Learning to be Secure

My son was having a difficult time with self-control this evening. Even with knowing the consequences of his behavior, he choose to act out; losing his coveted tablet time for the rest of the day. So there I was, having my feathers ruffled by a 7-year-old throwing a 7-year-old temper tantrum, because I did not feel heard.

Earlier in the day I had done a guided meditation which asked me what my most burning desire. My answer “to fully express myself;” as in a no-holds-barred, completely authentic way. This has been something I have never felt safe doing. In feeling insecure in honoring my own voice, I had not been able to honor my son’s voice, either. Hours later, there we were, pitted against one another; neither of us feeling heard nor respected.

Silently, I said a prayer, asking for guidance as I was myself beginning to feel ready to verbally explode. Insights then began to flood in as I sat and watched my son’s behavior. Miraculously, my mind calmed down and, from my heart, I began to tell my son what I was seeing; a boy who was angry and who needed love. Perhaps I could have also said confused (that’s my judgmental voice right there!). I then heard my wise inner voice tell me that my son needed to know that above all that he was safe.

Yet, my calm disturbed him further. He upped his efforts to upset me, kicking a ball at me. I calmly told him he needed to go up to his room and I walked upstairs with him on my way to my own room. At the top of the stairs he shared that he didn’t want to go alone into his room, so I changed tack and, still calm, I sat down with him.

The inner wisdom kicked in again, showing me that he needed me to be connected and open (vulnerable) with him. So I sat with him and held the space while he calmed himself down. I also felt further soothed. What do any of us really want when we are upset and hurt? Someone who loves us who can be there with us in “our ugly,” judgment-free. Or maybe it’s just me?

Later, in looking back, I also saw how he was seeking connection with me even within his inner chaos. He was looking to me to be the adult, to remain calm and connected while he sorted through his feelings. Instead of closing my heart and feeding his and my own anger, I chose to stay open and calm. At first, this was a break from my norm after such an escalated point; this made him feel uneasy and he chose further destructive behaviors. Then, after he saw I was choosing to remain calm, he felt able to tell me he didn’t want to be alone. After sitting with him through his storm, we both felt more at peace. Later, he was even able to joke about his tantrums during a game of Uno.

It is my hope that next time I’ll be able to be as, or more, calm and open-hearted as I was tonight when he has one of his fits. While I am sure there will still be times when my anger gets the best of me, I will do my best to remember how much better things felt with opening and connecting instead of closing down.

Later, I also saw a new solution to an old problem.  He has a tendency to procrastinate on his nightly homework. Then, suddenly it’s bedtime and I’ve had little time with my daughter. While she is older and more independent, she still needs time with her mother. So I discussed with them both what would change this week with the evening routine and why.

This miracle allowed me to be able to see life from a bigger picture, to see solutions in-the-moment and to connect calmly with my son through his storm. It helped foster a stronger connection and  strengthened my compassion for him and for myself. In surrendering my knee-jerk reactions, I was able to chose differently and more wisely.

May we each be more present and calm during the seeming chaos of life and parenting; as we relate to others, our children as well as to the child within each of us. 

Namaste

The Fear of Being Loved

For as long as I can remember, I have sought for love. Perhaps it is the hopeful and “hopeless romantic” within (see Enneagram 4). There has always been this underlying feeling of being incomplete; an irredeemable deficiency as described by Ian Morgan Cron, a fellow “4”.

In diving into this incessant need to be loved and even validated through relationship, I found that underneath the push, that I have deeply fear being loved. Initially, this was quite a shock for me to see. Yet, in looking back, I see this has been clearly reflected to me, repeatedly ad nauseam, in the men I have been in relationships with. Heck, I can even see it play out in my friendships.

Every man I’ve dated and many of my friends have been in some way unavailable, most in multiple ways: emotionally unavailable, lacking time, have lived far away, had too many other commitments, or were still stuck on their exes (the latter is in regards to dating, obv). These are not pock shots at anyone, I share this as it is a direct reflection of where I was unavailable; even if my being unavailable showed up differently….

I seem to be like a moth with the flame. While I want to be in close friendships and even in a lovingly relationship, I am now acutely aware of where I have not wanted to get too close. I push forward, then I pull away. This is indicative of having a fearful attachment; where I both seek love and yet when I find it that very love is also scary AF.

Taking things a step further, I see where it also plays out with my children. While I have improved some, there are times when I feel there is something “I must do right now” on my phone or a chore in the home, when in reality, the majority of the time it really could wait until later; meanwhile my kids wait for me to finish my task. I put them/love on hold instead of putting the task on hold…

This had been unintentional/unconscious on my part. Now, I see where the push and pull has negatively affected me and my ability to relate with others. With this new awareness in mind, I have been doing body scans, observing the places where I feel contracted. It seems to be helping, because I’m noticing I’ve becoming less afraid to live unfiltered; more authentically.

