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 tag “Self-awareness”

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. 

“But, what good is that?”

We’re currently in the midst of a pandemic. “Normal” isn’t happening. In times like these, I find there to be an “illumination effect” in revealing what lurks in the shadows of everyday distractions. Take away the distractions, the daily routines and “normalcy” – you’ll find things you didn’t see or feel so clearly. Or, at least it was more conveniently overlooked. It’s in this space, I wrote this poem regarding my own intimate relationship and taking its pulse, within me.

“But, what good is that?”

I want to share myself as authentically as I can, being fully who I know I am. – With him.

But, what good is that?

I want adventure! I want to be fully awake and alive; spiritually and emotionally, not just physically! – With him.

But, what good is that?

I want to be challenged and stretched graciously yet persistently, to reach for new heights and new depths! – With him.

But, what good is that?

I want to bust free from this goddamn smothering straight-jacket of “status quo” and “fitting in” for crumbs of superficial validation. – With him.

But, what good is that?

I want us to become who we were divinely created to be, not merely who we’ve been “tamed”, “conditioned”, or “raised” to be. – With him.

But, what good is that?

I want to be wildly free, from this cage of mediocrity. – With him.

But, what good is that?

What my heart and soul long for is closeness, beyond merely physicality. – With him.

But, what good is that?

My pursuit and fight for intimacy is a result of an ongoing experience of a partner who resists intimacy, and me resisting his resistance. This is resulting in regression and degeneration – the opposite of what my heart longs for. – With him.

But, what good is that?

Why, do you keep asking me this? I’m trying to have intimacy!

But, what good is that?

The merry-go-round of resistance keeps me from what I’ve been terrified of – acceptance and the grieving through accepting what is. There is shame wrapped up in the grief. This is my inner work of healing, which I’ve been unconsciously avoiding because it’s so damn painful and uncomfortable. We are apart, together. And together, apart.

Go in peace my dear child, grieve. – With me.

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.

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.

Trust the Truth

Dear You,

Please give yourself permission to be convinced of the validity of your unconditional worthiness.

Own the conviction that’s been welling up inside since the moment you existed and has helped you survive so much already despite struggle.  It is clear and uncompromising — this voice will not relent in its conviction:

You have worth.  Always have.  Always will.

Be convinced.

Trust in this conviction — it’s the only thing about you that is unchanging, absolute, and completely real independent of anything else.

Allow yourself to be convinced that this is a stand-alone truth.

It is completely independent of the way other people may see you or treat you, it is an unshakable and unyielding truth that always has been, and always will be — no matter what.  Though the truth is also that the human struggle comes because you’re hardwired to integrate and operate out of being interdependent with your relational and social environments (you are not a rock) which are imperfect, but this truth will still be the truth (the truth is a rock).

Even though as a human you shall inevitably try to fight it, deny it, distort it, swindle it, squander it, prosecute it, overhaul it, or dare to accept it – the truth will not diminish, though your experienced freedom is set on this.

Trust in your worthiness.  Trust in the validity of your worthiness.  This is the spiritual journey back home, to your roots – of unyielding worthiness.  The more you accept this, the more you will enjoy it.  You are meant to enjoy this – your worthiness.

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set your free.”
john 8:32

Same Old… Same Old…

If you want the same old shit, then do the same old shit.  If not…listen up.

Denial thrives on blame.  Blame thrives on denial.  They work hard together to keep people successfully stuck.

If anyone wants to experience change that’s good for their soul, in any area of their lives, they’ve got to take up ownership in getting themselves closer to where they want to be.

Excuses and blame will never be in short-supply.  If you settle for excuses and blame, you settle for remaining stuck.  You’ve GOT to get passed excuses and blame if you want to avoid being stuck.

Movement.  Change needs movement.

Movement often needs to start with moving your thoughts and beliefs around, in a conscious awakened state.

What is it YOU are after?  Get clear on the “who” before getting clear on the “what”.  Do YOU want this?  Or is this coming from someone else who doesn’t live your life, but believes they know better how you should live your own life?  Big difference, you’re you — they’re not.

Now, after you sort out ownership of the desired change YOU are after, congratulate yourself.  You are stepping into your power by stepping into life ownership.  This may be a small step that nobody other than you will recognize, but it is a big deal.  Huge.  This is where your moxie will come from – life ownership.

