Is it really your intuition guiding you? Maybe it’s fear

What if that voice that’s whispering to you isn’t your inner wisdom but your inner fear, a Dragon, a Monster?

This happened to me last week.

See, despite all the problems and failures I’ve had, people think of me as “strong”. And I have to admit that I like that people think that about me.

I think of me as “strong”, even though I know my weaknesses.

This is hard because I want to talk about something without giving too many details, but I’m going to try.

Something was happening last week that felt like an old pattern, something I did not want to deal with.

I started to feel/hear “Walk away, walk away, WALK AWAY!!”

I was already starting to mourn the ending, even though I hadn’t walked away yet. Gathering the strength to do so was in itself a grieving process.

I was certain that my “inner wisdom” or intuition or whatever was telling me this was doomed to be a failure. I mean absolutely, positively certain. I was journaling about it, I was working myself up into an emotional cyclone over it. I was unable to concentrate long enough to do paid-for readings (which is unprofessional as hell).

And then something popped up in my inbox that made me shift gears.

First of all, I’m in complete inbox overwhelm lately. During the telesummit a few months ago, I had signed up for dozens of email lists and haven’t had the energy to trim them down yet. Most days I don’t read any of the emails I get, or I just glance through. Some days one or two jump out at me and say, “Read/watch/listen”, whichever is appropriate.

And one day, Christine Arylo’s Love Letter jumped out at me. I don’t know why. I hadn’t looked at her stuff in months (if you don’t know Christine, she’s built her business and reputation around self-love. She’s a bit quirky and funny. Check her out at Madly In Love With Me!)

Something in there reminded me of one of The Four Agreements – Don’t Assume. [As an aside, remind me to tell you guys about working with Don Miguel Ruiz before he became famous.]

Assuming goes two ways. Assuming you know what someone else is thinking or feeling and assuming that they know what you are thinking and feeling.

And that’s what I had been doing. I had been taking something personally that really didn’t have anything to do with me.

I was also expecting someone else to know – at a distance! – how I was feeling and pursue me to force me to tell him/her how I was feeling.

And that is not fair in so many ways.

The Voice, the one now SCREAMING, “Walk Away, WALK AWAY, WALK AWAY!” was doing all that assuming.

So, I watched Christine’s video again and sat down to compose an email.

I didn’t even know what to say or how to express what I was feeling.

But I did the best I could with it.

It was cathartic; I even cried while writing it.

I felt immensely better for writing and sending it.

I didn’t get an immediate response. I didn’t expect an immediate response.

But the longer I waited for a response, the more the Voice started up again. “See, told ya so!” it was now saying.

I was feeling panicked.

What if. . . .

What if I opened up to the wrong person at the wrong time?

What if I made myself vulnerable and received nothing in return?

Why wasn’t I listening to my intuition?

Could I handle being hurt again?

But, in my best times, I have been able to say, “Feel the fear, and do it anyway.” Push through the fear, do what you’re scared of. Yes, there’s potential for it to go wrong, to be hurt, to fail, but how do you know if you don’t try?

And then . . .  I got a response.

It was appropriate, kind, thoughtful, and genuine.

The fear bubble burst.

The Voice was gone.

That Voice was the voice of fear, NOT my intuition.

But how do you tell the difference? The Voice of fear was so strong – so much stronger than the gentle pull in the opposite direction.

Christine’s video resonated so strongly with me at exactly the right moment – that was intuition guiding me to what I needed to hear.

That voice, that guide is so quiet and gentle most of the time, it’s hard to recognize it at times.

Photo from Unprofound.com

Before you act on something, especially if it’s a negative something, or makes you panicked, stop for a moment. Breathe. Ask, “Does this act serve my highest good? Will this help me feel more fulfilled/loved/helpful/relieved or will this just hurt?”

Sometimes you need to cut people out of your life, toxic people, people who only hurt you even if it’s under the guise of helping you. Be clear about why you are doing that if you do. Make sure that it’s not based on a million what-ifs (assumptions) that haven’t even happened yet.

Be kind to yourself – ask for what you need. After all, you can’t get anywhere if you don’t move out of your comfort zone.

