To be or not to be. That is a choice.

People are going through waves of emotions with over 2 months of sequestering. It’s very popular right now to say, it’s okay to feel shitty.

But for how long?

This made me think of Nelson Mandela. How did he survive 27 years of isolation? Was he mournful? Did he dwell in resentment? If not, when he finally got out, did he suffer from holding a mindset of hope over such a long period of time?

Is there value in disciplining our minds to choose to focus on what we can be doing to make the most of this situation? Or are we bypassing an important process if we don’t dwell in mourning and sense of loss?

Mandela suffered agony and depression when he learned that his oldest son died in a car accident. He expressed concern over his children, particularly during the arrest of wife Winnie. He complained often to the prison guards about jail conditions. He requested things like cold cream for his dry skin, honey, and books, much of them denied. The critical piece: he didn’t hold personal animosity towards those that put him there. He made the most of his situation.

To BE is to live. Mandela’s power came from making that choice to LIVE under such unjust circumstances. What do you think?

What to do when the other person is wrong

When I know that what the other person is saying is wrong, I find it incredibly hard to listen openly. It’s easy to shut out everything else they say the moment I catch it. I immediately self-protect and get angry and righteous.

Communication is the thing we all get wrong. Instead of saying, this is what I heard, or as Brene Brown would say, “when I said this, and then you did this, this is the story I’m telling myself…” in effect giving the other person a chance to correct a misunderstanding… we go on the attack, or we shut down. Our hurt and our truth is the truth, and that’s all there is to it. But the other person has a truth too. They also have a story about how things went down.

What if, instead of walling up, we actually do listen? What if we go on a scavenger hunt and listen for what we can understand, what we can latch onto that we can work from? Would that hurt our egos too much? Would that make us wrong and too vulnerable? Am I too angry and hurt to want to heal from this? How important is this relationship to me?
You might say, it’s just too exhausting, and I’m sick of being the one doing all the work. Because no chance they’re saying the same thing…

It’s really exhausting to carry that anger and hurt. We’ve just built up a nice habit of doing it. But alas it breaks us all down.
Both options are exhausting, but one has promise. There are times when we do need to walk away. Just make sure it’s not coming from the wall. It is very possible to walk away with love and blessing. It is also very possible to stoke the relationship with love and blessing.

Success is the purpose of the thing fulfilled

Since I heard author Brian Scott define success in this way, I haven’t been able to get it out of my mind.

The chair I’m sitting on is successful because it’s fulfilling its purpose. I have a couple of chairs in the basement that are broken.
The tree is successful because it is a magnificent tree, offering beauty, oxygen, nourishment, and home to many species. I’ve gone for walks and taken closer looks at each tree, and what I found is that each tree is unique in their own way. Some of their trunks are so “weird,” with characteristics and personalities I hadn’t seen before. Yet each one fulfills it’s purpose.

The watch that I’m wearing is successful as its purpose is fulfilled. I have other watches that are “broken,” and they need to get fixed in order to be successful.

No matter what our lives look like on the outside, you know if you feel broken or not.

Fulfillment comes with the feeling that I am living my purpose. I may not always be clear on what that purpose is; I just know I’m living it by how joyful or how scary it is. When I’m not, when I veer off, I feel it. When I make a decision away from my purpose, I don’t feel fulfilled. I’m tired. I start hurting. I get resentful. I feel broken. I feel like I am living for someone or something else. I feel like I’m wasting my time, and this has nothing to do at all with feeling productive, because fulfillment has to do with feeling the utmost joy. Sometimes that comes after I felt completely afraid, leaning into my vulnerability, thinking about if I can bear the judgment. It’s scary to step outside of normal.

The social icons that we know that inspire us so much, I don’t believe that they got there because they are any more special, or because it was their fate. No. Their fate was just like everyone else’s: to be normal. They got there because they had the courage to embarrass themselves, risk the humiliation, risk losing something, and decided to own their “abnormal” anyway. It turns out, they weren’t so abnormal. They only spoke on behalf of what we all feel so intimately, and they had the courage to own it. By owning the part of themselves that so many of us are afraid to unleash, they made their destiny. Their purpose became fulfilled. They became successful.

Setting the tone for yourself

…begins the night before. How you go to bed really matters. Don’t go to bed with problems on your mind. Because you are creating feelings and beliefs that you have problems, and you take that to bed with you and right into your subconscious mind. It doesn’t work it out during sleep. Have you ever woken up and said, thank God I brought that into my sleep! I woke up and my mind totally worked it out! I woke up feeling great this morning! Yay!

No. More like, I’m so tired, I tossed and turned all night. Or, I woke up at 1:30 thinking about stuff and couldn’t get back to sleep.

Instead of problems getting worked out, they get seeded. YIKES!

Bedtime is a time to indulge. You’ve got your pillows and your cozy blanket… this is the time to literally dream instead of nightmare.

