Monday, May 25, 2015

Mistaken Identity

As we embark on this path of personal growth and awareness we discover that in many areas of our life who we have presented to the world is not always who we truly are. Many of us have lived and reacted to patterns and roles that have been established long ago, through society or family history. It seems as though so much of who we've believed ourselves to be, or what we thought we had to be, has been unconsciously dictated to our open and vulnerable minds at a very young age.
We wholeheartedly consumed that which we were fed until the day we awoke and found we were choking on the story that was our life. Misery, restlessness and resentment took hold and only continued to grow in size and intensity as we fought to maintain the status quo; until the day we could no longer. We hit our personal bottom. The time, place and circumstances are different for each of us but when we reach that pivotal point, change is in order.
It is then that we seek the guidance and wisdom of those that call to our soul as the inner yearnings to remember who we truly are pull us forward. We embark on our own missing person's search with the hopes of unearthing who we are, what we need and the gifts we've come to share.
We identify those areas in our life that we tolerate, never before knowing we had a choice or a say. We begin to set boundaries and limits in relationships and situations that before we allowed to trample all over our feelings. We realize we have feelings. There's an understanding that the "me" is just as vital and deserving as the "we". And then, all hell breaks loose.
Those that are in our most intimate relationships balk at this newly born person that stands before them. Interactions become strained and tentative because by virtue of proximity they too have been asked, maybe feeling forced, to change along with you. The rule book for the dynamics that you played out before has been thrown in the shredder as you both stumble your way into a new and unfamiliar way of being. Most will go kicking and screaming as they make observations that you're "so sensitive now". They might express frustration that they don't know how to speak or deal with you anymore, that they have to tip toe around you because you seem so fragile and reactive to anything they might say or do.
The truth is you have never been stronger or more clear. They've mistaken your vulnerability and reawakened authenticity as weakness. They too were lulled into the belief that you were the role you once played and the face you put forward.
As the layers are peeled away what emerges is our soul and the longing to share that which is truly us with the world. We demand the respect and consideration we always deserved while striving to do the same for others. We may find that some relationships must end as they can not withstand the change, others refusing to relinquish their grasp on who they need us to be and how we need to behave.
As we walk this path there may be moments when we feel we stand alone, isolated from who and what we once held so dear. But once the journey has begun and our eyes opened to the new possibilities, there is no going back. With each mindful move we make we know and understand ourselves, and that power and joy far outweighs the notion of ever settling for less again.
We are born anew and claiming our divinity, never again to mistake our identity. With the birth of each new step we take and truth we reclaim the strains of the universal choir echoes in our hearts heralding the words, "Welcome home. Welcome to you."
Be well and happy. 

Monday, May 18, 2015

Shelving Selfish

Hey, look at me, I made a tongue twister without even trying! Go ahead, see how many times you can say "Shelving selfish" fast without making a mistake. I'll wait for you. How many did you get? I was barely able to squeak it out 3 times before I was saying, "Shelving shellfish." Alright, enough of this pockycock and fiddle-faddle, it's time to get down to some serious business. Since I just fashioned a new tongue twister challenge, how about I also formulate a new word? After all, this existence is about continual creation and new formation. And so, I present to you...self-ish. I most certainly will share with you the definition of our newest vocabulary word but first let's discuss its evil twin, selfish.

Selfish is one thing we hope to never be accused of being. It implies a callus, self-serving, and inconsiderate person that lacks any empathy or compassion for the impact of their actions on their fellow man. Yuck! To be seen, or even potentially seen, as selfish in the eyes of others throws us in the ranks of the most undesirable. Selfishness is said to be void of concern or care for anyone other than ourselves. Or is it?

Well, most certainly selfishness can fall under that description. We all know someone, or have been that someone, that only has their personal interests at heart. But there is another facet to being selfish that gets left in the dust lest we be mistaken as coldhearted, it is referred to as self care.

Unfortunately for us, self care has become synonymous with selfishness but in truth, they are not one in the same. Self care suggests a compassionate approach and awareness to our personal needs. It takes into account how those needs might affect someone else and based on that assessment takes a healthy and conscious approach on how to proceed. Self care looks for gray areas in a situation but is not afraid to remain firm if a certain choice is for the highest good. Anyone practicing self care knows the importance of tending to and valuing the self in order that they may be more fully present and loving for others. There is no space for guilt when engaged in self care, even when others aren't pleased with our choice, only an honoring of one's truth.