As I was in the middle of writing this, my new friend and Wild Sister Marylin over at Soft Thistle posted about asking for help and being vulnerable. 🙂 Same wavelength, lady!

Self Love: Feeling Worthy

A few weeks ago, Diana posted a fantastic post about feeling worthy. In it, she quoted a Facebook post by Paul Carter.

click to return to the previous page
photo from Unprofound.com
What seeds are you planting in your mind?

The greatest gift you can ever give yourself is the undying belief that you are worthy. Someone who doesn’t value their own self worth cannot fully accept anything gifted to them or anything earned.

If you do not believe you are worthy of someone’s love, you will never experience it. If you do not believe you are worthy of adoration, you will never experience it. If you do not believe you are worthy of adoration, you will never receive it. If you do not believe you are worthy of being strong you will never know it.

Inhale and grok* the belief that you are worthy of things both gifted and earned. .  .

There is a lot here.

We’ve often heard that if you don’t love yourself, you can’t truly love someone else. But this feels .  . . more. . . somehow.

How do you change your belief in yourself so much that you feel “worthy of adoration” without becoming completely narcissistic?

And if you don’t believe it, deep down, what kind of damage does that do?

Diana talks about not liking it when her friends don’t have a sense of self-worth, when they are down on themselves. I totally understand that. When people I care about do the same thing, I can’t stand it.

For example, when C starts being down on herself, it’s really hard to watch.

Here is this exquisite, beautiful, smart-as-hell, strong, strong-willed, talented, kind, good with small children, energetic, fantastic human being. And she will get down on herself for not being good enough, pretty enough, smart enough, good at martial arts enough. She was raised with a lot of positive reinforcement, and she still has all the same emotional fragility a lot of us have.

And nothing I say helps, because it’s coming from inside.

I know I do this, too. I talked about it a little in the compliments post, learning to just say, “Thank you,” and not add qualifiers or things that diminish the compliment.

When I look at things, particularly the last 10 years, I have not believed that I was worthy. It appears that deep down, I don’t believe I deserve good things. I create crises to ensure I don’t get good things.

I do things that make my life harder. There was a point where money was a big concern, and I missed a deadline for financial aid, and lost money that I needed. It created an even bigger crises.

And I continually do things like that, create situations that turn into crises

I didn’t believe I was good enough for the dream job I had.

I didn’t believe I was smart enough for my major.

I didn’t believe I could be successful.

I didn’t believe I deserve good things.

I am still struggling with these feelings.

Every time I make a step towards something good, some success, financial security, emotional support, anything, I do something to make that thing move further away.

I can tell that I’m changing a bit now, that the inner work I’m doing is starting to bring some success. But it still feels like. . . two steps forward, one step back.

I think one thing that’s helping me is hearing all these successful people talk about their fears and insecurities. Even Oprah!

The show has taught me there is a common thread that runs through all of our pain and all of our suffering, and that is unworthiness. Not feeling worthy enough to own the life you were created for. Even people who believe they deserve to be happy and have nice things often don’t feel worthy once they have them. 
There is a difference, you know, between thinking you deserve to be happy and knowing you are worthy of happiness. . . . 
What I got was we often block our own blessings because we don’t feel inherently good enough or smart enough or pretty enough or worthy enough.
Read more: http://www.oprah.com/oprahshow/The-Oprah-Winfrey-Show-Finale_1/6#ixzz2QUhF9Kfk

So, how can we turn it around?

I think starting with Louise Hay’s exercise of looking in the mirror and telling yourself, “I love and accept you just the way you are.”

After all, if you can’t do that, how can someone else?

One of the things, besides Diana’s post, that brought this up for me was this TED talk, with Amy Cuddy:

Pay particular attention to what she says about “Fake it until you become it.”

I’ve always hated, “Fake it til you make it,” advice, mostly because I know people who are or have been suicidally depressed and no one around them knew it. They were certainly faking it every day.

But I love her story about her experience with impostor syndrome, especially when she was approached by a grad student with the same feelings.

