presence

Learning from my shadows.....again

I received a heartfelt message from a soon-to-be friend on instagram a couple of days ago. This friend opened up about her struggle with weight, divorce, motivation, and the desire to develop a better self talk habit through daily journal writing yet a resistance to it in the form of lacking a deeper understanding of the purpose and the HOW.

Quite honestly, this message came to me at the perfect time, because I also needed the reminder. For me to stop and do a little bit of reflection and digging in to find the answer I could share and inspire for another, was the healing I needed at the time too. 

My response to her is threaded throughout the paragraphs below, however, I wanted to take some time to write it out in a way that speaks to me and speaks to anyone else who reads these words. 

The purpose of daily writing is to rewire your thought patterns. It’s not about writing the negative or the positive stuff - it’s about choosing thoughts that create space for you to be who and where you are now, which then provides you with the energy and motivation for action. It's hard to make progress or find contentment when consumed by what you don't like in yourself or what you lack. There are so many other things to think about, and there are many perspectives to try on that allows you to be honest with where you lack yet in a way that provides compassion and inspiration.

Definitely be honest about where you’re at and what you’re noticing, and then shift into how you are embracing it, what you’re learning from it, and what you’ll do to practice this shift in perspective. Sometimes we need to remind ourselves and practice our way into letting go, forgiving, accepting, and setting up action steps to move onward.

Most importantly, it’s okay to not feel okay. It’s okay to struggle and to feel as though you are retreating into yourself. It's okay to have habits and patterns that get in your way. We all do! The main difference in those who are still productive and perhaps even happy or content in their struggle, is their perspective. I try really hard to remind myself daily to embrace my imperfections, love my shadows, learn from my missteps, and just keep trying! It certainly feels better when you are engaging in life in a disciplined and internally directed way. And it feels better when you get the sleep you need and the nourishment you require.

We are human, we are imperfect, and we can be content with discontentment because it means you are alive and you have the opportunity to shift as soon as you’re ready or are forced to make a change due to life circumstances. Either way, you’ll do it eventually, and I’m right here with you. 

Every morning I wake up and look at my body in the mirror, and too often my mood is determined by the shape I see. How much did I eat yesterday? How much did I move yesterday? How did I treat myself yesterday? It becomes completely ego-centric when I allow my morning trajectory to be determined by my mind's judgment of my body's current state. There is so much more to me than the shell of my body. I have depth, and I am grateful for the opportunity this life and this body affords me. I want to step into each day with love and compassion in my heart as I embrace my shape and make healthy and mindful decisions moment to moment because that is how I navigate life with the fuel I need. 

I struggled with body image, severe depression and eating disorders for many many years. I wrote a book about my journey and my overcoming. And still, I am not immune to this very real human condition of self-doubt and depression. I struggle to stay motivated to engage with life. Sometimes I want to just sleep, and it feels difficult and consuming to engage with other people. I experience anxiety and worry that I’m not interesting. I judge myself harshly and become consumed mentally when I overeat. 

Yet, I know that being thin is not what makes me happier. It’s the pursuit of health and longevity that will invite in happiness. It’s the act of getting sweaty or taking time to meditate that brings about good feelings - at any size. I started this morning with a simple and short meditation - as I sat on a stool facing out the balcony window to take in the light and the buzz of the wind and the few cars on the road. I reminded myself - don't just do something, sit there. I noticed my mind wander to a few situations in the recent past that irked me, that disturbed me, and I can see now that there are a few things I am carrying around with me that are contributing to my low state. So often there is something real in life that has bothered me, and instead of dealing with it, I try to just let it go, yet the low vibration feeling stays with me and manifests in other ways. Our brain likes order and meaning, so it will attach to anything as a way to explain the low vibration feelings that are present. 

Focusing on needing to be thinner to be happy is just attaching to something tangible as a reason for your feelings of lack. To heal the hurt of your relationships that need mending or dissolving, and to reclaim your life with passion and purpose, you need to change the glasses that you perceive your life through. Retraining your self talk patterns is a great place to practice.

I call it being pragmatically optimistic. When I’m writing to rewire my thoughts, I start with what I notice I am feeling. I then ask myself questions about what else could be contributing, and what are some other perspectives to try on, and what’s something I can do today to learn, grow and let go. The process of asking and answering high quality questions is where the shift awaits! So, the questions I am sitting with today, and I invite you to do so as well....

