importantly – set me free.

With freedom, comes responsibility. With responsibility, comes freedom.

To the degree of freedom I seek, is the degree of responsibility I take. Outrageous and abnormal freedom requires outrageous and abnormal responsibility.

When it comes to our important relationships (romantic, parenting, relatives, workplace, friendships, etc.) I crave different levels of intimacy, but abhor all levels of vulnerability.

In my observations of being a human and walking with other humans thus far, I’ve noticed that we demand our personal freedoms, yet demand personal indemnity from our choices coming from our personal freedoms. This is not a political statement, but a personal one. We can be very shrewd and sophisticated in our ability to fight for our right to be unaccountable for ourselves within our most important (and vulnerable-laden) relationships. We hold others on the hook, while holding ourselves in tandem. It’s the double-bind of personal power within relationships. There’s this subconscious and tacit rule that can lead to so much avoidable stress within relationships when we energetically or emotionally communicate: “I want YOU to do what I don’t do, but better!'”

Personally, I’m becoming ‘woke’ to the ego-offending truth that I’ve lived for far too long relying on this double-bind to actually work for me, and those I care about. All while mostly holding them accountable while I defend my right to be free. This expansion is empowering me towards working WITH this paradox of personal power, which has both abundant freedom AND responsibility, in tandem.

For example, I’ve often expected others to generously and enthusiastically give me, what I’ve unwittingly been stingy and discriminately willing to give to myself – unconditional acceptance in the areas I feel the most vulnerable in. My vulnerabilities are parts or particulars deep down within, which I judge as least worthy of being seen in their unadulterated and unfiltered lens with dignity, let alone – love. Some call this shame.

The way to release the shame, is to look into my most shamed aspects of myself closely and in the light of conscious awakeness and see these sorely misunderstood and judged parts in the ways I want others to see me – with deep and sincere compassion, yet a no bullshit kind of honesty. These are not mutually exclusive. It’s living in the holding space of the human experience somewhere between “right” and “wrong”. Coming from a budding place of conscious acceptance vs self-ignorance.

It is MY job to know myself better, and love all parts. It is not other people’s job to do this for me. It is MY job to cultivate happiness, meaning, and growth in whatever circumstances I’m in, not others. And oddly, the more I do this for myself, the more I’ll find that this is being mirrored back by others who do this as well, almost effortlessly, but vice versa. Mirrors don’t judge, they just reflect.

This doesn’t mean I shouldn’t ever reach out for support, or receive support that’s available if I should choose to reach for it. Withholding that kind of support for myself isn’t very responsible or self-loving, and just frankly doesn’t get me very far, very fast. If it does for you, then keep at it!

I will receive support to nurture myself, especially when this is something new and outside of my comfort zone. Just as someone who is learning a foreign language would be wise to put themselves in environments where this new language is well spoken. Where they can practice the language while receiving helpful feedback and encouragement, while on their path to learning something new.

Set yourself free by holding yourself accountable to giving and receiving with yourself, the kind of love you want to receive, generously and abundantly. By doing this, you’ll also be setting those around you free to freely love and accept you, without the burden of the subconscious quid pro quo of “give-and-take” when it comes to taking turns babysitting each other’s egos. You cannot give love, in order to feel entitled for having resentment for not receiving love that you do not give and receive consciously with yourself first. Correction: You CAN do that! Just ask yourself honestly – how’s that been working for you? Do you and the other both come out ahead? This is a direct message coming from one who has done this in spades, and comes from a place of self-love and belief in your power to do this, imperfectly but progressively.

I’ve lived long enough in my life to learn this lesson, that getting caught up in the trap of “giving-to-get” gets old and never seems “fair” or “equitable” for long. The tallies just don’t seem to ever add up on each other’s scoresheet.

How am I giving and receiving within myself, what I want to receive from others in my most important relationships? Before I ask myself if others are measuring up (albeit is a valid and necessary question) – I will ask myself if I am first? Practicing outrageous accountability in this, will lead me to outrageous freedom I’m so ready to receive, and thank myself for and attracting this kind of empowering love into my life.

Benefits of Rejection and Disapproval…

Allowing yourself to be on the receiving end of rejection and disapproval from some, while tolerating embracing your authentic expression from self-love is a transformational yet, intense internal workout. 

