Lately it seems so acceptable, even normal, to talk or joke about “needing” our daily glass of wine to take the “edge off”, or just to relax, yet so “strange” or almost “taboo” when someone says, “I am having a rough time keeping my shit together these days and could really use some support?” Isn’t it really the same thing? Or is sticking with the wine more like saying, “I’m struggling to keep my shit together but I’m going to numb that with my wine so that I can wake up and do all the same things tomorrow and hope it ends different.”?

I don’t drink, not because I think there’s anything wrong with it, or because I “have my shit together” but, in a nutshell, my Dr. told me not to. I now have almost no tolerance for any alcohol. Does that mean I never enjoy a glass of wine, no, but it is rare, and I’m still surprised at how uncomfortable I seem to make people by not drinking. Why is that? Is it that people think I’m judging them negatively for drinking? Do they think it’s bad that their drinking? If not, why would I? Do they think I’m saying, “I don’t need it”? Would that mean I think they do? Why would I think that?

I actually used to wish I could have that wine, sometimes to “take the edge off”, but more often just to blend in. But what would that mean, that making others feel comfortable is more important than my health? Actually, if I didn’t have three sons counting on me to be their mom, I probably would have chosen to blend in more often, but not anymore. And that makes me wonder…how many others are in a similar situation? How many of us are just trying to blend in, and Why?

I see Facebook posts, hear jokes in exercise classes, and even see diets that make sure to include that glass of wine. Maybe it’s just me, but I can’t help wondering why so many women, many moms, caretakers and professionals, find it more acceptable to talk about their wine habits then about why they “need” it? I fully understand and appreciate that, for some, it’s truly the enjoyment of the beverage, and for others it serves as a sort of meditation because they make a point to sit, relax, and breathe while enjoying their wine. But what about those of us who drink our wine, or take our anti-depressants/anxiety/etc. pills, because we need them? Do we really “need” them…or is it just a habit?

Recently I was at a cocktail party and I felt as though I was witnessing a competition over who has that first glass sooner after getting home; it was received as normal, even admirable. As if the more we needed the glass the more overworked and underappreciated we were and, somehow, that was being worn like a badge..? What is up with that? I get it, it’s what our society has become…blah blah blah, but really? Are we REALLY ok with that? Are we happy? Who cares how much you work, how many things you have, etc. if it doesn’t make you happy? Who are you doing it for? Do you think that anyone who loves you wants to see you NOT happy?

What if we, as women, just decided to be honest with each other instead of trying to impress each other? What if we just started talking to each other?  What if we just started being true to ourselves? What if we worried less about what our social medial followers thought of us and more about what the people who truly loved us thought? Would it change anything?

I decided to be “brave” at the cocktail party and I asked some of these questions… Let’s just say it’s a good thing I’ve learned not to value myself based on others opinions…it pretty much went over like a lead balloon. Maybe it’s just me, but I wish I had spent more of my life cultivating mutual, supporting relationships than I did numbing, blending and pretending not to need anyone, that everything was “fine”, or even “great”.

How many of you judge others the way you perceive them to be judging you? I’m guessing not many, and that’s why I’ve decided to give others the benefit of the doubt that their not judging me either. What’s the point, it’s not like we are going to change anyone’s mind anyway. What people think about you has much more to do with what’s going on with them then anything that’s actually going on with you.  Think about it, if you’re having a great hair day, do you even notice anyone elses hair? But what happens when you go out feeling self conscious about your hair?

After a while, you’re bound to reap what you sew, so be careful; this is your one life, spend it being YOU, not who you think others want you to be. You are unique and special, you were not born to Blend In, you were born to Stand Out, to be the one and only YOU!

Your entire life is made up of tiny little moments, starting now. Who do you want to be and what are you willing to do, be, or not do or be, to achieve that?

