Monthly Archives: May 2012

Don’t Hate Me Because I’m Beautiful

I was reminded today of an old TV commercial, I think it was for shampoo, where the model displays her luxurious hair and says, “Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful.” She then goes on to tell you how you can be beautiful, too, by buying whatever the product was.

This afternoon I received an email that was a response to a newsletter I emailed out yesterday. The sender was a potential client who had scheduled a session, but then had not followed through with actually meeting with me.

His email said, in part: “Great! You should find a new profession, build something for yourself rather than living off of others’ wealth.”  Huh? I was shocked! Where did that come from? He hadn’t even met me, hadn’t even spoken to me by phone, yet here he is attacking me for my profession as a counselor and coach.

I immediately went into defense mode in my head. I started by picking apart what he had said. It didn’t make any sense, because every profession lives off of others’ wealth. That’s how we make a living. We, in turn, buy products and services from others, and round and round it goes. This guy was obviously an idiot!

Then I started defending what it is that I do (again, only in my head). I know quite well that my clients get value from what I provide. I have numerous testimonials to support this belief, plus I have a number of clients who have come to me multiple times. They wouldn’t do that if I didn’t provide a valuable service. And…he came to me to engage my services! Why would he do that if he thought my profession was a joke (as he alluded to in another part of his email)?

Next, I thought about the content of the newsletter to which he was reacting. In it I announced new services and ventures I had in the works. I immediately got scared that I was getting too big for my britches and this newsletter was “bragging.” When I realized that I was actually starting to believe I might be getting too big and bragging, it drew me up short and my racing thoughts came to an abrupt halt. I have worked too hard at overcoming keeping myself small to revert back based on this email.

I suddenly realized that I was on the other side of my issue of not being able to express appreciation for others’ accomplishments. I have been struggling with giving kudos to others who have accomplished something I want for myself. I feel envious and resentful, rather than happy for them.

I recently realized that I felt this way for several reasons, (see post: https://blueheronwisdom.wordpress.com/2012/05/22/why-do-i-resist-showing-appreciation-to-others/ ), but primarily because I felt like if they were winning, I was losing. I’m in the midst of a 30 day campaign to express appreciation to everyone I meet every day, to overcome this false belief.

I realized that this man felt like he was not good enough, or less than, and my email newsletter about my grand vision for my practice gave him an opportunity to place the focus, and the blame and resentment, outside himself and squarely on me.

This is what I have been doing when I have felt resentful of someone else’s success. Having the shoe on the other foot has helped reinforce for me that whatever anyone else achieves means nothing about what I am capable of achieving. Wishing others well and celebrating their successes does not diminish me.

Prior to this negative email, I received several very positive and supportive emails about my new endeavors. These are the people I want to model myself after. I don’t want to be bitter, resentful and blaming of others for not creating the life – and career – that I want.

I am grateful to this man for holding that mirror up so I could see what it looks like from the other side.  It is bewildering, and makes no sense. Having been on the receiving end, I can see even more clearly that my resentment for others’ who may have already achieved what I desire makes no sense, either.

I won’t hate you because you’re beautiful, because I am beautiful, too! I will celebrate your beauty, because it inspires me to unwrap and share my own beauty.

Why Do I Resist Showing Appreciation to Others?

I have been aware for quite some time that I have difficulty expressing appreciation for others unless what they have done is significantly above and beyond. On surveys I’m loathe to rate anyone (or anything) a 5 out of 5, even when there’s nothing that could be improved. I hate standing ovations. Very occasionally I feel one is deserved, but usually when others stand at the end of a performance, the voice in my head says, “That was fine, okay, even good – but it wasn’t outstanding.”

Why do I feel I have to ration my accolades? What is the threat I associate with showing appreciation for others?  Why do I always come down on the side of “they don’t deserve it,” or “they haven’t earned it?” What do I have to lose by showing appreciation for the most minimal or ordinary of acts? Why can I only praise the extraordinary? If something has made my life better by even an iota, why not say so?

These are questions I’ve been asking myself a lot recently. Last week I received feedback from several people that this is an area of growth for me, and I know it is true. It hurts to hear that I am not appreciative of others. This is not how I want to be perceived, nor the person I want to be. And yet I resist. There must be a reason.