Next – Ask yourself this, and wait for the answer from within…

Do you believe you are worth what you’re after?  If you do not, consider the possibility that you are settling for owning shame that is not yours.  Someone from somewhere, has projected their own shit onto you.  This most likely happened when you least expected or suspected it, or you wouldn’t have let it in.  Aka childhood or when someone you looked up to somehow mishandled your vulnerability, and therefore has kept you stuck without you even knowing it.  You’re getting yourself self-awareness, which launches you into self-empowerment.  You can’t change if you don’t have a sense of power.  Self-awareness and self-empowerment are musts in life, underlined with self-compassion.  Breathe.  These are biggies that most people struggle with in different degrees.  Find yourself a good therapist if you need support to sort through this because you ARE worth it.

Back to it, let’s not forget that you are after something good for your soul.

If you long for something to change to the point that it creates enough pain and dissatisfaction in your life without it changing, consider yourself officially: Invited

Invited to step it up in life.  Instead of focusing on things you feel you cannot do, focus on things you can do — today, tomorrow, or within the next few days.

Then – get busy.  Follow through.  If you know you have the tendency, more than not to “forget”, slack off, or trip up with excuses when it comes to delivery time – do yourself a well deserved favor and get yourself some kind of accountability partner.  This will up your chances of following through.  A requirement for accountability to work on your end is having humility and honesty.  Otherwise all bets are off.

If you need something more concrete, make yourself a plan of action in writing.  Even if it’s just one or two steps that are different than what you usually do, that’s enough to start with.  Most people need this concrete plan in the beginning, until there’s enough momentum to perpetuate the change you’re after.  Share it with someone you trust.

When you do follow through, no matter how small – tell somebody who can celebrate and congratulate you.  Recognize that force of pride welling up within you.  You earned that.  Keep doing what got you that feeling – by following through.

You can always re-evaluate your next steps.  You can always adjust, but make sure to keep your eyes on what you’re ultimately after.

Gradual steps for personal change make a difference.  And that is what you want –  a difference.  Change.  For something to change, something has to change.

Be compassionate and gracious with yourself, but be wholeheartedly committed to learning as you go, and keep moving forward.

Believe, conceive, and achieve.

You are worth it.  You really are.

Self Check-In

synchronicity-2Whenever I’ve been unclear and ambivalent about how to proceed in any given situation, especially relationally, I’ve often gone outward to seek guidance.  It has proven to be useful and beneficial, but it can also keep me dependent on external sources of wisdom while stunting my own development of discernment.

I’ve been confused about where to go for guidance when facing a crossroads.  Do I go inside myself because I know myself best, or do I seek wisdom and guidance from others because they have a more objective perspective?  I’ve often thought it was an either/or approach, yet I’m realizing I don’t have just one “right” option.  Wisdom and discernment often come through BOTH avenues; inside and outside of myself, from trusting myself AND trusting others who’ve earned my trust.  Wisdom can be imported from external sources, or it can be imported from my own internal sources of wisdom within.  god as I understand it is the source of all wisdom, and discerning Hhs voice is what I am after.  He does speak to me from within, for he dwells within my inner-spirit.  It’s just a matter of unveiling his voice, which is often unconventional.

My current ambition involves the practice of going within myself, first.  Whenever possible, I do a self check-in, using the tools of Dr. Dan Siegel’s acronym of SIFT.

Sensations
Images
Feelings
Thoughts

-SIFT.

If I still feel confused and ambivalent, I have the option of going to others I trust.  They can be friends, a therapist, family members, recovery fellow-travelers, a pastor, books, podcasts, blogs, etc.  These are some of the options I have when trying to discern where God is lovingly guiding me.  When I do seek out external sources of guidance, I am still the one who is ultimately discerning what feedback resonates and what does not.  Using the SIFT tools while receiving feedback is always an option I can take.  They empower me in helping me wake up and make a conscious choice, weighing what is going on inside of me AND the feedback I’ve heard from others.   The process of discernment often involves a conscious and intentional dialogue within me and with trusted others.  It is not a monologue, at least for me.

Ultimately, I am the one who must live with the decisions I make for my own life.  How I discern applying my value-system with its certain expectations, limitations and boundaries will evoke judgement from others and within, always.  But it is my life I am trying to live out, not somebody else’s, so fearing the judgment is a major distraction in gaining discernment.  The truth is, everybody judges everybody, myself included.  So, then what?

