The journey back to ourselves

With hindsight now I see that I recently dialled down my personal power. I was in a funk – probably because of falling into a familiar trap: forgetting to feed my creative and spiritual self enough. 

 

That lowered personal energy led to me being vulnerable and needing the world around me – the people around me – to show up in a certain way that I felt would feed me. In other words I was looking to my environment and the people in it to compensate for what I had lost – my power. It didn’t work. It never works that way. I lost myself and only I could be responsible for bringing myself back.

 

 P1040677 (2)But how do you bring yourself back? The answer is slowly and gradually. When you’re in a metaphorical valley you can only regain perspective by slowly climbing the hill, one foot in front of the other, until you reach the top. It’s not a journey without discomfort – I went through powerlessness, blame, neediness, embarrassment and self-analysis – but now I’m through, on top of the hill and contemplating the view. 

 

For those of you who know my work and the tools I use, all this is a reflection of what I call The Energy Ladder. (You can see my article about it here). All those emotions I went through were, in fact, representative of my journey back up my emotional ladder. So, blame was a step up from powerlessness, neediness was a step up from blame and so on. 

 

The key to remember here is that we’re not aiming to stay on the hill all the time – it can be very powerful to explore the valley floor – but don’t stay there too long because it’s impossible to get the true learning you are seeking until you come back up the hill. 

 

If you are in a valley today look for the next step up. What brings you some relief? At first it might not be something very ‘enlightened’ or pretty.  Anger for instance is better than hopelessness but it’s not an emotion usually encouraged. It is, however, a step up because it feels like a release and taking some control. Obviously try not to stay there too long – it’ll soon be time to find the next emotion that brings relief – perhaps resentment. And then it might be confusion. And then it might be doubt. And then it might be curiosity which leads to hope and so on, right up to Joy if you keep going. Step by step. Always looking for what brings relief and what feels like your truth at the time. 

 

The reward is learning, greater self-definition and a dialling up of our personal power. 

 

Be kind to yourself. Be patient. Be a stand for your learning. Appreciate the journey.

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The deadly compare-and-contrast bug

It’s 5 O’clock in the morning. I’ve been awake since 3am. Seems little point in going back to sleep now so here I am confessing what’s on my mind.

The deadly compare-and-contrast bug – that’s what.

The reason I woke at 3am was because my mind suddenly went into a panic about the Artist’s Way course I’m running in September. Am I charging too much? Someone yesterday hinted they thought it was expensive. Maybe I’ve got it wrong. But I think it’s worth it. But maybe I’m wrong.

You know how it goes in your mind at this time in the morning?

So then I had the bright idea of scouring the internet for other Artist Way courses. Funny – in 2005 when I last did this search there was no evidence of Artist’s Way courses that I could find – now Google tells me there are loads. And my course is definitely one of the most expensive. Hmmm.

So is it good in this case to go with the gut that says I should value this work for what I believe it’s worth or do I follow what everyone else is doing?

 

Now a ball has started rolling. A ball with a bug in it. The compare and contrast bug.

 

 

And then it happened. In my searching I came across another UK site called thehappinessexperiment.co.uk . And what’s more she talks about the Artist’s Way in there too. What?!

The lady running the site started in May this year – after me. Now, I’m sure this is just a coincidence  – a meeting of like minds – but we all like to think we’re unique don’t we? And the thing that really p’s me off? Her site is GOOD.

Oh, god, the bug has just grown to elephant proportions! I feel like I’ve become a character in a Kafka novel.

I’m not original. I’m not any fun. My blog’s not juicy enough. Everyone out there is doing it better….. blah, boo, aggh, ugh.

OK clearly I need to pull myself together here. This is my happiness experiment after all. So what do I do?

This quote I found is a good start:

“Why compare yourself with others? No one in the entire world can do a better job of being you than you.”  ~Unknown

 

I’ve lost sight of what makes me, me. The fact that I have become the bug is really an invitation: it’s time to get re-aquainted with myself.