If you are already doing some kind of daily (or regular) writing exercise, such as affirmations, gratitude/blessings, or just journaling, what about adding to it just a little bit? Add in one sentence with something you LIKE or even love about yourself.

  • I made someone laugh/smile today. 
  • [Name] said s/he thinks I’m awesome.
  • I figured out something important today
Whatever you can think of. I don’t think it’s easy. I’m still having trouble coming up with something to be grateful for every day. But I am adding this to my daily (well, near daily) writing.

What seeds are you planting when you talk to yourself?

What have you done to find a sense of self-worth? What have you done to help someone else feel better about themselves?

*grok – For those unfamiliar, the word comes from Robert Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land, a tale about a human child/man raised on Mars by Martians who returns to Earth and tries to figure out human society. In the book, it’s a Martian word that doesn’t translate well into any human language, but sort of means to understand something so completely that you feel it in your bones, you know it instinctually.

Self-love: 4 Songs That Make Me Smile

Sometimes it’s difficult to remember good things in your life.

Through my last depression, I realized something. When I’m on the way down or depressed, I don’t listen to music as much. I will put NPR on the radio in the car, watch TV shows at home, but rarely turn the radio to a music station or Pandora on the computer.

When I’m feeling better is the time when I go back to music, which means I tend to like upbeat stuff.

I almost titled this: 4 songs to make you smile. But, I don’t know if they’ll make you smile. I can only say that they make ME happy. I do believe that music can help shape our emotions, give us focus, make us feel better (or worse – there are songs that evoke anger and pain, too).

I’m often scared to talk about what I like in music. My tastes are usually a bit behind the times, and all over the musical map. I tend to like quite a bit pop stuff, which used to mean some of my friends would make fun of me when they were into alternative and underground. I eventually developed a taste for a lot of alternative stuff, but usually 3-5 years behind my friends.

Now, I tend to not care too much what others think, but I still sometimes feel like I have to justify my tastes. I know, intellectually, that is ridiculous, but sometimes old feelings creep up on me.

1. Pop  – Pink – Try

When I first started to hear this song on the radio, I would turn it off almost immediately, because the music sounded sad.
A couple months ago, C forced me to watch this video of Pink’s performance at the AMAs. 
First of all, totally love Pink. She’s unapologetically strong and individualistic, but also compassionate and kind: everything I love in a female role model.

Watching her do this modern dance interpretation of her song was amazing. I was blown away by her strength and grace and for the first time actually listened to the song.

The chorus really speaks to me.

Where there is desire,
There is gonna be a flame.
Where there is a flame,
Someone’s bound to get burned.
But just because it burns,
Doesn’t mean you’re gonna die.
You’ve gotta get up and try, try, try.

For a long time now, I’ve been able to keep getting up when it has to do with survival needs. But I have pushed a lot of people away.

Lately, a particular person has been reminding me that I need to do this with relationships, too: open myself up again, allow the possibility of being hurt. The song says that even if you are hurt, it won’t be fatal, and then you can try again. And something about the flame mentioned here is reminiscent of a time long ago. 🙂

2. Electronica/goth-rock – The Cruxshadows – Indivisible

Itunes calls this band “electronica” and Pandora classifies it as “goth-rock”. I don’t really care. 🙂 I was looking for new music and someone on FB suggested this band. This was the first song that jumped out at me. My itunes tells me this is the most listened to song on my computer and iPod at the moment. (Their song Valkyrie from the same album is almost as played).

And call it courage, overcoming the fear
to conquer first the demons inside.
That when the madness descends on our dreams
we have the strength to keep them alive
The purpose of one becomes the purpose of all
A phalanx made from what we believe.
A ghost or an angel, a wish or a prayer,
Just open your eyes, your heart, your mind
and BREATHE. 

3. Pop? – Gotye – I Feel Better

Gotye hit the charts this past summer with “Somebody That I used to Know“. I like the song, even though it was way overplayed for a few months. But it is a break up song, with a lot of sadness and bitter-sweetness in it.
But this song, from the same album is even better. It reminds me of some upbeat 70s/early 80s stuff.

I’m having a hard time picking just a snippet of this one; I like almost every lyric, so I’ll just put the first part here; but listen to the whole thing. Something about it kind of reminds me of “I can see clearly now“.