Love frees me because it feeds me.  It frees me from fearing the inevitable judgment that is part of living life on earth.  Judgement will come, as surely as gravity pulls me back down to the ground after I jump.  Checking in with myself from a place of love and being fed, in the midst of judgments are what will keep me centered.  Love feeds me, judgment robs me.

Jesus is my Center.  He dwells within me.  He showed me explicitly on the cross how to judge myself aright – as loved, and as worthy to die for.   When I am love-hungry I’m ripe for Jesus’ love to enter in, yet I’m also vulnerable to fearing judgments and internalizing (feeding off) them.  This is what robs me of living life to the fullest extent.  Jesus came to give life, not take it.

“The thief approaches with malicious intent, looking to steal, slaughter and destroy; I came to give life with joy and abundance.” -John 10:10

Self check-ins based in love, not fear are the way for me to go.  Interchanging judgment with punishment in the verse below helps me get this, because judgment sure can feel like punishment to me, just as chewing on food that I crave, but not being able to swallow it.

“Love will never invoke fear.  Perfect love expels fear, particularly the fear of punishment.  The one who fears punishment has not been completed through love.”  – 1 John 4:18

 

 

Affirming What Is

truthAcceptance has been a missing piece in my life.  Self-acceptance and others-acceptance has not come easily for me.  The ramifications of that have been discontentment.

The kind of acceptance I am wanting to cultivate is not an absence of desire or a dismissal of what is or is not.  It is seeing clearly what is and what is not, along with acknowledging how I feel about it, and then coming to terms with it.  In the process of coming to terms with what is or what is not, I need to access my feelings and beliefs through self-awareness.

Self-awareness feels foggy and intimidating when I do not have boundaries that affirm what is.

The following statements are affirming what is, so I can grow in my self-awareness within these affirmative boundaries, and therefore be less self-deceived.

  • I can trust myself and others when I acknowledge and do not deny what I know, see, feel and hear.
  • I acknowledge that I may never be totally without pain and suffering AND I can learn to protect and nurture myself.  The two are not mutually exclusive
  • I can take care of myself and it won’t kill others.
  • My self-care is my business and my business will go bankrupt if I rob myself of self-care.
  • My feelings have equal value as other people’s; not more and not less.
  • Other people’s willingness and capacity to accept and love me for who I am is not my business to own.  I am not responsible for running other people’s businesses.
  • I can function even when I’m scared.  I can be scared and uncertain, and still be OK.
  • I can pause while feeling strong emotions, I do not always need to act immediately.
  • I can know when it’s better to just sit in my emotions and ride them out, before acting on them.
  • I know how my insides work best; what I need, what I perceive, what I intuit….when I listen and honor myself.
  • I need to admit how much I needed them, before I can let go of needing them now.
  • I can tell my shaming inner-parent, “Your message has been received, now shut-up!”
  • In recovery, I can separate and individuate while still showing up for myself.  All else will follow.
  • First things first.
  • My trust in God, myself and other safe people will grow.
  • I no longer need to live in denial, because God has my back when it comes to acknowledging hard things.
  • The more awake and present I am in the moment, the better I can take care of myself and others when I consciously choose to do so.
  • My emotions cannot kill or harm anyone else, ever.  My actions, however; may or may not.
  • I can take ownership of my choices and feel empowered with the self-awareness I gain from doing so.
  • I can hear criticism from others and perhaps extract beneficial information for my own recovery, without absorbing shame and unwarranted guilt.
  • Most decisions I make are not life or death (even if they feel like it).
  • If I’m having self-destructive thoughts, I can ask how my heart has been missed.
  • My inner child has wounded/injured parts as well as healthy/strong parts.  I can respect both.
  • My pain is all I need as proof that I am hurting.
  • I can learn to trust myself and ask for what I need.
  • I can choose whom I will and will not let into my inner life.
  • I can stop giving away my power to others out of fear, and take steps towards reclaiming my personal power.
  • I can be present and sincerely listen to another share their raw pain and anger, without having to take responsibility for fixing or rescuing them from feeling their pain.
  • I can always listen to my inner-child.
  • Feeling deep abandonment pain is not self-hate or self-pity, it helps heal my inner-child.
  • I can see that I have many options and choices.
  • Getting well and becoming whole is the sweetest revenge!