Hello, what’s your name?

Hi, my name is T.

Tell me about you, T.

Well – hmm, let’s see, well, I guess the best way to explain is by showing  you …

And it really helps to know that all this is just an infinitessimally small slice.

So my lesson for today?

If I get the compare and contrast bug take it as a sign that I’ve lost sight of myself. I’m not going to find myself  ‘Out There’. Even if I got all my friends now to say lovely things about me, it’s not where it’s at. The real antidote comes from me tuning again to me and all my complex, quirky, mad, sad, bad, hum-drum, curious, joyous, questing, creative, busy, apologetic, angry, blah, experimental, hopeful, grateful, (I could go on), sides of myself.

Cliche, I know, but – like a snowflake. Unique. Beautiful. One of many who are unique and beautiful. Like you.

Tripping up

Mixed emotions today. I woke up this morning determined to bring a new kind of seriousnes to my business practices. I would wake early, do my morning writing and an hour’s work before getting the children ready for school. Then, I would work every morning from Monday to Thursday, not allowing any kind of interruption. Seemed like a good plan – still does in many ways – but what came with this determination was also the lurking spectre of self-flagellation. I had been lax. I hadn’t brought enough weighty intention to my business dealings. I should act more professionally. I should ‘show some oomph’ as my mother used to say.

It was my friend Kelly who caught this, in a conversation we had later. All good, she said in a nutshell, but didn’t it all seem rather heavy? Er, …yes. Great catch Kelly. I got quite emotional as I cottoned on to the extent to which I had been building up a massive expectation to come up with THE answer – to know how to write THE killer workbook, to attract OODLES of new clients and interest in Future Self Now. In short I had got distracted by the long range whilst forgetting about what there is to do right now under my nose.

This reminds me of a video I saw this week that uses that classic gag in old black and white movies where a character trips up on an obstacle because he’s too focused on what’s in the distance …with painful consequences. Here’s the video – made by a man protesting about dangerous bus lanes in New York.

So, I’m off to bed now, thankfully being a lot less hard on myself and having trained my focus back to the here and now.

 

 

Beware the expert!

Since my last post, (find it here), thankfully, things have turned around. The trouble, I discovered, was that I’d got caught in a web of ‘out-there-ness’. I was paying too much attention to what I thought others wanted me to do and had projected myself outwards. The present moment, my sense of Me and my body were lost in the ether.

I know this is not uncommon. It’s happened to clients of mine who, usually in a flush of enthusiasm about a new project end up drowning in ill-fitting advice. One client, keen to set up a website for his business, for instance, found himself confused by the myriad of experts available to him and ended up with a product that in no way reflected who he is.

Beware! Many a great plan has died a death under the kosh of the perceived expertise of others. Don’t subsume your unique way of doing things to someone who may have different motivations and values to you.

The secret is to look at what’s out there, (lots of great stuff now we have the Internet of course), and take it with a pinch of salt! Look at it and ask yourself “how much of this can I ‘own’ or adapt as mine and what should be discarded?

Celebrate and nurture your You-ness. Because there will only ever be one of you, no-one will have the answers that are the exact right fit for you – except YOU of course!

Where’s the book?!

Twice today people who I haven’t seen in a while asked me about the book that I said I was going to write a year ago and haven’t. No wonder I’m feeling a little deflated now. What have I been doing? Did I get distracted? Am I someone who makes grand statements for effect and then doesn’t deliver? Here comes an old friend …. self doubt.

Now one thing I do know from this blog is that self doubt is a sure sign that I’m taking myself far too seriously. It makes me think of a mantra I have stuck to my computer screen, “It’s not about me” – a reminder that I am supposed to be the travel guide not the chauffeur. When self doubt hits it’s invariably because I think I’m supposed to have it all figured out: be all slick and knowing about life, the world and everything.