Ask yourself, HOW WOULD I FEEL IF MY WISHES WERE FULLY REALIZED?

This is not a prompt to start planning. Read again: how would I FEEL.. fully realized?
Don’t go beyond that other than to indulge in what your life would look and feel like.

Seed that into your subconscious mind instead. Remember that your feelings impact your motivation, inspiration, self-esteem, and energy, so this is really important. Your subconscious mind won’t know that the feelings you produce from this was “manufactured” and that the feelings from your problems were “real.” It can only know to be real what you feel to be real.

Wake up and feel genuinely grateful for a new morning. I know, I used to hate it when people would say that. But seriously, is it really that bad? Just do it. Smile. Breathe. Hydrate. Pee. Look in the mirror and see how seriously beautiful and amazing you are. Don’t set yourself up for rush and stress. No news, no emails yet — they most certainly can wait. Get yourself settled. Put your spirit in the drivers seat, and decide what feelings you want to dwell in today.

What is self-care

Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.

-Audre Lorde

While meditation, bubble baths, and alone time can be self-care, sometimes it’s just plain hiding.

Self-care often takes on the form of discipline or what we need most to progress out of our anxiety and traumas and into wellness and empowerment. Momentary indulgences are wonderful, and I love them very very much, they are so joyful, relaxing, and gentle, but I don’t call them self-care. I call them indulgences.

True self-care requires a decision to value and treat myself in a totally different way, and it is worthwhile to differentiate as they offer different results.

I’ve felt sick to my stomach practicing self-care. I’ve had to communicate incredibly difficult things to important people in my life that wasn’t supportive of my well-being or of others around me. I’ve had to dig in my heels and put up healthy boundaries when it would have been easier not to.
I never feel sick to my stomach during an indulgence, but sometimes afterwards, depending on the indulgence. With self care, it may feel bad during the practice, but it is always followed by longer-term relief.

I ask others for help. For a time I thought this was a sign of weakness, and I eventually realized how much self-esteem, strength, and courage it took to reach out when all I wanted to do is isolate and figure out how to do it all myself (but not really). While taking personal space is incredibly important, it can become an indulgence when reach-outs are called for. We are putting off a solution. Something that will take care of us, relieve us, make us stronger, connect us.

I’ve started some mornings with meditation and breath exercises when that was really the last thing I wanted to do, but it was what I knew would set the right tone for me for the day. I also had to recognize when it was enough and I had to move on to other responsibilities in my life.

It’s wonderful to indulge. Indulge away. But let’s not hijack the meaning of self-care to be synonymous with indulgence. Self care is what we do that gives us what we really need: a fierce love for ourselves and those around us, a voice that advocates on our behalf and on behalf of others that need advocation, and an inner strength that doesn’t allow our highest values to become hijacked by external pressure. Self-care brings us back to Self so that not only can we truly indulge without regret, but we can also truly care for others in the most appropriate way.

Why being your true self matters

  1. We want people to see who we really are, even when we don’t think we do. The latter is just our fear talking anyway, underlined by a dream that if only I can just be me, what a relief it would be, “it” would all be over. The “it” likely being exhaustion. But in reality, it could be the beginning of something so sweet. We don’t want to waste precious time surrounding ourselves with those that don’t vibe with us, so let them see us.
  2. Trust makes for a happier life. It’s nice to know when what we see is as close as possible to what we get. Many of us care about authenticity- in art, food, products, certifications, and I would like to believe especially, in relationships. We get pretty upset when we find out otherwise.
    It’s difficult to fully trust a relationship when we haven’t put our full self forward. We question would the other person still feel this way about me if I hadn’t held back? Depending how much of ourselves we’ve hidden, we will eventually either fully breach that trust, or no one will fully understand what changed in the relationship down the line. That’s because it’s difficult to keep that suppression down forever without it at the very least coming out sideways. Which leads to point #3.
  3. Honest relationships are more sustainable. It’s exhausting to not be fully yourself all the time.

Being real

…is sharing how you truly feel
with consideration, kindness and compassion, and
without betraying yourself.

How to tell?

It’s in your truest of intentions.

Sometimes what needs to be said may not feel kind and compassionate, but you know it is. Boundaries are a real thing. It doesn’t look demeaning or judging. If it does, take a moment to work that out because that’s something else happening to protect how you truly feel.

Sometimes what needs to be said is scary as hell because you are afraid others will disapprove. Take the chance. That hold-back is a self-betrayal, and that’s the worst kind of disapproval. And you want to know who you are surrounding yourself with. It’s okay. When you put yourself out there, the rest is less about you and more about them. You are fine. They’ve gotta work that out.

Sometimes what needs to be said – how you truly feel – is pure gratitude. Share it, because people need to hear it in a bad way. That sort of love grows like wildfire, and that’s the kind of wildfire the world needs.