Monthly Archives: March 2012

Finding and Setting Appropriate Boundaries

As I’m becoming more and more authentic, a lot of the work is around discovering and setting appropriate boundaries.  In the past I have swung like a pendulum between giving myself away – having no boundaries – and setting my boundaries so far out that no one can get in (a reaction to having given myself away).

I’ve realized that this pattern comes from having been enmeshed with my mother and carrying that into my adult relationships.  I have believed that in order to be loved and accepted I have to become what the other person wants me to be.

In friendships, work relationships and romantic relationships I have allowed the other person to run the show, to the point of not getting what I want or need from the relationship.  I have also suffered some significant betrayals in close relationships.

In order to protect myself I’ve gone to the opposite extreme: no one gets in.  I put walls up and avoid situations that might end up in  hurt like those in the past.  I make choices about what I will and won’t do in a relationship (any type of relationship) from a defensive position.  I expect to be taken advantage of and used for the other person’s benefit with no regard for my own needs and desires.

This is not what I want in my life.  What I want is to have genuine intimacy with close friends and a romantic partner.  Intimacy where I am safe being myself, and I am truly seen and loved.

For less intimate friendships and work relationships I want to choose what I’m willing to do based on what I want to do, not as a defensive move.  I want to be able to give and compromise freely, not always being on the lookout for how I’m being manipulated or fearing that if I give an inch they will take a mile.

My awareness of this pattern of mine became really clear when I started grad school six years ago.  The school I chose was set up in such a way that there was a lot of group interaction both structured and unstructured.  There were lots of opportunities to attend optional seminars or just hang out with the other students.

I felt myself contract in this environment.  When my roommate would go off to one of these evening optional seminars, I would stay in the room and read.  When people were hanging out in the lobby (class met in 5 day stretches at a hotel), I’d be in my room.  When other students were planning a study group, I wasn’t interested.

At the same time, my friends outside of school no longer fit me.  I was growing and changing by leaps and bounds and my friendships were not what I wanted or needed anymore.  But I didn’t have anything to replace them.

I did make a few close friends in grad school, but as soon as we graduated from the two year program, they disappeared.  I felt again that I had been taken advantage of.  I was there to support them as we went through this sometimes difficult process, and once I was no longer needed I was out.

This has been the story of my friendships up until now.  What have I done for you lately?  If the answer’s nothing or, heaven forbid, I actually disagree with you about something you want, then I’m out.

This pattern is all about my belief that I’m not good enough.  That I have to be what someone else wants me to be, or provide a service for them in order to be wanted by them.  Realizing my wholeness has to mean that this is not true.  It has to mean that I am a valuable person, friend, partner and worthy of love just because I am here.

I’m finally in a place where I get that, and I believe that in my heart.  Yet, old habits die hard.  So I’m choosing to be aware when I’m making choices based on defensiveness and look at how I can do it differently.  I’m choosing to be aware of when I give in on something and it doesn’t feel okay to me.  I’m choosing to look for ways that I can give and not feel resentful or look for the quid pro quo.

It’s a process.  The more I can come back to feeling grounded in my heart and deep knowing that I am a worthwhile person no matter what I do or don’t do, the easier it is to find the right boundary.

Learning to be Angry in a Healthy Way

Recently I’ve been getting input from several different sources that I have a lot of unexpressed anger.  Believe me, I do get angry, but it’s usually in the form of irritation or impatience.  I’m angry about a stupid choice someone else makes while driving.  I’m irritated that my son didn’t put his dishes in the dishwasher.  I’m annoyed that the person in front of me in line can’t make up their mind what to order.  But real, deep anger is something I have a lot of difficulty accessing.

Up until recently I have thought, or at least I have told myself, that this is because I’m not angry.  But on some level I think I’ve always realized that these irritations and annoyances are there because I’m not allowing myself to feel or express this deeper anger.  It has to come out in some way, and the impatience I feel with someone who isn’t doing things the “right” way (i.e. infringes on me in some way) is one way it shows up.  It’s my safety valve and allows me to divert attention from the anger that’s hidden deep inside me.

