Compassionate Self Critique

I’m playing with an idea here. I don’t know yet if it is a single topic or if it is a whole system. Something in me likes systems, but systems without walls or step by step expectations. Maybe you’ll have insight to offer.


I’m always thinking about growth: personal, professional, spiritual, emotional. All the growth. It thrills me. My entire orientation is toward growth. And I have a nagging question: How does growth happen?

I know that there is organic growth. A day by day unfolding, resigned to what is, and one day we realize we’ve changed, or developed or no longer hold the same beliefs as we once did. Most folks in that category won’t seek out spiritual direction or counseling. It is a Que sera sera way of being. What will be will be. It assumes that by vurtue of growing older, we’ll mature.

There are those who carry deep wounds of abandonment, oppression, neglect, identity crushing expectations, violence, and more. And these folks want to change. Now. Most often, these folks will go to therapy. Totally appropriate. Spiritual Direction works well with seekers of new patterns alongside counseling or at the point that the trauma has been named and released and now its about crafting a life from the rubble.

Honestly, I just want people to grow and become on their own terms.

What I know to be true for this type of deliberate maturing process, growth and healing, is compassion and self critique. We can read that different ways:

  • Compassion

  • Self Critique

  • Compassionate Self

  • Critique

  • Compassionate Critique

Compassion entails an inner and outer focus.

Inner: We must have compassionate for ourselves for believing lies that have lead to our diminshment, compassion for staying too long, compassion for doing the best we could with what we had, compassion for all that didn’t happen. And more!

Outer: We must have compassion for the perpetrator/s. In the Jesus tradition of the Gospels, Jesus guides us toward the hard work of loving our enemies and praying for those who persecute us. This is no spiritual bypass, where we deny bad behavior, or forgive and forget. It is recognizing that harm, meanness, and even criminal behavior has been piled on us. This is hard work, and it is key. We cannot grow and become without this outer step of compassion.

Self Critique: This is the ability to take ourselves out of victimhood and ask hard questions of ourselves

  • What have I done to perpetuate this issue?

  • How can I do it different next time?

  • What is in my own story that causes me to repeat behavior that I truly no longer want to continue?

  • Oh, there it is again…what just happened to trigger this?

  • Why did I interpret their behavior this way? What else might it mean? What if it isn’t even about me?

  • and more

In my opinion and experience, this is when it gets juicy. Like a sociological, Anthropological adventure into our own psyche and soul through our history.

It can change everything.

How do we get here? Without step 1, step 2, step 3, how do we know what we’re doing?

And that is my question.

I know my own journey has been of hiding, secrets, extreme self doubt, self-negation, allowing others to diminish me with their words and assumptions. My greatest change came when I asked myself this question, “How did X know to do what they did to me?” My inner response was crystal clear: They wouldn’t have unless it was being done to them, or someone was brutally wounding them.

FLASH BOOM

Compassion crept in and I could no longer see my story from a singular viewpoint. I believe without exception that bullies and abusers were themselves bullied and abused by people who were bullied and abused. Some are just mean and hurtful. Some are criminal. Some are criminally insane. Once I unlocked this truth, even though I didn’t have specifics, I could let them go. I forgave the person, while retaining the important knowledge that what they had done was wrong and I did not deserve it. It was a quantum leap in my healing. The next quantum leap in my healing was when I spoke the story out loud.

What was my journey to this point? A ton of things over the course of 33 years. Let me try to list them:

  • prayer

  • prayer

  • telling my husband

  • understanding the psychological condition of humans

  • spiritual direction

  • scripture research

  • listening to others

  • volunteer year in a domestic assault shelter

  • forgiving

  • forgiving again

  • forgiving myself

  • got tired of victimhood and self pity

  • awakening as to what was mine and what was theirs

  • shamanic journey

  • soul work

  • telling the story outloud to a group

  • compassionate understanding toward perpetrators

  • being real

  • non judgment of raw emotions

  • letting go of family myth and often told stories that were covers to make others feel good

  • truth telling with myself

  • open inquiry

  • Asking myself “What if that isn’t true? What might also be true at the same time?”