Why do I feel I have to ration my accolades?

First of all, is this how I feel? Yes. So I must believe there is a limited supply of appreciation to go around and I don’t want to waste it on someone, or something, that is undeserving. But is it true that if I express appreciation, and then find someone even more deserving, that I will have used up my limited supply? Of course not!

This is an attitude of scarcity, not abundance. I want to embrace abundance in all areas of my life, so this is a good place to start. It doesn’t cost me anything to tell someone that I appreciate their work, their kindness, or their gifts. It takes awareness, which I can cultivate.

What is the threat I associate with showing appreciation for others?

Okay, now we’re getting a little deeper. Yes, it does feel threatening to acknowledge the brilliance of someone else. Part of this is again about an attitude of lack, or scarcity: there’s not enough brilliance to go around. If I acknowledge their gifts, then it reduces the possibility of me having gifts as wonderful as theirs, since there is only a limited amount of brilliance (according to this perspective). This is nonsense!

At a deeper level, the threat is about not being good enough. If I appreciate someone and they don’t appreciate me in return, then I feel “less than.” If I like you and you don’t like me back, there must be something wrong with me. So I’ll wait for you to like me first, then I’ll decide to like you.

When I am authentic, my value is not tied to whether you like or appreciate me. I know that I am a valuable soul and that not everyone will like me or appreciate my unique gifts – and that means nothing about me and my value.

On this same theme, if someone has gifts that are similar to mine, I am constantly comparing myself to them. If I praise them, then it feels as if I have put myself a level below. Intellectually I understand that appreciating someone else says nothing about me, other than I am good at appreciating others! Inside it feels like win-lose. If I acknowledge your gifts, then I am saying I have none myself, or that mine are less than yours. Again, this is a load of you-know-what!

When I feel begrudging of extending praise, I can remember that praise is free, and limitless. I can also center myself in the knowledge that my value has nothing to do with you. Whether you are a shining star or a dim little light bulb has absolutely no effect on my unique talents and gifts.

Yes! That’s it! What you do or don’t do has nothing to do with me. I can show appreciation for you, your talents and your accomplishments and it doesn’t change a thing about who I am. Other than now I am a more caring and loving person by giving you kudos.

Now that’s a win-win perspective: being appreciated feels good and expressing appreciation feels good. We both get to feel good!

Why do I always come down on the side of “they don’t deserve it,” or “they haven’t earned it?”

This attitude of deserving or earning praise stems from my earliest childhood. I was raised with the belief that you had to earn everything, including and especially love. Earning appreciation is an extension of this belief. I’ve run up against this belief when learning to be happier, as well.

My belief these days is that everyone is deserving of love, happiness and also appreciation for who they are and what they bring to the world. This belief about earning or deserving anything is an old one, and I no longer want it in my life. Now that I’m conscious of how it affects my willingness to appreciate others, I can choose to tell that little voice in my head that it’s wrong.

What do I have to lose by showing appreciation for the most minimal or ordinary of acts? Why can I only praise the extraordinary?

This is, again, about the belief that you must earn my appreciation and also, that by praising you, I place myself below you in value. Asked and answered.

If something has made my life better by even an iota, why not say so?

Now that I have become aware of the reasons behind my resistance to showing appreciation, I can consciously look for opportunities to praise even the everyday or ordinary. If something has made my life better by even an iota, I can say so

Trees Need Both Sunshine and Rain – and So Do I

As I was walking in the rain this morning, I felt thankful that the rain had returned to nurture the trees and plants after more than a week of sunshine. It occurred to me that as humans, we need both sunshine and rain in our lives, too.

Many of us prefer the sunny times. When it’s sunny we just feel better. We spend a lot of time outside enjoying the sun, interacting with others and are more physically active. On the other hand, we tend to complain about the rain. We withdraw and retreat to our homes, become more sedentary and more isolated.

However, just as trees need both sunshine and rain, so do we, in a metaphorical sense. We love it when we feel happy and light – in the sunshine. And yet, without the rain, without the difficult times and sometimes painful emotions, we couldn’t grow.