May we each see and acknowledge our fears, to release ourselves from their grip. May we each recognize and accept the places in our lives where we have blocked out love; allowing us to love more freely. 

Namaste

A very helpful meditation to help with sitting with anger

 

Moving from Resentment into Freedom (it’s easier than you may think…)

In working to bring forward more inner light, there was an exercise in The Dark Side of the Light Chasers (Debbie Ford) that instructed the reader to write letters to people in their lives who needed to be forgiven; to be clear, who the reader needed to forgive. I found myself thoroughly procrastinating on and resisting this exercise.

Finally, I started to write out to the first person on my list that I was willing to forgive him. Immediately the memories flooded back along with the emotional anguish and heartache. My next sentence was something akin to “eff that, there is part of me that absolutely doesn’t want to forgive you.” In my mind, I felt like a young child crossing her arms after stomping her feet and chanting, “I don’t wanna.”

This mental tempter tantrum went of for several moments. Then the miracle happened: it was as if the scoreboard was wiped clean; I no longer felt the resistance to forgiveness. It was in acknowledging and allowing myself to NOT want to forgive this man of his trespasses that I was able to forgive him and my emotional burdens were also released.

Later, I started write a forgiveness letter to myself. Almost immediately, I began to feel sad and angry about some work-related and financial aspects in my life. Things for which I have felt that had I “chosen differently” would not be factors holding me back. I then allowed myself to throw another mental temper tantrum about how I didn’t want to let go of my anger and sadness at myself. I wanted to hold onto my pain because it was all I had known. Yet, once again, the miracle of fully allowing my resistance actually freed me. After all, we cannot rebel where there is nothing to resist against….

I share these experiences with you in the hopes that you will see that holding back your “negative” emotions just holds you back from being free of them. A wise woman repeatedly told me “the pain is in the resistance.” These experiences have shown me, on a deeper level, just what she was telling me.

May we each give ourselves permission to acknowledge and allow the emotions that hold us back, so that we may be free of them.

Namaste

I find that shredding paper and making mosaics can be very helpful when I’m feeling stuck. The beauty is more in the creatively destructive process than in the final products.

This is my chained and unforgiving heart

This is my open, crowned and passionate heart

Meet the Enneagram One “The Perfectionist”

Hi! This is a guest post from a friend who identifies as an Enneagram 1 or “Perfectionist.” This is her story to help others to identify their own kind. If you’d like to guest post on your experience with understanding your Enneagram, please let me know in the comments, below. Even if your “number” has already been shared, I feel that the more, the merrier! Namaste. Here are other posts on the Enneagram series. 

 

Over the last couple of years, I have learned to accept and appreciate the fact that I am a one. At first sight, the thought of being a perfectionist is cringe-worthy even for a one. But in true one fashion, I had to first pick apart all of the unhealthy aspects of being a one and judge myself to see where I stack up to those characteristics. “I’m not so bad anymore”, I thought as I was reminded of several phases of life where I used to be more critical, more harsh to myself, and less emotionally connected to life and others. When I look back at all the lessons I’ve learned as a one, I am now able to see how my times of stress have guided me to be a much stronger, healthier, and happier person. It is through recognition of this growth that I am able to reflect with a forgiving and accepting heart.

Ones, like other types, often have body image issues. It’s important to find out where this stems from in order to reduce triggers and promote healthy behaviors. I can’t remember the last time I took a week off from working out since I started working out as a teen. I have always been very cautious of what I eat and prefer to have control, routine and predictability when eating. Healthy ones stay loyal to their work-out routines, work out for health rather than aesthetics, and have a thoughtful yet forgiving diet. Stressed ones can get stuck in over-exercising, ridden with anxiety when they are unable to work out due to injury or illness. Over the years, being more grateful of what my body does for me and not what it doesn’t do has helped me to be less stringent and negative.

Over time, I have learned to channel my one tendencies into my strengths. I remember one of the first staff meetings held at my current job. I had only been there a matter of weeks and our bosses were going over ways to reduce the busyness of the clinic. They mentioned expanding clinic hours, staggering clinician’s shifts, etc. As bold as it was being the new person on the job, I volunteered to rearrange the clinic’s equipment. I knew the day I interviewed that the space was not used wisely. As a one, we instantly know how to make a situation better as soon as we walk into a room. Over the next few days, I designed a poster board made “to scale” of the clinic. I designed cut outs of all of our equipment, that I arranged and re-arranged until I got it just right. Although the change at first was stressful to ones and non-ones alike, after everyone adjusted, I have to admit the layout works very smoothly now. In fact, it hasn’t been changed 2 years later.