Expect to sweat. And yet – KEEP SHOWING UP.

Divine opportunities often present in crises.  You’re faced with a fork in the road. You can see your circumstance from a victim-standpoint swaying to the “Woe is Me” dirge, while indignantly blaming others. Or you can reclaim your personal power in making a conscious choice. Your move here matters. Therefore; you DO have power.

If you choose to remain a victim of life at least observe honestly. Ask yourself if you enjoy blame, shame, and playing the win/lose game with life, yourself, and others. And if so, for how long and at what cost?

If you want to reclaim your personal power, even if you currently feel as if your circumstances have flushed you down the toilet bowl, well then…grab hold of a plunger. Start to unclog the conspicuous beliefs inside which no longer serve you, and keep tripping you up or keep you bound up.  You don’t need to buy into these beliefs anymore my dear. Try imagining these beliefs about you and how the Universe operates being placed in “quotation marks” or ending with a question mark, instead of a period. Even if these beliefs did serve you at one point prior, push back a little. If they can withstand the present-day experiential litmus tests of serving your highest goals in life, keep them! If you’re not sure, ask yourself if you can see where buying into these beliefs has kept you protected on some level, but now; stuck in being stuck.

You can always numb out of from frustration until it’s unbearable because it won’t disappear unless you put a lot of energy into numbing out. Even, to the point of wanting to disappear right alongside of your emotions (some call this Depression). Or, let it energize and awaken you to DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT, especially if it’s uncomfortable (some call this a Breakthrough).

I compassionately, and fiercely DARE you to STEP UP. STEP OUT of an anachronistic north star with self-preservation as the bottom-line, often selling out as staying small to avoid giving it your all.

Please, don’t sell out on yourself. Find YOUR CONSCIOUS North Star from within, and set sail. You are worth it, and your world needs uniquely you to live this one life you have, authentically. Which means, receiving rejection and disapproval as a benefit, freeing you up to receiving something greater than mere fickle approval and acceptance.

Someday, your soul will feel the quiet but clear “Thank you’s” from others for stepping outside of your comfort zone. And, your soul will thank you too.

The Comfort Zone – ROE – Based in young-but-old fears…

These are your Rules of Engagement. If you dare become a defector to this regime of self-government – you’re on your own. But – you will be free. Therefore, choose consciously…

  • Do not be aware of what makes you feel uncomfortable.  At all cost: distract, explain/intellectualize/religionize away these demons and judge others who do not.
  • Don’t you dare welcome, examine, challenge, and shine on the other-side of leaving this comfort-zone.
  • Do not trust yourself.  Look outside for all validation, security, worth, and guidance, and remember to measure the outsides of others against your insides.
  • Interpret all mistakes as evidence that you’re not good/smart/strong/worthy enough, as is.
  • Strive for the appearance of perfection and “having it all together”.
  • Give a lot of fuks about what you cannot control, like other people’s business rather than your own, especially how they judge you.
  • Shrink to make others comfortable within their own comfort zones.
  • Do not be vulnerable/authentic and rock the boat of “normalcy”.
  • Always fear what the critics think, especially your own.
  • Shame and blame everyone else when things don’t go well. Never compassionately look at yourself. Ever.
  • Survival is the ONLY goal. And it’s survival of the ego.  
  • Fear and avoid any and all discomfort.
  • Do not let anyone in to see you. Rejection will not be risked.
  • Do not outgrow this comfort zone.  Conform and live survive.

Pain is the alarm system going off. It’s your Heart’s wake-up call to begin CONSCIOUSLY LIVING. It’s an opportunity saying, “You’ve outgrown your comfort zone.” Hit ‘Snooze’ (Warning: it comes on later) or – ARISE!! And get your lovely ass up…because you are worth it.

Love and Shit

So, another intimate relationship has fallen through the cracks for me. I’m coming to accept this through grief and self-reflection. On this path, I find myself asking, “why?”

I believe all intimate relationships that cannot overcome its obstacles boil down to this: at least one person is not committed to dealing with their own shit.

This closed door between them and their past shit, comes in between their intimate relationships unless the other party is willing to settle for dysfunction or disconnect, and be at ease with dis-ease.

