Monday, February 17, 2014

Know That You Are Awesome, Even Outside Your Comfort Zone

I was reading some articles from The Daily Love that talk about common insecurities women have.

First of all, I don’t feel as offended reading about them now. They usually don’t apply to me, so they annoy me, but now I know I don’t have to PROVE that they don’t apply to me. I’d read them and think, “That’s like the OPPOSITE of my problem – their problem is so pathetic! Why is this article accusing me of having that problem!! I don’t have it!!” So I’ve moved beyond having mental battles with articles like that, haha. Whew!

The point I really wanted to get to was that, some women (scratch that – PEOPLE) think they are not enough based on their framework of reality. They think people will “find out” that they are not perfect, or people will lose interest or get bored with them. Like I said, not my problem. I know I am awesome. I’m fine with people getting “bored” or “losing interest” because that doesn’t even make sense to me – if they can do that, they are not right for me, so we can go our separate ways. Granted that hasn’t really happened to me, either, at least not since early high school! And also because I’ve kept people at bay… hmmm.

The problem I DO have is that I know I am awesome based on my framework of reality, but that means I have to stay within my wheelhouse to believe that about myself. I’ve refused to step into a reality where I am not awesome, because I wouldn’t have been able to handle it. So everything that I am awesome at, that’s what makes a worthy, lovable, awesome person. Anything I suck at or haven’t done – it’s horrible, bad, immature, it doesn’t matter, whatever. See the problem? Limiting beliefs. It sure is comfortable in this particular set of limiting beliefs, but I have to hide away from so many other things in life to feel that way. For example, take how I feel about sexual content in the media. I have very intense negative physical reactions and an overwhelming sense of doom concerning that stuff. I can’t handle it. Because yes, I am awesome, but not in that area. So I reject it. Well, not “so I reject it”. That topic is really really complex for me and I’ve only begun to scratch the surface. But I’ve made some tremendous progress on the foundation of where that repulsion was built, and I know eventually I’ll have a healthy balance of feelings about that stuff. It helps to know that I’m not WRONG to have issues with it, it’s just why and how much I am against it that is the problem. There’s a healthy balance. I will get there.

Aside from that, my feeling awesome where I am now keeps me from GROWING. It keeps me from stepping OUT into the UNKNOWN, because I have to STAY where I KNOW I am awesome. It is so sad to think that I have restricted myself in these ways. I consciously know I am awesome, but unconsciously I don’t think I will be if I stray from the known.

Well that is all changing. I get it now. No matter what happens, I am awesome. I can fail, I can screw up, I can make a mistake and I will still be awesome. In fact, screwing up and failing means I have a chance to turn it around. I have a growth opportunity before me. I don’t fear failure as much anymore. Conceptually I don’t, at least. Presented with a situation, sure, I bet I’ll be terrified. But armed with the knowledge that it is not the end of the world, I believe I’d be able to get through it and come out stronger. It’s all those mental tools that I just did not have before. Now I have them. Now I know better. So now I am EXCITED to go out into the unknown, because a) I trust myself, and b) If I screw up, so what? It takes ALL the pressure away, and replaces it with peace, freedom and joy.

I never even ALLOWED myself to be in a situation where I felt like I wasn’t awesome. I thought that was a good thing – now I realize it is probably way worse than people who are at least COMFORTABLE existing in a world where they know they are not Number One. It’s interesting, how we all handle situations in a different way. We are all brave and clever in our own ways, and our egos set-up our worlds in such a certain way – a way we can process in our minds. But we just have to know how awesome we all are, even in the midst of the unknown! Even if we fail! Even if we have no idea what we are doing! We are all still awesome!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Taking the Next Step

So I applied to go on one of the retreats offered by our favorite spiritual and inspirational blog community! I finally made the decision that this would be a great next step in my journey. As my readers, you know I’ve made a lot of progress over the last year or so, but I am still living in my “ordinary world”. All the changes I’ve made so far are still very safe and very private (hence the anonymous blog). In order to grow, I will have to take that next big step – make things public. Add that level of vulnerability and accountability by standing in front of other people, declaring my needs and goals, and getting support and working towards the big life changes that will really set me on the path to happiness, love and contribution. At this point, I’m still hanging on to the safe, secure routine that feeds into my misery. I’m preparing my mind for that next big step. I’m looking at the world in a new way, and I’m gaining unconditional confidence in myself. At some point, I’m going to have to make that jump!

The scary part is that I don’t even know where I am jumping to! All I know is that I feel like I am off course. Do I want to go into psychology and become a psychologist, life coach, or rehabilitate people in prison like I mentioned before? Or do I want to do something with art, music or dance? Or do I want to continue software engineering, but incorporate some other side of my personality? Maybe I could work in computer animation, or do software development for psychology or art companies? Maybe it is something completely different that I haven’t thought of yet!

