Honesty

Let’s be honest. Does that really exist? When having an honest conversation with yourself, do you know if it’s the truth or a lie? I think of how many times I have lied to myself to soothe or cope, and now, I am seeing that other people are doing the same. Being honest, and really getting to your core is hard work, like thinking and solving complex problems. I don’t know how many times in a day I lie to myself, but I am aware of it and sometimes this scares me.

To get to the bottom of a truth, I like to be objective. I know that my subjective feelings will always take me on a labyrinth of emotions leading to nowhere, so I parse out the facts. This isn’t enough however, because others lie to soothe and cope to themselves and others, so this makes everything complicated and difficult to piece together. Facts may not be facts at all, and so what is left to do is basically throw away all expectations, judgements, and let situations be as they are. This doesn’t include any disrespectful or inappropriate/abusive behaviour from others just simply what comes, let it come. 

I grasp for situations to be different. I replay scenarios, wishing my past would be different, the people in my life different, and this is truly the antithesis of honesty. This is La La land. La La land is where fantasies live. The rose coloured glasses, the wishful thinking of what “could have been” or wish “could be”. Regrets, resentment, judgement and yearning is a place where no one should live. It is a black hole. It leads to bitter land.

There is nothing I can do about my past and definitely cannot control everything that will happen to me, and if I am to accept this notion, than I am living honestly. All the events of my past, and the characters in it, are my story to own and these are my facts to keep and accept. The acceptance of my facts I struggle with, but I know I will get there. I remind myself that no matter how many times I don’t want to accept my story, it is still mine to keep, forever, and I carry it either heavily by resisting acceptance or light, when I have an abundance of acceptance. Some days are heavy. This tug of war is what brings me closer to me. As long as I am still pushing closer to acceptance, I get closer to my truth. The honesty that I seek, I look for in other people, I rarely find it, because I am struggling to find it in myself. The closer I get to my honest self the closer I get to the life that I want. As I try to find a way to live in truth, putting action to every value in my life, I struggle to find the motivation to keep living in an honest way without soothing/coping and lying to myself. I don’t always encounter the support and likeminded community to realize this lifestyle preference. Despite all of this, I won’t give up in finding a way.

One thing is for sure. When you do lie to yourself you know it. Your body knows it, your mind knows it, and definitely your heart knows it. The consequences of living in dishonesty is that it will manifest in a negative way, in your life, one way or the other.

Living your truth and living in honesty is not easy. Let go of expectations, judgements and grasping. Let life take you where it moves you without regret. Things happened to you, and move on. Life is today, not yesterday and not tomorrow, and it is worth the effort to make every day as amazing as possible. Even when you don’t feel like it.

Practicing Loving Kindness

“Your perception of me is a reflection of you; my reaction to you is an awareness of me.”

This quote popped up on my Facebook feed the other day, and has been stuck in my mind ever since. The stories I tell myself of what other people are, are not always a true reflection of who they are. One part is receiving them and the other part is what my mind perceives of them. I know what it feels like to be on the receiving end of a false perception. It isn’t a good feeling. Bias, prejudice, discrimination, distrust, all of this clouds what could be a beautiful interaction between people.

Living in a diverse city with many cultures, I have been fortunate to have a variety of people from different backgrounds and places, come into my life. I haven’t ever thought that some of my disagreements with others came from my own flaws. What I know of myself, and see in myself, is what I see in other people. So, what I see in other people is basically a mirror. I have to check my world view and my opinions before I really let someone show up in my life. I have practiced my loving kindness meditation before without much thought. Now, I have realized that this quote can easily be applied to practicing compassion and loving kindness when it comes to receiving people we don’t agree with, click with or necessarily like. Loving kindness should be directed towards myself as much as possible, so that I am able to mirror that in my perceptions of others, and in turn show them love instead of bias and hate.

I sometimes don’t even know why I don’t like someone, my mind just simply decides. Sometimes, my distaste of other people have nothing to do with them but is directly correlated with my own shame and distaste of myself. The more I practice compassion and empathy for myself the more tolerant I am of other people, and I am able to change my perception of them. It isn’t always easy to find awareness and practice loving kindness when you would rather fuel hate and negativity. After all, anger is a rather strong force, but loving kindness is the only way to truly find yourself back to you. It is a way to be aware of the false perceptions you carry of yourself, and the bias/negative self talk that ruminates in your mind. Once I decide I’m going to show up in a way that allows compassion and empathy to be a part of my perceptions of myself, I am able to see people as their true reflections and not as a mirror of my own flaws and hurt. The journey to that state is achieved through practicing a deep loving kindness meditation. Back to the breath, straight to the heart. 