When things happen that I have reason to feel angry about, I frequently feel hurt instead.  When I was being trained as a psychotherapist we were taught that anger is a secondary emotion, that it usually is on top of hurt or fear.  Even before I was taught this, I believe that I had discovered that where there is anger there is hurt.

So the question remains: is it good to go directly to the hurt beneath the anger, or should the anger I have be acknowledged and felt and maybe even expressed in some way?

I understand that the reason I have gone to hurt over anger is that feeling angry means that I am blaming the other person, saying they did something wrong.  I have a PhD in blaming myself.  Somehow, whenever someone does something mean or bad to me I believe it is my fault.  I search for how I deserve what they did.

Having had this insight recently I struggle with a couple of things.  First of all, I do believe that we co-create what we experience.  When someone treats me badly I do have some responsibility for having created that situation.  But does that mean that what the other person did was okay?  No, it doesn’t.  But it does mean that my inclination is to look for what I could have done differently, or what I did that contributed to the situation.

In general, I don’t think this is a bad approach to take.  I can’t change anyone else; I can only change myself so that’s where my energy is best spent.  Unfortunately, I tend to take it beyond taking responsibility to blaming myself – and there is a difference.  Any anger I feel about the situation gets turned on me, which is not a good way to handle it.

Secondly, I can usually feel some compassion, or at least understanding, for the other person and why they acted the way they did.  Intellectually I don’t think this absolves them of bad behavior, but it makes it more difficult for me to feel angry at them.

As I’m writing this, I’m realizing that to be angry requires me placing blame.  The difference between blame and responsibility is this: blame is about character, responsibility is about behavior.  If I am going to blame someone it means I think they are a bad person (myself included).  My tendency to feel compassion for the other person makes it hard for me to blame them.

And yet…I do have this anger that is inside me that is not being accessed, acknowledged or expressed except inappropriately as annoyance and irritation at the wrong people.

Can I change my perception about the relationship between blame and anger?  Can I allow myself to feel angry about an action someone took without labeling them as a bad person?  Can I learn to be appropriately angry with people I care about?

I welcome input, ideas, feedback.

Meditation Is the Path to Inspiration

Since I got serious about being the authentic me I’ve been meditating pretty much daily.  I might miss a day here or there, but it has become a regular practice for me.  There are days where nothing much happens and I end by feeling relaxed, calm and peaceful.  And there are days where I ask for guidance and receive it.

Then there are the days where I have a huge flash of inspiration unrelated to anything I may have asked for guidance on.  Yesterday was one of those days.

As I was meditating I was working on raising my vibration with positive thoughts.  A friend bought me a Mega Millions lottery ticket a couple of days earlier and I wanted to increase the possibility of winning that money through visualization and intention.

I started thinking about all the things I would do with the money, and very quickly came to understand what my larger purpose in life is.  For the last few months people (business coach, intuitive healer, and astrologer) have been telling me that I haven’t yet understood fully the magnitude of my life purpose.  I have taken this in, but haven’t had a clue how or where to expand my current vision of my purpose here.

Yesterday it all came to me in a flash as I meditated on how I would use hundreds of millions of dollars.  The freedom of not worrying about how I would accomplish my vision freed me to see what I was meant to express in the world.

I would only have to do the things I like to do, and could hire others to do things I don’t like.  Similarly I didn’t have to know how to implement my ideas; I could hire someone who was an expert to do that.

I have never thought of myself as a visionary, have seen myself as more tactical.  But yesterday that all changed.  I am a visionary when it comes to knowing my life purpose and how I want to express it in the world.

I’ve realized more and more over the past month or two that what I love to do is to tell my story, inspire and support people with my story, and use my gift for seeing the core of an issue to help others move forward in their lives.