“I found my first novel difficult. I don’t want to make it sound like it’s any more difficult than driving a cab or going to any other job, but there are so many opportunities for self-doubt, that you just kind of need to soldier on.”
Anthony Doerr

The idea of ‘soldiering on’ seems like a good one right now. It’s like closing my eyes and trusting that I’m being led down the right path. That’s all I can do. My Future Self is clear to me and I have great comfort in knowing that she is Me. How I get to her might feel messy at times but as long as I DO trust, then all will be well. All will be well.

6 antidotes to beating myself up

‘I am still determined to be cheerful and happy, in whatever situation I may be; for I have also learned from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions, and not upon our circumstances.’

~ Martha Washington, wife of George Washington~

“Am I predominantly letting well-being flow through me, or not? Am I letting it in?” Er – today, maybe not so much!!

It’s funny I think of this week as predominantly happy but I know I’ve written about a couple of low points too. This morning I woke up and the first thing I thought was, “Oh, no, I might have to cancel my course next week!” Registrations are so low – an all-time low for this close to the day. I then proceeded to stew and beat myself up in equal proportions.

I talked to my FS on paper and she quite rightly pointed me to yesterday’s blog. If I look back to what I’ve achieved with Future Self Now since January it is a lot: – designng and building workshops, 3 courses, 3 booster sessions, lots and lots of one-on-one sessions, a new website, Facebook and Twitter, audio blogs,  this blog and more. That does feel good but still here I am berating myself for a crappy marketing campaign.

The good news is that coincidentally I organised some sessions with a PR expert this week. We’ll be working together for the next month or so – starting to really look at what I need to reach out more.  I’m definitely excited about that.

So I suppose this is the uplifter from this state of beating myself up. If the course does end up getting cancelled then I can probably thank it for being the spur that had me really do what it takes to get my marketing sorted out. I can’t be my Future Self without bridging this gap and perhaps this is all about ‘creating the crisis’ that finally gives me the motivation to embrace it.

So here’s a few thoughts on what might work for me right now:

    1. Forgive myself – this is just part of my wonderful journey and, of course, what challenges us makes us strong
    2. Comfort and noursihment – I talk about this in my article in the Tools section of this blog called Comfort-Nurture-Action. Right now I might be needing to look after myself. If I allow myself to do that then I know I will spring back into action quickly.
    3. Count all the things that are going right – looking back at what I achieved this year really helps. Also I know that my program is great – making a lot of difference, getting wonderful feedback and that, at the end of the day, is what matters most.
    4. Put it in perspective – this is so totally not a biggy on the grand scale of human suffering. Time to get over myself!
    5. Use it -Time and time again success has been born out of failure. It is even quoted as a vital part of the road to achievement. So what am I doing resisting this?  I can use this energy and put it to great use  spurring me on to getting a proper marketing strategy sorted out. It’s been on my mind, I’ve been waiting for the right moment and this seems to be it!

On this note of embracing failure I see a perfect opportunity to share with you one of my favourite songs from one of my favourite movies – Chitty Chitty Bang Bang!

Just watching this is a perfect uplifter, so for that reason I’ll make it my 6th antidote!

“Little Me” Syndrome

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

I’ve inserted this famous quote from Marianne Williamson because that bit about “We ask ourselves, Who amI to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?…” echoed my experience of this morning: I needed to write a blurb and a piece for the local paper about my upcoming talk and I’d got stuck in ‘little-me’ syndrome.

So I got some paper and started conversing with my Future Self. She took me to my talk in November and we discussed why people were there, how much they enjoy it, how much fun I have and so on. My Future Self also reminded my of a previous blog about self-doubt (see “A new one for the list“). In that blog I realised that a great antidote for self-doubt is to remind mysel to stop takeing myself so seriously! How can I have fun with this instead? What does it look like to have a ball at the talk?

So what if only 2 people came? It would be great practice, I love doing talks anyway and I could have a great time with those 2 people!

Much better! The first draft of my blurb and article got written and I left to go pick up the kids, Soweto String Quartet full blast, sun shining through the car windows, feeling ‘brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous’!