           

 

Listen to them, give them a chance

They may have a point you’d never thought of

An angle you never would have looked from

A new way of phrasing the same material

Or most importantly

An opinion you don’t agree with

 

Listen to learn what they think, not to find the weak point

Just because it’s different doesn’t mean it is wrong

Think of a reply after you take in what they said

A conversation is not made up of opportunities to fire

Stop looking for them and wait

Wait until you understand

 

Listen like an open door not a filter

Take it all in

Selectively listening is just as bad as not listening at all

Middleground is the best ground

Respond with intent to teach, suggest or understand

Not to prove one wrong and one right

 

Listen to what you don’t know

No one knows it all, although some know more than others

Everyone can learn from the simple act of conversing

Division is the one common enemy of conversation

We see it everywhere

Pressured to pick one side or the other

 

Listen

Talk with each other not at each other

There are more than two sides to everything

Opinion is a spectrum not a division line

Respect and be respected

Compromise

Listen

 

by Will Ross

Our youth is starving for some HOPE, we owe it to them to deliver.

We are all energy; we are all connected…

When we cast our negative energy into the world, it causes a ripple that effects everyone who sees/reads it, they absorb it; if they are in a relatively good space from an energy or mental well-being standpoint, it may not have any immediate effect. However, BE AWARE that the negative energy in your “tiny rant” of opposition, hate, racism, blaming, bashing, accusing, etc… may be the one bit of energy that tips the scales for one individual. It may cause them to go into a downward spiral that they can’t stop, they may hurt themselves or others because of it, if nothing else, they will most likely continue to spread more negative energy into the world. And so it goes…

Of course we all want to find a particular person or thing to blame for things we don’t like, but that’s because we want to believe we can control it. The truth is, we can only control what we take responsibility for, once you give responsibility away, you have given away your control.

So the good news is…we are all responsible for the state of our nation today. Every single one of us. We are either trying to solve the problem or we’re making it worse, but everyone has an effect, there is no neutral.  See, THERE IS NO US AND THEM, there is only US, and we effect each other, intentionally and unintentionally.  The unintentional effect is collateral damage, but guess what? It hurts the same regardless of the intent. Pain doesn’t care if you meant it or not.

Every time we post, snap, protest or whatever it is we do to communicate these days, we have a choice. We can add to the swirling sea of hate, opposition, division, fighting, accusing, blaming, etc.. the negative energy that is obviously swallowing up our youth, or we can JUST STOP.

We can stop and think before we “post”. How do I feel about what I am posting? Does it make me smile inside (positive energy) or does it cause me that burning, shoulder raising feeling (negative energy)? If it doesn’t make you smile, think again…do you really need to post it? Are you solving any problems by doing so or are you just adding your sticks to the fire of negativity that is already incinerating all hope? What is your goal? What are you trying to achieve? And then ask yourself, what are you actually achieving? Is your post really going to do anything besides maybe make you feel better about yourself in some way? And at what cost?  Any chance your words may upset someone? Was that the goal? Did that help the actual problem you claim to be trying to solve?

When is the last time you got someone to listen to you by “yelling” at them or telling them why or how they were wrong? When is the last time that worked on you? Can you get your point across in a way that isn’t negative? Can we realize that we are all trying our best to do what we believe is right and just talk to each other?

What if, at a minimum, we all pledged to put out at least as much positive energy into the internet as we do negative? What if for every post that spews hate, racism, division, fighting, accusing, blame, gloom etc… we posted one that spreads love, connection, peace, helping, congratulating, responsibility, gratitude and/or joy? And if that seems like too much of a challenge, WHY?  

We are without a doubt living in the greatest nation in the world, yet no other nation finds more to complain about…You find what you’re looking for. Focus on the positive and you will help change the world. Ultimately, we ARE what we DO on a regular basis…

What if we pledge to start seeking out and spreading the positive for our youth? What if we go out of our way to give them hope? What if we start now…what have we got to lose?

TIP: If you can’t post it with a heartfelt smile, reconsider. 🙂

 

When you share, you feel you matter enough for someone to want to know your story; everyone needs to share.

Sharing: How much? When? What? Why? With who? Etc.…etc.…

It seems like the answers to these questions should be so simple, so why do so many of us struggle with them?