Knowing that about myself, here’s the vision I had yesterday:

Things I want to do personally:

  • TV and/or radio talk show
  • Workshops with small groups
  • One-on-one work
  • Interviews
  • Write books

Things I want to use my money to create and/or support:

  • Supporting others in pursuing their passion and purpose.  I saw how my expanded vision would need people I already know in order to make it reality, and in turn this would allow them to express their own purpose.  Expanding on this further, I could create an organization that helped people pursue their life purpose whether in my organization or in some other way.
  • Humane treatment of animals used for food (expanded to all animals eventually).  I became a vegetarian a few months ago, and will probably become a vegan very soon.  I don’t believe it is wrong to eat animals, but that the way in which we raise and slaughter them is inhumane.
  • Childhood education on happiness, authenticity, passion, purpose and love.  How wonderful would it be if as children we had been taught that it was okay to be who we really were, that who we are authentically is rooted in love, and that being authentic and full of love is what creates happiness?
  • An organization dedicated to raising the happiness set-point of people, and the expression of love, around the world
    • In government
    • In corporations
    • In schools
    • In families

Changing the way we relate to ourselves, in turn changing how we relate to others.  Basing this on love and authenticity, we can change the world!

By the way, I didn’t win the Mega Millions – didn’t even win $2 – but now that I have my vision clearly in my mind I know that support from the universe has to show up.  I don’t know in what form that will happen, but I know it will.

Hurray for inspiration (and meditation)!

I Am Enough

Even after I had my awakening into authenticity, I still struggled with truly believing that what I had to offer was valuable, was enough.  Shortly after I returned from New York I met with someone from a professional organization to discuss giving a talk for them.

The topic of the talk was on finding your passion and creating success in your career life.  This is something that I’ve been doing with individual clients for the past few years, but I felt like I needed some “experts” (someone who had been published and was well known) to back me up.

Having just returned from the workshop with Robert Holden, I used his book Success Intelligence (recently renamed to Authentic Success) to jot down a few points about success and organize them as talking points for a presentation.

When I met with the education director for the organization, I started by telling her about these ideas from Robert’s book – although I didn’t say I got them from a book.  She was polite and seemed to understand the points I was making.

Then she asked me about my own story of why, and how, I had changed careers.  I launched into my story of a horrible final few years of my previous career, how I had awakened to the change I needed to make, and what I did about it.

I could visibly see her interest in me and what I was saying change; she was engaged in my story.  She leaned forward in her seat and watched me intently.  When I finished she told me how inspiring my story was, and it was just the thing that their members needed to hear as many of them struggled with finding their own passion and right livelihood.

I was astonished, and extremely gratified at the same time.  You mean all I had to do was be me and tell the truth about myself?  All these years I’d struggled with making myself what I thought I needed to be in order to provide what others expected of me, and in reality I just had to show up as me?

I’ve had many people tell me that the story of my career change is inspiring to them, but I never really took it in.  I think because it was so obvious and necessary of a decision for me, I discounted the risk that was involved in it.  I knew without a doubt it was the right decision for me and it didn’t feel particularly risky.  So when others would give me kudos for the big change, it just didn’t feel like that big of a deal.

It felt really good to be able to take in that something that was so natural for me could be inspiring to others.  And that it was inspiring enough that I would be asked to speak to a professional group about it.  I was the expert because of who I was, not what I learned from a book.

Over the weeks after this meeting I still struggled with self-confidence and believing that I am enough.  I still do sometimes.  But remembering this interaction always helps me to relax and remember that I do have something unique and valuable to offer: me.  And just being me is enough.

I Am Not My Body

For years – most of my life – I have struggled with body image issues.  I have a mother who, at the age of 83, is still dieting.  As a child my best friend was put on a diet at the age of 11.  As a child I was what you would call sturdy.  I wasn’t fat, but I wasn’t skinny.  Just solid.  But growing up in the age of Twiggy that seemed fat.

I look back now at pictures from my childhood and adolescence and see that I was fine.  I wasn’t fat.  But I felt fat.  I went on my first diet when I was 12.  When I was 19 I went on a diet where I would alternate between eating 500 calories a day for a week, then having a week of normal eating.  I lost 30 pounds in 3 months this way, and I was really too thin at the end.