  • journaling

  • goodness so much more

Did I say this was a 33 year journey? Yep. And I have no embarrassment that it has taken into my mature adult years to be free of it. Free as in I am not defined by this past, and defining my own future once I took myself back and claimed authority of my story.

Compassion and Self Critique = Life.

That is what I know today. In the end…..

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With love,

Amy

What lies beneath

We arrive for conversation and reflection. We’re pretty sure that X is the topic and the sharing begins.

But beneath the safe public topic on the surface, roils the real, the raw, the unready. So scary to let loose our real feelings and name our flaws, tiredness, and maybe the biggest scariest secret….how we think we really could do this incredible thing.

In the studio here, we get to claim it all.

  • You get to claim your brilliance, no apologies

  • You get to claim your fears

  • You get to claim your anger, you know the kind that turns your beautiful face into a twisted hurtful mask

  • You get to claim that you see things different from everyone around you

  • You get to claim your defense, your depression, your daring

  • You get to claim you

You get to claim you.

And you better. In a world where competition is the norm, and we weigh losers against winners, we can be led to believe that we have to be first, best, A+, exceptional. But the truth is, we cannot do it all. We can’t. A great old quote is attributed to Thomas Edison when asked why he had so many assistants. Edison suggested that if he could do it all, he would. But he couldn’t, so…assistants.

I love the model of any person, event, idea, task being a hologram. I bring the view from my side, you bring the view from your side, she brings the view from up top, he brings the view from the opposite side, and they bring the view from inside. Together we see a greater hologram, bigger image, a more refined possibility.

This idea that no one person can do it all is behind the best of a country when acting with integrity. It is what makes an organization run best. It is where invention takes off. It is how housework gets done and playtime for all is celebrated. I can’t do it all. You can’t do it all.

It is imperative that you know who you are for real. It is imperative that they/she/he knows the truth of self. Only in this way can we get it created. Whatever “it” is.

My sister is amazing. She runs a piano studio and a daycare. On any given day, she has infants, non-verbal toddlers, and preschoolers. They all get crayons and cardboard scraps. They all imagine and create. Everyone is doing so at their skill level, at their imagination level. At their own level. And all are celebrated. There isn’t a sense that the little ones have to wait 3 years before their scribbles look like dogs. Doesn’t matter. It takes them all to create art that day. (So many days I wish I was a preschooler at my sister’s daycare).

We don’t get participation ribbons if we don’t participate. What we offer and contribute adds to truth, like spicy ginger in the cake. It makes it better.

Know yourself. And if you don’t, then get yourself in to see me so we can begin.

Right now.

Times’a wastin’.

With eagerness for you to shine,

Amy

Empathy Fatigue/Compassion Fatigue?

Empathy Fatigue is not Compassion Fatigue:

Matthieu Ricard reminds us in his book, Altruism, that the antidote to Empathy Fatigue is Compassion. We can confuse empathy fatigue with compassion fatigue, but from a science and meditation perspective, the brain is doing different things when we are in empathy overload and when we counter it with compassion.

It is like the Empathy connects us, and if there are more and more, again and again situations connecting us to the pain and struggles of others, we become fatigued, like an overused muscle. The response is most often to unplug from others. But we can also shift to Compassion.

Compassion becomes the cool cup of water for the fatigued hart. The body/brain in compassion is refilled as we focus not on the pain and struggle but on the Love. He writes,

"To return to my own experiment, while I observed that meditation on empathy came up against a limit, that of burnout, on the contrary it seemed to me that one could not tire of love and compassion. In fact, these states of mind both fed my courage instead of undermining it, and reinforced my determination to help others without increasing my distress. I continued to be confronted with suffering, but love and compassion conferred a constructive quality to my way of approaching other's suffering, and amplified my inclination and determination to come to their aid. So it was clear, from my perspective, that if there was an "empathy fatigue" leading to the syndrome of emotional exhaustion, there was no fatigue of love and compassion." Altruism, pages 60, 61.

To sum up: Care deeply to the point of empathetic connection, listen to the music that fills and heals you, take a break, get back in there. And maybe bring food for those in despair.

