In the Mirror

 

 

One piece of advice I’ve heard a lot, and for that matter give quite a bit, is “Look in the mirror and say you love yourself.” It’s easy to do. You look in the mirror and speak the words. But saying it isn’t the same as *meaning* it, and meaning it is the hard part.

I do this every morning, and have for several years. But until recently, I didn’t mean it. I said the words because someone had told me saying them was a way to make them real. It wasn’t real for me, though. It wasn’t any different from saying “Unicorns exist” or “I know how to fly.” People can *say* just about anything, but that doesn’t mean they believe the words they say.

Loving myself has been a decades-long battle. I learned pretty early on that I didn’t deserve love, and since other people didn’t seem to think I deserved it, how could I give it to myself? Because of bullying and verbal abuse, I developed a sense of myself as an unlovable, unwanted human being who probably had a reason for existing but couldn’t figure out what the reason was.

Over a decade ago, when I met the man who became my mentor in energy healing, affirmations, and other things, he was the first to tell me to look in the mirror and say, “I love myself.” So I began doing so, not because I did love myself but because he told me to. He insisted that if I said it often enough, I would begin to believe it.

Several months ago, I realized I was still just mouthing those words, even after over ten years. I had never started believing them. I was still just saying them because someone who wasn’t even in my life anymore had told me to. And that was the problem. Doing something solely because we’re told to often doesn’t have the effect we want, if it has any effect at all.

I started being more mindful when I said the words. Instead of just mouthing them, I tried to *feel* them as they came out of my mouth. I started really looking at myself in the mirror, instead of just standing in front of it. On my partner’s suggestion, I began using the “power stance” (feet slightly wider apart than shoulder-width, hands on hips) as I spoke, and I did feel more powerful.

Power gives power. The words I spoke in that stance, when I said them mindfully and with intention, began to work. I started liking what I saw in the mirror. I started loving that woman.

I haven’t mastered it yet. It’s probable that I never will. I still have times when I fall back into the pit of hating myself, or believing I’m a bad person or fat or ugly, or any of the other drivel I was force fed as a child. But more often than not, I do love myself, and I do believe and truly feel the words that I say when I look at myself in the mirror.

In Hiding

“Living your truth” is a big thing in the coaching field. Every coach I follow has said it at one time or another, and I definitely have used the phrase myself on more than one occasion.

The thing is, it’s easy to say, but less easy to do.

When you’ve been taught that you have to hide certain things about who you are, or who your family is, you learn that living your truth not only isn’t acceptable, it can be dangerous. If you say the wrong thing to the wrong person, someone might hurt you. At the very least, you might be shunned by the people around you.

Even though I advise others to live their truth, I’m not always out there showing everything about who I am. I am in hiding about some things, because I’m one of those people who was taught to hide. As a child, I talked about things like communicating with the wind and trees. I told my parents when I “just knew” something was going to happen, and I shared my writing and stories with anyone who would listen.

I wasn’t praised for those things. I was told not to talk about the wind and trees because people would think I was “crazy.” My parents said the same thing about my “just knowing,” and also ranted at me about how little good it did to know those things since I couldn’t do anything to change them. While my parents tried to be supportive of my writing, and so did some of my teachers, my peers and other teachers made fun of me or at least of the stories I wrote.

I learned to hide.

Even as I type this, there are some things about myself that not everyone in my life knows. There are things about which I don’t talk to some people, and other things I don’t talk about at all.

Living your truth and speaking your truth are important as you build the life you want to live, but sometimes you have to be more cautious than you would like about what you say and how you live around certain people. And that’s okay. If you’re just playing it safe because you don’t believe in yourself, that’s one thing; but sometimes it really is a matter not of *playing* safe but of *being* safe.

When You Want to Change

This has likely been posted on this blog before, but it seemed appropriate to share again.

We all, from time to time, reach points in our lives where something needs to change. A job, a living situation, a relationship, even something as seemingly small as how we style our hair.

A human life is an ongoing process of change, learning, and growth. We aren’t always completely aware of those things happening, but they always are. Change isn’t easy, though. It can seem overwhelming or frightening. Sometimes we hesitate to make a change, and it can be difficult to decide whether a change is really the right thing to do, or if we should just maintain the status quo. But if you feel strongly drawn to change something, it probably needs to be changed.

Deciding whether to make a change isn’t easy. Emotions and “what ifs” can interfere. If you’re facing a change and struggling to decide whether to follow through on it, talking to a friend or loved one might help. They might be able to give you a different, maybe objective, perspective on the situation, and talking might help you see how to make the change and consider the potential results, or the pros and cons.