Throughout my 20’s and into my 30’s I was up and down 10 or 15 pounds, but in reality even with the extra 15 pounds I was fine.  But I didn’t think I was.  When I had surgery at 34 I gained about 15 pounds from my low, and when I got married at 35 I put on another 10 or 15 so I was at my highest weight since before the 500 calorie a day diet.

My marriage was not a happy one, and it was clear that my husband had issues with people who were overweight.  During the eight years we were married I gained 100 pounds, putting on 50 in just one year.  It was a good distancing technique, although I wasn’t consciously gaining weight to distance from him.

Within a few years of when the marriage ended I lost 50 pounds, but was still 50 pounds heavier than when I came to the marriage.  I struggled with feeling unattractive, especially as I hit the age of 50 and began looking “old” in addition to being overweight.

The counterpoint to this was that I didn’t want to be judged for being fat and old, I wanted to be loved for who I really was on the inside, even though I judged myself more harshly than many others.  It was a real balancing act.  I am not my body, but I hate my body.  I am lovable just as I am, I don’t love myself just as I am.

A couple of years ago I was talking about this with my therapist.  His question for me was “how much weight do you have to gain to prove that you are lovable as you are?”  A good question.  I didn’t know the answer.

Then about a month ago during my annual physical my doctor suggested we do blood work for cholesterol as mine had been borderline two years earlier.  I dreaded the idea because I knew what the results would be.  I had been telling myself that it was okay to be overweight because I was healthy.  But if that were no longer true, then what?  I’d be in quite the dilemma between loving myself as I am and showing love for myself by taking care of my body.

A week or so later I got the call.  I wasn’t able to answer the phone, and so my doctor left a message to call back for the test results.  I just lost it.  I never wanted to call back and hear the results.  I felt like I wanted to run away. I just knew that she (my doc), who is a thin person, was judging me for being lazy, slovenly, not good enough as a fat person.  I was so distraught and upset I knew that I had to do something.

I started journaling.  I’ve found this to be a good way for me to work through how I’m feeling about something.  I said some really awful things to myself about being overweight; all the things I was projecting onto my doctor and others.  And then it hit me:  I was making my body my identity.

Somewhere in me a switch flipped.  I got it.  I am not my body.  The real me inhabits this body, but my value and goodness as a person has nothing to do with the shape (or age) of my body.

Just like coming to understand and feel my wholeness in my heart for the first time, I felt and knew in my heart that I was not my body.  It was very different from holding the idea in my head and wanting to believe it.  I really did believe it.

I began to meditate on this idea.  Very quickly I came to the understanding that I can love myself – and my body – just as I am right now and still do the things I need to do to take care of my body.  By taking care of my body I am not saying there is something wrong with who I am as a person, or even the shape and size of my body.  I am showing love for myself by doing things that keep me healthy.

For the past few weeks I’ve been paying attention to what I eat, reading labels, recording everything I eat in order to lower my cholesterol through diet.  I’ve been using an online tracking tool to keep me honest about how much fat, saturated fat and cholesterol I’m eating daily.

This tool asks for your current weight.  I chose to guess at my weight since my goal is not to be a certain weight, but to lower my cholesterol.  After two weeks I did weigh myself, and I weighed less than I would have guessed.  But I’m not going to get hung up on what the number on the scale is.  My goal is to have a healthy body, regardless of how much it weighs.

My attitude about these dietary changes has been much different than when I’ve dieted to lose weight in the past.  I am much more flexible and lenient with myself.  I have targets around fat and saturated fat, but if there is a day where I’m over my target I know there will be another day when I am under, and that I’m moving in the right direction.

I’d like to say that I no longer have any body image issues, but that isn’t true.  What is true, however, is that I am much less focused on being critical of my body and consequently much less focused on what I imagine other people are thinking about it.  I do love myself, and I’m learning to love my body however it may look.

It is Safe to be Me. It is Safe to be Me.

