In Lack of Control & The Miracles that Followed

One primary persona of mine is to walk with confidence and appear to be “calm and under control;” the emotions pour out later. In this “mode,” I can hear my father’s mantra to be “calm, cool and collected” reverberating in my cranium. Recently, that persona broke wide the eff open for me. While it’s been an ongoing process of chipping away at this persona, on this particular day I had a very significant breakthrough.

My son was having an escalating series of temper tantrums. My attempt to control the situation and de-escalate it was only causing further … escalation. Based on a recent read of the book, Dark Side of the Light Chasers, by Debbie Ford, I saw where my need to seem in control was a direct result of my feeling that I lacked control. Literally, a light went off in one of the deepest (and darkest?) recesses of my mind. Once I affirmed that I was, indeed, not in control, I surrendered to my higher power and asked for guidance. I spoke to this event in the post Learning to be Secure.

The M.O. from the Past

In trying to prove to myself and to the world that Tiffany had it under control, I hid where I was not under control. Or tried to. I have had an emotional eating addiction for … probably my whole life. This is one of the ways that I both punish myself for my feelings (eating ’til it hurts) and then hide my feelings by stuffing my emotions down, down, down…

In trying to prove to the world that I had it under control, I learned to smile and put on a good game face; well kinda. One practitioner poignantly described me as being “zippered up.” Yet the muscles of my body reveal my guarded and “under control” tendency. Even with regular massages, I have held onto a great deal of tension; more than most.

In trying to prove to the world that I had it under control, I would attempt to control myself, my environment and … even those in it. Wow! That last one is a challenge to admit. Yet, as a physical therapist I develop (and control) treatment plans everyday. What a great profession to be in for someone who secretly wants to control everything and everyone… understand, I believed it was an act of self-preservation, not mind-control.

Where & why the control most likely started

This control is not so much about power for the sake of power, it’s more about my feeling safe. As a child, I was in situations where I was abused by “trusting” adults who manipulated and controlled me. From this, I believed that my body was not safe, that I had to control others – and myself – to be safe. From this abuse, I also didn’t believe I could trust people; especially those who were meant to protect me. Further more, I felt effing powerless, and hence the cycle starts over, feeding into itself. So for me, being in control has meant that it was harder for someone else to harm me.

Back to the Breakthrough

Yet on this fateful day, I chose differently. In recognizing my lack of control and giving up control to my higher power, I received greater clarity in everyday things. This has helped me to make wiser choices. The irony! Instead of being ruled by my fear of loss of control, I’m seeing that I have little control outside of my own choices, and now my choices are more clear, thus giving me …. more control! Yet in a different way, in that the control factor is no longer based in fear.

It is my hope that in sharing, you will find a greater understanding about yourself or perhaps a “control freak” that is in your life. The more we can understand and have compassion, the less turbulence we each create in our world.

May we each find a greater sense of peace in better understanding ourselves and others. 

Namaste

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

Be the Light

We are here to be the light to show others the way out of the darkness. It is through greater self-acceptance and love that we bring more light into this world. Fear blocks the light and masks keep the light hidden.

Judgment is a form of fear that blocks the light from shining through us. It keeps us from feeling whole and complete, and thus we feel unworthy. To acknowledge our judgments, we can see them differently and release them. Releasing our attachments to judgment allows us to feel whole, bringing us into a greater connection with others and our Higher Power.

Masks are the faces we wear to hide our judgments against ourselves and others; where we hide what we are feeling or who we are to feel more accepted. Yet, masks prevent us from feeling whole or holy, preventing us from reaching our Highest Potential.

It is in our vulnerability, through removing the masks, the shame, the guilt, and the judgments that we connect more deeply with ourselves and others. When we take a moment to love and forgive ourselves, we are able to see our perceived mistakes and shortcomings as the very things that help us to connect with others. In seeing ourselves as we are, we can see others.

May we each be more loving, forgiving and accepting of ourselves; being the light. In so doing, we show others the way.

Namaste

Return to Innocence

There was something inside that I wanted to hide. The true name of what it was that caused my shame was unknown to me. I could see some of the situations from my childhood in which it seemed to be rooted. And I had spent nearly a decade tugging up various “weeds” to get to the root of my shame problem. Yet, the deep rooted shame was still there.

Last week, I started the process of using EFT or emotional freedom technique to systematically begin to return to innocence through the process of forgiveness. Within just a day, I began to feel my shame load lighten. It was even more amazing after five! (The book is Forgiveness: 21 Days to Forgive Everyone for Everything by Iyanla Vanzant.)

Then, while at a party to celebrate my birthday something happened. Well after dark, while surrounded by friends on an outdoor patio of a local bar, a young boy about 7 years old walked up to me and was trying to solicit something. He spoke so softly and the crowd was so loud that I could not here him. My mind, intoxicated by the celebration – not bourbon – was unable to fully process what was happening! He held up a piece of paper in front of his chest with printed lettering, something apparently given to him by an adult to legitimize his solicitation. In my confusion over the juxtaposition, I gently yet firmly said to him, “No thank you.” I turned to my friends and commented how surreal that was for me. Then I quickly moved on. I didn’t even turn around to see if he had left.