What Motivates You, Will Change You

It took me a long time to peel back some of the layers of my personality. To wear my masks well, and to adapt my personality to the changing circumstances of my life. Different situations called for a different part of me. I always thought that I was one authentic self, but now, I’m in the camp that I have many selves, and that I am complex, flexible and have the ability to change/adapt if I need to. Don’t get me wrong, I do think that I have one core self that creates the foundation for my likes and dislikes but, I don’t think that I have to be so hardcore that I can’t bend my personality a little, if a situation called for it.  

I have found that the more in tune I am with my emotions, the better I am in understanding how I am going to navigate certain situations. One key predictor of my motivation is when I burst into tears from repressed emotions. When I repress emotions, which was easy to do when I drank, I become aware of what I am lacking or need in my life. Motivation is a key indicator of who I am. It is the reason why I do certain things or act in a particular way, it steers me to my goals and excites my life. Subconcsiously there are complex processes highlighting events of worth and distinguishing them from everything else around me. I don’t choose what interests me, it chooses me. This creates who I am, and it is my responsibility to pursue my motivations to develop meaning in my life, so that I feel fulfilled. My motivations create my personality, and when I am able to fully express my personality I am able to be of service to others, and makes me a happier person overall.

I find that it takes courage and discipline to really get to know yourself and take full responsibility for your life. I lack patience and have a temper naturally. It took a lot of energy and motivation for me to come to some agreements with myself to move forward from some of my bad attitude and short comings. I find that if I don’t continue to challenge myself, and unburden myself from my repressed emotions by exercising, meditating and talking it out with my close ones, I project my unwanted desires and needs on others. This I see in other people, and immediately recognize it as it happens. I have come to know that, if someone doesn’t want to take full action and responsibility for their motivations and wants, there really isn’t anything I can do for them to better their life. They need to want to do it themselves.

To really understand what motivates you, pay attention to what catches your eye, what you take pictures of most, what types of books you read, what music you like to listen to and what places you like to frequent, just to name a few. Despite life being frustrating and not always fair, keep pursuing what motivates you. To develop your personality is to take full responsibility for your life and actions and create the life that fits you best. I have learned that my life unfolds according to my direct choices, and that means that I need to decide what it is I want and then really commit. I understand now that if I decide to neglect or deny what I want or not express it to others, it is only me to blame for the life that I am living. This is a hard truth to swallow but very necessary for personality development. The challenges that will inevitably present themselves as you pursue your motivations are only learning curves and should not be treated as roadblocks. This takes patience and grit. To create the life that is best suited for your personality you have to pursue what motivates you, so that you are able to present your true personality without resentment, anger or bitterness.

When you are able to move through your changing personality over time, and express your many selves from an authentic place, you are able to attract the right circumstances and people that develop further your personality, and achieve self actualization. As goals change, when they inevitably do, you will know where to steer next, if you trust in the process and know that your actions are motivated by what you truly want you will find you are always in the right place at the right time. This is key to personality development. 

How to Gain Clarity

Feeling inspired or generating insight has always been a challenge for me. I am prone to negative self-talk, and ruminate situations to the point of anguish. These habits inhibit my ability to gain clarity. In trying times, when the wind is taken out of my sails, and I am burnt out I struggle to find a positive perspective. This past year the coronavirus pandemic has been one big rollercoaster ride from hell, the unexpected turns conjured up feelings of fear, anxiety and distress.

It is difficult to feel secure, when life seems out of control, situations swinging from one extreme to the other. Finding clarity in a hellish, vague situation is not easy, but it is doable. I have found that even in my worst moments there is something to be learned or gained. Clarity for me is not a destination, it is a process. When I need some clarity, I don’t focus on one specific area of my life, person or situation, rather I open up completely and allow my subconscious to lead me.

It is my negative internal chatter that keeps clarity at bay. It is the unnecessary unsolicited advice from others, competing interests, manipulative people and so much more that blurs my focus. The more I practice quieting the chatter, silencing the noise through meditation, getting lost in a hobby or developing a plan for self-development, it is then that I find that clarity comes to me. It shows up in my life in very unusual ways, at unexpected times and helps me make grounded decisions based on common sense rather than rash emotions. I have developed habits for myself that keep me collected when I need perspective. It is important for me to stay clear, so I am able to thrive and live in reality rather than slip into escapism.