It is safe to be me.  This is my new mantra.  With all the growth I’m going through right now, one of the biggest hurdles is a fear of how others will react to the new (real) me.  I know that if I’m really in that place of being authentic then it doesn’t matter, because I know that I’m okay.  And I also still have an ego that gets scared and thinks that how others perceive me – and accept me – is the key to safety.

The area where this shows up the most for me is my beliefs about spirituality.  I was raised in a middle of the road, protestant home.  We went to church every Sunday and never talked about god or spirituality during the rest of the week.  Going to church was more of a social activity than a spiritual one.  It’s just what you did on Sunday morning.

Once I went away to college I never went to church any more.  I can remember even as a younger child questioning the premise of Christianity: that you had to accept Jesus as your savior in order to go to heaven.  I wondered about people around the world who had never heard of Jesus, so didn’t have a chance to choose to accept him as their savior.  It didn’t seem fair that they wouldn’t get to go to heaven.  It made no sense to my 8 or 9 year old mind.

When I was home for holidays we would go for Christmas or Easter, but I was just going through the motions.  Eventually I began to feel hypocritical and it was difficult to participate in a service that I didn’t believe in.

Fast forward to today.  Over the years I’ve honed my own belief system and it is primarily in line with New Thought.  I worry about people thinking I’m too “woo-woo.”  Or that I’m “religious.”  For me, that’s an even worse label as I associate it with dogma and blind following, which is not me at all.

Add to all of this that over the past several months I’ve had a number of experience with psychics, mediums and am actively seeing an intuitive healer.  I believe strongly in reincarnation and the ability of experiences in past lives to affect us in this life.  I believe that I can know something without having been told it – except internally.

Now I start to worry that people will think I’m beyond woo-woo, and maybe one of those weird ladies who is going to begin dressing in flowing skirts and big jewelry and coloring my hair an outrageous shade of red.  So what if I am one of “those?”

I don’t know the answer to “So what?”  This is one of my struggles right now, and frankly one of the reasons I started this blog.  I want to be who I really am.  I want to be seen for who I really am.  And I want to be proud of who I really am.

Don’t agree with me?  Fine, we all have our own path.  You take yours and I’ll take mine.  Neither of us is better than the other.

Think I’m weird?  Fine, you’re entitled to your opinion. Your opinion does not define me.

Hence the mantra: it is safe to be me.

The Roots of Powerlessness

Yesterday after I wrote “Hero or Coward? Love or Fear?” connections start coming for me fast and furious.  I was thinking about my example of being in Nazi Germany and not helping my friends and neighbors.  I have thought for some time that I may have had a past life in Nazi Germany.

When I was in my teens I had a recurring dream that was set there.  The dream had a scary feeling to it, even though what was actually occurring in the dream wasn’t that scary – yet.  I always woke up with the feeling of being just on the verge of something bad happening.

I also have always had a real dislike for Germany.  I have traveled to Europe many times, but have never had any desire to go to Germany.  I know it is beautiful there, but I have no interest, and would even say I have had an aversion to going there.  In my heart I knew that there was some reason I felt this way.

As it happened, I had an appointment yesterday morning with an intuitive healer I’ve been working with for the past six weeks.  I told her that I wanted to focus on this past life, assuming I was correct about it.  I was very fearful to do this because of what I would discover about what I had done in that life.  I imagined that I had allowed my friends to be sent to the death camps.  Or even worse, that I had actively done some terrible things because I was ordered to do them and was too cowardly to refuse.

As we began to work, she confirmed that I did have a past life in Germany during WWII, that it was a traumatic life and that I had taken from it a feeling of powerlessness.  I immediately had the thought that this fear I had was not about me being a coward and not protecting others, but about being powerless to protect myself.

She told me that in that life I was a sixteen or seventeen year old Jewish boy.  My family was in hiding in a secret room in the cellar of a house along with another family.  We were discovered there, and I was forced to watch as my mother and sister were sexually assaulted.  My mind was racing with how and when I could make a move to stop it.