The point is that something needs to change. I’m not being true to myself, I’m not getting my needs met, and I’m not following my calling. And one major way I need to step out of my comfort zone is to call out for support from other human beings. I’m not interacting with many people these days. I’m thoroughly enjoying the people I do interact with, but I need more. I need a social life, of sorts. I need a certain kind of friendship, support system, and social circle. I’ve started reaching out, but it is so easy to hide back in my shell. I’m used to it. I’m busy, they’re busy, they don’t want to hear from me – whatever stories I am telling myself, I need to quit it. I need to put myself out there in front of people, allow myself to be vulnerable and take that next step!

So I filled out the very long and intense application. And then I got the phone interview, where I talked about why I wanted to go on the retreat. And then they reviewed my information.

And guess what?

I WAS SELECTED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

A very small number of people out of who knows how many applicants are invited to go. And I’m one of them!!!!!!

What’s interesting is that I KNEW. I felt it. I felt like this was right. I know now that the Uni-verse supports you when you are making the right choices, and when you are ready. So as soon as I started applying, I felt like it was going to happen. And again, I felt bad that I felt like it was going to happen. I felt arrogant. And I knew that even if it didn’t happen, that would be fine. The Uni-verse would just be saying I wasn’t quite ready yet. But I knew this was the next step for me, so I knew it had to happen. And it did!

I’m just filled with joy! I’m doing it! I’m making myself a priority, and I am taking charge of my life! I’m making changes! I AM going to be happy in my life! I’m on my way! It is SO exciting!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Mediator and Office Stress

As I move forward with my journey, I find that I flow seamlessly between being the student and being the teacher. I expect and am excited for my tests and lessons each day, now that I see them as growth opportunities instead of something being done “to” me. I also LOVE to help others with their problems. Honestly, I worry sometimes that I like it a little TOO much. How do you know if you are being humble and giving versus if you are being arrogant? I worry about that. I genuinely love to help people, and then when it happens, I feel fantastic and I’m proud of myself. But then sometimes I feel bad about feeling proud of myself. I think the fact that I’m aware of it helps, right? But how do you step up to the plate and say, hey, this is something I am genuinely very good at. For some reason I have some guilt issues with that.

Anyways, work has been interesting lately. I feel like I’ve become the office counselor, and I love it! There have been some fairly heated personality conflicts, where both sides get along very well with me. I feel like one of my gifts is being able to word things in a way that resonates with people, and being able to understand what someone is feeling and respect it while at the same time nudging to a different idea or perspective. What’s funny is how different tactics have to be between different personalities. But I think I jumped in at the appropriate time during an office argument and revealed the communication gap that was causing the problem. Then I had long talks with both individuals, and I think I was able to get everyone’s points across, for the most part. But I still respected that I can’t force people to get along, so I didn’t try to push it to perfection. I’m pleased that I’m able to do that without anyone thinking I am a traitor. That actually shows a lot of maturity on their part.

During the heated argument, I felt myself start to take on the energy of the situation, but as soon as I noticed, I breathed through it and let it go. I do tend to take on the energy of others in stressful and sad situations, so I am SO happy I am learning how to not do that.

I’ve also been morphing my perception of stress at work. I wonder if this is an age or experience thing, but I feel like I (and others my age) want to be impeccable with our word, so if a project schedule, task planning or deadline is being decided, we want to know in our heart of hearts that we can accomplish a task in the time allotted. If we anticipate unforeseen issues, research tasks, etc. then we want to make sure we have a comfortable buffer. But I think we worry about the buffer a little too much. It seems like older, more experienced officemates understand that everyone knows unforeseen problems pop up, so no one is going to attack us if a problem occurs and things get pushed back. It’s just a really hard concept to swallow. I’ve been given several very short deadlines that have stressed me out lately, and through that experience I am learning what I can do to protect myself and also alleviate stress. Obviously plan out how long you think it will take and present that schedule. But the kicker is – everyone knows that if one thing gets caught up, everything will get pushed. So it isn’t so much that you are signing in blood that everything WILL be done at that time – what you are saying is that this is what can be expected, but if something takes longer, things will move. And of course, don’t through unrealistic times at the schedule – but on the other extreme, don’t get stressed out about making sure every item on the schedule is perfect. Because that is my problem – perfectionism. It can be great at times, but I am learning how to manage it when it is damaging.