Studies show:

I’ve read a lot of studies touting the therapeutic benefits of sharing your stories. However, the same studies warn of the detrimental effects of sharing those same stories with the “wrong” people, at the wrong time, etc.…

I’ve read about the physiological changes that necessarily take place in our brains when we “remember” a certain event. Apparently, each time we remember an event, our brains automatically fill in any missing/forgotten/fuzzy pieces with “something that works”, i.e. something that confirms our preexisting belief. We move on continuously noticing things that reinforce these beliefs. To make things worse, each time we remember that event, we are really only remembering our last memory of it…still with me? Our memories of these events effect our feelings about them, and that effects who we are today. Based on that alone…I can definitely see that one obvious benefit of telling your story would be that someone else could help you verify the facts later on.

Some studies have shown how sharing stories helps satisfy our intrinsic need for connection. It makes sense, when you are with someone who knows a lot about you, you generally feel a greater sense of connection with them. They know the real you and they’re still hanging out with you; that’s reassuring and probably relaxing. It’s as if just by sharing your stories with another person, the two of you now share some common history. Even though you didn’t live through the actual event together, you relived it and allowed them to share in that experience; they are now somehow connected to that part of your life as well as the present. When someone shows an interest in listening to your stories, they’re telling you they are curious about you, they want to know more. This can be incredibly validating for you as a human being.

Social Media:

Sharing leads to feelings of connection, from which comes the feeling “I matter”. When you feel you are part of something bigger than just you, you have a purpose, you fit somewhere. Science has proven multiple times in multiple ways that communities that connect thrive; we are meant to share, we feel the NEED to share.

That explains why Facebook, Twitter, snap chat, etc.… are so successful. It’s natural, they feed off of our physiological wiring. However…social media is not real sharing, and that’s why, I believe, it tends to cause more social problems than it helps. True beneficial sharing is necessarily a two way street; it requires mutual trust and doesn’t expose you to judgment.  With social media there is a lack of trust and an overabundance of judgment. Add repetition over time and you have the perfect recipe for anxiety, depression, imposture syndrome, comparisons etc.… It may not seem harmful at first but, each time you look at social media put a grain of sand in a bag and carry it on your back. You’ll be surprised how quickly that bag fills to the point where it crushes you.

Sharing involves talking with each other, not about each other.

To Share or Not to Share:

I’ve known people who choose not to share their lives. The feeling is that if you don’t share something about yourself with, say, your coworkers, then when you go to work each day, the people around you know nothing about it; it’s almost as if it never happened/doesn’t exist, at least in that part of your world. No one is going to ask you about it or do/say something to remind you of it.  You don’t have to wonder if anyone is thinking or talking about it or what their opinions may/may not be. This is probably extremely appropriate and perhaps even beneficial in many situations. It’s as if that part of you is completely disconnected. In this way, perhaps disconnection can be positive.

Some people say they don’t want to bother people with their stories, waste their time etc.…, some are simply too embarrassed or ashamed and want to pretend it never happened. Others say they started not sharing in order to protect people; ie… to not disappoint, hurt feelings, etc…  But who are you hurting in the process?  Is the cost worth the benefit?  What would happen if you stopped?  Are you sure you’re not underestimating these people?

Many people simply feel that they just don’t have anyone to share with. Some have spent their whole lives listening to others, being the rock, and they don’t want to jeopardize their image by needing to share; their role was always to be there for others and now they don’t know how to ask others to be there for them.

In any case, if you continue to go on not sharing, so that you can pretend certain parts of your life/self didn’t/don’t exist, because it’s a habit or you don’t know how/with who, what does that do to your sense of self-worth? How do you go on living in an environment that you feel so unattached to? How does a plant survive without roots…? A cut flower in a vase can only last for so long without some help from an external source. A fully established rooted plant however…that plant thrives because of its connection to the earth; it is able to get everything it needs. The cut flower survives for a limited time, the rooted plant can thrive indefinitely.

Sharing the Past vs. Living in the NOW:

Recently, I have started to wonder what the physiological effects are of not sharing, for whatever reasons, and our innate need for connection. The “non-sharers” I’ve spoken to definitely tend to feel less of a sense of belonging in general. Many of them begin to feel as if their past (their stories) don’t really matter…after all, aren’t we all about living in the NOW?