3 habits that help gain clarity:

  • Focus on what you can control 

This is one of my favorite tools in my wellness box. It does wonders for people like me, that ruminate every scene in life a million times over. When I focus on what I can control, I am able to stop the “what if” scenarios in my head. These scenarios are energy draining and a waste of time. I also like to make lists. When it is needed, I like to weigh my options, such as things like a pro vs cons or a likes vs dislikes list. When I focus on what I can control, I allow my process to finding clarity an easier path. My subconscious is able to focus on what I know, and what I can do, rather than confuse it with conflicting priorities. I set my mindset up for a goal that is tangible and within my reach rather than solve imaginary problems, or problems that aren’t mine.

  • Stop comparing yourself with others

Seeking clarity has nothing to do with anyone else but yourself. It is difficult not to look for an existing blueprint outside of myself, in places like social media, movies, celebrity lifestyles, or simply anyone or anything for that matter. I find inspiration in books and I love to listen to podcasts for clarity, but I take it in with a grain of salt. I know that every tool in a self-help tool box needs to be tweaked for every user. Comparing yourself to other people or using someone else’s blueprint for life is not the best way to honor your unique personality or finding clarity. Lately, I have been feeling a growing sense of space between my life, sense of purpose, personality and uniqueness from those of others. I used to get tangled up in other people’s dreams, and agendas but not so much anymore. I think shedding envy helps to recognize that you don’t always need what someone else has, or is perceived to have, because it might not be a fit for you. Recognize your self worth and honour your gains. Protect your identity by not selling out to get what you think you should have; nothing compares to you or your life. You will find you will gain more insight when seeking clarity, when you embrace your natural personality.

  • Recognize your patterns

I have triggers that I recognize and I deal with them as they come. It is not always easy, but with enough meditation and self-awareness, it is possible to become more aware of the types of patterns a set of behaviours produce in life. Finding clarity is not possible when you are stressed, afraid or unhealthy. I find that when I understand my negative go-to behaviours, I am able to create distance between my negative thoughts and immediate reactions. Understanding what I feel in a heated moment, helps me collect my thoughts and words, so that I am able to express myself with common sense rather than unintended hasty emotions. Recognizing how you operate is crucial to maintaining a clear head, when seeking clarity.

Gaining insight and seeking clarity are key drivers to realizing full potential, refines personality, and establishes the ground work to be a thoughtful human. Despite the many challenges I have faced this year with going back to work as a new mom, in the midst of a full-blown pandemic, I have found that even in this situation I am experiencing so much inspiration and clarity. I don’t need a perfect situation to feel inspired. It is in the imperfect moments I find myself most challenged and invigorated. I am not always clear on where my life might end up, but I know that despite the ambiguity that faces me, I am still able to embrace the process. Moments of clarity are jewels in my life journey, and when I receive them, I smile and soak in the feeling. I know more of these moments of inspiration are coming my way, if I choose to keep working hard toward healthy habits. Clarity is a process not a destination. Keep moving.

Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys

Recently, I have been confronted with a little more drama than I can personally handle, and I feel like I can handle a lot most of the time. Some of this drama is not mine. When a little too much drama presents itself centre stage in my life, I like to remind myself that I don’t need to get involved in every drama infused scene in my life story. I like to use the Polish proverb “not my circus, not my monkeys” as a reminder to escape the crazy circus tent, I sometimes stumble into. I simply walk out.

Self-sabotaging behaviour was a foreign concept to me when I was younger. As the years rolled on, and some of my behaviours were turning my life experiences into serious life lessons, I turned my attention to cultivating better life habits, including quitting things like alcohol, stress eating, procrastinating, not committing and others. But one behaviour I seem to work on quite a bit more than others is gossiping. Gossip is so prevalent in my work life, my home and my social life, that it is impossible to escape from and regulate. I have yet to find the best way to create some distance from other people’s “circus” otherwise known as drama. 