There was a time I was down, down
I didn’t know what to do.
I was just stumbling around, around
Thinking things could not improve.
I couldn’t look on the bright side
Of anything at all.
That’s when you gave me a call!
And I feel better, better, better than before!
I feel better, better!
Now I’m not down anymore!

That sounds like someone who has been depressed and found a way out of it. In some ways I don’t like that it takes another person to get him out of it. But there’s nothing in the song that says this was definitely a romantic attachment that made everything better. It could be a good friend, an old friend, or an estranged family member that helped him find his way back.

4. Chant – Om Gam Ganapatye Namaha

I like chants, all kinds of chants. Somewhere I have a CD of Gregorian chants. I have some tapes and CDs of Pagan chants. And Buddhist and Hindu Chants have always fascinated me.

There’s something .  . .  soothing about repeating syllables in a musical manner. C, on the other hand, can’t stand them. She’s been very frustrated when I listen to 20-30 minutes of “Om Mani Padme Hum”. 🙂

My friend Trudy  reminded me of this one earlier this week.

It calls upon the God Ganesh (or Ganesha).

Ganesh had his head cut off and replaced with an elephant head.

He is known as one who removes obstacles (because an elephant can move anything out of his/her way!), facilitates success (you’ll often see small altars to him in businesses), and is also very playful.

In the brass sculpture here, he is dancing on top of a small mouse – his usual ride! And if the image of a fat guy with an elephant head riding a mouse doesn’t make you smile, I don’t know what would. 🙂

From Vishal International

From the website Humanity Healing (click on the link for more info on Ganesh).

Om gam ganapataye namaha!
A very loose translation might be:
Om = Salutations! Everyone wake up!
Gam = The secret power sound of Ganesh. It is his “seed syllable” or bija mantra.
Ganapataye = Another name of Ganesh, the breaker of obstacles.
Namaha = Yo! Ganesh! You da God!

What about you?

What songs never fail to make you smile? What songs speak to what you’re going through right now? I’d love for you to share in the comments or on the Facebook page

Self-love: Cleaning & Organizing

Kind of a weird title, I know, but I just read Dominee’s post about beginning to love herself and one of the things she talks about is how messy her home was before.

My apartment looked like something out of Hoarders.
Maybe not as bad but it was pretty close. Dirty dishes in the sink that had been there for months and months. Used paper plates thrown haphazardly on the floor. Stains on the carpet and furniture because when something spilled I didn’t care enough to clean it up. Clothes everywhere, piles of empty pizza boxes, and bags of trash that I didn’t care enough to take out to the dumpster. Anyone looking at that scene would just think how lazy and sloppy I was.

I can completely relate.

At some times, my home was that bad.

It’s not now, but it’s not an organized, serene haven, either.

There’s too much stuff in not enough space, and things shoved into open boxes and shelves with little organization.

It’s not for lack of trying.

C and I are both good at organizing small bits at a time.

But we are also both bad at maintaining the organization.

Last week, we went through one day where we pulled stuff out of the bathroom cabinets and linen closet to organize the bathroom.

We finally purged a lot of stuff we’ve been meaning to go through for ages. We ended up getting rid of more than 2 large garbage bags of stuff, plus have a pile to go to storage.

After that, for the last three days, I’ve been starting at my living room, hating the arrangement.

I’ve always hated the arrangement here.

But there’s so much stuff on the shelves that it’s really a pain to move anything.

Tonight, the frustration peaked and I’ve started moving stuff.

I think it’s going to take a few days to go through the whole thing.

I mentioned before that I have been able to keep a clean, organized home at times in the past:

When I look back on my past, the times my home has been cleanest and I’ve done better at routine things are the times I’ve lived completely alone, or for a brief period when C was tiny after I kicked Deadbeat Roommate out.

Considering that C is rarely home now and will be off to college soon enough, I should be able to do this again, now. Right now, things are clean. There’s only today’s dishes in the sink, and C just emptied the dishwasher of clean stuff so I’ll be getting them done tonight. The garbage is taken out regularly. There’s no food laying around.