You might also find benefit in making a written list of pros and cons, or writing or journaling about what your desired results would be if you made the change. You might also write about what you think that change would look like, how you would go about making it, and why you think it’s necessary. If you’re facing a major change, such as a job change or a move to another house or location, breaking the task into small, manageable steps can help lessen the fear or feeling of being overwhelmed.

When you’re considering making a change, or you’re faced with one due to external circumstances, many times changing can bring you a great deal of benefit. But it’s also all right to choose not to make the change. Ultimately, whether you change or maintain your current situation, it’s your choice based on what you feel is best for you.

Life is an ongoing process of growth and learning, and sometimes regression and forgetting.

Emotions

Emotions can be tricky things. Sometimes they seem to just sneak up on us, suddenly and without warning, and we go from zero to sixty in a second flat. That happens to me sometimes, especially with emotions like fear and anger. I don’t know they’re on the way, but suddenly they’re there, complete with racing thoughts and a running mouth I can’t seem to stop.

But the thing is, I *can* stop the thoughts and the words. I can stop any actions I might be on the verge of.

What I can’t stop are the emotions themselves. Believe me, I’ve tried. And the harder I try to make that anger or fear go away, the more stubborn they become. It’s like the concept of not thinking about the pink elephant. Now that I’ve brought that up, just try to stop thinking about pink elephants. At all. No thoughts of them. None.

See how difficult that can be?

One of the more useful things I’ve learned about emotions is to stop identifying myself *as* the emotion, and instead identify the emotion as something I have. For example, instead of “I’m angry,” saying “I feel angry” helps to separate me from that emotion, which can help the emotion fade sooner. It also prevents me from condemning myself for feeling it at all, which brings me to the second point.

Many of us are taught that feeling certain emotions is just plain not acceptable. You can’t feel anger. You shouldn’t feel afraid. And so on. So we learn to fight those emotions, or suppress them, or pretend they don’t exist at all.

Instead, I believe we need to learn to accept them, and more importantly, accept ourselves for feeling them. I’m not a bad person because I sometimes feel angry, or jealous, or afraid. I’m a human being, and most human beings experience a huge range of emotions in their lives. And that’s perfectly okay.

Anything you feel is okay. It’s what you do in response to feeling that way that matters. So be kind to yourself when you feel a negative emotion. Accept it. Even thank the emotion for what it’s bringing you, or for trying to protect you. And then move on.

Upheaval part 2

This is a short blog post to say I probably won’t have a longer blog post this week. It’s moving week, which means a lot of last-minute packing, unpacking, arranging, and settling. Also lack of time to do other things, and no internet for a day or so. I’ll be back next week with a longer post, probably about our new place. Meanwhile, thanks for checking in.

Upheaval

As I write this, I’m preparing for a move to a new apartment. At the exact moment I’m writing this, I don’t know where that apartment will be.

It’s been a summer of changes and upheaval for me and my husband. I can’t speak for him, but for me, it’s been difficult and, at times, rather scary. We determined at the beginning of summer that we would have to move, and gave our landlord two months’ notice. But finding an apartment has proven more difficult than we’d expected. Staying here isn’t an option, because the landlord found a new tenant almost immediately, so we have to go somewhere. Right at this moment, though, we don’t know where.

This is a situation that in the not-so-distant past would have had me in full-blown panic mode. And, to be honest, I have had times of fear and panic. I am human, and no matter how much work I’ve done on myself or how much I trust the Universe to help me find the right place, I still feel scared sometimes.

Part of the story I tell myself is that I need to know what’s going to happen. Where I’m going to be. Who else is involved. All of those things. Although I can be flexible to some extent, I haven’t been particularly good at going with the flow, or at taking a leap of faith and seeing where it leads. That isn’t necessarily a good thing. Sometimes you need to take those leaps.

I’m reasonably sure that I’ve missed out on quite a bit in my life because of not being willing to take chances unless I have a pretty good idea of what will happen. That includes missing out on building River Flow Healing and A Story You Tell Yourself into amazing things that reach a lot of people. Reaching out and connecting with potential clients or with other practitioners requires a huge leap of faith, and it’s one I haven’t really taken.

If my husband had talked to me before giving notice to the landlord, we wouldn’t have given notice. I would have told him that we couldn’t do that without having another apartment lined up, and we would have ended up staying here. Not that this is a bad apartment, but there have been some unhappy times here as well as happy ones, and we don’t always get along well with our landlord and her family, who lives upstairs. It really is time for us to find someplace fresh, where we can start the next part of our lives.