As I am learning to embrace feeling my emotions, all of my emotions, this has become even more clear to me. I have hit a wall in my growth because I have been unwilling to feel certain emotions.

Part of nurturing a tree or a plant is to provide it with everything it needs, and in the right amounts at the right time. If it is sunny for too long, we have to water the tree. If it starts to grow in an undesirable direction, we prune it. We go with the flow because we can’t predict how much sun or rain there will be, or what direction the tree will grow. We observe what is happening and make decisions about what that tree needs right now to be nurtured.

The same is true of ourselves. Nurturing myself includes having fun and playing (sunshine), feeling sad or fearful when the situation warrants it (rain), noticing if I’m going off in the wrong direction and changing course (pruning). Leaving out any of these ingredients does not nurture me.

Additionally, we need to have a balance of all these ingredients that is appropriate to what’s going on for us at that moment. Just as we observe what is happening with the natural elements and make adjustments to nurture the tree, we must do the same with nurturing ourselves.

Too much sunshine and not enough rain can lead to being superficial and stunt our growth. Too much rain and not enough sunshine can lead to depression or anxiety. Pruning at the wrong time, or not pruning at all, can lead to growth in the wrong direction.

Therefore, my assignment (and yours if you choose to accept it – thank you Mission Impossible!) is to be in the moment. To pay attention to how I feel physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. And notice if my life is going in the direction I intend. Then adjust the ingredients to get the result I prefer.

I heard a story recently of a man who would ask his children at dinner each evening how they failed that day, what they learned from the experience, and then high-five them. Sometimes the difficult times can end up being the most rewarding.

GYA today

BE THANKFUL

Be thankful that you don’t already have everything you desire,
If you did, what would there be to look forward to?

Be thankful when you don’t know something
For it gives you the opportunity to learn.

Be thankful for the difficult times.
During those times you grow.

Be thankful for your limitations
Because they give you opportunities for improvement.

Be thankful for each new challenge
Because it will build your strength and character.

Be thankful for your mistakes
They will teach you valuable lessons.

Be thankful when you’re tired and weary
Because it means you’ve made a difference.

It is easy to be thankful for the good things.
A life of rich fulfillment comes to those who are
also thankful for the setbacks.

Gratitude can turn a negative into a positive.
Find a way to be thankful for your troubles
and they can become your blessings.

   …

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Is the Answer No, Slow, or Go?

Yesterday I was reminded of a saying that all prayers are answered, but the answer isn’t always “yes.”

I have been reinventing myself, and my coaching practice, as I become more and more authentic. This reinvention has led to the need for a new branding for my business and a new website.

I had talked to a few different people about doing this work for me, but nothing was resonating. Then this past Sunday I saw a website that I really liked, and was similar to what I envisioned for my site. At the bottom of the home page was a link to the company that had designed the website, so I clicked it.

I was impressed with the company’s mission and approach. They want to work with people (like me) who want to make a difference in the world. There was no pricing info, but I knew the website I liked was owned by a sole practitioner like me, so I hoped the cost would not be prohibited.

I was really excited; this felt right to me. Since it was Sunday I couldn’t call the company, so I sent an email asking to schedule the free consultation they offered.

Getting my branding and website redesigned are prerequisites to some other things I want to do in my practice (internet radio show, publishing a book). I was anxious about getting in touch with the web design company. So Monday morning I also called the company to request the free consultation.

I reached an automated voice message system, and left a message. I was little disconcerted that I didn’t get a real person, or even a real voice, and started to feel some misgivings. Six hours later I had not gotten a response to my email or my phone call. The misgivings became larger.  I called again and left another message saying that I really wanted to work with them and hoped they would call me back.

Within half an hour I received a return call from a live person, and we scheduled a 15 to 20-minute Skype session for a few days later.

When the time arrived for the Skype call, I was at my computer and online on Skype, but the web company representative was not; his status was “offline.” I waited a few minutes and messaged him on Skype. I waited a few more minutes and sent him an urgent email. I waited a few more minutes (now halfway through the time we had set aside to meet) and called the only phone number I had – the automated voice – and left a message.