But it is messy/cluttered.

Part of my frustration is that when I live alone, all the mess is mine, and things remain where I leave them. And now, while C is rarely home, her messes still are.

She’s capable of cleaning and organizing. In fact, she does a fabulous job when she does it. But getting her to do it is difficult.

I WANT a more serene home.

But I also want my things close at hand all the time.

Those two things seem to be at odds with each other.

A larger place, once I can afford it, will help.

But there’s still a lot of stuff that needs to be gotten rid of completely.

And that is overwhelming.

My storage unit is 10x10x10 and filled to the rafters.

I know a lot of the stuff that’s in there, but I can never find it when I go looking.

So, for the next few days, I’ll be seriously looking at stuff and hopefully purging as I move things around, because dammit, I deserve a comfortable place to live in.

I thought about taking some “before” pictures, but I’m just not that brave.

Self-Love: Valentine’s Day

I have to admit, I kind of hate V-Day.

Most years I simply ignore that it exists, especially since C is past the age of handing out random cards to everyone in her class.

Most of my life, I’ve been alone in February. I had a boyfriend in HS for 2 years. I was with someone in 99 and got flowers delivered, which was nice.

I was with my ex-husband in 94, but I was half way across the world and my gifts/card came late – I don’t think he even mailed them until after the day. Things were pretty strained between us at the time. And he left me 4 months later, so, you know, not a great memory.

I’ve spent a good deal of time this month reading and journaling about loving yourself. (And this month’s Wild Sister Magazine is all about self-love. If you haven’t seen it, go check it out.)

And for some reason, I’ve still been starting to get a little down. It could be that my mood state is shifting downward, because I don’t see much externally that should be causing it, other than the usual money stress (but that’s been constant for so long now, it’s normal).

I’m accomplishing more.

I’m establishing routines that are helping me.

I’m actually making lists of things that need to be done and taking steps to accomplish goals. And most days making progress on those lists (which is a HUGE thing for me).

I’m having great conversations every night with someone I care about.

I have fantastic friends.

My daughter is wonderfully amazing.

Dominee at Blessing Manifesting has a little (free) ebook called Be Your Own Valentine.

One of the things I found most powerful in it was an exercise that was surprisingly difficult to do. (She got this from Louise L. Hay’s book You Can Heal Your Life).

Go, look yourself in the eye in a mirror, and say, “I love and accept you just the way you are.”

A lot of anxiety and some unidentifiable but powerful emotions came up for me when I did this. It was a little overwhelming.

Have you ever done that?

I mean, I’ve said those words or similar, and I’ve said them to other people, but not trying to hold my own gaze.

If you haven’t done it, try it. And yes, it feels a bit silly at first, but try to take it seriously.

And please share what happens for you.

Self-love: Who are you?

Silly question right?

I’m me, of course. But who am I really?

How can you love yourself, if you don’t know who you are?

When I look back at the years of depression, I discover that I’m not who I thought I was, or at least, I didn’t act like I was that person.

I thought I was a person who was open, loving, kind, contemplative, hippy-granola, vibrant, generous, a little bit wild. I thought I cared about people and animals and the environment. I thought I was politically active.

I thought I was going to raise my kid with a spiritual, social and ecological consciousness.

I thought I was someone with strong faith in things you cannot see, in the goodness of people.

But when push came to shove, when life got hard, I turned into someone I didn’t recognize.

I lost my faith, in anything spiritual and most of all in myself.

I lost my spark, my hope.

I began to hate people. I was full of anger. (And of course, there’s that whole “depression is anger turned inward” thing.)

I intellectually knew things I *should* be doing to make things better, but I was incapable of doing them, which fed the cycle more, leading to beating myself up.

I allowed my kid to grow up thinking McDonald’s was the best meal ever, instead of giving her mostly healthy homemade meals. In the beginning, it was because I was working and tired. Later, it was because I was depressed and would “forget” to cook something (really, I just couldn’t get out of my chair). I allowed her to grow up thinking sitting at a dining table was only for special occasions. I allowed her to grow up with a TV always on in the house. That is so not who I thought I was.