But my hands were bound behind me, and there were many more soldiers than our number.  I was literally powerless to do anything to help my family.  Soon I was dealt a “death blow” which knocked me out and ultimately killed me there in the cellar.

Feeling how it would have felt to have been literally powerless to help others I loved in dire need, I see it is the root of my fear that I won’t act now, in this lifetime.  It has been a fear of being unable to act that I have been interpreting as being too cowardly to act.

As I think of situations where I have had this fear, like the one I wrote about in “Hero or Coward? Love or Fear?” I realize that it did feel like somehow I would be unable to do anything about it.  I would be too late to intervene and the damage would already have been done.  Or the person I needed to confront would blow me off and not take action.

Yes, there was still some fear that I would be too cowardly to take the needed action, but the fear was greater that my action would not matter; that I would not be able to stop harm from happening.

The confirmation and knowledge of this past life is just the beginning.  Now I need to work on processing what happened for me in that life, and knowing and accepting that I am courageous – both then and now.  Knowing that in this life I am not powerless. Owning my own power and knowing deep within myself that I will choose to do the right thing when the time comes.

Hero or Coward? Love or Fear?

Yesterday I went for a walk at a park near my home.  It’s quite a large park with wooded areas as well as a big meadow.  As I was walking near the meadow, I saw a dead rabbit by the side of the walkway.  I felt very sad, as I do when I see any dead animal.  I wondered what happened to it, since even though the walkway is an old road, vehicles are not allowed on it now.

Then as I walked further I noticed a number of people with dogs, not all of them on leashes (even though they are supposed to be).  I don’t know if a dog killed that rabbit, but that is what I imagined.  I became incredibly anxious about the dogs that were not on leashes and hyper vigilant watching what they were up to.  I couldn’t enjoy the meditative aspects of my walk because of this fear that one of those dogs was going to harm another animal.

I had a similar experience a few months ago at a different park that is down by the water.  There were signs on the beach not to approach any baby seals that might be there.  The mothers leave them there to rest and come back for them later, and if there are people around the baby the mother might abandon it.  I was so anxious that this would happen that I couldn’t get out of there fast enough.

The reality is that my greater fear is that if I saw something like this happening (dogs chasing an animal or people approaching a baby seal) that I would not have the courage to stop it.  I don’t trust myself to act authentically; to act from love rather than fear.

I have on occasion thought about people that hid Jews in their homes during WWII.  We did the play The Diary of Anne Frank when I was in high school, so I thought about it quite a lot then.  Would I be one of the people that turned my back on my lifelong friends and allowed them to go to the camps because I was a coward?

I hope not, but I fear it is so.

Most of my fear about this part of my character has shown up in recent years related to the welfare of animals as I just described.  I have such a visceral response to their suffering and mistreatment.  I have not yet run into a situation where my intervention is needed, thank goodness, but somehow I think that is coming so that I can get over this hump about whether I would act within my integrity or run away in fear.  The idea terrifies me.

Here is my shadow, looking me full in the face.  Will my fear of conflict, and possibly my own safety, stop me from doing the right thing for a helpless creature?  How could I live with myself if I allowed that to happen?

Surrender: Ask and You Shall Receive

After I returned from New York and had the experience of feeling my wholeness for the first time, I was on a high for weeks.  I was in my authenticity, I knew my purpose, I was inspired in all areas of my life.  Then one day I started feeling grumpy and out of sorts.  I didn’t know what was up for me, but something obviously was.  After a couple of days of this low level grumpiness the feeling escalated to one of despair and desolation.

As I sat at my kitchen table that morning trying to do my daily inspirational reading, a feeling of utter depression and hopelessness swept over me.  It wasn’t attached to any specific thoughts, and I really didn’t know what was going on or what to do about it.  I began to cry uncontrollably – not a common experience for me.  I cried and talked out loud about how bad I felt. In the midst of this I said, “I don’t know what to do, I don’t know what to do. Help me, please!”  In the moment I didn’t consider this a plea to God; I didn’t know who I was talking to, I was just expressing my misery and feeling of helplessness to feel better.