I waited. Nothing. Finally, when it was 30 minutes past the scheduled meeting time, which I had double-checked in the confirmation email from the company, I gave up. I sent another email expressing my disappointment in the meeting not taking place, as well as my frustration with not having a phone number that reached a real person (or at least that person’s direct voice mail). I went back to my regularly scheduled activities, which included going for a walk.

On my walk I went through a series of emotions, and thoughts, about the situation with the web design company. I was really disappointed because based on other sites they had done I felt that they were exactly what I was looking for. On the other hand, I had not always had a great experience with web designers before, and wanted to pay attention to messages that this company might not be the right fit for me. I sometimes allow my excitement to cause me to overlook the potential problems, and didn’t want to repeat that mistake.

Then I remembered something I had once been told about the way prayers are answered. Sometimes the answer is “no,” sometimes the answer is “slow,” and sometimes the answer is “go.”

What was the answer in this case?

Well, I could say for certain that it wasn’t “go” (or “yes.”) Things were not falling effortlessly into place.

So the choice was between “no” and “slow.”

There was a message in all these roadblocks I was encountering. My immediate interpretation of the roadblocks was that I was not meant to work with this company. A “no.” But what if the real message was that I needed to develop more patience? Patience has never been my strong suit, and certainly I could use more of it. This would be an answer of “slow.”

It was true that I had been feeling a real sense of urgency about getting the branding and web redesign underway. Did I really need to be in such a hurry? On the other hand, the difficulty in getting in touch with individuals in this company was also information I needed to pay attention to. I knew that if I decided to work with them, this would not be acceptable to me.

In the end, I saw that I still didn’t have enough information to know if it was a “no” or a “slow.” I didn’t know why the meeting hadn’t taken place. I was open to gathering more information, with my eyes wide open, before making a decision.

This situation was a good reminder that a roadblock doesn’t always mean to find another path (although frequently that is the message). Sometimes there needs to be a delay. Often the reason a delay is necessary doesn’t become clear until sometime later when we can look back and put it in context.

Since it isn’t always clear in the moment which way to interpret a roadblock, it pays to have patience, pay attention to what happens next, and be open to whatever the answer may be.

Being Authentic Means Feeling Emotions

Wow. That’s all I can say: wow. I just love how the Universe tells me when I’m supposed to be focused in a certain area of my life. I also love how I receive help when I request it.

A couple of days ago I had an astrological reading. It was quite amazing, and also kind of overwhelming. One of the primary things the astrologer told me was that I was very intellectual and brilliant (his word). But in order to move forward on my life path and to fully open up my intuition, I needed to let go of my intellectual baggage and feel my body and my emotions.

I have known for quite some time that I spend most of my time in my head. I’ve had therapists and my intuitive healer encourage me to feel my body and my emotions (we feel our emotions in our bodies, not in our heads). I’ve made some attempts to do this, but not on a regular basis. And frankly, most of the time I’m unaware that I’m suppressing my emotions.

Added to this lack of awareness is a big helping of resistance. I really don’t like to feel my feelings and have become a master at avoiding it. I intellectualize everything, which keeps me in my head. If I start to feel sad, or some other uncomfortable emotion, I’ve learned how to distract myself.

I don’t like to cry. It feels bad both emotionally and physically. There are times when I try hard to embrace crying, because I know it is good for me, and I’ve been doing this more lately. But most of the time I work hard at avoiding it.

(If any of my clients are reading this, do as I say when I encourage you to feel your emotions, not as I do!)

Another thing the astrologer told me, related to this idea of feeling, was that I needed to be able to hold polar opposites as part of my essence (who I am authentically). In other words, my preconceived notions of who I am, and who others are, limit my growth.  I realized the truth in the idea that I am not my mental concept of myself, but that I really am a soul that encompasses all possibilities.

But, I didn’t know how to get in touch with that. When I told the astrologer that I didn’t know how to do this, he said that “knowing how” was a mental process and this was a feeling process. Sigh. I’m brilliant at gathering knowledge and know-how. Not so great (yet) at feeling my way to wisdom. But I’m working on it!