I believe that living in the NOW is extremely important, however, I also believe that it’s everything that we’ve been through or experienced in our past that has made us who we are, put us where we are, and created our current set of life circumstances. I believe truly living in the NOW requires doing it as a whole person, not just the parts of you that you decided were worthy of bringing along.

I’m a big believer in “everything happens for a reason”, I also think that sometimes we have to either try harder or wait longer to figure out what that reason is. However, if we simply ignore or pretend certain aspects of our lives didn’t happen or don’t matter, than how will we learn the lesson it was meant to teach us? How will we discover the “reason”? Perhaps that’s why so many of us find ourselves in certain situations over and over again; the universe is trying to teach us something but we just want to push that “set of circumstances” under a rug and pretend it never happened or isn’t continuing to happen…and we keep doing that…every time it repeats itself.

Every year that goes by without sharing your secrets seems to somehow make them worse, it’s not like the past changes, but its power over you somehow continues to grow. It’s almost suffocating, as if you’re drowning, maybe that explains certain phobias, anxieties and/or depression? I believe that when you don’t share significant events in your life, your mind begins to mess with you. Memories become distorted and the truth harder and harder to remember; was it really your fault or did you just convince yourself of that? Do you find a way to twist things so that they don’t seem as bad? By convincing yourself that one experience was a certain way, do you go through the rest of your life behaving or thinking differently to continuously justify that idea? Can your perception of a single event actually begin to distort your decision making from that point on? Yes, I think it can. So, physiologically, the way we internalize and/or process an event(s) as a child actually continues to affect the way we behave and the choices we make as we become an adult.

If we have no one we trust to share with, then our mind is free to direct the show with no outside influence or the interference of different perspectives.

Where to start:

I have met people who have shared so little of themselves, and feel correspondingly little connection with others, that, over time, they have begun to wonder if anyone would even notice if they were to just disappear. If we don’t feel like we are part of the puzzle, so to speak, than are we just an extra piece?  What’s the point of an extra puzzle piece?  Others, who have spent the majority of their lives trying to take care of others (Hero Support), tend to believe that their services would be missed; that they would let down or disappoint people. These people describe themselves more like the board the puzzle pieces are being laid out on, this belief gives them some purpose. All of these people often feel alone, regardless of  how many people are around.

If you’ve gotten to that point…why aren’t you sharing? Do you not want to or do you just not know how/where to start? Do you have someone to share with? This may not be what you want to hear but…, sometimes it helps to hire someone to share with for a while.  It’s possible that you may just be out of practice; it can actually help just to talk to someone who makes a living listening and offering different perspectives.  You don’t have to feel guilty for “wasting” their time, or wonder if they really care; it doesn’t matter, do it for you (generally speaking, people go into those professions because they care).

If that sounds too crazy, what about a journal? Even if you don’t think of yourself as a “writer”, it can be incredibly therapeutic to just release your thoughts on to paper and then, when you’re done, to read what has come out; most people are surprised by what they find.

Do you have one friend who shares with you? How does that make you feel? What do you think would happen if you shared with that person? Why not try it with something neutral to start with, maybe a childhood memory or a work/home related story, perhaps whichever the person is not part of…

Do you know that every single one of us was put here for a reason? Created to be exactly as we are. Have you noticed that you are at least a little different than everyone else? That there is no one else exactly like you out there…there’s a reason for that. The world needs YOU, but how can that happen if you keep You all to yourself, or keep pretending to be someone else?

Not everyone deserves to hear your stories, but you deserve to be able to share them, you deserve to not have to carry all the weight of some of them and/or to relive and celebrate the joy of others. 

Oftentimes, when we share childhood memories as an adult, we process them very differently, from a new perspective, and thereby go forward living with them much more peacefully; maybe you learn something or at least feel differently about it. Sometimes doing so can help you let go and move on, even find serenity where there was once pain or unrest.

