I Know Something About You…

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You want something.

You wouldn’t be here – on a site with the tagline “Be Your Whole Self” – if you didn’t. If you were content and satisfied and already operating from the center of your whole self, you wouldn’t be sitting around, perusing the internet, looking for answers.

You’d be too busy enjoying what you’ve already created, dreaming up your next creative adventure or happily working on intentionally bringing yet another of your heart’s desires to fruition.

But that’s not you. You’re not there. You are here. And here isn’t exactly where you want to be.

I get that.

I get that in a deep, familiar way. It is, in a lot of ways, my life story. I spent the vast majority of my 46 years on this planet, wanting to be or do or accomplish something else. I had no idea what that something else was but it called to me. It pushed me forward and compelled me to look elsewhere, to try new things, to find the next clue or sign or puzzle piece. It made me throw all kinds of things against the wall to see if they’d stick.

There were just a few problems with this method… First, it didn’t work. Very few things stuck and those that did weren’t a result of my good planning or focused efforts. They were a result of dumb luck, of being in the right place at the right time, of fate.

Secondly, the whole thing made me feel like a freak. Everywhere I looked people were settling down and setting up camp. They’d reached their desired destinations and were all living out their lives in contended bliss. At least that’s how it looked to me.

Finally, I had it all wrong or, more accurately, backwards. For as long as I could remember, instead of moving toward what I really wanted, I’d been moving away from what I didn’t. There’s a difference. A big difference. It’s like trying to use the process of elimination to design your life. It doesn’t work… unless you eventually get tired of it and finally just settle. Which A LOT of people do but I could never seem to (see my second point, above).

I think that may actually have been my ultimate saving grace… my inability to settle. But to be completely honest, it never really felt like grace. It felt like a character flaw. In my mind, it wasn’t that I was unable or unwilling to settle. It was that I was a malcontent, a flake, a dissident. I wanted to be like everyone else but was completely unable to do it.

I tried. Oh, how I tried. Most of the things I threw against the wall were either ideas I’d come up with while watching and comparing myself to other people or suggestions those people had for me regarding what I should try next. Where to live, where to work, what to wear, how to spend my free time… none of that was anything I ever chose for myself. Is it any wonder I spent so much of my life feeling like a stranger in it? I don’t think so. Not anymore, anyway. In retrospect it all makes perfect sense. But it took me a long time and a fair amount of loneliness and isolation to see it for what it was.

Time and distance. Sometimes, that’s what it takes to get the perspective you need. Alone, I was able to take my eyes off what everyone else was doing and turn my gaze inward… back to the only person’s opinion that really mattered… back to the desires and dreams that were still very much alive and kicking and ready to be turned into reality. Looking back, I was able to see a method to the madness that was my journey… how I’d been taught everything I needed to learn in order to create what I’d been searching for, for all those years.

For about as far back as I could remember until roughly ten years ago, my primary feelings were fear, anxiety, guilt, sadness and unworthiness. That means for approximately twenty-five years, negative emotions dominated my existence. That’s pretty shocking and a little sad, in its own right. What’s even more disconcerting though, is that for a great deal of that time period nobody close to me or otherwise, knew it. Hell, I wasn’t completely aware of it.

I didn’t realize how significantly those negative emotions were affecting every aspect of my life – my relationships, my experiences and my results – until I was in my twenties. And even once I became aware of it, I still didn’t feel as if there was anything I could do about it. After trying everything I could think to try (A LOT of therapy, self-help, achievement, perfection, external validation, etc.), I still considered the feelings I had to be as much a part of me as any of my physical attributes or natural propensities. I understood why I felt the way I felt, but that did little in the way of precipitating the changes I so desperately wanted to make. I was stuck in a vicious cycle of feeling badly, acting on my negative feelings and then reaping the negative rewards of those actions.

It wasn’t until I got a glimpse one fateful morning, of what it would be like to actually live without my negative emotions, that I started believing it was possible to do so permanently. That glimpse changed everything. It showed me in no uncertain terms exactly how I wanted to feel and that my feelings were more important than anything. I didn’t know how I was going to get there or what I’d be doing once I arrived, but I knew where I wanted to go. For the first time in my life, I had a target.

In fairness, I should say that I didn’t really know that’s what I had at the time. Again, it’s only in retrospect that I can see it for what it was. All I really knew was that things had changed. I finally understood that I’d been doing it wrong. I’d been trying to change my feelings from the outside in, when it had been an inside proposition all along. Getting a sneak peak of how I wanted to feel caused me to shift my efforts from choosing one random goal after the other in hopes that reaching them would make me feel better, to setting my sites on my desired feeling state, instead.

And if I’d actually been certain of what my desired feeling state was, my story would have been over. But it’s wasn’t. It took me a very long time to realize that the only feeling state that’s worth desiring (because it’s the precursor to every other feeling state you desire) is self love and acceptance. Oh, I preached it for years. I stood on my pulpit and banged my fists and told everyone who would listen that they absolutely, positively HAD to get square with the person in the mirror before they could ever hope to do anything good out in the world. And I meant it.

The problem was I still wasn’t square with the person in my own mirror. I was still at war with myself.  And that battle would probably still be going on to this day if I hadn’t finally discovered the secret to stopping it - I chose to. I chose to stop believing that I wasn’t exactly who and what and where I was supposed to be. Just like that. Except it wasn’t just like that. Everything I’d been doing and learning and re-learning had prepared me to make the choice to love, accept and be my whole self. And once I made that choice, there was no turning back.

Stepping into your wholeness is like that. You can’t unring the bell. You can’t go back to pretending you don’t know the truth. You kind of have to keep showing up and making the choice to do right by yourself.  So, that’s what I do now. I choose to show up as myself. Turns out, that’s exactly who I wanted to be all along.