Everyone has their own shit. Shit from either childhood or adulthood, and usually a mix of both. Humans are biologically wired for relationships. There’s a ton of scientific evidence to support that, go Google it. This is neither good, nor bad. It just IS. When in an intimate relationship, you will find opportunity to either deal with your shit, or have the relationship suffer. Nobody can make this choice for anyone else. It’s a free-will decision that impacts others, but is only controlled by the one making it.

You need to own your shit, or your shit will own you. It’s simple, but not easy.

People who shrink back from going into their shit, will create more shit.

There are a million different ways to shrink back from your shit, which in turn produces more shit, which in turn produces more shrinking back…you see where this leads? To a lot of shit.

A few common ways people shrink back from dealing with their shit, which produces more shit is:

  • Violence/Aggression
  • Isolation
  • All sorts of addictions. Some are more destructive than others and some are more socially acceptable than others but they’re all an escape from your shit.

What keeps you trapped in this downward spiral is the practice of consistently shifting blame onto others for your present day behaviors. This is an effective way of ultimately betraying yourself. When you refuse to take responsibility for yourself, you don’t have to sit with what can actually save you, guilt and self-reflection. This may work for you temporarily, but ultimately comes with a huge cost. Because temporarily is only temporary.

Guilt will lead you back to yourself, but you’ve got to be comfortable enough in your own skin – all of it, to be in it. It’s the language of your own internal moral compass, which is always on your side. But people can spend years, decades, even most of their lifetime, at war with their own moral compass. This is an exhausting battle.

Guilt is meant to jar you, because if you avoid it for long, you’ll eventually experience a break down. Accumulative guilt will weigh a person down with such a heavy toll that they have to self-destruct to find momentary relief, with suffering at the tail-end. Unless you have a serious mental illness where you cannot feel any guilt or shame, in which you are a very dangerous person, especially to those who are closest to you but even to the general public. In that case, you’d be a sociopath.

What do you do when you’re in an intimate relationship with someone who WILL NOT GO THERE…to where their shit is? Clinicians call it trauma. Some people call it baggage, their shadow, or their inner demons. Whatever you call it, if you’re with someone who is unwilling to go there themselves, let alone with you – you are faced with the reality of your powerlessness over someone else you care about.

I’m learning love does this in that painful place – let go.

The most loving thing I can do for the other, and for myself – is to truly let go.

This is where I enter into addressing my own shit.

Doing loads and loads of grieving.

But if I do not enter into this work, I will return to it with more shit. I’ve been here before. I now know, what I didn’t know before. When an intimate relationship ends, there is a need to let go, and grieve with other safe people, and most importantly, with myself.

This is where I will find my own healing. For some people, what doesn’t kill them will break them down, and for some, what doesn’t kill them will make them stronger. I will to be the latter, and need support from others to do so because self-reliance is a sham. It actually makes me weaker. When I self-deceive myself into the delusion of self-reliance, I’ll will create more shit.

I don’t have to shut-down or close the door to my heart, even especially when I’m hurting. I will open myself up to what IS available, instead of fight what isn’t, even if it hurts at first.

I’m ready to meet life, on life’s terms and grieve the losses I’ve experienced and am experiencing. I will remain open, to what is, even though I close myself to what isn’t. This takes strength. The kind of strength I didn’t believe I had, until I was faced with the choice to either shut-down which would hurt my children the most, or to live, and let live.

There is serenity in acceptance, but the path weaves through grief, and will turn out better for me in the end. But now, it’s hard as hell.

But this too, shall pass.

Men: A Call to Men, by a Woman

I’m coming out of the closet with being so fed up with the teeny tiny toxic man box, as a woman. I have HAD it with the ass backwards relationships between a man and his power, which is socially reinforced like it’s on steroids.

By the way, if you don’t know what I’m referring to when I say “man box” watch this:

Mr’s. please hear me. We have brave men who specifically support and speak into empowering women to heal and rise above the toxic social messages that imply or convey that they are second class citizens, and to instead know their worth and resist these sexist messages that society or their past tells them. I appreciate those men’s voices in support of women rising above a culture that tries to stifle them. It may be a long shot, but for whatever it’s worth, I offer my voice speaking into men’s lives wherever it may be received.