I think it’s important to share, I think it’s important that you feel worthy of sharing, that you know that your stories are important and that you matter. I know that it’s not always easy but…what’s the alternative?  Reaching the top of a mountain is only as awesome as the difficulty of the climb…

I also believe that sometimes it’s not entirely your conscious choice not to share. Maybe you’ve become surrounded by the wrong group, maybe you’re comfortable there but, are you happy? Are you thriving or just surviving? I was once assured that my pet lizard was happy in its tank because it had never known anything different…

Maybe it has nothing to do with your current “tribe”, maybe you’ve just developed a habit over time, for whatever reason(s), and you have no idea how much those around you would love to know you better, to feel more connected. Have you tried? If not, what are you afraid of? Is that really any worse than living with that fear?

None of us were meant to go through life feeling alone.

You matter, you’re stories matter, your life matters, and it’s all here for a reason. This world needs you, you’re the only one we’ve got!

14202605_1390681624293121_7252528828206567250_n

What is Hero Support?

Hero Support is a term I use to describe a certain personality or role that some people have/assume in life, or some period of time. Some people are Heroes, some are Hero Support. I think it’s OK, even great, to be “Hero Support”. They are the “wind beneath my wings” that Bette Midler sings about in her song of the same title; a different type of Hero. It’s an important position and one that is an intricate and necessary part of life.

Not everyone wants the spotlight, hero support provides an opportunity for introverts to contribute, feel important/necessary, make a significant impact etc… without taking center stage, or even any of the stage. When I think of “Hero Support” I think of; the 1st lady, vice president, right hand man, the “woman behind the man”, wife, mother, nurse, administrative assistant, etc.… the people who make it possible for someone else to be the more stereotypical “hero”.  They provide the essential foundation upon which others can build a beautiful home.

Everyone is different, and that’s how it’s supposed to be; it’s what makes us all necessary. Its proof that we were meant to work together, it’s why we crave/need connection.  My mom used to say, “If we were all the same there wouldn’t be horse races”, and she loved the races.

Recently, I began thinking about why sometimes being Hero Support can be so fulfilling and yet, other times, so draining. Sometimes it brings joy and yet, other times, there is resentment. It occurred to me that the difference is the motivation driving the support at the particular moment. When you are motivated by your heart, supporting others makes you feel energized and alive, it adds richness to your life. It is a way of honoring an inner need to help others, to contribute. When support is motivated by a sense of obligation, or putting others needs before your own, it often makes you feel lacking, depleted, even insignificant. I believe many Hero Support are motivated by both of these things at different times of their lives, maybe even different times in the same day.

What Motivates You?

Supporting others can be a strength or a comfort, depending on its motivation. By strength I mean, it’s what feeds your sense of purpose. By comfort I’m referring to a habit created by a desire to remain either invisible/out of the spotlight, or sometimes loved and accepted; this habit can ultimately deprive the world of You, while depriving You of Your Best Life. 

I also believe that when the strength is not accompanied by solid/clear boundaries, the lines become blurred and Hero Support can begin to become an “Identity”, ie. an obligation as opposed to simply ‘actions that fulfill a greater purpose’. Over the years, I have noticed a pattern…

Hero Support, when motivated from the place of comfort/habit, or strength without boundaries, begin to define themselves, or become defined by others, as the ones who have it all together, they’ve got it “under control”. From the outside, Hero Support seem to have the perfect life and things come easy. You appear to have been “blessed” with many gifts that many struggle for.  After a while, you tend to pride yourself on these attributes and strive to make sure that the image is true, or at least perceived to be true. Sometimes, if you fake something long enough, you forget what’s real and what isn’t. This role provides a sense of purpose, pride, and even value/worthiness. Its makes you feel needed or important, it’s where you “fit” and/or why you matter. It somehow satisfies the innate need for connection.

I’ve also noticed that Hero Support’s “problems” are often perceived (by themselves and others) as not as big, real, important, etc.…as someone else’s. Hero Support tend to go out of your way to not “burden” others, you tend to downplay problems because “you got this”.  As a result, your “problems” are less obvious or more hidden/controlled. This can give the impression that you don’t still hurt the way others do. As if you can handle anything and don’t need or maybe even want support.  Perhaps it’s because others need Hero Support to be “strong”, and Hero Support wants to comply.

We All Need Support:

Regardless, we all need to be allowed to need support, we need to allow ourselves to be supported. A small cut on your own finger will always hurt you more than a leg being amputated from someone else; that’s just reality and it’s OK to feel your own pain. You really don’t have control over that, it’s simply how you are physiologically wired.

