I’ve been listening to three audiobooks for my own self-improvement. Currently, my picks are You Creative Career by Anna Sabino (this is actually a reread for me), The Business of Being a Writer by Jane Friedman, and How to Be Yourself: Quiet Your Inner Critic and Rise Above Social Anxiety by Ellen Hendriksen, Ph.D. There’s so much about self-improvement that have nothing to do with yourself as an individual. There’s more advice about how other people are, how they can help or hurt you, and how to connect with the people you do want in your life. I’m an anxiety-ridden artist who is improving on being my natural confident self rather than faking it. I have my days where I’m still faking it for other people. It gives me this strange sense of imposter syndrome and I feel less grounded in who I am. One trait about myself that I know is unshakable is my ambition. My individualism shines when I’m driven and courageous enough to deal with unpredictable challenges or make mistakes and learn from them. When this part of me shines, I start to see a pattern with some of the people in my life. They don’t shine with me and my anxiety responds to that by saying “darken down a bit or you’ll hurt their feelings.” I’m done doing that sh*t and here’s why.
While meditating today, I accepted another complexity of human nature that can be a beautiful, but paralyzing thing: self-esteem. Self-esteem is more about how we see ourselves and how we think others see us than it is about confidence. Self-esteem, to me, is self-consciousness and self-awareness. It’s the blurry area of our self-image that doesn’t clear up unless we do something with the intent clear things up. What I started doing is imagining myself in the social situations mentioned in my audiobooks and take a moment to ask myself, “Is this the kind of interaction or relationship I’m willing or wanting to have with another person?” When Your Creative Career and The Business of Being a Writerdiscuss building and connecting with an audience, connecting with the right people in the field, and presenting my work proudly and thoughtfully, it’s often a resounding “Hell yeah I want that.” When How To Be Yourself bring up familiar anxiety-based feelings and anxiety-triggering interactions, it’s often a, “I don’t want that and I’m not completely sure how to change that yet, but I want to keep trying.” It’s like a little roleplay I do in a visualization kind of way, but there’s something I haven’t been paying attention to while I do this. My ambition makes me shine. What I should be asking myself is, “Can I shine and stop giving a f**k about everything my anxiety is worried about?” I truly believe I can, but that depends on my social circle and addressing old socializing habits I picked up to “darken” myself.
I really love the friends I have in my life and no matter their flaws or shortcomings, I love them unconditionally. Unconditional love doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t set boundaries though; if anything, it shows that you still love that person just as much as you love yourself. I can’t tell you how fired up I get when my friends tell me they’re not capable of reaching whatever goals they try to set for themselves. The first thing I do is say, “Actually you can do that. Even though you have weaknesses here, your forgetting how your strengths can help you work though that.” Sometimes my friends hear me and sometimes my friends don’t hear me because their anxiety, depression, or whatever pain they’re working through is screaming louder. I had a hard time accepting when their pain was louder than me, but I’m accepting it now and also accepting that shining while your friends are still working on their issues is okay. In no way am I saying give up on them and go on your merry way shining all you want. I’m just saying that the ambitious type has a fire in them that needs to burn even though other people in your life haven’t sparked their own fire. There’s no need to guilt trip yourself and there’s no need to do the opposite like trying to force your friends to be more like you. Let them be and let yourself be. Self-sabotage doesn’t make friendships stronger, but authentic compassion and self-respect does extraordinary well for all types of relationships, according to psychology.
Learning to be more mindful about the areas in my life that need rest is still a fairly new experience. Do you still have that “daily grind” mentality, where you must work hard whenever your workdays are and ignore yourself anytime your mind, body, or spirit is screaming “I NEED A BREAK!!” ? It’s important to have discipline in life, but I think too many of us think discipline means working hard without recognizing what you need. The labor laws of our society shouldn’t dictate how much rest we deserve; we should be deciding that.
Then again, some of us feel guilty when we’re resting for too long. I get antsy and restless every time I don’t write on my blog, give myself a break from the novel, or take a step back from an article. To me, that means I’m lacking mindfulness when it comes to rest. My brain needs time to rest so I can write again. My soul needs peace so I’ll be inspired to write. My body needs rest even if I am sitting at my desk or in my bed a good part of the day. All of our needs in the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual sense deserve a moment of rejuvenation. I know some of us may give ourselves a day or two of rest and still feel like we didn’t get enough. All the more reason to see the day you scheduled as the rest day as a practice. It takes time to learn what exactly you need to help give your mind, body, and soul an energetic reset.
These sources can help you get started:
If you’re an empath or hypersensitive person, read this article to learn about grounding techniques that help prevent breakdowns.
If you’d like help thinking about how you can cleanse your living space and empower yourself, read this article.
If you struggle to see what you have in life that could possibly make your situation better when there’s so much you don’t have, read this article.
There are so many delusions out there that want us to believe that certain experiences, especially healing and success, can be achieved instantly. I’m not saying some instantaneous things happen in life, but too many of us think that the lack of an instantaneous event is a type of curse or punishment for whatever reason. The development of gaining any kind of achievement is a process; I like to call it practice.
Reminding myself that I am in a state of practice is an encouraging way to remain teachable. Being teachable also increased my gratitude for the resources that mentor me by simply existing. My practice is a natural patience that helps me to progress towards my achievements and give me time to appreciate where I am in the present moment. This practice isn’t always a peaceful flow (which is obvious because without disruption in life, what’s the point?) and I’m grateful for the unknown elements and the unexpected obstacles. Well, I’m not instantly grateful. I get irritated still. I rant and rave. I jump on a social media platform and express frustration or make it into a poem, song, short story, etc. and that’s when it happens. In the friction of my frustration with the obstacle and the unknown, I create a spectacular new opportunity for myself. That is inspiration and acting on that inspiration is a practice.