It is without a doubt that I am deeply interested in human behaviour, and talking with people about people is just next level tantalizing for me. I think a lot of people feel the same. This is why gossip is everywhere. However, I know from experience that including yourself in gossip is like walking into quicksand. The more you stand in it, the more you get sucked in, and the deeper you go, at some point there is no return. You are now involved, in the weaving of an opinion of someone else’s life without true knowledge or understanding of the victims moral compass, or their perceived reality. Having a discussion about a person without them actually being present, is like having a debate about the feelings of animals. You don’t know how animals feel, and you can’t ask them. Unless you are willing to analyze a person’s life experience from the time they were born, until present time, and dive deep into their psyche to understand their motivations, actions, intentions, pain, life perception and personality, you will never know the true intentions and motivations behind someones life strategies, and how this might affect your life.

Gossiping is a waste of time, but it is something that we do to ease our own insecurities and internal chatter. The ambiguity of life and the uncertainty of people is unsettling. Gossiping doesn’t give you any more control or power, over a situation or person. The momentary feeling of power that you get while gossiping is an illusion that works in the opposite effect. Your negative energy sends a signal to others that you are untrustworthy and lack self control. I like to think that everyone is just trying to get their circus on the road as smoothly as possible, some might want to drag you into theirs, some don’t even open the tent for public viewing. Respect boundaries and practice social decorum. This will help keep your eyes only on your own monkeys.

We all want to feel like we belong and connected, but gossip doesn’t foster community and belonging, it breeds jealousy and misunderstanding. When you don’t take on other people’s opinions and carry them as your own, this helps in taking proper responsibility and creates room for growth. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side. The grass is green where it gets watered. 

I have my own monkeys in my circus that travel with me and that is enough. I will always give out life advice gladly, if someone wants it, and I am always ready and willing to help if someone asks. I like to give people the benefit of the doubt even if they don’t deserve it, because really, who am I to judge? Everyone is a travelling circus, some crazier than others. Keep your circus and your monkeys in your own lane, and you will find less chaos on the road.

You Can’t Have It All

I wanted it all when I was younger, but now I know that I cannot have it all. The “all” I am talking about is anything really. The perfect house, the best relationships, the ideal job and the list is endless. When I was younger I was wildly ambitious, invincible, courageous, tenacious and fierce. This changed as I got older. Not to say that I am less of these traits but certainly different. As my priorities took form, I started to come terms with the idea that I cannot have it all. The ideal of everything, started to morph into the reality of everything instead. 

I choose to focus my energy on very specific values and principles, and where my focus goes my energy flows. My energy is what gets me to where I want to be in the future. I build my foundation of my life with the energy I create in the world. My emotions help me turn my energy into action then turning my beliefs into reality. I do not have an abundant amount of energy for all of the things in my life and I don’t subscribe to the idea that people have a limitless amount of energy. I know that there is only so much time in the day and so much tolerance from needless noise in life from external forces. If I want to accomplish certain goals I need to be frugal with my energy and time, that means that some people, situations, experiences and opportunities are going to be left behind. What is left behind is not a loss, it is simply a matter of math.

I do a cost benefit analysis of the priorites/people in my life every so often. I look at my situations, relationships and where my future is going and decide what is worth my energy. You simply cannot dedicate yourself to everything and everyone without burning out. Have an honest look at the reality of the situaitons and people in your life, this is a good guide post to where your focus should go. Living in a fantasy world or having great expectations about your life and the people in it destroys your ability to set proper goals. 

In my life my expectations of people were blinding me to who they really were. This set me up for some serious heartache when my energy was wasted from my goodwill or trying to mend or justify arguments. I wanted people to be who I thought they were, not who they actually were. I didn’t give people the space to show me who they were before judging them and not accepting their real selves, in turn branding them with a new personality that fit better to mine. I wanted it all. The perfect relationships, the kind that fit only me. I remedied this by listening to people and hearing how they told on themselves, piecing together their true personalities. The more I listen, the better I am able to make room for others where they belong not where I think they should be.

I peeled off the expectations and the masks I put on others, and organically situations flowed. That meant a little more work on my part, to get closer to achieving healthier and more honest relationships.

My values dictate my way of life and my priorities path the roads I travel on. Just because there are roadblocks, diversions and other nonsense, doesn’t mean I have to quit at what I want to accomplish. Sometimes, I pivot, reorganize or simply rest to feel re-energized again. Just because one area of my life is bad doesn’t mean all is lost. There is good in some of my life and not so good in other parts. I decide where I want to improve, and where or when it is not worth my energy.