Practice:

Breathe in, breathe out,

focus on the life force within you.

Bring to mind the person or community that is in peril, trauma, hurt.

Just for now, just for this moment, focus not on their pain, but on the love that motivates you.

Orient your attention from your breath to your heart.

As you breathe in, imagine your heart space expanding.

As you breathe out, allow your love to find its way to those in need.

Expand and Send. Expand and Send. Focus on the breath.

Then, go listen to the music that renews you.

Do this again and again, Until you are ready to go back into the streets, back into the homes, back into the care/protection/witnessing that must take place. Bring your own music and snacks so the ones in need do not need to offer you care.

Love and Compassion have no end.

Amy

Sheila

I was a sophomore in high school, two weeks in. As a freshman I took Algebra I. I worked hard hard hard to get a C. While my friends all finished the homework in class and got to goof around, I worked hard at the teachers desk. For a C. By the end of the year I felt like I had made progress so I signed up for Algebra II in the fall.

Two weeks in. For two weeks homework problems were done on the board. I never got called up. Until I did. I went up front with about 4 other classmates and wrote out the problem assigned to me on the chalk board. I wrote the problem on the chalkboard. And then I just stood there waiting for a hole to open up beneath me. I was gaining strength to just sit down and when it came my turn I would simply say I don’t know.

Sheila was next to me at the board. She leaned over and whispered the answer, so I wrote it down and sat down. My back was to the class the whole time, and the teacher had a little glass middle room between his classroom and another classroom. I just took the position that nobody had been paying attention. Mr. D. came up to the front of the classroom and went through all the questions. When he got to mine, he simply talked through the problem and the answer. He didn’t single me out, he didn’t call on me.

After class I went straight to the guidance counselor and said that I needed to drop Algebra II. Her response? “That is fine. I didn’t know why you were taking it in the first place. Let’s choose another class.” We did.

Mr. D. said, “You gave it a good try. I’m sorry you won’t be in the class.”

My Mom said, “You made the right choice. I didn’t know why you were signed up for it in the first place. But wanted to support your decision.”

My friends said, “What a relief.”

What no one said the spring before, when I signed up for Algebra II was, “Amy, You worked so hard in Algebra I. Well done. You don’t need to put yourself through that with Algebra II.”

A couple things to note:

Sheila and Mr. D. will forever be saints to me. Sheila saved me, then never said anything about it ever again. Mr. D. surely had been watching, and created a learning environment that worked better by just working the problem on the board.

I am grateful.

What I find curious is that no one, no adult guide, had suggested to me that I should not take Algebra II. No blame here. But curiosity.

I think that we are hesitant to speak truth to one another. My own sense of Can Do was overplayed when I didn’t fail Algebra I. I didn’t have a good sense of perspective or what to do.

But had I not been part of the class for those two weeks, I would have missed a great moment of grace that has been with me my whole life.

You know what I say now to my clients? I’ll say, “I understand that choice. What is your long game, and what are alternatives to get there? I will support you in whatever decision you make.” I will, you know. We don’t know the best choices in life, often until we are walking that path. Then it comes clear that course correction needs to take place, or that we are up for it when we were unsure. But what we must have is people who support our process. Even if they think another way might be better. No “I told you so’s” need to be spoken when it goes awry. We just keep carrying on.

Guidance is a precious thing. Sheila’s actions were precious. Mr. D.’s professionalism makes me cry with gratitude.

Peace for your stories,

Amy

Hapax

Oh, that word. Hapax. How I love it.

It was the name of my spiritual direction practice when I first began in 2012. Hapax Spiritual Direction. I learned of this word and concept in a doctoral course on the Song of Songs in the Old Testament. Hapax Legomina means Once Spoken.

When biblical scholars are doing translation from the original languages, part of the process is taking a word in a particular context of scripture, and seeing all of the places in the scriptural narrative where it shows up. All of the places where a word is used helps to form an understanding of meaning and definition. It gives clues as to what is really going on. For example, if a word is used in the book of Ruth for a situation that Ruth is in, and the only other places that same word is used in the Old Testament is to describe action by YHWH, then we see that the story of Ruth is a story of God. Like that. Cool.