It’s challenging for a woman to speak to men about gender issues because an insidious part of gender issues, specifically related to gender violence against women, comes from living inside the man box, where women are considered inferior – easily dismissed or slammed for speaking out. I wonder if this means most men are receptive only to men when it comes to having a conversation about what it means to be a real man even though most men who live with women or girls want to be validated by them as being real men too, even if they don’t show it. I’ll take my chances that some men are receptive to voices that aren’t exclusively from men when it comes to this topic. I believe a part of the problem is that most men are unaware of being inside that same man box, even if they never become violent towards a woman themselves, and this is what perhaps contributes to keeping them silent and complicit – adhering to the invisible man code of omission in the face of commission when it comes to violence against women. I am witness to this, and I will not stay silent, though I am not a man.

I’m a woman who has unfortunately experienced domestic violence, has reached out to men in my life asking them to confront this issue and the man with me, and nobody answers that call. Instead I get a litany of excuses for their disengagement, even if that means a woman they care about is at risk for being seriously hurt or worse. Where are the men? They are hiding in that man box, which is preventing them from being the men they could be, because that means being vulnerable, taking initiative, and therefore putting their egos in the backseat so they’re free to take risks with other men. That is why I’m personally fed up with this man box. The only thing that fits neatly inside is a very fragile male ego.

As a woman, I don’t have that man box to contend with in order to feel validated in my gender. I am not stifled by the socialization of my gender that is highly controlling and restrictive when it comes to having emotions. When I do encounter this from other women, I believe it’s second hand to women who have been indoctrinated by men AND women who believe the man box is all there is when it comes to being “strong”. It can restrict everyone to a certain degree, but less for women than men in my experience.

I know I’m a woman, I don’t feel the need to prove this by acting out in certain ways with men or women that violate or ignore the right to consciously have my own values. That is a gender-based prison our culture throws boys and men into, that creates barriers from ever being challenged from the inside out, by other men, or by women who are obviously not men, and therefore according to the man box, don’t really matter.

Sirs – please. Break out of that man box.

The reality is you DO have power which is unique to being a man. You can choose how, when, and where to wield that power but since it is power, there are big stakes involved. I am speaking as a woman who has been through the clutches of domestic violence, which in most cases though not all (some women do have significant physical and financial advantages over their male partners) involve a man using his advantages to evade his own inner emotional work, at the expense of his own family and exploits a woman’s vulnerabilities by going to great lengths to avoid his own. Although believing (albeit unconsciously) that entering into vulnerability or emotional work is optional at best, or God-forbidden – “women’s work” at worst. That the relinquishment of the only kind of power he knows – power OVER others, including parts of himself that he’s terrified or ashamed of (like his emotional needs) and cannot fully access. It’s as if his penis might shrink or fall off if he gets in touch with his emotional life.

Undoubtedly, you’ve been taught by a culture that you cannot afford to give up this man box. That the only thing to fear is, fear or vulnerability. But your shield of invulnerability is what keeps you caged inside the toxic tiny man box, and locks away your true sense of power – the power to consciously and courageously navigate through your own internal world and integrate that world with your external world. Your internal world of vulnerability exists whether you openly acknowledge it or not. Integrate this in a way that makes you feel undeniably and unpretentiously self-respecting and can entitle you to feel like the kind of man you will be proud of while in the vulnerable unmasked presence of those you’re closest to and know you best, your own family.

I cannot tell you how to do that work, as a man. I’ve never had to break out of the man box, but I’ve lived with men who are extremely attached to it, and it’s hurt. Profoundly. That kind of work IS man’s work. We women have our own work when it comes to getting out of our own unhealthy gendered socialization. It’d be presumptuous and arrogant of me to tell you how to breakout of the man box just like it would be if a man were to tell me how to heal my wounds from sexism or misogyny. The kind of traveling companion you need is a brother of sorts, a man who knows what it’s like to live in that box, and work his way out.

I can tell you that this refusal to STEP UP and LEAD your family, or your community, your department, your tribe of whatever proportions – with courage, humility, and self-respect is squashed when you live in that toxic man box.

The way UP is OUT.