Ahhh. Sounds wonderful, doesn't it? I feel more peaceful, centered and whole just talking about it. This is where our new friend, sef-ish, makes a return appearance. I suggest that in our efforts to take care of ourselves we toss out the notion and confusion of selfishness and instead say we are being self-ish, emphasis on the "ish". Say it out loud. It sounds a bit friendlier and lighter.

We can ask ourselves, "Am I being selfish or self-ish?" That little play on words allows us the ability to have some discernment in understanding our actions and motivations. If they are coming from a space of self love, then an emphatic "ish" is in order and we no longer need fret that we've fallen into the swamplands of selfishness.

I encourage you all to embrace this new word and its definition. What is it that you can do, or not do, on a daily basis that self-ish and nurturing. Perhaps if enough of us incorporate it it will find its way across the desks of dictionary editors and become enlisted as a new word for the year. Maybe. Until then, allow it to enter your mental vocabulary as a real and loving symbol that grants you the freedom to treat yourself with a much deserved reverence.

Be well and happy.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Tool Box

I'm about to challenge something major here folks. Here it goes: Meditation, positive affirmations, vision boards, focusing only on the present and gratitude journals are not going to bring you the inner peace and contentment you desperately seek. "What?!" you exclaim, "This is blasphemous to all new age gurus and healers." Please, let me explain.

I don't mean to imply that these techniques hold no value or healing potential. Indeed, I too have used and continue to use most of them. What I believe is missing is the knowledge that these are meant to offer a variety of instruments with which we can incorporate healing into our world. There is no one right way to inwardly grow and heal but instead we have a plethora of tools at hand that we might utilize. Thus, we need a toolbox.

A toolbox suggests that different jobs require unique tools for each task at hand, many projects requiring multiple tools and each tool limited in its capacity to be of use. Our personal growth is no different than the home project that sits under construction in your garage or basement, multiple approaches are necessary to bring structure and progress. While filling that toolbox one should always leave space for, here comes another moment of blasphemy, your past.

I know, I know, this too flies in the face of all we are being fed. "The past holds no power," we are instructed. Well, I've yet to meet anyone of us mere mortals that has been able to flip that switch and never look back. Who I have met are a lot of people who remain unhappy and restless despite the fact that they are dutifully performing some of the tasks mentioned above. Denying our past and forgetting its existence, which is how it is understood by the masses, is a denial of part of who we are and how we came to be. The past holds innumerable insights and gifts for us if we choose to consciously engage with it. Once we understand the impact of our past we are free to make new and healthier choices, and the other various forms of self care and awareness begin to pack a greater punch as barriers are lifted. How so?

Let's compare moments in our past to a broken leg, which of course is a physical wound. Some of the pain and unhealthy beliefs from our past certainly do not define all that we are, just like one leg is not the entirety of our body, they are simply an emotional wound. We could never imagine not seeking help and healing for a broken leg, yet many allow emotional wounds to remain unattended. A broken leg, if ignored, will prove to be a permanent source of discomfort and a steady reminder of the hurt as we proceed to limp our way through the world. Obviously, emotional injuries are no different and deserve time and attention if we are to remain unhindered, or "limp-free" if you will.

As we sit in the ER with a broken leg, the nurses and doctors go to their toolbox in an effort to bring about healing. Syringes, medicines, x-rays, cleansing agents, casts, wheelchairs, crutches, etc. all play a role in mending our leg. They don't simply rely on one thing to get the job done but many different devices.

Never do they ignore the wound that lies in front of them, suggesting instead that we go home and meditate to deal with the discomfort. We are not prescribed the task of making a vision board with photos of ourselves or others engaged in the act of running or strolling on a walk to facilitate healing. They do not send us gimping out of the hospital with instructions to write in our gratitude journal about all the joyful things that happened in the day. Statements such as, "Focus on the positive, at least your other leg isn't broken," is not how our need is approached. And it is fully accepted that the process of healing might involve physical therapy in the future as you make efforts to relearn what was once natural to you.

The past, my friends, is simply the broken leg that may need tending and a hands on approach. If left out of your toolbox of personal growth you will find yourself stymied and frustrated, your project of self awareness forever limited by the trauma and its remaining scars. It is exactly through the sifting of our past that we once again learn anew what was once so instinctive in us, our truth and authenticity.

So yes, heed the wise words of the likes of Deepak, Oprah, and Eckhart Tolle but don't forget to listen to the sage lessons offered to you in understanding your past and its impact in your life today. Seek counsel from the wisdom within you that need only be given attention and a voice. It is with a well rounded toolbox that the luster of the masterpiece that is you can once again shine in the halls of your life.

Be well and happy.