So along comes the Hapax Legomina. Once Spoken. It is a word that shows up once. Maybe twice. There are no other scriptural contexts in which to understand the word. Which means that it can mean anything. interpreters then assign a meaning and definition. But in actuality it is the poetics of reader and text that bring sacred possibility to understanding. I love this.

So, I named my first journey as a spiritual director Hapax. Because I fundamentally believe that we are each Once Spoken. I know with my deepest knowing that there are no two people alike. You are unique in this world. You are a unique creation. I honor this so highly that my mission and vocation in life is to create space so that YOU can discover you. Discover that uniqueness. From that self discovery, we create our lives through choice.

What is the opposite of our ability to create our lives through choice? Consumerism. Trends. Pinterest self development. Like looking at a bulletin board of other people’s ideas of who you should be, based on what everyone else is doing, and the outliers that then become the new trend. It is ok to go with a trend. It can be fun and refreshing to reframe our self knowing to bring about new self discovery. But we get to be the one who chooses this path. We choose from a place of alignment with our own spaces of soul, core, essence, truth.

You are Once Spoken. You are known by the cosmos as an important and vital part of an extravagant picture that isn’t complete until you are you. Until I am me. Until each one of us are who we were created to be from the timeless Holy of Holies.

You are everything, part of everything, and this is truth.

Amy

Your frailty

Oh how we want to hide from the world.

You can be a teacher, a preacher, a counselor, a coach, a leader, a boss, a CEO. People look to you day in and day out to know what they are to do. People trust that you are going to come through.

At the same time, we are wracked with the stories we carry within. Some are super painful that we have given a ton of energy to keep shoved down into the darkest corners, like the little hole in the drywall at the back of the closet, where if we stuff just right, it goes into that hidden space inside the actual wall. Never to be found.

And this eats at us.

Fraud Syndrome. I’ve written about this before. Skimming the surface of something very real. Experts have written the books so I don’t have to. But I do get to work with you on your sense of fiction/fraud/falsehood.

But why on earth would we consider ourselves a fake?

We are very real. All of it.

  • the expertise

  • the confidence

  • the growth

  • the power

  • the wound

  • the secrets

  • the hiding

  • the frailty

This is a strong, all out invitation to you. Come and tell your secrets. My studio is a confidential place. That means I tell no one, unless I sense you may harm yourself or another. There is nothing you can say that will shock me. That will send me running. That will make me cancel your next appointment. Nothing. I have heard so so much. I have lived some of it. I have worked on my own shit, going for the bottom of the pile and not just skimming the top to feel better in the moment.

Let’s look at that last statement again. We can all work on our shite by going for the bottom of the pile until we’ve cleared it all. I’m a farm girl who has cleaned many a hog or cow stall. Even that ankle deep crap can come clean from the cement. If I take just part of it off, I still have a dirty, stinky stall. So the shovel scrapes through to that satisfying sound of cement. Shovel, pitch. Shovel, pitch. Clean.

David R. Hawkins, psychiatrist, writes about how when we suppress or repress emotions and wounding stories, we are not getting rid of them. Just because its not on our surface doesn’t mean it isn’t still within us. And if it is still within us, it is still harming us. When we express and emotion or tell a bit of the story, it is a removal of a layer. We feel good enough to think “Oh good, that is that.” and think its over. But we’ve just shoved it back to the crevice in the wall again.

This is an ongoing process. We tell the story again and again until we notice that there is less anger, less venom, less self incrimination. We go through the layers of pain because the only way to release them is to go through them again. Sorry. But it is the truth. We don’t get out of it. If a leg bone is broken and not set correctly, it has to be rebroken to do its true healing. Again. Sorry.

What is the outcome of this torture? This reviewing and reliving? Freedom. When we look the monster dead on, from all sides, when we can describe every blemish and greenish tint, when we can pop the pustules we’ve been avoiding…..we lose our fear. In losing fear, we gain indignation. In raising our indignation we find our courage. In our courage we can name what is and has been. In the truthtelling we free ourselves of the hate. And ultimately, we move toward forgiveness, compassion, understanding. First for ourselves. Then for the perp or situation.