I believe hero support people go through life learning all sorts of protection from vulnerability, so you “don’t get hurt”.  You understand that others don’t plan to hurt you, your pain is only collateral damage and shouldn’t be taken personally…most of the time you are hurt by inconsiderate acts, not malicious intent.  No one intentionally hurt you, they just didn’t even take your feelings into consideration.  It doesn’t make it hurt less…

So you learn to build protective armor, you use: busyness, independence, productivity, perfectionism, being incredibly organized, clean, helpful, accommodating, or using drugs, alcohol, sex…the list goes on. But every once in a while there’s a crack in your armor and when the light gets in, it stings. At that point, you either reinforce your armor, while yelling at yourself for being pathetic, weak, needy, etc.…, or you realize that, it’s not the stinging that hurts anymore, it’s the fact that you don’t have the time or space to allow for it. In a strange way, you don’t mind the sting because you welcome the fact that you “feel” it.

Suddenly, you’re no longer afraid of “being hurt” by others; you’ve helped enough others through difficult times to truly understand that it’s simply part of life, for everyone. You’ve had enough life experience to cushion the often careless blows and put them into perspective. You understand that there is a flip side to all emotions. But now you’re faced with the fact that when Hero Support shows up sad, hurt or weak, it causes a problem; Hero Support can’t do their job if they are not “emotionally stable”.

Hero Support’s entire identity and/or purpose is put into jeopardy if they lose their cool or ability to handle their own mess. After all, from all appearances, you really have nothing to complain about. You are “the rock” and rocks that are used to hold things up are not very useful if they become soft. Hero Support doesn’t like to make others feel uncomfortable or waste their time, that’s not what support looks like. If you’re not “on” it makes those you support uncomfortable and wastes their time; or so it seems. Hero Support has become The Pleaser, your job is to make sure everyone is happy. Hero support is not comfortable in the “needing support” role, but who is comfortable in a role they don’t practice?

Who Supports You?

Does anyone support you the way you support others? Who empathizes and makes you feel emotionally secure and/or significant?

Sometimes it’s not until you are ready to accept help that you suddenly realize that you’ve spent so much time, and taken so much pride in, being there for others that you never let anyone be there for you. So now, instead of being scared of being hurt, now you just don’t want to face the hurt of having no one to support you. How can you have spent your whole life caring so much for so many and yet feel so alone? How does that happen? What does that mean? How did you get into this situation and, more importantly, how can you get out?

How comfortable are you with giving support? And receiving it? Can you take a compliment? Do you share your stories?

How do you feel about those you support? Wouldn’t it be OK to let others feel that way about supporting you? What if you were to think of allowing others to support you as a gift to them? Do you know that you ARE worthy of it? Do you know that you need it? We all do.

What would you do for a friend like you? When will you start? Sometimes it helps to think of it this way…if you don’t take care of you, who’s going to take care of your heroes? Remember…you can’t pour lemonade from an empty pitcher. Your feelings matter .

Hero Support people need support too. It’s OK to be strong for others and also, periodically, need/accept others being strong for you Nothing in nature thrives alone, nothing. The only time you ever see a tree in a field by itself is when some other/external force has taken the others away. In time, if that space is left untouched, either that single tree will die or others will grow around it. The strongest, healthiest forests are the fullest because of symbiotic relationships.

The healthiest bodies of water run two ways, spring/streams/rivers fill them and they in turn feed other springs/streams/rivers; the unhealthiest only run one (i.e. the Dead Sea in Israel). I believe that relationships are the same, everyone needs a place to give and a place to receive, either one without the other isn’t healthy long term and, ultimately, can’t thrive. Connection is a two-way street.

Are You Hero Support?

How many people know your favorite color, place to visit or even your dreams? Do you know theirs? Are you perceived as pretty much having it all together…not really “needing” anything?

Is it natural to want to do whatever you can for others; do they seem to come to you, open up and “know” that you will be there for them? Do you genuinely love to listen to and help others? Does it give you a sense of purpose?