As a one, I feel that I have a tendency to “zone-in”, especially at work. While I am attentively catching up on paperwork, I often find that I do not physically see anything else going on around me. I have had coworkers go so far as to dance in front of me to prove to other that it will take me a while before I notice (they were so right). As ones, we feel this “zone-in” ability at work allows us to be more efficient, more productive and therefore, better. Luckily, I started to realize how damaging this can be with my work relationships, and often must disconnect from what I am doing in order to be present in my communication with them. Tuning into three senses can help reduce this extreme focus and welcome present-mindedness (what do you see around you, what do you hear, feel your toes, etc). It’s also comforting as a one to know that yes, the work will still be more than satisfactory, even with a few happy distractions. We do have the efficiency of ones, afterall!

Overall the best strategy I have found for happiness in my life is to disconnect and become more fully present in daily life, leaving room for whims and desires. Yes, this means prioritizing people and things that bring me joy and not strictly abiding by my do-list.  A healthy one resembles a more “go with the flow” attitude, relishes in spontaneity, and is more enthusiastic about everything life has to offer, like a seven. I find that when I slow down, I am able to relax the rules I have set for myself and feel so much lighter in life. Yes, this includes feeling and appreciating any emotions that may arise- the good, bad, pretty and ugly. I am at my best when I am hosting spontaneous or themed get-togethers, trying a new activity for the fun of it (and not to perfect it), and getting a little messy- whether it’s mud on my boots or dirt on my hands. Finally, being grateful for what I do have and not what I lack has helped me in all aspects of life including my relationship with myself, my family, my friends and my coworkers.

In the Presence of Beauty

She was stunningly beautiful. Like someone you’d see on a magazine cover, except this was real life, without fancy camera angles, perfect lighting and airbrushing. Even though I am hetero, I had a difficult time keeping my eyes off of her. She was poised, beautiful and exuded a sense of calm. Yet, her proximity to me triggered my sense of ugly, unworthy and it frustrated me to some degree, showing me where I still felt incomplete.

While I am the most comfortable that I’ve ever been “in my own skin,” this woman rattled my own sense of self. It was curious more than alarming, as I understood that the trigger was the symptom of an unloved part within showing up to be loved. This was a new tac for me; prevailing curiosity over alarm.

It was also somewhat humorous, given that I felt as if I were in one of those awkward teen movies set in the 80’s. “Pretty in Pink” comes to mind, maybe because of the title; although neither of us was wearing pink. While I didn’t have braces, I did have those awkward teeth straightening trays that I needed to remove and replace… more ugly! (Don’t worry friends, there’s a plot twist up ahead…)

Later that evening, I was reading through a chapter in The Dark Side of the Light Chasers by Debbie Ford which helped explain to me what I had experienced. I was “light shadow projecting.” By focusing on the stunning beauty of this woman, I was giving away my own right to be beautiful. I was then able to see where I was disowning my “light” and projecting it onto her. Anything we suppress or disown in ourselves we keep in our shadows; whether the trait is considered positive or negative. 

In reading further, I uncovered 80 (yes, 80) positive traits that I have not been able to accept about myself. Over the next 27 days, I have chosen to affirm and use EFT Tapping on 3 traits/day (am doing beautiful twice, for good measure). I’ve set reminders in my calendar to help keep me focused and on track (now just to be sure I stick to it and follow through…).

In case you’re curious, these were the 80 traits I found difficult to accept about myself:

connected, alive, satisfied, powerful, cherished, secure, affluent, gentle, supported, enlightened, wanted, loved, realized, extravagant, lovable, brilliant, decisive, sensual, successful, irresistible, radiant, worthy, calm, delicious, open, carefree, cheerful, compassionate, easy going, joyful, peaceful, patient, sexy, famous, just, forgiving, disciplined, acknowledged, alive, responsible, adored, fulfilled, happy, content, energetic, desirable, playful, confident, beautiful, credible, accepting, blissful, vivacious, flexible, courageous, fearless, whole, precious, wonderful, healthy, vulnerable, superstar, talented, radiant, choice-maker, capable, magnificent, rich, wise, attractive, simple, honored, whole, adored, venerated, complete, talented, holy, centered, poised.

So if I ever see her again, I’ll be more accepting of myself and the beauty within my own skin.

May we each find peace within the fullness of our own light; avoiding projecting our best (and worst) onto others. May we see our own unique qualities as the gifts they are, and the gifts that we are, to this World – and in so doing, may we make the world a better place by accepting our own unique greatness; expressing it freely gives others the freedom to do the same.