The way to move UP from boyhood and into manhood with bravery, integrity, and strength that doesn’t dominate others out of a fear of vulnerability is to get OUT of this toxic man box, and get around other men who are doing the same. They do exist. Just as women who are healing from our own gender-based wounds, you cannot do this alone, which herein lies a challenge if you’re stuck in that box. You need others, and they need you, because you’re doing what your sperm has to do in order to create a new life – swim upstream. Graphic, but don’t miss the rich symbolism in how men contribute to the creation of a new human life. Swimming upstream!

One of my favorite quotes comes from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire:

“If you want to know what a man’s like take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.”

This is the kind of strength and leadership women want from their men in intimate relationships. It’s hot. It’s sexy. It’s admirable and will make most women take pause. But in order to get to that point, you have to stop burying what the man box says you need to bury – your feelings. The vulnerable ones, not just your feelings related to being pissed off or horny, you’ll need the rest of them too – they’re there.

Our culture does you a disservice when they sell you short with the man box, and you cannot escape being exposed to it – it’s widespread in our American culture.

Depending on how much or how little you’ve been exposed to life outside of the man box, you may need either a shovel to dig out your emotions, or an excavator. But who do you need permission from in order to begin doing this work? – YOURSELF.

Doesn’t waiting on other men or mainstream culture to grant you permission to be fully alive and consciously awake to ALL of your emotions render you vulnerable and dependent, which is a violation of that man box you adhere to anyway?

Our culture does no favors to you, women, or children by keeping you in that man box. Dig yourself out, don’t wait for someone else to rescue you or grant you that permission. If you don’t have it from other men in your life right now, that’s OK. Revolt. Find men who get it. If you give in to the man box, you may slowly die by burying core parts of yourself alive inside a box that cannot handle a man that’s fully alive – thinking and feeling independent of that man box. Dig like the quality of your life depended on it, because I’m willing to bet a lot of it does if you have any women or girls in your life that you hold dear. And do it wholeheartedly because, you are worth more than half-assing it.

For more resources go to:

http://www.acalltomen.org/

Thank you.

Fragility vs. Sensitivity

I am an emotionally sensitive person.  This is not to be confused with being an emotionally fragile person.  

My emotional sensitivity creates more incentive in cultivating self-awareness versus self-ignorance, because this sensitivity also makes me a more conscientious person who has to rumble with my ethics and guilt, and discern if it is healthy/ethical guilt, or if I’m being guilt-tripped beyond the point where my ethics have authority and I’ve crossed over into someone else’s primary jurisdiction of personal responsibility. Sometimes there are very fine lines, and grey areas of both/and. This is why boundaries are so important for me. It helps channel my attention and energy, which there seems to be more of due to this heightened sensitivity, and with that there needs to be heightened boundaries.

I’m becoming more aware of this innate drive to engage inwardly and do it with compassionate curiosity, because it’s nearly impossible to ignore and escape from due to my sensitive nature.

-Again, notice I said sensitive, not fragile.

An exquisite perceptivity resides within me due to this highly sensitive way of being. In and of itself, this high sensitivity is neither good nor bad – it can be both good and bad, depending on the situation, but alone it is neutral. Subtle or nuanced qualities register on my radar that often go over the heads of others. I sense, discern, and am aware of more, this is what it’s like to be highly sensitive. I have a sensitive radar, and have often been misjudged as being weak or “too sensitive” implying emotional weakness or fragility. But having this inner highly sensitive apparatus doesn’t make me fragile, nor does it make me a mind-reader.

Often, I will sense the presence of certain emotions, and that is where the conscious boundary is practicing being placed, thanks to Professor Pain in the class of Hard Knocks101. I sense an emotion, but can set a boundary with my Storyteller who immediately starts concocting a story about this emotion or the person, which has gotten me into trouble with mistakenly making boundary intrusions on others. I must say though, at times that Storyteller is spot-on or pretty damn close IF I’ve been invited into part of a person’s inner sacred journey before. But even so, this Storyteller is far from infallible, she’s still got human limitations.