You may need a therapist for this. But mostly you need a safe place where you are loved, heard, believed, accepted, respected. You need space that is unafraid of all you are afraid of. You need a space where the brilliance of you is seen from the very beginning.

Spiritual Direction is this space. You may have friends who listen, but it takes extraordinary friends who can listen well over and over and over and not get bogged down. The value of paying a therapist or spiritual director is that we come to you with 100% attention every single time. It is our job and we are very good at it. And if you’re with a professional who is not good at it, get a different one.

I am amazed at how swiftly the human spirit can move once they are heard and believed.

This is resilience. And I wish it for you. In fact, I more than wish it, I help you find your own resilience. Am I that good? The process is. Because loving kindness and compassion guide me, every minute I am with you.

I hear you. I believe you. I respect you. I see you.

With love,

Amy

Civility

I just witnessed a beautiful thing.

At my local coffee shop, I’ve noticed that it is a place that mentors often meet with their high school mentees, that business transactions are taking place, study is getting done, reading, talking, sharing, sipping. It is great. We have long tables with electric plugs that come down from the ceiling. It is shared space.

I came in today, and did a quick assessment for where I should sit. You know, getting that right ratio of human to empty space. Easy, I would ask the young person at the end of a long table if I could share space.

See what I saw: small, skinny, dark hair, ah-yes…female, black clothes, face deep into their phone. When I asked to share, she looked up and with a very friendly tone said “Yep, sure!”. Great. Don’t judge a book by its cover.

Just as I was doing my complex set up (laptop, stand on chair to bring down the hanging outlet, get my charger out and hooked up, put coffee on napkin just so, phone to the left of the laptop) an adult Woman came in. She went right to the seat across from my table mate.

“Whats up.”

Oh, ok. A private convo in public. So I added “get earbuds out” to my set up list.

But in close quarters, even earbuds do not block the noise. It does provide a polite barrier from blatant public listening. I heard it all.

The Young Woman, spoke fast and clear about an altercation with a coworker. She was full of energy, a bit of anger, but I was very impressed by her telling that kept to the facts. She did not blame anyone else. She did not play the victim. She was clear about who was involved and who was not. She corrected herself once when the Woman asked for clarity.

The Women asked short, clear questions. The Young Woman answered in clear responses.

The adult asked about witnesses, statements, corroboration etc.

In the end, the Woman said “Thank you for telling me your side of the story. I’m sorry this happened. You were let go because you became physical in the altercation. HR is clear about that. I can’t take you back.” The Young Woman responded. “I know. I understand. Thank you. “ The adult Woman left, and the Young Woman typed into her phone then she left, too.

Why am I telling you this story? Because I was so proud of both of them.

I was so proud of the adult Woman who kept her role clear, supportive, present, warm, engaged, mature, serious, undramatic. Her energy was receptive and deep for listening. When it was time for her to make her final statement. She made it simply and clearly.

I was so proud of the Young Woman. She told the story she had to tell, and accepted the outcome as it was simply told.

How do you show up?

  • Do you show up in public when in turmoil full of drama and blame? Why do you think that is?

  • Do you show up in public after being fired with venom toward “the man”? Who are you really angry with?

  • Do you show up with friends or self with a full blown story of “their fault” or do you recognize that you had a role too? Do you understand that the other person has a whole life that is happening unrelated to you?

  • Do you understand your role?

  • Do you cower in self hatred? What is at the root of that behavior?

  • Do you know how to express yourself with equanimity, even if you are full of energy?

That conversation I witnessed was not easy for them, or for me. My compassion radar was on full ping. I kept myself from being triggered by my own stories of being in either role, and injustice done to me or that I had to hand out. The Young Woman was the only one who got fired because she responded physically to an aggressive situation toward her. Once again, the bully keeps the job, while the one doing self defense pays for it all.

