Sunday, February 23, 2014

Trust Me

About a year ago I wrote a post called “Public Declaration of Trust” in which I declared my commitment to trusting my higher power/the universe/etc. This week I realized I’ve done a great job of doing that, of listening to my inner voice, of acting on intuition, and being in touch with a power greater than myself. What I haven’t done is trust myself.

What does this image have to do with self-trust? I have no idea but it came up in my google image search and I like it.
Let me explain. On Thursday, I went to the Conscious Network Meeting in Berkeley and felt nervous because I had never been to the meeting’s building before. “What if I get lost? What if I can’t find it?” First of all, I looked at a map before I left and also even if I did get lost, I could always ask for directions. I found the building because, well, I looked at the map and I paid attention to the landmarks. However, that little bit of anxiety reminded me that I discount myself and my abilities. I don’t trust that I’ll be able to handle whatever life throws at me. I worry about the future and what-ifs because a little part doesn’t believe I can rely on myself.

Because the universe always communicates with me, what did we talk about at the Conscious Network Meeting? Self-trust! Ah life, showing me the funny side. During the meeting I made a commitment to the members (and to me) that I would trust myself more – this blog is an extension of that.

If I don’t trust myself, there is no way I can show up for life fully because instead I get plagued by fear, doubt, and worry. I spend most of the time (figuratively) chewing my fingernails instead of feeling at ease and at peace. I want to feel more rock solid in myself, to remember I don’t need to know the future, I don’t have to have everything figured out because I have all the tools I need to take care of myself. I am a smart, capable, resourceful, communicative woman. I may not have the answer to everything but I have the intelligence to work it out and that is something I can rely on.

It’s important for all of us to believe in ourselves, to remember we’re capable of great things. To acknowledge we’ve been fine in the past and we’ll be fine in the future. It’s only in believing and trusting ourselves that we can accomplish what we came to this world to accomplish. It’s only by believing, “Yes, I can do ______,” that it will get done. First and foremost, it means believing in ourselves.

I dream of a world where we trust ourselves. A world where we trust our capabilities. A world where we realize the future doesn’t need to be mapped out because we’re intelligent people who can handle whatever life throws at us. A world where we feel at ease because we know all is well in our world.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Who Do You Think You Are?

This weekend my friends and I talked a lot about myth and metaphor and how metaphors shape a person’s worldview. Myths and metaphors are important because they affect how we act and interact. For instance, if a person’s personal metaphor is that she is superwoman, she will attempt to do too much and swoop in and save others, and often to her detriment. Or if a person’s worldview is that we are all one big family, he or she will treat others with love, respect, and compassion.

I’m still working out what my personal metaphor is, but what I can tell you is it’s changing and thus how I’m showing up in the world is changing.

I love the phoenix myth about getting reborn after destruction.
At my core I am a loving person – I have a huge heart and I care deeply about all living beings. However, because I am so sensitive, especially when I was younger I didn’t feel safe being my loving, soft and feminine self. The world felt too big, scary, and rough. Like dropping a teddy bear in a field of velociraptors – if you do, it’s going to get ripped to shreds. My solution was to become like a medieval knight and put on loads of armor. If I wore armor that meant I wouldn’t get hurt. But my true self is loving and love is expansive; it doesn’t want to be contained and is not satisfied with existing inside a suit of armor.

Something about this whole Saturn return thing that I’m still undergoing is stripping away false beliefs and ways of being. Even as I wanted to be a medieval knight, even as I aspired to be hardhearted and fierce, I don’t think anyone ever actually perceived me that way. My point, and the reason for the title of this post, is that sometimes we think we know who we are, but often our perception doesn’t match up to reality. And more importantly, if we change the deep underlying story we operate from, we change how we show up in the world.

More and more I’m becoming love personified, that’s who I really am, that’s how most people perceive me I think. I want my new story to be that it’s safe to be soft, feminine, vulnerable, and loving. I want my perceived weakness to become my greatest strength. I want to exist in the world as I actually am, not who I think I should be.

I’m driving at two points here: 1.) who we think we are is often not who we actually are and 2.) the personal narrative we operate from is deeply important. I’m advocating that we realign who we actually are with a story that works for us and works for the betterment of the world.

I dream of a world where we each show up authentically. A world where we allow ourselves to be who we really are. A world where we take a closer look at the metaphorical stories we’re operating from and decide if they’re working for us. A world where we understand we can change our stories and as we change our stories we change our lives.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Stories We Tell Ourselves

I had a very interesting conversation this week with a friend. He said there’s a difference between feeling an emotion and attaching a story for it. For instance, I may be sad about losing a relationship, which is a natural emotion, but what makes it worse is the story I tell myself on top of it such as, “I’ll be alone for the rest of my life, no one will ever love me the same way,” etc. What can compound an emotional state is the added storyline we give it.