At that point, some miraculous things immediately began to occur, and continued for the rest of the day.

  • Meditation was part of my morning spiritual practice, and I got up from the table and went to my meditation spot, but I was too agitated to be still. I had been experiencing some heartburn for the previous few days coinciding with the onset of my feelings of grumpiness, as well as a stuffy nose and I decided to look these up in Louise Hay’s book, You Can Heal Your Life.

Heartburn: “Fear. Fear. Fear. Clutching fear.  I breathe freely and fully. I am safe. I trust the process of life.”

Stuffy Nose: “Not recognizing self-worth. I love and appreciate myself.”

These hit the nail on the head for the core of my misery.  I had been blind-sided by fear of living in my authenticity, by doubt of my wholeness.  I could see that my current emotional state was my ego stepping in and doing its job to (theoretically) protect me.

It was telling me that being my authentic self was scary, that living only from that place of wholeness left me open for attack and hurt.  That who I am wasn’t enough, wasn’t whole and I’d better get back to work on trying to fix that.

  • I came back into the kitchen with the intention of writing in my gratitude journal.  This was also part of my morning ritual, but in my current emotional state I just didn’t feel like doing it.  I went to my computer and opened Facebook and the very first post I saw was from a friend I met at Robert Holden’s happiness coaching certification course in New York the previous month.  It said, “You can’t feel stress when expressing gratitude.”

Message received.  Could there have been a more direct indication that I needed to write in my gratitude journal?  So I did.

  • I had been reading a book called Spirit Junkie by Gabrielle Bernstein, and decided to finish it.  The very next chapter was all about Gabrielle’s own dark night of the soul. It helped me immensely to read of someone else’s similar experience and to know that I would get through it.
  • I came across that famous quote by Marianne Williamson. “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.  We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we’re liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

I knew this captured exactly what I was experiencing.  As I was fully owning my wholeness and authenticity and what that meant about who I was in the world and what I had to offer I was running up against my ego who was asking “Who are you to be special? What makes you think you have something of value to offer?”

Again, it was so helpful to know that I was not the only one who had experienced this awful, dark feeling, and to have validated that it really was about my ego stepping in when it thought I was getting too big for my britches.

  • As I went back to Facebook, someone had posted a video of Robert Holden and Tom Carpenter talking about self-image (ego).  Part of the message was to be gentle with yourself when you realize that self-image has created the very situation that is the source of your misery.

These first five “miracles” began immediately after my surrender, my crying out that I didn’t know what to do and needed help, and continued for the next hour or so.  At the end of the day the next miracle occurred.

  • I picked up the mail that had just been delivered and saw there was a greeting card with a postmark in the UK.  This happened the week before Christmas, so I thought it might be a Christmas card and wondered who I knew in the UK.  The handwriting on the envelope looked familiar and reminded me of my sister’s, but she had passed away 8 years earlier, so it couldn’t be from her.

I then realized that it was a card I had written to myself at the happiness coaching course the previous month.  They had given us cards to write to ourselves to be delivered at some time in the future.  I had forgotten all about it!  I’d also forgotten what it was I had written inside it.

I opened the envelope, and the front of the card had a beautiful picture where the predominant color was purple – the color that has come to be my favorite.  The message on the outside said “Trust Yourself.”  On the inside I had written, “Just be yourself.  Everything else will follow.  I love you.  You’re perfect.”

Wow.  That was exactly what I needed to hear that day.  I had been hearing it from various other sources: Louise Hay, Gabrielle Bernstein, Marianne Williamson, but here it was written in my own hand to myself.  How perfect was that?

The miracles that continued to affirm my wholeness and perfection continued into the next day.  I really looked at the message written on my coffee cup for the first time in ages, “Believe. Everything is possible.”  I read the message on my desk calendar for the previous day, “Less Ego + More Love = Greater Success.”  And on and on.