But we all do pay for it all. Even the bully. Even HR. Even bystanders who are listening in. Just in different, more subtle ways, chipping away at our integrity, self-esteem, sense of power.

Are you showing up the way you want to? Let’s work together on that. I hold my clients accountable with loving kindness, and compassion. I’m not your punisher. I am your encourager so that you can be who you truly are.

Showing up for you,

Amy

Scab Picker

I know, kinda gross. But you know what I mean.

The other day, I was looking at a sore spot on the back of my right hand. My mind said, “Look, it is healing.” And then something darker said, “So, let’s pick that scab and let it be an open sore again.” And that is what I did. The rest of the day, my attention was pulled to that newly awakened wound.

Move this to our spirituality or psychological growth. We are on the move, growing, becoming, healing, understanding…..and then a little corner of the past pops up and we pick, just a quick swipe, until we’ve pulled the new and vulnerable healing off.

I do this. I’m writing about it just to galvanize this reality in my brain and being so I can stop.

So.I.Can.Stop.

So I can do better.

So I can be a partner toward my own healing instead of to my own destruction.

When we have well polished stories and mantras, and we live with other people, it is easy as the other person grows themselves that they are going to trigger us into picking. We may even say, with a little stomp of our foot, “I thought I was over that.” This is victim mentality and it never gets us where we want. An alternative is to stomp the foot and say “I’m triggered again. But this is not where I am now. The scales have tipped into a new way and THAT is how I’m going to respond.” We then either respond from that new way or we apologize for already reverting to the past.

Our growth is not dependent upon the growth of another. They are never the reason we hold ourselves back. We are our own reason we pick the scab open to rewound.

The wound is so known. Our pity is a comfort. It being someone else’s fault is empowering. But it won’t ever get us to where we want to be.

Let’s talk about what you’re picking at. Let’s look at the color, weight, location, texture, name, shape of that wound. Let’s know it so thoroughly that it can never sneak up and surprise us again. We’ll know all of it’s tricks. We’ll be the boss.

Here’s to your inner boss.

Amy

Fraud Syndrome

Perhaps I repeat myself.

But this is what I have to say today about Fraud Syndrome. You know this syndrome; that moment when fear that everyone around you will notice that you don’t have the chops, or ability, or expertise that is on your business card. Or worse, that they may think you’re a nice person but you know what you’ve done and what if they find out?

What if they find out?

That is always the question that rises with a constricting panic inside of us. It makes our hearts race and we might sweat. When we dodge being found out, there is relief for a time.

I had a friend in high school who was an amazing basketball player and was also super skinny. He made the skinny jokes first. Everytime. I asked him why he did this once, and he said it put him in control of the situation. Skinny jokes were going to be made, so why not make them himself so he didn’t get caught by surprise.

Brilliant strategy.

And this is the strategy for Fraud Syndrome. Get out in front of the very thing you fear others will discover. If you are indeed a fraud, then go get help. If you’ve been hired and promoted beyond your actual knowledge and ability, get training. Own it with your bosses. Own it with those beneath you in a way that shows that growth and achievement walk hand in hand. For myself, I can’t do math. I’ve written about that before. I got out ahead of it. I owned my inability to do math well; adding, percentages, whatever. I was recognized for what I could indeed do well, so when I needed to ask for mathematical help, there was zero derision. And then, my boss began asking me to look over letters she had to write because that was not a strong suit for her.

One person identifying a deficit with confidence, led to another asking for help with ease.

I think Fraud Syndrome is like a puff of air at the eye doctor. You feel it, but its gone. You can’t touch it or organize it. It comes and goes. Fraud Syndrome is a figment, a fiction. It is never true. What may be true is that you need to help your training catch up to your promotion. What may be true is that you are a real person who has lived a real life and what you are living now is an outgrowth of that.

And this may be where I want to arrive at: Our whole lives are one step at a time leading us to our now. This very instant. Our acts of childishness, insecurity, bad decisions, excessive partying are points for us to learn something about ourselves. That learning from reflection is what gets us the promotion and keep it. If we are selling something we are not, then we’ll lose the privilege after a while. There will be discovery. And then that is a point of learning as you continue.