It’s also interesting how different youngsters such as myself handle our desire to be impeccable with our word. From what I’ve seen, we all have an inner dialog of “OH MY GOD HOW AM I GOING TO DO THAT IN THAT TIMEFRAME!?!? THAT’S IMPOSSIBLE! THERE IS SO MUCH TO DO AND SO MUCH CAN GO WRONG! AHHHHH!!!!” For me, the second thought is, “OKAY, IF I DON’T EAT, DON’T SLEEP AND WORK ON WEEKENDS… I CAN DO IT!” while others think “SCREW THIS, THIS IS RIDICULOUS. I SHOULD NOT BE ASKED TO DO THIS. THIS IS UNREASONABLE AND I’M NOT DOING IT.” And yet, somewhere in the middle would be the appropriate response, don’t you think? I think I’m finding my way to the middle. No more LITERALLY working myself into sickness like I did recently. Understanding the expectations of others helps, and the planning of the schedule helps, as well. It’s just an interesting thing to witness.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Preparing for The Hero's Journey

In addition to the stress, work and sickness, I began Mastin Kipp’s Follow Your Bliss Love Uni-versity class this week. What’s amazing is that I read up on our first topic, the stages of The Hero’s Journey, and yet reading about them had zero impact on me emotionally, while the class made a huge impact, to the point where I was crying. Evidence of a fantastic class!

What made me cry was realizing what in my life had to “die” in order for me to make the next necessary steps in my life. And for me, I know that is going to be losing the approval of my parents. My entire life I’ve worked my butt off trying to be what they expected of me, in hopes that I would prove my worth not only to them, but to myself - prove my worth as a human being. I’ve finally seemed to “fix” my relationship with them, so it feels horrible to think that as I continue to follow my heart and pursue my passions, I will lose their support. It’s not only that – they are the only support system I have. I don’t have any major friendships or extended family (with one exception). Once I make that break, I will be completely on my own. I’ll have to be able to handle the fact that they will most likely be “worried” and “disappointed” in me, which really screws with my head. I’ll have to be able to handle all the failures I am sure to have, because that’s just part of the process. I expect to fall a long way from my comfy secure lifestyle that I have now. I expect to be called irresponsible and crazy. And honestly I don’t know that I can handle all of that right now, because my self-confidence is gaining momentum, but is still very fragile right now.

I’ve read so many things that talk about how there is never a perfect time, and you have to just jump right in and figure it out as you go. However, you take in all that advice, you listen to your gut, and you find the right balance for you. I also know that no experience is wasted, and I see so much opportunity for growth around me right where I am. I think “jumping in” for me can mean something other than a completely drastic change. There are so many things I want to research and straighten out in my life in preparation for an even bigger move. I don’t think you have to always blindly jump. It’s really hard listening to all the various forms of advice and determining what works for me, but I think I’m finally trusting my own intuition above whatever voice I’ve deemed to be “right”, which used to be my parents, and then was this whole spiritual community. But I think now that I’ve made that 180, it is finally coming back to the center; to the truth; to me. Finally!

Acknowledging that I will most likely lose the approval of my parents was heart-shattering, but the thing about the Hero’s Journey is that there is also a Return stage. I’m hoping that even if they do have issues with my path, eventually they will see that this was the only way, and they will respect me more for it. I was such a sheltered and obedient kid (as much as they hate to admit it) that my parents have not had to go through that separation stage that most parents go through… I guess when their kids go to college? They lucked out, but now it is time, and sure, that may be confusing and painful for us all, but it has to happen. And hey – maybe they will surprise me and be completely on board! Ha, I doubt it, but it is possible! I just can’t continue to live my life this way for fear of hurting their feelings, ya know? Their plan for me didn’t even extend beyond this point – I made it, and now I’m just sitting here. And honestly, I don’t know what comes next. I guess that’s the point, though. Like I’ve been saying, I bet everything I’ve done will play a role in what I end up doing. It wasn’t a waste; it wasn’t “wrong” – it’s just that now I need to free up my heart, my mind and my life for what I’m really supposed to be doing.

I love helping people with their emotions and perspectives. I love helping people feel understood and yet see a different way of thinking, and time has shown that I’m pretty dang good at it. But I also love dance. And art. And poetry. And I enjoy singing. Some of those things I haven’t done in ages. I’ve made a resolution this year to make those passions a priority, so I’m hoping that diving into those things will open my heart to receive direction as far as my true purpose. I think THAT is the “Call” I must answer right now. I don’t think my call is to quit my job and travel the world – just yet. I think this year will be a year of action, but of preparatory action. 2013 was laying the mental foundation for the training and preparation that will occur this year, and then maybe next year will be the big drastic changes. The point is, who knows! But I don’t need to stress myself out by thinking I need to do something huge right now. I need to do what feels right. Start where you are. This is where I am. I’m working on so many aspects of myself right now. I need to focus my time and energy on those, and get ready for when the game changes and stakes get higher.