One area of my life worth my energy is my marriage but I had some serious expectations of what my married life would look like, how my in-laws would be, how many kids I would have, and where I would live. Nothing turned out like I thought it would, because I don’t have the energy for it all. I have to compromise. There are somethings in my life that are exactly what I wanted and others quite the opposite. The things that I am thrilled with have compounded even more joy from the contrast of the things I don’t have. Let the things that you feel you should have, be the way that they are. You don’t have it because your energy is somewhere else. If you don’t like where your energy is flowing, consider where your focus is growing, that is where your life is going.

Life is not a race it is a marathon. Every chapter in life has its own title, story, plot line and characters. Do not compare your unique chapters with anyone else. Life is different day to day, month to month, year to year and unique only to you. Allow what comes and keep the energy flowing where it needs to be, everything else will unfold.

“You can’t always get what you want
You can’t always get what you want
But if you try sometime
You’ll find
You get what you need”

– The Rolling Stones 

Gaslights, Light The Way

It is undeniable the damage a gaslighter can do if you get too close to their fire. Reality to me is something that is uncontested truth. I like facts, words and the concreteness of things. To some, reality is merely an illusion that is simply energy, a perisistent illusion. I think of reality as something that is real and existent as opposed to something that is imaginery, it is the totality of a system, known and unknown. Physcial objects, tangible and real things make up reality. I like to play with the “what-ifs” and the “what could be” once in a while, but I certainly am not blind to the “what-is” in my life.

But what happens when someone tries to undermine your entire perception of reality? 

Throughout my life I have met all sorts of people, from different backgrounds from my travels and even in my own city through school, work and different love relationships. The personalities that have helped solidify my own perception of myself the most where the… gaslighters. 

Gaslighters communicate in way that leave you feeling dazed, and make you question if there is something wrong with you.

Gaslighting is basically underming your reality. It is about power and control. Some basic tactics are minimizing your thoughts and feelings, deflecting and shifting blame, denying wrongdoing, using compassion as a weapon and twisting and reframing conversations. It is the behaviour not the person that I don’t tolerate. I believe that everyone can do better. I am not perfect myself and have caught myself torching others with these tactics. Awareness is key.

Gaslighters have shown me my light.

In the past I  have entertained opinions about my character and put them on to wear but they never fit. The negative realities and the perceptions that were not my own were itchy, uncomfortable and never sat well with me. I am not against constructive criticism but there is a fine line. My judgments and perceptions are my own to express no matter what the other person feels. If this is challenged to the point that I have lost my opinions and feelings and adopted the other persons perceptions this is no longer a true representation of my world. 

When my husband and I decided to change and grow and pursue a healthy life including going booze free, I thought we would receive only postive feedback. To my surprise that wasn’t the case, and not only did we receive negative feedback, but we found ourselves isolated for a while from people we thought we could trust and support us.

For a time I was confused but then I realized that I have a voice and I have the right to express it. I was able to carry my truth of my reality only when I wasn’t afraid to lose people that didn’t allow me to grow in my life and I let them go. 

Let the gaslighters carry their perception of you by themselves, you don’t need to burden yourself with other peoples opinions of you. I am glad I ditched those torches. That was not my baggage.

I think that if you make a commitment to your reality, and what you think your future should look like, this is more important than how others perceive you. I now understand that no matter how hard you try to please others, or try to explain your perspective and feelings, it is not worth losing your power and your sense of self.

You own your right to make space in the world and show up in a way that celebrates who you are. Raw, unfiltered and real. Too many times I have let my self-image, my persistence to please and my fear, take my voice away. Now I see, that even if I generate positive energy, make myself healthier or try to contribute for the good, there will always be opposition and that reality has nothing to do with me. It takes a gaslighter sometimes to show you the light, to help you solidify your own truth and give you strength to never allow anyone to dim your light again.

Hold that torch high.

Keep shining.

Keep moving. 

You Got This!

From Avoiding Conflict to Fighting Fair

I don’t know about you but I love a good argument. I am always down to figure out difficult solutions, accept disagreements, try to understand obtuse ideas, far out perspectives and extreme scenarios of any kind. Within reason of course.

I like to freely air out grievances, get things off my chest. I think this is very healthy for growth. 

I love to assert my ideas and defend my perspectives, guard my values and principles. But when it comes down to the hard uncomfortable real life confrontations, I seem to always do a playback of what was said. I find that the difficult conversations that we have with people bring so much more than just words. The adrenaline rush that comes with fighting, always finds its way to my throat first before reason, or kind words. Over the years I have sharpened my communication skills as opposed to my tongue, to navigate fair fights with the people in my life. 