  • What is one thing I can do today to mend the hurt from a past conversation or relationship that seems to be nagging on my psyche?
  • What is my self-loving and compassionate mantra to land on and repeat when I find myself engaging in a habit or pattern today that I am committed to shifting or removing from my life?
  • What am I giving myself permission to feel today?

To close, I have a beautiful quote to share from Angi Fletcher. She is a model, mother, and vulnerable advocate for body image and self-love practices. I stumbled across this and felt immediately hugged by her words. Enjoy ;) 

"There are seasons for everything. Happiness doesn't come in a body shape; health and vitality does; having more energy does; being able to move easier does; not being as depressed does. But all these things comes from what you put in your body and what thoughts you choose to believe, not just in the shape or size of your body. When I was in my thinnest body measurement wise, I was also at my thinnest capacity for love, patience, strength, adventure and happiness. Your body is your body. It is changeable, moldable, flexible and more capable than you can imagine. But it is just a shell. You are in control of your mind and what you put into your body to either make it a machine or a prison" Angi Fletcher

"I deserve to be heard"

The first time I heard the mantra "I deserve to be heard" was several years ago when I was introduced to the Chakra system. The throat chakra is one of seven main energetic centers in our being, and it is the home of expression, non-violent communication and generous listening. The reminder we receive when in contemplation of the throat chakra is that we each have a unique contribution and a unique perception of reality. It takes conscious communication to bridge the gaps between our-self and the other, to create and foster our boundaries, and to speak our truth, to ourselves and to others.

In a yoga teacher training a few weeks ago, I was invited to repeat "I deserve to be heard" while in a guided meditation. While this was not my first time repeating these words, there was something different in the experience this time. This was the first time that it truly landed. Tears formed in my eyes. A wave of love, peace, acceptance and power washed over me. It was like I had one hand tied behind my back unknowingly and someone just gave me permission and the tools to untie myself. It was an extremely cathartic experience.

As I have sat with this for a few weeks now, I am getting more clear on what makes this mantra so powerful. First of all, mantras are an amazing way to shift your self-talk patterns efficiently. 95% of what you say today you also said yesterday. We are creatures of habit. When you bring in new thoughts, and repeat empowering words or phrases (i.e. mantras), you feed your brain new energy and are more likely to repeat these words and phrases later on. Your words cast spells, and overtime, you will believe whatever you say about yourself. With any great power comes responsibility. Mantras are only one piece of the holistic puzzle of self development. We need to be face to face with what makes us uncomfortable and continue harnessing our awareness of our own patterns and habits that are not serving who we desire to be. From this awareness, we can edit as we go, shift our patterns and habits with self-talk, reminders, support and accountability. 

Every voice deserves to be heard. This doesn't mean you deserve to be heard more than others. It also doesn't mean you have the right to talk over others or that what you say is more true than what others say. It simply means, you have a voice and you deserve to use it and be heard. That's it, simple. This is not projecting a rule of any kind, it is offering up a tool for your inquiry and discernment. 

For me, what was so powerful was that I had been struggling with my ability to effectively communicate with my husband. My monkey mind can jump in wild directions, and sometimes I will begin sharing something without context or back-story to bridge the gap between his perception of reality, our physical environment, and where my mind has gone. In fact, this becomes a point of conflict for us as he pushes back on my share with questions like "what are you talking about? why are you telling me this?" Rather than keeping calm and walking back through the process of how I got from A to Z, I had a pattern of feeling sad that I wasn't understood, hurt that he wasn't more curious about what I had to share, and upset that I was creating a limiting belief and story that my husband is not someone I can share my raw and unfiltered thoughts or ideas with. 

I am not one to get stuck and allow limiting beliefs to take over, so I chose to get curious and inquisitive with myself to get more clear on this pattern and what shifts I could make to grow through this obstacle. 

When I repeated, "I deserve to be heard" in my mind, I realized that I had been holding on to a belief that I share too much and that I need to keep things to myself until they are polished and ready to be delivered efficiently and profoundly. While there is some truth in that, it is also not complex enough to embody the full truth. It is not a hard and fast rule that I want to abide by. I love the freedom of speech! I love that my mind is creative and thoughtful and that I can come up with wild ideas and put them into action. My goal is not to stifle my voice, it is to become more deliberate in how I communicate and to share more context so that the conversation is co-created rather than me talking at my husband (or anyone else). 