Yesterday as I was taking my daily walk I was also having a conversation with Spirit. I told Spirit that I knew I was ready to make this shift from my head to my heart, and asked to be shown the path. I also asked to be aware when opportunities to practice shifting into my body and feelings presented themselves.

In the afternoon I had an appointment with a therapist. I was meeting with her because I was interested in joining a women’s intimacy group she led. She was the answer, or at least one of the answers, to my request for help from Spirit.

She, of course, wanted to know about why I was interested in joining an intimacy group. The bottom line answer is that because I have a narcissistic mother with whom I was enmeshed as a child, I have a huge fear of intimacy. I fear that I will cease to exist within any relationship that becomes too close. At the same time, I have huge desire for intimacy, as we all do at our cores.

She very skillfully pushed me to feel those feelings of not being nurtured in the way I needed as a child. Every time I started to get back into my head and talk about what happened rather than feel it, she would point that out to me. Within 15 minutes of meeting this woman I was sobbing.

As I’m writing this section, I’m crying again. And I’m glad; it’s a good thing. It’s exactly what I need to be doing right now. Fifty-four years of suppressing my emotions is enough. I know that to move forward on my path, to be more authentic, to be the soul that I really am, I have to feel.

It’s not like I didn’t already know this intellectually, but now I’m really feeling it. And it feels awful and wonderful at the same time. Hey! There’s that polarity the astrologer told me I needed to embrace! Feeling awful and wonderful can both exist within me, and at the same time. Amazing!

As I left the therapist’s office yesterday I felt drained and exhausted, and also committed to finally allowing myself to feel. I was grateful to have met someone who can guide me in this process. I also felt incredibly grateful for the guidance from the Universe. The timing of hearing the astrologer’s message the day before I met with the therapist was perfect.

I’m looking forward to really being myself. To feeling how I really feel, in the moment. To letting others know how I really feel (okay that feels a little scary, but I will get there). To being who I really am, not just my concept of myself.

Sometimes Fear Means I’m On the Right Track

The past six months have been a time of transformation for me personally, and this has led to transformation in my business as well. I know that something new is coming for me, but it hasn’t always been clear exactly what that is. The week after I returned from vacation I had extremely low energy and felt like my brain was in a fog. I felt unmotivated and scared about being unmotivated.

Then Monday morning I awoke with new sense of purpose. The fog had cleared and I felt ready to get on with things – if I only knew what those things were!

I went through my morning ritual for the first time since I had returned from vacation a week earlier. I was inspired in what to write in my daily blog post, I read my emails, posted on Facebook and balanced my bank accounts, had breakfast and went to meditate.

Several months ago I had an inspiration that I was meant to have a weekly television show something like Oprah’s Life Class, yet different. I would share a lesson in authenticity that came from my personal life (much like I do in this blog) and then take call-in coaching calls.

When I first set my intention for this show, lots of things happened. I had inspiration about people to contact and ways to produce it myself. Opportunities for new contacts presented themselves. Then the past month – nothing. Last week while I was in a fog and feeling unmotivated I was rather worried about this.

During my meditation Monday morning a whole vision for the next phase of my business – and for fulfilling my life purpose – presented itself. I saw how I would get started with my television show, how that was related to the book I am writing, how I would shift from being a local coach to being a national (or even international) coach.

I knew that I could immediately act on this vision. It was not dependent upon anyone else approving or providing access to what I needed. And I immediately became scared out of my wits!

All my fears about worthiness and failure presented themselves, and very loudly, too. Who am I to think I can have a television show? What do I have to offer that anyone wants to hear? How will I ever think of enough topics to speak about? How will I fill up an hour of time every week? What if I can’t help whoever calls in?

And almost as quickly I remembered several things I had been told recently.

  • “The ego is never ready to do the soul’s job.” (Robert Holden)
  • Fear and excitement create the same chemical reaction in your brain; when you’re feeling fear it may really be excitement.
  • “Fear, Laura, like joy, usually means that you’re exactly where you should be, learning what you’re ready to learn, about to become more than who you were.” (Mike Dooley – TUT Messages from the Universe)

Remembering all these messages about what fear can mean in the context of moving into the unknown helped me very quickly let go of that fear. I am pleased and amazed that I was quickly able to move from fear to excitement, and stay there.