But most of us are just good people with certain skills and a desire to do well in this world. Our past should not invalidate our present if we have learned and moved on and upward. Our past should not be a melodrama that we have to present time and again in order to pacify who we are today.

So, go for it. Claim it. Let your story, your learning, your vulnerabilities be present in the fullness of your life. You are not a fraud. You are you. And that is amazing.

With belief,

Amy

PS…if you do want to take a bounding leap beyond where you’ve been, that is possible. Let’s do that together so that you can redefine what it means to be an expert in your own skin.

Truest Self

We read many thoughts and suggestions about being our best self.

But what is that? How do we know? And, goodness, it sounds exhausting. It sounds like work.

I want to offer a radical idea. When we are our truest, it comes with ease. It is not work.

Truest Self.

Now, there is a concept to engage. Best implies competition, evaluation, judgment. It implies that I’m not my best now, and how will I ever know when I’ve achieved that?

Truest Self.

This is a concept, an idea, a truth. It is the unveiling of who you were created to be. This is determined by you. Not by culture, family, age, belief system. It is determined by you. “Finding Myself” is a thing. But not because you’ve gone out to the streets and are lost. It is more like the environment going ice skating as a group and you have chosen to be the coat pile. Everyone else is out there having fun and there you are, underneath the pile of coats that don’t even belong to you, protecting something so no one rips anyone off.

But you are the one being ripped off. When we make our self determinations based on

  • cultural trends (if I just learn to like bourbon or a hoppy IPA),

  • religious shoulds (love Jesus/Allah/Buddha enough),

  • professional practices (well, everyone is doing it)

We set ourselves up for moveable targets of success. The strongest is the material markers of success and self: car, house, vacations, clothing, etc. These are fine material things. But they do not point to who you are and why you are and even how you are.

So who are you? Who do you say that you are? What are your own lists of “I am”s? What words of strength do you attribute to yourself? When you feel yourself being taken over by a stronger personality, what is it you’d really like to say or do? These are all such important clues. Not toward a narcissistic self protectionism.

But a way toward the truest you.

As I see and interact with those who have tapped into their truest self, they know when they are choosing and creating life based on their own alignment and when they are aligned with culture or someone/something else. No judgment here. But really, it is work when we fit ourselves into someone else’s mold.

What does your mold look like? The one you have created yourself based on your own interior wisdom? Based on your own sense of truth. Now, here is where the work really is. Satisfying work. Self determining work. Self disclosure. I will tell you that this is not easy. It is hard work. You are pulling up your truth from the dregs of pain, wound, numbness, check-out living. Talk about draining the swamp. Yep. This is what we do. And we do it the rest of our lives, but instead of our whole exteriors being covered in sludge as we spit out the sludge from inside in the beginning, its more like every now and then seeing that we’ve got dog poo on our shoes. Quick clean, but clean we must. The rewards are amazing, full, creative, relieving, easy, and joy-filled.

And here’s a hint:

When we are in our truth, we are always led to the good of the whole. Always. If what we call “our truth” stops with our own well being, then it is not truth. It is likely fear based, insecurity based, other based self protectionism. Or as Brene’ Brown says, we’ve “gold plated our grit” and hang on to our lesser selves like trophies. But it is not our truth. We are all linked together in an organism of humanity and my well being and the meeting of my truest self causes me to look up and see everyone around me. Their well being becomes linked to my own. Love expands the bubble of awareness and compassion leads to understanding. Let go of tragic patterns you’ve always carried and have mistaken as your truest self. See what is being revealed. It is life. Life for you. Life for all. That is how you tell.

In the end, the only thing we are here to do, is to be our truest self. We can trust when we do that, we are meeting the needs of others who are around us in some way. Just as those who are living their truest self impact our well being. We feel it when they walk into a room. We feel it when words or concepts of high vibration are heard or spoken.

May you be a hearer and knower and speaker of your truest self. This is everything as we raise the consciousness of humanity toward an ethic of love, compassion, and linked togetherness.

With you,

Amy