I’ll admit I’ve felt pretty angry with my husband for giving notice on this apartment without talking to me. I still think he was wrong for not discussing it with me first, but what it’s shown me is that sometimes you really do have to take a leap and just trust that you’ll land in the best place for you.

Listen…

A few weeks ago, I sat down with pen and paper, and this just kind of flowed through me. So I wanted to share.

Listen to your intuition. Trust that you know, and believe what you hear. You feel inside you when something’s right. If it is, follow it, even if the “how” isn’t obvious.

Everyone has something to offer, and everyone matters. Everyone deserves love, positivity, and good things.

The story other people tell about you is really about them. You are the only one who can truly tell your story. If the story you tell is based on what others say to you, it’s time to tell a new one. Let go of what others think and say about you. Look inside and know who you truly are.

Trust yourself. “I don’t know” is part of that story. You do know, if you look past the mental arguments.

You are infinite abundance. You’ve simply forgotten who you are. It’s time to remember. Hustling and bustling to make money doing things you despise doesn’t serve you. Find your heart, find your joy, find your love.

What holds you back? Break the bonds others have placed on you, and do what you feel called to do. If you want to speak, speak. If you want to sing, sing. Dance. Run. Write. Play. Whatever it is your heart tells you, do. You aren’t responsible for everyone and everything. You are responsible to and for yourself above all. Be kind to yourself. Take care of yourself. Feed your fire.

As a child, you had dreams. You believed in magic, power, and all possibilities. You took joy wherever you could find it. You defended yourself against the stories others tried to force on you. But you heard too much doubt. Those in “authority” told you the things you believed were wrong, and with no one contradicting those people, you weren’t able to sustain your beliefs. And yet part of you always continued to believe. Part of you continued to know who you are. Even when you felt defeated, part of you felt triumphant and knew you would succeed.

That is the part to which you need to listen now. That indomitable, persevering, strong part that never doubted. You deserve love and respect from yourself and others, and that inner you is demanding it now. It isn’t too late. Those dreams can still be fulfilled. That power and truth never left you; it has always been there, buried beneath the “have tos” and responsibilities and untrue stories. It holds out its hand to you, ready to pull you back into the light of your true self and your true story.

Speak your truth, and believe that truth is there to be spoken when you are ready. The fear and doubt is part of your old story. Look past those, even when it’s hard, even when it’s terrifying. You don’t realize how much darkness surrounds you, and it has become comfortable, familiar, and safe. But it isn’t who you are. It isn’t where you belong.

Allow your true self to pull you into the light of your true life. “Take chances, get messy.” What does safety gain you? You remain in the dark, your gifts obscured and submerged. You suffer in sadness and lack when happiness and abundance are within your reach, and that happiness and abundance are what you hold out to others. You are their light, and yet you continue to dwell in darkness. Be for yourself what you are for others; or, rather, accept what you offer yourself as others accept what you offer them.

You aren’t alone in this world. On the most fundamental level, everyone and everything is intertwined. Feel your connection with others. Let them reach you as you have reached them.

Do you hear and feel this wisdom? And yet you doubt that you know anything. This is you working in harmony with yourself. You ask where these words are coming from, but you know the answer, because *you* are the answer. You are the answer to everything you fear, and to everything you need and desire. Shine your light into the dark corner where you hide in misperceived safety. Safety and stagnation are not synonymous. You are safe wherever and whatever you are. Stagnation leads only to proving to yourself that you can do nothing, and it becomes a self-fulfilling cycle. This is how you let yourself down, when you choose not to try.

Put yourself out there. Take the risks. Accept the love and the pain. Accept the knowing and the not knowing. Accept who you are and the joy and abundance that are meant for you.

 

Drawing a Blank

I sat here getting ready to write this blog post and realized I had no idea what to say.

And that’s okay.

I spend a lot of time feeling like I have to know everything that’s going to happen. I have to plan out what I’m going to post on my blog or write in the novel I’m working on. I have to know what my commute will be like, and the weather, and what I’ll be doing that day at work.

Except I don’t really need to know any of that. Except maybe the weather, because if it’s going to rain, it would be good to have an umbrella. And if it’s going to snow, I might have to freak out a little bit, because it’s July. Even in New England, it doesn’t usually snow in July.