How many “heroes” do you support? When did you take on this role? Is it still serving you? As a strength or a comfort? If it’s a strength, how are your boundaries? Do you know about personal boundaries?

What do you do to replenish yourself so that you can continue to be Hero Support from a place of strength?

When is the last time you let anyone see you cry? Do you still cry?  How about the last time you allowed someone to comfort you, to let you know they were there or just listen to what was going on in your head? How would it feel to be the Hero in your own life and ask for support?

I think Hero Support is an amazing and commendable character trait that is fundamental to any thriving community. However, that doesn’t mean you don’t occasionally need support too, you’re still human. One important key for Hero Support is having someone to share with, something I’ll be writing about next…

If any of this sounds familiar, or a topic you’d be interested in delving into deeper, contact me and let’s keep the conversation going.

13321849_973909756059780_6025365393866960708_n

I read a post on Facebook that said:

“When you have a good heart: You help too much. You trust too much. You give too much. You love too much. And it always seems you hurt the most”.

My first reaction was, Ouch! But for some reason I couldn’t stop looking at it. What was it about those words that was causing me such a strange reaction and why? Finally it hit me, the post made me sad. I wasn’t sad because I agreed with it, I was sad to think that it could encourage people to try not to feel “too much”; that’s how I would have read it some years ago. I used to believe that the more I helped, trusted, gave and/or loved, the more I was setting myself up to be hurt later on. As a result, I started to restrict the amount that I allowed myself to do those things and I began living a very safe, content, protected and inauthentic life. I’m not saying I didn’t have any highs or lows, but neither were very extreme. I became pretty good at “not getting hurt”. I stopped trusting/listening to my heart and I relied on my “logical brain”. Unfortunately, all of the tools/armor etc.… I used to keep the pain out was keeping all of the wonderfulness of life out as well. I began to stop feeling much at all, and what’s the point of that?  As I began to delve into “self-awareness”, my whole world began to change, or at least the way I felt about it.

None of this happened over night but, the biggest “life changer” began when I started thinking about my motivation behind my helping, trusting, giving, loving…etc… Why was I doing those things? Was I doing it for me, because I truly wanted to? Because of how it made me feel? For my own personal fulfillment? Or was I hoping for something in return? Was the “hurt “really about the giving? Or was it more about my perception/thoughts about what was/wasn’t being returned and how? Was the hurt because of a “good heart” or a wounded ego?

If I was truly doing these things for my own intrinsic pleasure…for example, if I wanted to love, merely for the pleasure of feeling intense love, would it make sense for me to deny myself that happiness purely out of fear that the recipient may not be able to feel the way I do? Don’t get me wrong, if it isn’t returned, it will probably effect my feelings into the future, I will LEARN from it, but it won’t take away from the pleasure of having been able to feel the most love I could at that moment. Attempting to not love “too much” doesn’t make it hurt less later, it just takes some of the joy away from the process, and the pain of the loss is the same in the end. In either case, you mourn the loss of love, love you didn’t give or receive. But…if you allow yourself to GIVE love, to feel it internally, you get that experience AND you can move forward without any “what if’s”.

The quote made me sad because I recognized it as the very belief that robbed me of so much potential richness in my younger life. Believing it stopped me from feeling all that I could feel; from helping more, trusting more, giving more and loving more. It was this myth that prevented me from letting go of my thoughts about how things “should” be and just experiencing life on a deeper, truer and more meaningful level; living in the moment and dealing with whatever came of it. It lead me to believe that not feeling pain was better than feeling anything at all. It gave me a false sense of “control”. We can never control how others will react to anything we do/say or feel.

I think there is a reason that people have been quoting these lines from Tennyson’s poem since 1850;

“Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.”

The pain of the regrets, “what if’s”, and “if onlys, hurts much more than any pain caused by having too good of a heart, and the wounds take much longer to heal. If I only knew how much more I would learn from the “hurt” than the regrets... On the positive side, I now take every opportunity to help, trust, give and love as much as I can. I do it for me, I do it selfishly so that I get the most out of my life. I do it because I can, because of how it makes ME feel about being ME. I do it so that, when my time comes, I don’t wonder what would have happened if I had. I’m not saying I let myself be used as a doormat, that I have become incredibly naïve or allow myself be a fool, I’m just saying I no longer let the fear of being “hurt” stop me from getting the most out of my life. I now interpret FEAR as “proceed with caution”, not STOP. I don’t let my fear of others reactions dictate who I am or how I feel. Of course I hope my acts are appreciated, but that’s not in my control.