Re-purposing Feelings

repurposed bathtub

In recovery, I learn that I am the one who is responsible for my feelings.  This used to sound like bad news, but I’m starting to see it’s not.  On the contrary, it’s empowering and freeing because it detaches the shame which has disabled me from taking responsibility for my feelings because shame freezes me and restricts growth and healing.

Taking ownership of my feelings becomes non-threatening when I can detach blame from it because blame does not fly solo, it has a co-pilot named Shame.  Shame is silent, not violent so is easily undetected, but it’s life-threatening to recovery because it distorts my self-image and my self-image guides my thoughts, feelings and behaviors.

I believe my true-self is inherently good, per the God of my understanding.  I can say this while also acknowledging the presence of brokenness and loss due to injuries I’ve sustained and inflicted upon others.  I can acknowledge that I am inherently good AND  acknowledge that I am both a giver and receiver of real pain and loss.

Taking up responsibility for my feelings is not tantamount to taking the blame for my feelings.  Articulating this is vital for my own healing and growth from having enmeshed boundaries with others when it comes to feelings.  The enmeshed boundaries stem from enmeshment between blame and responsibility.  When it comes to taking responsibility for my feelings, I first need to remove blame from having the feelings.

Blame entails assigning responsibility for wrong or fault.  Feelings are not on trial, they can be examined without trying to find fault.  Feelings are neutral.  They are neither “right” nor “wrong”.   In my recovery, I learn through practicing with others how to unmask and identify my feelings that are often disguised through anger or judgment due to lack of self-awareness.  The feelings I feel inside get revealed when I do not feel like I am on trial for having the feelings.  When I sense that the validity of my feelings will be put on trial by others, my feelings will put on their masks.  Their favorite masks seem to be rage and judgmentalism to deflect the shame onto others.

My most intense feelings are like emissaries sent on behalf of my subconscious-self (the parts of my inner life that get tucked away from consciousness in order to cope, not to heal).  In holding into the conscious belief (faith) that my true-self is inherently good, I hold onto another belief (through faith) that intentionally envisions my mind, body and spirit working together in their own unique ways to move me towards health, wholeness and harmony, and preserving that state.

For this reason, feelings serve an extremely vital role:  achieving and preserving homeostasis within an environment of motion.

When I do not allow my feelings to serve in that vital role, I will become at high-risk for tolerating and even seeking out interactions with others and myself, where I am mistreated and exploited, often with my cooperation.

Maintaining self-care includes feeling my feelings and paying attention to the messages they bring from deep within.  The messages about my own self-image which my feelings bring to my awareness can be corrected and assessed, but feeling the feelings cannot be bypassed in this process no more than exhaling can be bypassed in order to remove carbon dioxide from within my lungs.

The messages feelings bring are often felt through sensations within my body.  It isn’t just information in the form of words that need to be processed for me to feel my feelings – that is bypassing feeling my feelings and thinking my feelings, it’s skipping over a natural process that needs to take place – feeling my feelings.  That is what my experience is teaching me.  I’m learning when I feel the feelings, I am not needing to only talk or think about the feelings, but to feel them IN MY BODY.

This is a new and welcomed practice to me.  I believe it is divinely inspired, God is healing me up within a loving community of others who are trusting Him with the process for themselves as well.

Aloe Vera Transplant

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These photos are symbolic of life…

I got an aloe vera plant, which has potential to produce abundant benefits to others.

On the top page, my new aloe vera plant is well established in the small potting plant which was sufficient to get it started, but it is now constraining the plant and cannot allow it to keep growing. If it is not moved to a larger pot, its roots cannot spread out, it will stop growing at best, and at worse die.  This isn’t because its a defective plant, or a defective pot – rather its an ineffective combination given the limits and needs of each other, and their intended purposes.

I need to transfer the aloe vera plant into a larger pot to support its growth so it can be more beneficial to me and others.  The plant must be regularly well cared for, but even if its well watered and kept in sufficient sunlight, it needs to be rooted in an environment that is conducive to its own natural process of growth.

Be kind to your roots, even though the roots are invisible and remain under dirt, they are everything to the plant.

Where can you find a parallel to this in your own life?

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