Today I spent a little time contemplating the changes I have made in my life. I have made so many choices to do things differently, some amazing and some…not so much. All have contributed to me learning even more, honing my skill set as a mentor, a leader, and a coach.
The one thing that has contributed to the biggest change in my life is the willingness to no longer hide from me. This is a process of being curious about a choice, a feeling of resistance, or an urge to run and hide.
Getting curious means I first go through a process of acceptance. How am I responding? Am I responding or am I reacting? How can I change the narrative to be more productive? What do I need to change to find myself in a better state and make even better choices?
As I continue to settle into seeing the life I have, I realize it was created by the choices I made, I am then able to see how to redirect my life with intention.
Let me share some examples of facing myself that you might resonate with.
Accepting responsibility for my contribution.
Every relationship I have been in; friendships, lovers, or business; has been entered into based on the state I am in at the time. For a very long time the state I was in was that I believed that it was my responsibility to make these relationships work.
My choices did not mater, I was supposed to “make” the other happy. My desires and needs were secondary. This showed up when:
- It didn’t matter where I went or what I did, as long as I got to hang with “you” today. Even when it was something I was not very comfortable doing.
- It had been a long week at work, I was exhausted but still prepared dinner. When it was time to serve the meal, guess who got the smallest portion or the grittier steak? That would be me.
- I continuously changed my language, kept quiet when I saw something that was mis-aligned, and took on blame for failures that were out of my control. I believed to be of value, I had to fix everything.
Breaking this cycle took some work. I first needed to really know my personal core values and then understand how to make choices based on them. I learned that I am deserving and how to create boundaries that protected my values and upheld my integrity. I gave myself permission to say no frequently, to walk away from some very old relationships, and to create a career where my integrity is not compromised.
Accepting the shame.
There was a time in my life, if asked, I would say I have nothing to feel shame for. What is really interesting is that I later discovered that this state of being was so deep rooted that I didn’t even recognize it existed.
Let’s face it, we all do things we are ashamed of in our lives. For me, these were easy to identify and easy to resolve. What I did not recognize was the ancestral shame I had been carrying my whole life.
Both parents had shame from their heritage they were hiding from. My mom was part American Indian and hid that her entire life. My father’s family came over from Russia; Jews escaping persecution. I was raised being told to “never be ashamed of who you are,” while we never went to temple, and he closed the curtains when lighting sabbath candles.
This shame of my heritage was so deeply embedded in my self-conscious that I was thrown for a loop when it began to show up.
Both parents have passed and so I ended up holding a meditative ceremony with them both to resolve these feeling. Releasing and forgiving these emotions was the best thing I ever did for myself. The subtleness of how this had impacted my life was very powerful. Living with freedom from hiding a truth is liberating.
Accepting why I have chosen.
Many choices in life are based on belief systems and our upbringing. Some of these choices are made without ever realizing what they are or why.
I did some shadow work a few years back, excavating relationships. What I discovered is that I had a huge repulsion to angry voices and a strong aversion to anger.
I grew up frequently listening to my father practice his angry rampage for one of my siblings before they got home. By the time they came in he hit them like shooting both barrels of a shotgun.
This frightened me and put me in a position to believe I needed to save my siblings.
After identifying this hidden fear of anger, I also realized I gravitated toward angry people. I have two broken marriages and both men, in their own way, were unhappy angry people. Both frightened me with their tempers, and I allowed both of them to control me as I tried to keep the peace and balance in the household.
Discovering this hidden truth has allowed me to no longer accept anger in my life. I can not control anyone but me. I no longer try to create balance, soothe someone’s wound, or cool their emotions. If it does not resonate with me, then I can either change my perspective or I can leave.
These are just a few examples of the work I’ve done on me and the type of work I get to do with my clients. The hidden beliefs are the ones that control you the most. They have power and they are formidable.
Being willing to work on yourself takes courage. It means you show up without expectations and it means you do the real work every day.