I like storytelling, but not when I use it to manufacture misery.
I bring this up because I have trouble letting emotions go through me. I’ve spent a good chunk of my life doing what I could to not feel, to avoid feeling my feelings at all costs, to keep them at bay because I was afraid of feeling the feeling. In my mind, it was better to not feel angry, sad, lonely, etc. in the first place. So now that I’m sober (i.e. actually feeling my feelings and not trying to numb out), I still have a hard time letting my emotions pass through me, precisely because I can drag them out by adding a story to them. The emotion turns into a big dramatic thing, I make it so much worse on myself by piling on untruths such as, “I’ll feel this way forever,” or “Things will never change.” There’s a lot of “always” and “never” in my stories. And a whole lot of catastrophizing where I jump from, “My neighbor is playing loud music,” to, “Oh my God, I need to move somewhere else!”

I’ll admit much of this has to do with the fact I’m an anxious and melodramatic person. For those of you who aren’t, you probably can’t relate to much of what I’m writing about. However, for those of you who can, I want to point out how these stories and the catastrophizing makes the emotion so much worse than it has to be. If I allowed myself to feel my moments of grief, or sadness, or loneliness, they wouldn’t last NEARLY as long if I didn’t throw extra fuel onto the fire.

I’m not sure what to do about all this other than to make myself aware of it. My dear friend who’s a therapist tells me often awareness by itself can make a huge difference. Maybe by understanding I tell myself a lot of false “truths” I can catch myself in the act and remind myself they’re not the case. Just because I’m scared about not receiving my passport on time to leave for Europe, doesn’t automatically mean my boss while get pissed and fire me and never send me to Europe again. Instead, it’s better for me to stay present with what is and acknowledge, yes, I’m anxious about my passport arriving in the mail, but that’s all I get to be anxious about, because nothing else has happened.

A lot of what I’m talking about – stories, emotions – has to do with being present, with paying attention to what’s in front of me and not future tripping or spinning out to what could be. There are a million things that “could be,” and when I start attaching emotion to all those possibilities, that’s when I really get into trouble.

I dream of a world where we feel, process, and let go of what’s before us. A world where we stick with whatever emotion we’re feeling and not compound it by telling ourselves falsehoods. A world where we act like straws, allowing emotions to come in and emotions to go out, understanding the process to be fast or slow depending on how much extra stuff we throw in. A world where we cut down on the stories we tell ourselves.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Mitigating Disaster

I’ve been dancing around this topic for the past two years (probably longer), but on Wednesday night I finally understood on a very deep level how much my higher power mitigates disaster.

I’ve already talked about how I’m a big scaredy cat, how I worry a lot and try to anticipate danger. You could say I’m hypervigilant. In my mind, if I worry long enough I’ll prevent something from happening, or be able to handle it once it does because I’ve thought about it so freaking much. I’m ready to let that go.

So. Wednesday night. My neighbor decided it was a brilliant time to get drunk and high and talk REALLY LOUDLY with another neighbor while outside. Because after midnight on a weekday is a perfect time to act belligerent, right? The really funny, magical thing is this week I was already zonked and asked my bosses for Thursday off. How crazy that the night my neighbor decides to be loud is also the night I don’t have to worry about when I go to sleep because I don’t have work the next day?

thin ice
Higher power mitigates disaster not by making the ice thick, but by putting up signs when it's thin.
It was as if higher power was saying to me, “Look, stuff happens. People can be inconsiderate, but I will create circumstances so you’re always taken care of. I will make sure your needs are met.” When I look back on my life for the last three years, I see that thread consistently. I see that higher power couldn’t change the behavior of my neighbors, so taking care of me meant moving several times, meant going to Tucson, meant going back to D.C., meant a million little things that all add up to making sure I was always OK.

In the past, I think I’ve been a little blinded, a little immature, a little controlling because I wanted the world to bend to my whims. I wanted my upstairs neighbor to never play loud music ever, I wanted my downstairs neighbor to be nicer and for her dog to stop barking, I wanted the world to be the way I wanted without realizing that’s not possible. What is possible is arranging circumstances so I don’t have work the next morning, or will stay somewhere else when my cottage has plumbing issues, or will be out of the house when someone breaks in.

God/brahma/higher power/the universe/source/spirit is infinite and creative. I can let go of how I want things to be, of how I think others should behave in favor of the knowledge that whatever happens, I will be OK. I will be taken care of because my higher power does a great job of mitigating disaster and ensuring not that bad things will never happen, but if they do, my needs will still be met.

I dream of a world where we realize the world doesn’t bend to our whim, but circumstances will be created to ensure everything is alright. A world where we know we are always taken care of. A world where we relax, let things go, and trust in our concept of something greater than ourselves.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.