In any scenario it is always good to have some tools in your pocket to help you get through a fight in a fair way. Strong unwanted words cannot be unsaid and the bad vibes that linger, stay until a new secure relationship takes its place post battle. Unwanted, strong harsh words and feelings are exhausting, damaging and easily avoided. 

Here are some tools for fighting fair: 

Set the Stage 

If you confront someone or if someone confronts you, either unexpectedly or planned, be prepared to set some ground rules. These could include, no swearing, no yelling, no name-calling or whatever you need to make you feel safe and calm. 

Also pick a place to fight. Ask the person to meet you in a spot that makes you feel calm and safe. If you are confronted immediately step back and ask to postpone the meeting for some other time. If this is not possible, visualize a calm safe space, this will take you out of your fight/flight mode and help you tap into your reasoning brain, which will help you communicate more effectively. 

I like to talk hard uncomfortable stuff in nature, a walk in the park or just out on my front porch. I find it calming and a very neutral space for all that hard energy to dissipate. But if that is not an option, try a space that you have been before that makes you feel good, a coffee shop, a certain room in your house or even an area in a building, like a lobby. The calmer and safer the space the better your mind will react to strong emotions. 

Express your Needs and Negotiate Solutions 

In a perfect world my fights would always end with me as the winner. I like to right fight. I would beat my chest and say, “I told you so!” for all the world to hear, periodically through the day to boost my mood and ego. Ok, STOP! That’s nonsense, because we all know that we grow from change and that change also includes having difficult conversations with people and that doesn’t include being right or winning an argument.

Some of my biggest growth spurts came from serious fights with family members, co-workers, bosses and boyfriends. The raw emotion that travels through a confrontation has a powerful way to rewire our brains, perspective and to allow us to get to the next level of maturity. In all this raw emotion though you have to find strength to  express your needs and cannot lose your sense of dignity, integrity and respect for the other person. 

Sometimes our confrontations happen organically with people not from anything we have done but simply because others are not allowing you to grow. You need to know how to express your needs and negotiate solutions during and post confrontations. You need to establish what you need for yourself as you grow and communicate this to people. Nobody can read your mind. Building healthy boundaries is key to navigating a fair fight, because then you know what your breaking point is and what your limitations are. You need to express these limitations explicitly, so that solutions can be tailored to your specific personality needs and that all parties experience a sense of fairness. 

Know When to Walk Away

All confrontations are worth exploring, even if it is just for personal growth. But some fights are not worth it. Sometimes you just need to walk  away. 

In the book Mastery by Robert Greene the chapter, Suffer fools gladly Greene illustrates how sometimes it is not worth your energy to entertain a difficult relationship with people who have foolish personalities and make cooperation impossible. He gives a description of a fool as a person that is money grabbing, obsessed with their public image, has short term thinking, ego driven, ruled by insecurities and gets little done to name a few. Greene advises, “if they are causing you trouble, you must neutralize the harm they do by keeping a steady eye on your goals and what is important, and ignoring them if you can.” – (Mastery Robert Greene) Sometimes we all act a fool, and giving people the benefit of the doubt should come first before walking away. But, when it is impossible to entice your opponent to a fair fight due to their innate difficult personality then it is worth the walk, because a dirty fight always leaves the deepest scars that take the longest to heal. 

Fight often. 

Fight Fair. 

Grow. 

How Do you Know the Things you Know?

Do you ever get the feeling you know something just because you feel like you know?

You think or see something and you automatically have a strong feeling of familiarity about it. It could be a person, a place, something you read or something someone has said to you.

Like you have been there before, or the thing that you heard you keep hearing it everywhere.

You tell yourself you don’t know how you know… but you know!

I always want to believe that what I am told is what someone actually means and that their intentions are aligned with their actions, but I know that isn’t always the case because people lie to themselves and also to others. So, how do you determine how you feel about someone if you can’t take their word for it? Can intuition guide you to proper knowing?

I read about intuition and have always tried tapping into it. But really I don’t know what I’m looking for or what I should be feeling. My guess of what intuition is, is that if it doesn’t feel right, to fight or flight. That is my basic understanding of intuition. As my self development journey deepened, I realized most of what I knew was because I experienced these situations/people before. I was becoming aware of my patterns and they all seemed so familiar. The familiarity made it feel like I knew things without real knowing.

I think when you think you know something it could be that you are recognizing a pattern.