Are you listening to your own Inner Guide? Are you rushing your progress? What will have to “die” in your life in order for your journey to move to the next level?

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Stress Aftershock and Lessons Learned

As I mentioned before, I had a few emergencies around the same time the other night. I was proud at how well I handled it, and how I stayed calm and focused through the entire ordeal.

The problem is that I think a couple days later it started catching up to me. The aftershock. I tried to plan for a way forward for everything, and I felt like I was seeing warning flags everywhere, which made me upset. I had to schedule appointments with different veterinarians, because some of them didn’t seem to have their you-know-what together. And of course I went straight back to my double fire-drill stressful workload at work (“fire-drill” meaning something came up all of a sudden and has to be completed in an unrealistically short time frame), and I started having an anxiety attack, and running insults through my head to make people go away and not bother me. Hmmm, yeah it definitely caught up with me.

At the same time, I was pushing some affirmations through my head, too. It will be okay. Even if something horrible happens, that is the cycle of life. I’m doing all I can. And the workload is tough, but manageable. Everything is okay. EVERYTHING IS OKAY! Yet I didn’t quite believe myself…

Again, I acknowledge that if you want to play the comparison game, this isn’t even anything. But thank goodness I’ve learned to not buy into that logic, because it only makes me feel worse. Sure, these are not the worst issues in the world, but they are MY issues, and they are starting to overwhelm me. Comparing my issues to anyone else’s is absolutely useless at best and harmful to me at worst. So I’m not doing that.

I was very patient with myself that day. I saw that things were overwhelming me and negativity was creeping into my head. I know now that I need to be careful and gentle with myself when I’m in that state. That was the only day that was that bad for me. I was able to pull it together and get my empowered perspective back, and I wasn’t as grumpy from then on.

The problem is that I put my health on the backburner. I was pulling long hours at work, and drinking Slim-Fasts for multiple meals, because I didn’t have time to cook or eat, and I could just take some sips as I worked. That quickly caught up with me – 2 days of that and I had to leave work early because I felt like I was going to pass out.

Luckily it was the weekend by that time, so I took a full day off to relax, eat real food and take my dance class, but Sunday I worked a full work day to try to stay on top of the fire-drill schedule.

The next week, I maintained my composure and my positive outlook, which kept my head above water. But I was starting to get physically ill. The deadline was the end of the week, so I pushed through. But after the deadline, I collapsed into sickness. Throbbing headaches, neck aches, sore throat, sinus pressure, congestion, complete lack of energy, mental fuzziness… it wasn’t good. I left work early that day, and here I am – the weekend, trying to nurse myself back to health.

So here is what I’ve learned from the experience.

Believe in yourself. I kept trying to affirm this to myself, and I made some progress, but I clearly need to keep working on it. Getting overwhelmed is your ego screaming “I can’t do this – this is too much”. But I could, and I did. I got through it, and deep down I knew I would. But fear still was able to rear its ugly head and cause me some mental and physical harm. It’s important to have that inner peace remind you that, no matter WHAT, you WILL be okay. Any time you spend worrying or feeling overwhelmed is time taken away from actually accomplishing your task(s). Be patient with yourself. These are not changes you can snap your fingers and correct. These are things you have to practice and get better at over time.

Health comes first. I really screwed this one up. In addition to the stress, I wasn’t getting enough sleep, wasn’t getting enough relaxation, and decided to not eat real food because I “didn’t have time”. I should know better, right? You always have time to give your body what it needs, and if you don’t, then MAKE time. It is important enough. I should have made my body a priority, and now I’m paying for that mistake by being sick. Anything else is second. Your body comes first.

Ironically, these were some of my resolutions! And I really didn’t fit my other one in, either, which was making my joys and passions a priority. That one doesn’t even get a blurb because I “didn’t have time” for that, either.

Here’s the thing, though. This was a test. These were my resolutions, and the Uni-verse came in and was like, “These are your priorities, huh? Well let’s give that a little test.” I wouldn’t even necessarily say I failed. I’ve made tons of progress, and I really held it together throughout the whole thing, and I was very aware of the ways in which I wasn’t measuring up. I don’t see this as a failure; I see these as a huge step forward in accomplishing the goals I set in my resolutions. It’s my baseline for the year. I got to see the areas I was doing well, and the areas I need to work on. I got to see how my “suffer until it is done” attitude completely backfires, and is completely unnecessary in accomplishing my tasks.

How would you have handled it? What were your resolutions? Has your determination been tested?