Namaste

Balancing Affirmations for Unlocking Authenticity

For over 5 years I’ve had an on-again-off-again relationship with positive affirmations. The challenge I run into every time is that I feel immediate resistance to the new affirmation. The parts of me that reject the affirmation quickly rise up. Then within a day or so, all of the areas in my life that don’t meet that affirmation all bubble up (like poop in water) to the top. It can be a very unpleasant experience, that feels much like a very restrictive diet; making it very difficult to stick to for very long (if at all). Well, now I have learned a few more balanced approaches to affirmations that I’d like to share with you.

Over a year ago, my trusted life coach, Sam Allen of Peacock Poetry told me about a book whose title caused an immediate wave of resistance to rise up within me (you may be noticing a theme of resistance here). While I immediately put this book in the “to buy later” cart, I ignored it for at least a year until my curiosity got the best of me. Now half-way through the book, I’m recognizing why those “old ways” of positive affirmations didn’t work and it has been life changing. The book? The Dark Side of the Light Chasers by Debbie Ford.

Debbie speaks to reclaiming our authenticity by seeing and accepting the parts of us which we have rejected or repressed. You may be surprised to see that these parts are not just our “bad” or negative parts, either. For instance, I fear being too happy or too joyful for very long!!! The affirmations help in embracing the parts of us that we repress, deny, reject, suppress, avoid, and so on (use whatever other words to describe what keeps us from being our authentic selves). These affirmations help to embrace those rejected pieces within.

Being authentic means embracing and accepting that ALL of our varied parts DO have a purpose: not just the light, shiny, happy, rainbow and unicorn-magical parts either. Each is us has had thoughts or behaviors we have deemed forbidden. Anger, for instance, consistently gets a bad rap. However, when used properly, anger is a fantastic tool for change and protection. Without anger, it would take a lot more effort to fuel things like a social change. Anger also helps us to defend ourselves when it is necessary (and when it is suppressed, we can become either passive-aggressive or explosive when we do express our need for self-protection).

What Debbie teaches is that each part of us has a purpose and when we accept that part of us is indeed purposeful and part of us, then we can use it as a tool as opposed to it ruling us behind-the-scenes!

Debbie also speaks to how we can uncover these hidden gems. It is quite simple to find, yet may be more challenging to redeem… We see these hidden gems in others, yes, we do. However, usually when we see these gems we generally either praise the person (because we don’t believe we have that trait) or we judge them (because we don’t want to believe we have that trait). After seeing the trait it is then up to us to work to embrace the trait. Yet, so many of us have learned to envy and/or hate others for expressing what we cannot or for showing us the parts of ourselves we do not wish to see.

So it is in seeing ourselves in others, in ourselves, and embracing those “undesired” or “desired” and repressed aspects that we begin to heal ourselves. Then we no longer need to “prove” ourselves differently than we are. We can then recognize that those “undesired” aspects can serve us in some way that then gives us control again, as opposed to spending all of our energy proving or repressing ourselves.

Here is an example. When I do not believe myself worthy, then I am continually chasing ahead to prove myself worthy. It’s a continual process of spinning in a hamster wheel. I may prove myself worthy today, but then I’ve got to prove it again tomorrow and so on. When I embrace that part of myself who feels unworthy, then I no longer carry that burden of being unworthy. Capiche?

Another example would be where I, just today, really wanted to write about this experience and yet found myself doing everything but writing. There was part of me that was highly resistant to writing. So I did a balancing affirmation where I allowed myself a mental temper tantrum of “I do not want to write.” Within minutes of affirming that I did not want to write, and allowing myself to not want to write, I was 200 words into this post with minimal effort.

Yet another example is where I recently found myself envious of another writer. I did not feel I could accomplish what she has accomplished. This envy is a sign that I was repressing an aspect of myself that is indeed there…

In the last two examples, I’ve shown how my dualistic mind that is holding me back. I’ve started to see this pattern both in myself and in others; this “push-pull.” So now when I start a new affirmation, I have also begun to immediately affirm the converse. For instance, “I want to write. I do not want to write.” This allows me to recognize and even affirm the divisiveness that I feel within. If things are going well internally and externally then there’s no reason to write an affirmation.

I hope you find this post supportive in your efforts to bring forth more of your authentic self. It’s amazingly freeing to see where we can affirm ourselves; supporting both the “dark” and the “light” aspects. After all, unconditional love moves beyond the duality of right and wrong, and sees the unity of ALL (unconditional means this includes the “dark stuff,” too).

May we each find greater peace, moving beyond duality, so that we can find the ultimate freedom and unity within: Agape. 

Namaste

PS I spent more time resisting this piece than I spent editing and writing it… the “I don’t want to write” affirmation/acknowledgement freed me almost immediately after DAYS, almost weeks, of resistance.

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