I am incredibly grateful for having received these messages over the past months so that they were in my memory bank to call upon when I needed them. It is a reminder that I am always supported by the Universe (spirit, God, whatever name you prefer). I get what I need, when I need it.

Moving through the many experiences of fear and uncertainty over the past six months has been incredibly enriching for me. Each time I encounter an opportunity to give in to fear or to move past it I strengthen my belief that I am on the right path, fulfilling my life purpose.

I’m learning to embrace fear as an indicator that I am on the right track, and that I am moving into an area that will bring far more fulfillment and reward than I can possibly imagine.

Telling the Truth (my Truth) Can Be Scary

When I first started this blog a few months ago it was because I knew I needed to speak my truth. I had gotten messages in a number of ways in the months leading up to beginning to blog that let me know in no uncertain terms that this was what I needed to do. And it was pretty darn scary!

I have spent so much of my life in fear of others being upset with me that I have censored everything I say in the hope of avoiding conflict and disapproval and, ultimately, rejection. To actually say what is true for me felt like the hugest risk in the world.

I began by only sharing my blog with one community I belong to on Facebook where I felt my intention of being authentic, and the vulnerability that required, would be recognized and honored. I felt reasonably safe (but still pretty scared) sharing my blog there.

Over the past two months I have become comfortable enough to share my blog posts on my general Facebook status. I have gotten only positive feedback and comments, and that has helped me feel more confident in sharing my writing more widely.

I decided that I would combine my first 25 or so blog posts to create a book that I am self-publishing. The book will be offered for sale on my website (as well as other places) and that will open up my vulnerability in a different way: my clients and potential clients will now be reading about the real me in all my glory – and all my foibles and fears. I have reached a point where, for the most part, I feel comfortable with this, too.

So, I’m going merrily on my way, feeling good about speaking my truth and not all that vulnerable about it anymore until…

In the past week a number of thoughts and situations have arisen that have challenged me to be authentic in circumstances where it feels much more risky and scary. It began with the questions about what (if anything) I should share with my mother. See yesterday’s posthttps://blueheronwisdom.wordpress.com/2012/05/08/are-authenticity-and-compassion-sometimes-mutually-exclusive/

I think this fear then triggered other opportunities to evaluate and decide how real I am willing to be. On Monday I wrote about something that happened at church the previous day. I hadn’t even thought about the fact that there are a number of people from my church who are my friends on Facebook and they would potentially read this post, until one of my church friends commented yesterday that she had read it.

I immediately got worried that since this post talked about an interaction I had with someone from church who was identifiable by church members (even though I didn’t name her directly) that others would think I was indiscrete in sharing my experience.

Then I got an email from the woman who is editing my blog posts for the book. One concern she raised is that in several of my posts I talk about my ex-husband, and not in a flattering way. Do I really want to publish this for others (like my son) to read?

Suddenly I’m back where I was six months ago – and the rest of my life leading up to then. I’m evaluating what I think others’ reactions will be and letting my fear of that govern what I do or don’t say.

Additionally, I’ve developed a tickly cough in my throat in the past week. You may wonder how this is related to the question of when, what and how much to censor. Back in December I began seeing an acupuncturist because for most of my adult life I’ve had a chronic cough, and last fall it began getting even worse.

What I learned from the acupuncturist is that the fifth chakra governs the throat, and that this cough was about not speaking my truth. This is one of the messages I received that led to me starting my blog. My cough had been resolved a few months ago for the first time in my memory. And now it was back – just when I’d started questioning speaking my truth.  A coincidence? I think not.

Obviously I am being given another opportunity to choose whether I want to continue being authentic or give in to my fear of rejection.

I woke up at three this morning with all these thoughts running through my head. I couldn’t go back to sleep, so I decided to get up and write my thoughts instead. I first checked Facebook where I had posted to my trusted group (where I first shared this blog) asking for feedback on yesterday’s post: https://blueheronwisdom.wordpress.com/2012/05/08/are-authenticity-and-compassion-sometimes-mutually-exclusive/

I had received a response from a friend that I first met at the happiness coaching program in New York in November. As always, her input went right to the heart of the matter and really crystallized for me what my dilemma is: do I act from authenticity or from fear?