So this time, instead of getting anxious and worried because I didn’t know what to type for this blog post, I just started typing about not knowing what I was going to type. Because even if it seems silly, or I feel like I’m just blathering, there is a point to this. And the point is that I don’t actually need to know. Some of my best writing–and, admittedly, worst–has occurred when I just put my fingers on the keyboard and see what comes out.

There are some things in life that it’s probably a good idea to plan in advance. At least have a guideline for. But you don’t have to do that with everything. Some things work out just fine even if you start without knowing where you’re going to end.

Like blog posts.

The Best-Laid Plans…

Sometimes no matter how carefully you plan something, it doesn’t work out that way. I’ve had a few examples of that in the past week.

On Saturday, I was planning to go to an event I’d been looking forward to. That morning, I decided it was time to rearrange a few things, partly so I could put a couple of pieces of furniture up for sale. The rearranging led to more rearranging, and then to cleaning, and then to packing up some books…and the next thing I knew, four hours had passed, the event had already started (and was an hour away, so I had no chance of getting there even to show up late), and I’d missed the opportunity.

One of the reasons for rearranging was that my husband and I had planned to move out of our current apartment but had then realized we would probably be better off staying put. Saturday morning, my husband contacted the landlord to let them know this. A few hours later, he heard back that they had already found a new tenant. We have no choice but to move.

Not so long ago, either of those would have sent me into anxiety mode. The two of them combined would probably have led to me having a full-blown panic attack. But I’ve learned a few things since then.

Sometimes the plans we have in mind aren’t the plans that are meant for us. They aren’t what our heart wants, or what the universe wants us to have. We might *think* they are, but that’s because we’re used to trying to control everything that happens in our lives, and we want to be the ones making the decisions.

We aren’t always right, though. In my case, rearranging and cleaning led to me being able to list one of the pieces of furniture I wanted to sell, and to me finding a couple of books and some papers I’d thought were gone. It also led to a lot less dust and a far less cluttered living room. It’s going to get cluttered again, this time with boxes, but at least right now there isn’t much clutter. And there’s a bit less to pack.

Moving… Until last fall, I wanted to move. We’d talked about it, and had planned to move out of here once my younger child left for college. The upstairs neighbors are often loud, the street outside is busy, and the acoustics here are weird so that sometimes it sounds like someone else is in the apartment when no one is. We had ended up staying because apartment hunting isn’t fun, and because we were still paying the same rent as when we moved here several years ago. And I had moved things around a bit so I wasn’t sitting where I can hear the neighbors most of the time, and wasn’t seeing cars and people going past the window.

But we’ve lived here longer than I’ve lived anywhere else in my adult life, and part of me feels restless. This place has been a good home for us, and we’ve had happy times here as a family. But we’ve also had conflict and negative times, and maybe it’s time to leave that energy behind. We can make happy times in a new place, in the new chapter of our lives where the younger child isn’t with us most of the time because of school and seeing other family members, and the older child has moved out entirely and is now a stepparent. Maybe the rent being raised, which is what led to us initially deciding to move this time, and finding out the landlord has someone lined up to take the place, is the universe’s way of telling us it’s time to stir things up.

So I don’t mind having missed Saturday’s event. There will be others. And I don’t mind having to move. The packing and apartment hunting will be a bloody nuisance, especially since we only have a month, but in the long run it’s going to be an adventure that will put us someplace we haven’t been before. And maybe that will lead to even better things.

Sometimes the best plan you can have is to not have a plan, and just trust that you’re going to get where you need to be.

New Program: A Story You Tell Yourself

A Story You Tell Yourself is based heavily on my own experiences of working to overcome my past and start telling myself a new story. This program is designed primarily for those who have dealt with abuse, bullying, and other trauma in their lives, and feel that their experiences and the impact of them are holding them back.

We all tell ourselves stories about our lives and ourselves. “I can’t do that, because I never went to college.” “I don’t dare to talk to her, because she reminds me of one of my abusers.” “I don’t know enough to even try that.” And so on.

Some of these “stories” are our own creations based on our experiences, and some are things that were told to us by abusers, bullies, or others. But we can tell ourselves new stories if we work at finding them, and that’s what A Story You Tell Yourself is designed to help people do.

I’m currently accepting new clients into the program, which is an 8-week program that includes weekly meetings with me in person or by video chat, two Chios Energy Healing sessions (distance or 30-minute “mini-sessions”), and two guided meditations. If you’re interested in enrolling or learning more, comment on this post or visit the A Story You Tell Yourself page on this website.