Although I felt better than I had the day before, it took a while before I was back in the place I had been before this “dark day of the ego.”  As I share this experience here with you, I still marvel at the power of surrender, of acknowledging that I don’t know how.  How swiftly help came for me once I let go of trying to do it myself and asked for help.  That is perhaps the greatest lesson I will take from this experience.

Authenticity Expresses All Emotions, Not Just the “Positive” Ones

For the past six weeks or so I have been working with an intuitive healer on a weekly basis.  She and I also meet weekly to work together on our businesses, and this is how I started seeing her for her services.  Before I was officially her client she was telling me that I have anger I need to process about certain situations, and I have struggled and struggled with finding and feeling that anger.

I think that between my unofficial training in my family of origin to care for everyone else’s needs and my training as a psychotherapist I have always rationalized away my anger.  I will feel hurt instead of angry, or I will be able to understand and have compassion for why the person acted the way they did and then I don’t feel justified to be angry.

There is a saying in the profession that hurt people hurt people, so I usually can look through the action and see the hurt person underneath.  Then it wouldn’t be “nice” to be angry, instead I should feel sorry for them and their struggles. Unfortunately this leaves my own emotions disowned and unacknowledged.  I stay in my head about it and don’t allow myself to feel how I really feel.

As I’m writing this just now, I also realized that feeling hurt puts me in the victim position (wow – never thought of myself as a victim before, I’m a pretty strong person), where feeling angry is more of a feeling of power and action.  How dare you!  I’m not going to be treated this way!

Anyway, yesterday I was feeling tweaked by my ex-husband again.  We have been divorced for 11 years but are going through a change in custody of our son.  There is a history of deception and manipulation and downright vindictiveness on his part.  For many years following the divorce I acquiesced to most things to avoid the fight (whoops – there’s that victim role again), until about four years ago when our differences about what was best for our son became too great and I started standing up to him.

Needless to say he did not like this, nor expect it given that I trained him into believing that he could manipulate or bully me into getting his way.  Even after my two victories in court since then, he still hasn’t made the transition and tries to cajole or threaten me into agreeing with him.

Yesterday I received more documents about the process and even though there was nothing in these documents to get upset about, just thinking about dealing with him sends me into extreme anxiety.  I’m so tired of feeling fearful about anything to do with him.  The reality is that he cannot hurt me in any meaningful way, and every time he has pushed it to court, the judge has sided with me.  So why do I feel this way?

My former therapist said that it is a way of protecting myself.  He is not to be trusted and feeling anxious every time something related to him comes up reminds me of this.  But I think I could remember that he is not trustworthy without all the anxiety!

Yesterday after this happened I was meeting with my intuitive healer friend about our businesses.  I mentioned how I was feeling to her, and she said that I had anger about him that needed to be expressed.  I sighed.  She keeps telling me about my anger and I have so much trouble getting in touch with it.  I just don’t feel it.

She suggested talking out loud when I was in the car.  I didn’t do this because I didn’t think I could really express myself when others could see me, but I did start thinking about what I would say to him in my head while I was driving home.

When I got home I just started talking out loud as if he were here and I was giving him a dressing down.  At first it felt kind of weird and it took me a little while to build up some steam.  Eventually I was calling him every name in the book, telling him I wasn’t going to stand for it anymore, saying all the things that I would like to have said to him over the past eleven years, but never have.

I was a little surprised at how much I had to say; this went on for about ten minutes.  It never got extremely intense. For instance, I was never shouting although I was talking loudly and stridently.  It felt good to get it all out there.  Part of what I said was that I was not going to allow him to affect my life any more.  By this I meant I am not going to allow myself to get thrown off track with anxiety whenever I have to deal with him in some way.

I know there is more to do in this area, twenty years (that’s how long ago we were married and of course there are things from the marriage I’m also angry about) of suppressed anger is not released in ten minutes.  I am thankful for my friend insisting over and over that I had unexpressed anger even though I kept denying it.  And I am thankful for the experience of getting in touch with that anger.  I now know a way to do it that works for me.  My intention going forward is whenever I feel anxious to ask myself if there is suppressed anger that needs to come out.