The Facebook quote reminded me of a story, about a young girl on a beach, being shot at by little arrows. After being hit by a few she knew she didn’t like how it felt. Hastily she began building a stone silo around her for protection. As time passed and she got taller, she continued to build the walls higher. One day, as she noticed a beautiful bird flying overhead, she realized that she had forgotten why she started building…it had become a habit. Eventually, she created a small hole in the silo wall. Outside she saw incredible beauty but had no way of getting to it. The arrow slingers had long gone but she had gotten so used to building those walls, she forgot to stop. Suddenly she became aware that those walls that she had built out of fear, to protect herself from the pain of the arrows getting to her, were now keeping her from the beauty of the life that had continued to go on around her. Unfortunately, she had done such a good job of building, the silo was not easy to tear down. It was a long, laborious, process. Sometimes the sun shining in would sting her eyes and she would need to stop, look away, and take time to let them adjust before continuing. She knew there was no point in stopping, she had nothing left to lose. Eventually, when enough of the walls were down, she was able to step outside the rubble, stretch her body, take a deep breath, and walk on the sand she had only allowed herself to stand or sit on all this time. She never imagined how soft it would feel under her feet, how refreshing the water she had only been able to hear, felt in her hair, and the ocean breeze actually blowing on her face… All this time, in attempt to keep a few arrows from getting to her, she had sheltered herself from the joys and beauty of the world. As she walked away from the silo she cut her foot on a shell. She stopped, instinctively looked back at the stone remains of her “safe-place”, and then watched as her foot bled slightly. Suddenly a wave of emotion washed over her and, in some strange way, she enjoyed the pain, she felt alive. It was the first time she could remember feeling anything in a long time. Within a few moments she had forgotten about the pain and was running along the sea shore, excited about all that she would experience and feel from that day forward. (She also learned to avoid stepping on sharp shells). Never again would she sacrifice feeling something wonderful out of fear of a little pain. From that moment on she vowed to listen to her heart, to trust, and risk “being hurt”. She learned that, without that risk, nothing matters, and feeling empty and alone is painful anyway. She now knew that she would rather feel the pain that may come from feeling “too much”, than the pain that comes from losing the chance to feel anything at all.

                                                  13119021_1708714519400230_7043032706040786652_n

She vowed do her best to live a true, authentic, full life, led by dreams and purpose, not limited by fear. She would never again “protect” herself from living her BEST LIFE.

Don’t change who you are, or stop becoming all that you can be, out of fear that others won’t be able to receive it properly. Many of them wont’, but some of them will and, at the end of the day, it’s not your problem unless you let it be. Unfortunately not everyone is going to appreciate you the way you want or even deserve to be, but, I believe, that has very little to do with you and everything to do with them. Imagine if everyone with a “good heart” decided to help less, trust less, give less and love less in an effort to prevent themselves from hurting more?  What sort of world would be left? We learn from our “hurt”, it’s just another feeling, fearing it doesn’t have to get the leading role in the stories of our lives.

Ultimately, withholding all of that goodness, tapering what your heart is allowed to feel, is so much more painful than any external person/force could cause. How can we “train” our hearts to feel less pain without merely asking it to FEEL LESS? You’re human, you have a big heart and a big brain, use them both, TOGETHER. Help others because it’s the right thing to do, not because of how much they’ll appreciate it. Trust your instincts, they know you better than your ego thinks it does. Give when you can because we all need each other. Love until your heart feels as though it will burst, do it for YOU, for the pleasure of feeling, because you CAN.  Make mistakes, learn, live, feel. It’s your life, it’s happening now, and there are no redoes. Don’t let the fear of possible future pain rob you of THIS MOMENT. It’s your time! 🙂

 

 12376621_10154385250434523_3873676616870664059_n        1385451_399441456880513_7713789122503193781_n