One point she made took me back to my first authentic experience in New York: https://blueheronwisdom.wordpress.com/2012/03/15/my-authentic-experience-in-new-york-the-beginning-of-the-rest-of-my-life/. What kind of relationship do I want to have with my son? Do I want the same relationship I’ve had with my own mother? Or do I want him to feel free to be who he really is and tell me how he really feels? What am I modeling for him – and with him?

This really hit home for me, and made my choice a clear one. I want a different relationship with my son than I’ve had with my mother. That means I have to be different than I have been in the relationship with my mother. I have to be authentic. I have to be vulnerable. I have to allow my son to feel however he feels about me and about the world without trying to manage his feelings.

By extension this is how I need to be with my mother, as well, if I want a different relationship with her. Be me. Say what is true for me. Deal with the consequences.

And by further extension, this is how I want to be in the world. I want to be accepted or rejected for being myself.  Eek! I can’t believe I acknowledged the possibility of rejection for being authentic, but it is part of the equation. A scary part maybe, but still the reality.

Am I up for it? Yes. I have already started down this path of authenticity and vulnerability and I’m not willing to stop now.

I spent the first half of my life trying to avoid rejection by saying and doing all the right things, and in the end I haven’t been able to avoid rejection at all. So what do I have to lose?

Are Authenticity and Compassion Sometimes Mutually Exclusive?

I recently took a trip with my mother. I knew that this time with my mother would be fertile ground for my continued journey towards being more authentic. What I didn’t know, but soon discovered, was that it was also an opportunity to practice being authentic with compassion.

Since my late twenties I have had a difficult relationship with my mother. I don’t know that she realizes that this is the case, but I have struggled mightily to separate from her. I can remember conversations with my therapist more than 25 years ago about how to interact with my mother and how to shift the relationship to more of what I wanted it to be. It’s been a long road.

During this recent trip I kept a daily journal. It was pretty interesting to see how from day to day my feelings about my mother and my relationship with her changed.

One day I’d be focused on all the things she did that had irritated me, many of them long standing complaints, and I’d be sure there was no way I would ever take a trip with her again. The next day I would have had some insight into what her experience was and feel compassion and even sadness for her.

Writing this blog about becoming more authentic has been amazing for me. The freedom that I feel saying what is true for me has spurred me on to be even more authentic in real life, off the written page. I knew that when I returned from this trip that I would want to share my experiences and learning in written form.

Enter my fear, and consequently my dilemma: how would my mother feel if she read what I wrote?

It is important to me to be authentic in my experience of and with my mother. This authenticity is not about making her wrong and me right. It really is a reporting of the process I have gone through not only on this trip, but over many years. And, I feel that I know my mother well enough that if she were to read what I end up writing that she will feel attacked.

Even though my intention is not to attack my mother, not to make her the bad guy, I believe that she will only be able to see where I am criticizing her in whatever I say and not be able to see that the story is not about her, but about me.

This thought occurred to me a few days ago, and I am still working on what the “right” answer is. I am not willing to forgo writing about my relationship with my mother. It is what I need to do to continue my growth in this area.

So far I have not shared my blog with my mother, and I feel okay about that. However, my ultimate intention is to write a book that uses the evolution of my relationship with my mother as a guide for others struggling with similar issues. Would it be inauthentic of me not to share this life accomplishment of publishing a book with my mother? Would I be doing the opposite of what I am espousing in this book to hide from her something that I am proud of achieving?

But what of compassion? If I believe that reading what I have written will be hurtful to her, is it compassionate to tell her about it? Or by trying to protect her, am I taking on her feelings instead of letting her own them herself (a lifelong pattern I have with her)?

It is indeed a sticky wicket, as they say. Right now I’m leaning towards not telling her about it. But is that the easy way out – the way I have always dealt with my mother when I fear a bad reaction?

I would welcome your input, comments, insights and thoughts about this dilemma.