Like most things in life, too much of anything is no longer a good thing. And rather than swinging from one extreme to the other (i.e. from over-sharing to not sharing at all), I wanted to find the healthy balance. For me, "I deserve to be heard" is now the reminder I need to repeat daily to honor my voice and contribution. It reminds me to slow down and think through what I want to share so that I honor the power and influence I can have. It reminds me to allow unfiltered and raw conversations to flow, and not be too caught up in thinking that everything needs to be manicured and polished. Sometimes yes it does, and other times, raw and unfiltered is exactly what is needed. Each moment is a new opportunity and I strive to be present and engaged with what the moment calls for, and to do that, I need to remind myself that "I deserve to be heard."

And guess what?? So do you!

Everything is an offer

To live in the world of personal development means to be constantly face to face with your hypocrisy and your own areas of improvement. It's not easy. But, it also means a lot of excitement and pleasure as you see positive change in your life and feel the result of your hard work paying dividends. I have found that the concept of "intimacy without attachment" is a great reminder to find the balance point and contentment with the moment while in pursuit of betterment. It reminds me to be passionate and desire for more while embracing this moment as it is because I cannot control what the future holds. It also reminds me to conserve energy by expecting the unexpected and to behave in a way that allows others to also have freedom and space for growth. "Intimacy without attachment" is one of many concepts and mantras I use to create and conserve quality energy for my journey.  

I am mindful of the fact that my work, currently, is in playing with the balance between pragmatism and compassion. I have found that a way to conserve energy is to be picky with where I allow myself to be influenced by others, more specifically, who and where I invest my emotions. It's become a dance as I notice my energy getting pulled into someone else's struggle, I allow myself to feel it and send some love and empathy, but then I re-center myself with the reminder that it doesn't do us any good if I turn "your struggle" into "our struggle."

I have witnessed that I am much better at supporting a shift in perspective or leading by example when I allow myself to stay open and rise above the momentary struggle. While this is an efficient way to operate, the shadow side is that at times when emotional investment and a compassionate shoulder to cry on is needed, I will choose curiosity and protect my energy from being drained by other people's "problems." This is not good or bad, right or wrong, it is just something to notice and play with so that I can lay my head down each night and feel confident, proud and aligned in my decisions as I reflect on my day. I want to be felt as a compassionate, vulnerable, and supportive person. And I need to continually check in with myself to ensure that my intentions are showing up strong and true in my actions. 

 

What I find most interesting about this recent realization is that my response is to see it as an offer to open up a bit more and trust my own strength and capabilities. I rarely feel guilt or feel a loss of power when I see my intentions are not aligned with my actions, because I know that that takes time and energy. I see the error in my ways, I learn what I need to learn, I readjust my aim, and then I get back into the practice of living life.

I see these insights as an opportunity to practice being a better coach, a better friend, a better daughter and sister, and a better partner. Because I am far from perfect and I would love for my family and friends to see that I am trying hard to be the person they deserve to have in their life. 

Everything is an offer, if you let it be. Perspective can always be shifted to see what you may have missed or what you have not been habituated to see. It becomes an offer when you can choose to respond in ways that invite connection, acceptance and creativity. You spread this offer wide when you start your response to a situation with "YES, AND...." Perspective expands when you can see the potential all around you and open your mind to receive the feather into your calm soft palm rather than grasping and forcing. 

This blog post is inspired by this book. An amazing title and an even more amazing read. This book plays with the beautiful lessons we can take from the world of improvisation and how that can open your mind and life in ways you may not see as possible.

This blog post is inspired by this book. An amazing title and an even more amazing read. This book plays with the beautiful lessons we can take from the world of improvisation and how that can open your mind and life in ways you may not see as possible.

I would love to have an impact in this world that leads us towards mindful and balanced living. I would love to see everyone unplug more often and take their down-time seriously. I would love to see more people create some space in between their initial impulsive reaction and their thoughtful and grounded pragmatic response. I would love to see more people crack open and share what keeps them up at night and what fears creep into their minds during the day. I want to see more bold and brave creativity as people get out of their self-doubting heads and allow themselves to show up and make their passions known. I want to see people setting goals and achieving them, making bold requests and standing tall in their higher purpose, stretching the limits of what's possible and seeing beauty and life-affirming magic in stepping outside their comfort zone. 

That is why I lead by example and do my best to share what tools and conversations can support the process. I want you to create and conserve more quality energy so you can experience bliss, passion, excitement, pleasure and purpose in a balanced and sustainable way. 

So cheers to balance. Cheers to practice and play. And cheers to embracing our imperfections so that we can create space and conserve energy for the journey towards our best self. 

;)

photo by Mark Derry

photo by Mark Derry