But, it could also be misleading breeding ignorance planting seeds of arrogance. Even though I think I know quite a bit through learned experiences, travel and even my education, there is also so much unknown that I reject just simply because I think I know.

I recently read the book The Whole Brain Child by Daniel J. Siegel. It is a parenting book that describes what happens to the brain when emotional areas and logical reasoning are disintegrated. The book presents simple techniques to help children manage big emotions and make better decisions by integrating the various parts of the brain. The book also highlights that the experiences we have wire our brain structure. One of the techniques that Dr Siegel uses is called “name it to tame it.” In this strategy the child would retell an upsetting event in his/her own words, and this takes the event from a completely emotional, experience-based memory and applies order to the experience. The child’s perspective is changed and the event is approached more logically.

I wonder how many of my knowing’s come from upsetting events that haven’t been properly processed to make logical sense, and now those feelings are driving a skewed intuition.

Along my alcohol-free journey, I started integrating my logical and emotional brain by looking at some of the narrative that I replay in my head. As I rewrite some of the stories, I’ve realized I didn’t know as much as I thought I did.

I still have so much more to learn and so much to make sense of.

There is so much going on in our brains when we try to convince ourselves of something that we know. Bias, hunger, mood, the weather, hormones, sleep, past experiences, the conditioning of an education system, memory retention, pain and so much more contributes to our perception of knowing. Next time you think you know something without knowing why or how, ask yourself to rewind the scenario and tease out why you might feel, think that way and you might get a different answer. 

Check your story, think before you know. 

Casual Conversations about Loneliness

I have always wondered how other people experience loneliness. 

Is it painful? 

Where does it hurt? 

How long does it last? 

I have never posed this question to anyone. It is an awkward topic of conversation. I guess it might be that we don’t really want anyone to know that we are experiencing feelings of loneliness. To be social and have a lot of social connections is more popular than bringing up conversations surrounding feeling alone or isolated. I know for myself, despite having many friends, this does not guarantee feelings of belonging and understanding. Your perception of the quality of your relationships and how you feel about them has a lot to do with how you are going to interpret your feelings of being connected. If the experience of loneliness is highly subjective and is defined by a state of mind of feeling alone or isolated can someone potentially experience the opposite of loneliness if there were a space or platform to open up conversations surrounding loneliness, like in any setting, work, home, the grocery store, the library, etc? Why aren’t we casually talking about feeling lonely?

When I was partying and drinking my younger years away, my motives for partying was for connection and belonging. Of course, peer pressure played a major role in that lifestyle as well but mainly for me it was finding a place to be heard and understood. I wanted a sounding board for my life that accepted me for who I was, which was ironic because when I drank this was not a true representation of my authentic self. So here I was trying to get accepted wearing a mask. Not true acceptance at all. 

As I matured and embraced my health and my new way of life with no alcohol, I adapted to interacting with people differently, in different settings and I grew. My loneliness loosened its grip on me and it definitely doesn’t have the ferocity it used to have. Sometimes it still creeps up on me when I am not understood, accepted, rejected or feel disconnected from people. In those situations I rely on my logical mind to kick in to over analyze the situation and to neutralize my feelings of loneliness. I dropped the analyzing with time and replaced it with acceptance. I adopted the thinking “it is what it is” that’s it! I accepted people for who they showed me they were, the situations I was in, the role I played in situations, how coincidence and chance played out in my life and simply accepted that I was ok to sit by myself if that was what the situation called for. If I needed to be there for me, I was there for myself by accepting myself. If I needed help or social connection I reached out without attachment and grasping. The people pleaser in me fell off. The mask finally gone.

The solo work that I did getting myself healthy established a deep connection with myself that I bring to all my relationships today. The perception of the quality of my relationships has changed as I am aware of my own worth. The better I started treating myself, the better I treated others, this in turn fostered better, healthier relationships. Intimacy comes from knowing your own needs and responding to yourself in a way that you allow true connection. This connection, even if the feeling is just for a moment, is important to keep your emotional and mental health on track. This connection can be with nature, your religion, earth, people, yourself, your children, and the list goes on. Even when it is impossible to physically socialize with other people, loneliness doesn’t have to dominate your thoughts and feelings if you find a way to connect with someone or something that is truly important to you. I found solace in finding a way to cultivate my need for health, through running, cooking organic healthy meals and meditating. Even though these are activities that are done alone, I don’t feel lonely because I am doing them with the person that knows and appreciates me the best…with myself.