Blockages Mean Take A Different Path

It is amazing to me how sensitive I still am to perceived rejection or exclusion from a group.  A few months ago I began attending a local church, and recently decided to officially join. My primary reason for attending and joining a church is that I want to develop a community of friends and the support of like-minded people. I attend services on Sundays, but need more in order to create the kinds of connections I want.

My church offers a variety of classes and groups, and I have attended one class series, as well as participating in, and being a presenter for, the goddess group retreat a little over a month ago. This is a good start at getting to know others, and I also saw an opportunity for me to offer classes of my own, as well as starting several groups I would like to lead or participate in.

I started looking into how to go about proposing these classes and groups, and who I would need to speak to. I quickly got feedback from another fairly new member of the church community that she had tried this same path and had not been embraced. I have a huge fear of not being accepted – I think we all have a similar fear but I fantasize that mine is bigger than most – and her experience immediately triggered this fear of rejection in me.

In order to mitigate my fear of rejection by “the church,” I chose to blame this person for her experience. She was too pushy, she wasn’t collaborative, she didn’t follow the process, etc. By blaming her for her experience, I believed I could have a different experience (be accepted) by acting differently than she did. In other words, blaming her gave me an illusion of control.

I moved forward with contacting the people I needed to speak to about classes and groups via email, and received what I perceived as a lukewarm response. Since I was leaving to go on a two week vacation shortly, I decided to just leave it until I returned, which was a week ago.

Yesterday morning when I arrived for Sunday church services, I immediately saw the person who is in charge of the groups. I needed to use the restroom, but made a mental note to speak to her before the service. As I was leaving the restroom I ran into the woman who is in charge of education (classes). I thought it was very serendipitous to have seen both of the people I needed to speak to without even looking for them.

I introduced myself to the education person and reminded her that I had ideas for classes I would like to discuss. I felt immediately shut down by her response: Choose one topic I feel passionate about (oh, and by the way it can’t be happiness – which is one of the topics I teach classes on), fill out the form and send it to her. Oh, and it will have to be a workshop, it can’t be a class series because there just is not room in the schedule. I felt as if she were doing me a favor to even consider me teaching a workshop.

I walked away from that interaction feeling as if offering to do classes at the church was an imposition, not a gift I was offering of my knowledge and time. I felt rejected and not as good as whoever else was already being allowed to do classes. I felt like an outsider in a community where I want to be an insider.

I entered the sanctuary in a serious funk and sat down to wait for the service to begin. The thoughts going through my head were things like “I made a mistake joining this church. Maybe I should go to CSL (a different church). These people are mean. These people don’t like me.” and on and on.

The service started with an upbeat song and I just wanted to stay grumpy. The education person (who I felt rejected by) got up and made an announcement about needing people on the education committee to help with class sign-up and other administrative tasks. I felt even grumpier.

Then the pastor got up to welcome everyone, and everything changed for me. I had recently taken the church membership class, but I was on vacation during the Sunday when they introduced the new members to the church. I had only given a passing thought to what this meant to me, other than the fact that once again I wasn’t part of the group.  Then the pastor asked if I was present, and had me come forward to welcome me as a new church member.

This was totally unexpected, I hadn’t really thought about that possibility at all, so I didn’t have an opportunity to feel nervous about being in front of everyone all by myself. Right after this was the part of the service when the congregation gets up and greets one another, and many people congratulated me on joining the church. I felt included and accepted.

I sat back down after the greetings and had an epiphany. I wasn’t meant to teach classes at my church, at least not right now, and that’s why my path in that direction was blocked. To be honest, I didn’t even really want to teach classes, I just felt that it would be a good way to get to know others at the church and as a side benefit would possibly be good for my business.

I saw that by teaching classes as a way of getting to know others at my church I was perpetuating my old belief that if I didn’t have something of value to offer, then others wouldn’t want to get to know me and be my friend. I realized that starting groups on topics that I was interested in was a better way to be a member of the community, and I also would be getting my own needs met within the groups, rather than being the leader or the teacher.

I had just learned the lesson – once again – that when there are blocks in the path it doesn’t mean that I am not valuable or that I am being rejected or excluded. It’s just a message that I’m going down the wrong path and that I need to alter course.