I was “into” yoga when yoga wasn’t cool. But for the last 15 years, I’ve barely had any yoga practice at all, much less a daily practice that I once had. Ditto for my spiritual practices.

So, now, here I am.

I’m not currently depressed, but I’m also not the person I used to think I was. And I don’t know if I can ever be that person.

So, who are you?

Are you who you think you are?

Look at the things you believe about yourself.

And then look at your actions.

Do your actions reflect your stated values?

If not, then you need to look at both those things, and you have two choices.

1. Start working on making your actions match your values.
2. Adjust your image of who you are.

I’m working on both.

For example, for the first time in my life, I’m making lists of things that need to get done, and I’m making a concerted effort to get them done.

There’s a couplefew of reasons for me doing this.

  1. It’s part of my journey to be more disciplined.
  2. In the past, I often sit in my home, thinking about the housework or paperwork or other stuff that needs to be done and get overwhelmed. Then nothing ever gets done, because I’ve spent all my energy THINKING about it, instead of doing it. Making lists is helping me capture the stuff that needs to be and frees up my head for other things. So far, I’m not always getting it all done, but I am getting more done than I have in a long time.
  3. This is also the first time I’ve made clearly defined goals, and if I just continue to sit on my ass not take any action, then I won’t make those goals.
In the past, this would have made me feel . . . restricted, confined. But right now, I’m seeing it as key to the changes I want to make.
So, do your actions match your values? Are you who you think you are? Can you become who you want to be?
You have to know who you are, before you can move forward, before you can love yourself. You have to accept yourself, warts and all.

Self-Love: Compliments

Since we are rapidly coming up on what my daughter’s friends call Singles Awareness Day (because nothing makes you feel as acutely aware that you’re single than Valentine’s Day, you know?), I thought I’d do a short series on loving yourself.

My friend N often says, “The only proper response to a compliment is, ‘Thank you.'”

Think about the last time someone complimented you. How did you respond?

“You look nice today.”

Did you say, “Thank you“? or did you say, “Oh, no, I have this huge zit right here!” or “My hair wouldn’t do what I wanted it to” or “I hate this shirt” or “I feel fat today” or some other self-deprecating comment?

Do you know what you’re doing when you do that?

You are telling yourself that you don’t like yourself very much.

You know the affirmations we’ve talked about recently?

This would be the opposite of that.

Affirmations try to counter your negative self-talk, and not accepting compliments, in fact denying them, can undo all the work you’re trying to do with the affirmations.

Back in November, someone I know casually on another internet forum connected to me on Facebook. While we were having a conversation about how we knew each other, he said, “you were always the scary smart one.”

WTF?

“Scary smart”?

This guy is an attorney with a pretty impressive resume and rapier wit, so, you know, he’s not dumb himself.

And I know a couple of scary smart people like L, a math professor and researcher that excels at taking complex concepts and explaining them to the average person. Or S, the tax attorney that creates complicated spreadsheets to analyze test data or housing and investment trends for fun. 

I posted on my wall, well, here’s part of the conversation [I removed identifying stuff]:

Me: Someone just called me “scary smart”; I’m not sure I can live up to that.



Now, you expect your mother and sister to say complimentary stuff, but both T and G are themselves very smart, educated women whom I respect.

While I’ve been reexamining some of my inner work stuff lately, I realize that I totally do this. I mean, I deflect compliments.


M has said some very nice things about me lately, and my first, immediate emotional response is to deflect it, to deny it, to diminish it.


But by doing that, not only am I disrespecting myself, I’m disrespecting him and his opinions. 


And every time we deflect a compliment, we are saying to the person giving the compliment, “I don’t trust your judgment.”


So, from now on, when someone compliments you, how you look, how you dress, how smart you are, your parenting, your compassion, your kindness, your organizational skills, WHATEVER,  just say, “Thank you.”


And then stop for a moment and really think about what they said; take it in; LISTEN to it; repeat it to yourself; write it in your journal; do something that helps you remember it.


Because the old saw about loving yourself before you can love someone else? Totally true.


 But sometimes looking at ourselves through someone else’s eyes can help us get there.