Now, I will speak to this “fragility” label, because I’ve often internalized this. Just as there are special devices that can see infrared light which is invisible to the naked eye, this is how it is for me concerning emotions. Devices used to detect infrared light are considered a valuable resource when illumination and awareness of infrared light is valued. The device’s ability to do that isn’t slammed as being “weak” or “fragile. The capacity for emotional sensitivity can serve as a valuable resource for people with this emotional radar as well, when there is receptivity to emotional awareness. It can actually be a very valuable resource, when emotions are valued.

The opportunity available from this capacity is for me to connect more intimately with my emotions, and to the emotions of others. There’s a flip side though – it’s much more challenging to ignore or numb out from what I sense, even when I don’t WANT the awareness. Sometimes these emotions (mine or others) are inside of conscious awareness and sometimes, they are not. I am learning to expand the space in my conscious awareness, for there is where I have more freedom to choose.

This ability to sense subtle stuff does not make me fragile. On the contrary, I have the opportunity to turn towards what I sense or, turn my back on what I sense. I am learning to turn towards these with intention and curiosity, versus reactively invalidating or defending against feeling them, or projecting my own unwanted emotions onto others because they make me uncomfortable.

Emotional sensitivity is not the same as emotional fragility. Emotional fragility is often unconsciously dependent on being unaware and ignorant of an emotional life, for fear that the awareness of emotions will shatter you. 

The operative unspoken rule: “Thou shalt not be emotionally aware.”

Usually with the exception of one emotion (or if you’re super lucky- two, with happy usually as one of those “acceptable emotions”) – all others are rejected or denied because they’re threatening or “too heavy”.

If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands! [clap clap!] Meanwhile all other emotions are denied.

– And this is emotional fragility.

It’s usually an unconscious transaction that’s passed on from one generation to the next, which invests lots of energy into avoiding or turning your back on emotions (yours and others’) rather than acknowledging or let alone feeling them. It’s not usually a conscious option to connect to them for better self-understanding or empathically understanding others. Emotional fragility makes empathy nearly impossible, and when it is present it’s an extremely rare and limited edition.

Emotional fragility judges emotional sensitivity as a nuisance at best, and as defective at worst, because being exquisitely aware of emotions is threatening and intolerable.  This is generationally passed down until someone says “enough” to emotional fragility and digs into their own inner healing work.

Being sensitive means SENSING emotions, not creating them. It’s being aware and receptive of them as they naturally arise. Digging through emotions is what emotionally sensitive people can value, because burying them requires SO much more work.  Burying over emotions is what emotionally fragile people value, because emotional awareness itself is devalued, at great relational and eventually physical costs. There is a connection between our emotional health and our physical health.

Emotionally avoidant behaviors usually result in accumulating emotions and this accumulation comes with hefty taxes and unwanted side-effects because it’s running away from what ISemotional reality, from the inside out. It’s resistance. And what you resist, persists.

Emotionally fragile people depend on not feeling their discomfort and becoming closed-off and defensive towards anything or anyone who triggers these f-f-f-feeeelings. This doesn’t seem to work against them until the accumulation of emotional debt piles up and start burying them alive. Usually personal relationships, either intimate or in the workplace, start to unravel. The build-up of a denied emotional life creates a tumor that is not benign.

Emotionally sensitive people who have learned to welcome and honor their sensitivity will start to work with their discomfort, becoming openly curious about it when triggered. I’ve also noticed, their “bottoms” tend to be higher than the non-sensitive person’s.

Emotional fragility is often a life lived while walking on eggshells, using more and more bubble wrap around self-awareness, until you can barely function without rigidity and stiffness.  Emotional sensitivity often requires you to live life with resiliency because you can’t live life with bubble wrap around your emotions, so you experience quicker consequences when you don’t take regular emotional self-inventories, but you also experience deeper satisfaction when you do. The lows can be lower, and the highs can be higher.

I am emotionally sensitive and have spent most of my life trying not to be, confusing emotional fragility with strength and fortitude. I’m now seeing through that smokescreen. Emotional fragility is a sort of lackluster of courage and adapting to that lack of courage starts to take its toll. Emotional sensitivity can be cultivated, when you accept the invitation to your emotional world and connect inwardly in a compassionate place, then empathically connect to others. This leads to an authenticity that is built on a kind of inner strength and fortitude that is resilient – not fragile.

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