Later that night the memory flooded back in. The next morning, the heaviness of guilt-ridden emotions followed. Why had I not done something more? How could I dismiss this child instead of protecting him and asking questions such as where was his parent/guardian? I was absolutely disgusted with myself!

I meditated, breathed into the physical and emotional pains and also used EFT that day on several elements: anger, sadness, and guilt. I sat through the emotional storms and rode some mighty waves. I even did a constellation on the incident (I’ll need another post to explain what this meant!) and sent a prayer request to a friend for myself and the boy. I also sent prayers to his “guardians.” I even tried to talk it out to get it off my chest and also asked a trusted friend who was at the party about the incident.

While each use of a modality helped to move me through something more, there were still some lingering pangs of guilt. The next day, I told a retired social worker about the incident; as if she could grant me absolution. Tears came to my eyes and I still got choked up. It was apparent that I still felt guilty for not doing more. It was also apparent to me at some point that the boy, due to his estimated age, also reminded me of my own son. In some way, I had “taken” responsibility for this boy as if I were his parent!

Through continued mindfulness while allowing the upwelling of all of the emotions, I finally saw the keys to unlock my cage of guilt. One key was that I recognized I was angry with myself for not protecting and honoring his innocence, as I would for my own son. And the skeleton key was seeing how my own childhood innocence had not been protected nor honored by adults who “should have” done so. After this recognition, the tears no longer flowed. The light bulb was now lit: I needed to see, honor and protect my own innocence.

That evening I attended a mini constellation therapy session in which my intention was to replace shame with innocence. Through my ancestors, I was able to receive further support in transmuting the lifelong shame I had felt back into innocence.

While there are still some areas to work through, I feel that a significant amount of shame and its emotional burden has been relieved. I share this story to illustrate that emotional freedom can seem elusive when we are moving through any upwellings. It is unlocked through persisting at allowing the emotions to become our teachers, in spite of what we may be feeling. Had I dismissed my feelings about this incident, as I had the boy in the bar, I would have missed an opportunity to reclaim my own innocence; my own freedom from shame.

Letting go now has a new meaning for me. It wasn’t about letting go of the story, my feelings nor the boy, it was letting go of control of it all to rediscover the innocence I had been missing.

May we each find the roots behind the story, so that we may each be free of our suffering in new ways. We all become more free, even if just by degrees, by each root that is disentangled. This is not just about individual suffering as we each suffer with one another, at least on some level, both directly and indirectly.

Namaste

Healing The Roots of Despair

In talking with my mother about the culture of the county in which she was raised, which I only visited as a child, I have come to a new understanding of some of my habits. It frightens me to be publicly recognized for my achievements. Actually, that applies to any recognition, even one-on-one.

Compliments are not something that I find easy to receive. My mind focuses on where things “could have been better.” While this mindset pushes me to do better, it also thwarts my ability to feel at ease or at peace with … just about everything in my life.

Where my mom grew up, those who “had more” or who “looked pretty” were targeted by others … there was a culture of rape and a fair amount of lawlessness. So anyone who “had,” could be expected to have something taken.

The effects of this culture meant people were, out of fear, generous in giving to others and also in putting down their own achievements. It was better to be pitied (at least people would “bless your heart”) than to be seen as having something that someone else wanted.

So here I sit with this awareness. Seeing how complicated it can be to feel comfortable with being at peace or even happy. Softening into the fear, shining the light of my awareness on why happiness has scared me, aside from brief glimpses. Slowly, the fear begins to melt.

Within a metta meditation, I send love back up the ancestral lines, and the community that brought this fear into being. May all beings be at peace.

Namaste

Allowing Through Heartache to Let Go

 

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Heartaches make us through breaking us, for in breaking apart the beliefs that we hold dear, we rebuild ourselves in better and better ways. This can be hard to understand when in the midst of heartbreak, for often we hold onto the pain, or we hold onto the good things that we “lost,” that we fail to see the full picture.

While heartbreak is a painful process to go through, there are ways in which we can make it easier for ourselves. Just as we cannot force a paper cut to heal, we cannot force our broken hearts to heal. In fact, by forcing the process, we end up delaying it further. It is through allowing the healing process that we arrive more quickly at our destination.

The first step here is awareness: seeing and hearing what we are thinking. When we see the process as a classroom in which we learn about ourselves, we become witnesses to our own rebirth. By becoming aware of our thoughts, we become present with what is happening within us.

The next step is being willing to see our thoughts, almost as if written on a chalkboard, while we sit back in our seats – witnessing them without punishing ourselves, or judging our thoughts. This can be a challenge, as we have usually spent our entire lives putting “good and bad” labels on e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g that we think or do. So here we put down the scorecards and allow our thoughts to flow (see, we’re allowing again). It is in this witness seat where we begin to see the bigger picture. Just as a student sees the lesson best when 1. in the classroom and 2. from the desk/not with a nose on the chalkboard, we must be willing to both be present as well as sit back some so that we can see.

The third step is to see the patterns that emerge. This is done by “rinsing and repeating” the first two steps: being aware and witnessing. With time, the patterns begin to emerge when we see our thoughts in the witness seat.