Practice is not about perfection. The unknown and unexpected make things wonderfully messy and bring disastrous intrigue that make my heart race and my mind fluster. I anchor myself with a pen on paper, my finger gliding over a keyboard, a graphite pencil on a sketchbook, or with sound soaring from my throat. The practice is merging these instantaneous inspirations into long-term investments. Manifestation.
I adore being in a state of practice. It gives me permission to be human and just bleed.
I’m inching closer and closer to meeting my creative goals and a little bit of terror creeps deeper in my psyche because I’m one of those people who fears success. I fear being excited and proud of myself because my reactions have been “too much” sometimes. I fear being happy for myself because there’s someone else who isn’t happy and I need to be there for them. I fear the pressure that comes subsequently after being in the spotlight because of a success. I fear that all the hypothetical stimuli, all the changes and events that could occur, after a success or failure will overwhelm me and cause a mental breakdown. Shame, was the best counter to my fears, so I thought. Instead, shame magnified all of that. It discouraged me from truly embracing the achievements I had made in life and simultaneously added fuel to the fire.
So let’s knock that shit off, said my spirit guides.
Today, I spoke with the spirits about shame, my biggest fear and my favorite defense mechanism. I’m going to breakdown what I was told about shame during the reading. I used the Tao Oracle Deck, the Raider-Waite Tarot, and the Psychic Tarot Deck.
The Tao Oracle Cards
Surrender: Submit to how you’re feeling. Acknowledge what you’re upset or ashamed about. – It’s so habitual for us to bury whatever we’re feeling when shame comes around because we’re introduced to it early on. Repressing your emotions brings temporary relief and long-term emotional scars. To have a more functional relationship with the part of you that feels overwhelmed by shame, you need to acknowledge your own feelings. Express in your own way how you’re feeling to yourself.
Grounding: Neutralize the situation and reassure yourself. Don’t completely blame yourself or others; just address what’s happening and what you need to do to ground or calm yourself again. – Once you know how you’re feeling, discuss it as neutrally and honestly as possible. How are you feeling? I’m sad. I’m pissed. I’m depressed. I’m worried. I’m anxious. Why? Because [insert distressing situation here] is happening. Okay. What will help you calm down right now? I need to be alone. I need to cry. I need a friend. I need to hit something (inanimate). I need to scream. Really, I think the best part about grounding is just being as real as possible in the moment, preferably alone or with someone you trust and without brining physical harm to yourself or anyone else. Grounding is dropping that emotional baggage. Let that sh*t fall.
Be Your Own Sage: Although you’ll be tempted to recall past experiences this situation reminds you of, look through those memories with compassion. Think about what you can and can’t control. – So, most of the fury has passed, but the shame is still lingering. I think this is when the brain starts thinking up ideas on how to cope. If we let shame take the lead during this brainstorm session, we won’t look at our past coping mechanisms with compassion. We may repeat self-destructive tendencies or think of something new. Compassion for the self and others, however, counters shame. The three tarot cards at the bottom, the nine of swords (the situation), the ten of swords reversed (the action), and the page of cups (the outcome), revealed that my anxiety and despair (the nine of swords) isn’t permanent. It will eventually end (the ten of swords reversed). When I look back on how I recovered, it can inspire a greater revelation about my unconscious (page of cups) and if I choose to, I can trust that experience to help me move on and prepare for the future. Thus, shame is no longer required. I felt like sh*t. I let that sh*t go. Now, I am the sh*t because I learned something new about myself. Good job, me.
Be Cautious: Shame and other emotionally exhausting situations will not heal in a day, a week, a month, etc. . Be patient with yourself as you try to apply what you’ve learned from the past to your present situation. – During the healing process, sometimes the wound will reopen unexpectedly or we relapse and rip it open ourselves. It happens. Sometimes shame appears because we’re not healing fast enough or getting over it quick enough. You may have just learned to be your own sage, but all of the best advice for your problems won’t do much if you don’t give it time to sink in. Think of it like glue. You have to give it time to dry before it can do its job. If you keep expecting it to be instant and mess with the adhesive before it dries, you’re going to end up with mess and disappointed. It’s not just impatience, but also self-sabotage. When that happens, you go back to acknowledging your emotions, grounding yourself, learn from the experience, and apply the experience to your situation. It’s a process. Let it take its course.
This isn’t easy…
Dealing with shame in this way isn’t easy. I don’t think it’s meant to be easy. So don’t expect it to be. I’m going to just keep trying. The two of swords on the left in the second picture signifies indecision in my subconscious, which is very true right now. I feel torn between addressing my shame in this new way and letting it win, but on the right, the two of pentacles, representing my conscious, is a good reminder that shame brings up a lot of things that are hard to juggle. I can find my balance eventually if I give it time. Lastly, the third picture shows four more cards that stood out to me: Balance, to recall that two of pentacles energy, the four of wands reversed, pointing out what I’m struggling with is most likely linked to what I’ve been through with those close to me, Longevity from the Tao oracle, signifying the use of this new way of processing shame, and Emotional Loss, the core to my shame, I would say.
So, yeah, just wanted to share that. Thank you if you read all the way through. This was a bit hard to write, being more transparent and all that. But whatever. I’m not ashamed 🙂 .