The next step is to allow the patterns to shift. Often, we want to force a shift as soon as we have a thought we don’t desire by forcing the change. However, this is like peeling the scab off of the papercut; we actually keep the undesirable thought energy in place.

When the pain feels too much to bear, it is important to keep breathing, to feel where we feel supported (the bed, floor, chair, etc), and to keep being aware. If we slowly count to 10, we can begin to feel the wave crest and then fall.

When I get stuck mentally, I find that my body also gets stuck. It is during these times that I begin to journal, stretch, walk/move, be grateful, or by taking a salt bath. Most of all: the most important thing is to KEEP BREATHING! The more areas of our bodies we can breathe into, the easier it is for the emotions to keep moving, too. For it is when we hold our breaths that the energy and thoughts get stuck, too.

Allowing to let go. It can be both more challenging and also easier than we may think. So please allow yourself to heal, to shift and to be moved.

Namaste

Becoming a Best Friend

Everyone needs a best friend, someone to turn to when life gets tough and someone with whom to celebrate the good stuff. Friends can come and go, moving to new places, having their own life changes or even passing on. The one person we know that is with us from birth to death is our own selves. Yet, how many of us are friends with ourselves, much less our own best friends?

It can be a challenge to see ourselves in this light, as we can see into our own depths. We know our own darkest secrets and thoughts. And we judge ourselves for it to no end. However, if our own best friend were to confess to us their own “sins,” we would most likely forgive them. Yet we often hold ourselves to the highest standards and repeatedly beat ourselves down for not meeting them.

It is time to break these habits of self-reprisal. It is time to put down the arms and begin to give ourselves the grace, compassion and love that we so easily dispense to others. Perhaps one of the easiest ways to do this is to see ourselves as innocent babies, ones who are here to love and to be loved.

Love didn’t hurt you. Someone who didn’t know how to love hurt you. Don’t confuse the two. ~ Tony Gaskins, Jr.

We can continue this practice into present day by forgiving ourselves for how we have trespassed against ourselves. We can then become aware of what ways in which we punish ourselves. Then we can choose differently by granting ourselves just a little bit more grace, love and compassion.

By feeling into the places where we don’t feel loved, we can begin to heal the wounds within. It is here that we are learning to become our own best friends.

Heart Meditations to Heal Thyself

Namaste

The Shame of Success


I won the first round, as we opened the second, I won 3 hands in-a-row. The jokes at the table then began to be directed at me, they knew who would win each hand. This perception felt like a cut, stated somewhat begrudgingly. While I did win the next round, there were others at the table who were only one hand behind me. I felt shame and apologetic. For what? For winning?! 

This is part of the story of my life. The difference is that in the scenario above, my success was out in the open. It was not something I could hide like my grades, my certifications, my degree, my accolades and praises. 

For most of my life, I have felt shame for my successes, some hard fought to show and to prove to myself and others that there’s nothing inherently evil or wrong about me. 

This irony is the razor’s edge of living with shame. We’re afraid to be good, too good, and yet we’re also afraid to show our crap. It’s all a trap! Each type of shame just holds us back from our own greatness. 

It’s time to break free of the shame that binds us and tethers us to a mediocre reality. Each of us in our very own captive AND prison warden. As such it is up to each of us to let loose the shackles, to stand up and shine the light that is our uniqueness. This reminds me of one of my favorite quotes by Marianne Williamson, see it below. 

Come now, join me! It’s time to show the world what we’ve been hiding: Our bright, beautiful, superbly unique selves. This planet needs us to shine on. Walk through the fire of the lies others have told you about what’s wrong with you: the good and the bad. Once you reach the other side, you’ll find yourself transformed and more resilient, ready to show more of your light in your own, intentionally unique, magnificent and beautiful way. This is your permission to shine! Let’s roll! 

Namaste

The Shame that Hides Us


The voice of shame puts us down and keeps both our darkness and greatness hidden from ourselves and the world. “Who am I to be great?” is as much the voice of shame as “there is something terribly wrong with me.” These, and thoughts like them, keep us isolated and afraid of revealing ourselves. 

I’m speaking to you as much as I am to myself. For much of my life I’ve felt as if there were something inherently wrong with me, to the point that when something in life goes wrong, I’m the first to lay blame on my own shoulders. This belief has also been the fuel to pushing me forward at times as well as the weed that chokes my breath and keeps my paralyzed. Neither is really healthy. 

In trying to hide my faults, I’ve isolated myself, repeatedly, only allowing people to get but so close. While I can share things that many would consider too private, I struggle with maintaining that level of intimacy and vulnerability for any length of time. My fears of rejection and abandonment then become self-fulfilling prophecies and once again I find myself feeling alone. 

It is my goal over the next month to consistently post on a weekly basis about things that I’ve found shameful; things I’ve tried to hide. It is only when the light is shone on the darkness that healing can persist. I’m tired of hiding. If you’re still reading, I’m guessing you are, too. 

Please feel free to share any stories in the comments, on your own blogs or feel free to Gmail me at Tiffanybeingfree. 

Namaste

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