You only see as much as I let you See!!

I’ve always felt a bit hesitant to share my thoughts, writing a Blog is one of the scariest things I’ve done. It tells you how I’m doing, where I am in my dark corner and what are my thoughts. I’ve always been a private person especially when it came to my emotions. Whether it was my childhood, or my time in the Military, sharing my feelings isn’t easy for me. This year it’s about being more authentic, and also being vulnerable, letting people see the real me. I’ve been a bit hesitant to share my blog especially on Facebook. I think sometimes especially with social media, people tend to only show their best, you don’t see them when they’re in the trenches. What you see is only their best, the fun times, the laughs the cute pictures of their adventures. Of course that’s never the whole picture, you’re seeing it through the lenses they’d like you to see. It’s like taking a breath-taking picture of you at the Top of Mount Everest, we didn’t see you crawling to get there, and we’re definitely not going to see you fighting for you life to get back down.

I’ve been following The Daily Love for some time now, and I’ve found it to be a great inspiration. I especially like that the writers tell you aboutKathleen their struggles, you get to see them battle daily just to get where they are. For me that’s encouraging because I see an expert having a hard time, I’m no expert, so it makes sense why I would also struggle. In reading about their quests for happiness, I find that I’m not alone, we’re ALL struggling to make sense of our lives. Some people are just doing it for all the world to see, WOW and that’s extremely brave. One of my favorite writers by far is Kathleen Chelquist, I love reading her posts because she always seems to bear it all, she’s not afraid to be naked, and show who she really is. She published something today, it gives a bit more back story about who she is. I think she’s incredibly brave, and thought I’d share it. Here’s her newest entry in her blog: “Are You HERE Kathleen?”

Kathleen again gets to the heart of why I write, YES I’m struggling with the things I write about, however that doesn’t mean that what I have to say doesn’t have any efficacy. I can’t say that I’ve suffered with depression as she has, I have my moments when I don’t want to talk to ANYONE, and just stay in my room; yes I make a great roommate! I think it’s also important to let people in, life is about choices, I’ve chosen to live the way I do and for the most part I don’t regret my life. I write because I don’t want you to struggle if you don’t have to, have you ever said “I wish someone had told me this!” Well that’s what my writing is about. If you find that you’re focusing on who I am, rather than the message I’m passing on to you form God/The Universe (you believe or not believe in the things you do, the choice is your), you’re going to completely miss the message.

How Fear and Shame has made me feel like a Failure!

Shame

It seems as though it’s been a few years ago since I last served in the Marines, but the reality is that it’s been almost 7 years. I’ve accomplished a lot, but I’ve also not accomplished what I thought I should have by now. For some time now I’ve felt stuck, like I’m living someone else’s life, and that I can’t seem to get free. Last year has been a year of great personal growth, and I feel as though this year will be even better. In-spite of great personal growth, I’ve still felt that I’m not living up to all that I should be.  I’ve adapted a new mantra for my life going forward, be vulnerable, live with intention, and don’t take things personally. I think the biggest hurdle of that will be the vulnerability part, I still have to overcome many societal, personal, and family norms if I’m to triumph over that one. I’ve come across a writer/researcher/academic who has devoted many years to studying vulnerability, and her work has shed a lot of new light on this subject. If you’ve never heard of Brene Brown, her TED Talk “The Power of Vulnerability” is a great way to be introduced to her work. I was looking for a book for a friend a few weeks ago and came across Daring Greatly, it’s one of several books written by Brene Brown. For the first time I’m beginning to feel as though the layers of the onion are finally starting to be revealed.

There was a movie from the 80’s Gremlins, where these little creatures wreaked havoc on a small town. Although it’s been decades since this movie came out, the term Gremlins is synonymous with something wreaking havoc. For me the more I read Daring Greatly, the more I think that fear of failure and the shame of feeling like I’m not enough, is something that’s holding me back. In her book, Brene Brown talks about how men and women handle shame differently. While I understand that this could be a bit of confirmation bias, I still feel as though without facing these two “gremlins”, it will be hard for me to continue the personal growth I’ve started last year. Without shedding light on these gremlins, I feel as though I may sabotage any progress I’ve made so far.

So what do I have to feel ashamed of? As a male we are told many things, be brave, be strong, don’t be weak, don’t show emotions, you’re supposed to be a provider etc. Not to mention the pressure families put on us, in my culture having children is always a Shame on yousign of prosperity, even if you don’t have a place to put those children, just having them seems to trump everything else. A close second to children, is being married; at least kids should be on the way soon. Then at the least if you’re not married or have kids, having a “good job” and being a “good provider” is an ok substitute for third. While I’m not going to get into why just looking at those things aren’t a healthy way to measure your life; I will admit that I don’t fit any of those criteria. I’ve always seen myself as a rebel and trend setter when it comes to those things, but that hasn’t stopped the questions from family members. After reflecting about it, I’ve realized that not having a secure job for the past 7 years since the Marines, is a pressure that I put on myself. I know that taking 4 years out of that time to go to school is a great use of my time, however it doesn’t stop me from thinking that I should have more. Thinking about those things has led to a feeling of shame, although it’s not at the forefront of my thoughts; I think that it’s the reason why I feel stuck.

Despite my optimism and that I have faith and believe that I’ll get through this, that doesn’t stop the fear from creeping into my thoughts; what if I’m wrong and I never find a “good job”? What if I never get married, or have children? What if what I’ve accomplished is as far as I’ll ever go? What if …? The societal, personal, and family pressures to be successful plagues all of us. Like many others I’m struggling with these things. Despite these burning questions though, I know that I have to wake up each day, and take it one step at a time. So what if I’m not married, being married is the easy part, maintaining a healthy relationship for the rest of your lives is the hard part. So what if I don’t have children, many parents raise their children to be Emotionally unhealthy, or even dysfunctional adults. So what if I don’t have a “good job”, many people who do never spend time enjoying life, or worse yet don’t spend it with their families. I’m at a point where I’m aware of the negative impacts we can have even if we have those things, that knowledge will make me better equipped when I do have those things.

Fear and shame effects ALL of us, we all struggle with it in some form. However we don’t have to let it control our lives, left to grow, shame can make us feel 10 times smaller than we are. Shame can stop us from living fuller happier lives, it can stop us from ever actualizing our full potential. Brene Brown suggests we build up our shame resilience, her research has found that as we look shame in the face and call it out, it’s power on us weakens. As we live each day with intention, being vulnerable to show our real selves; we are able to live more wholeheartedly. So what if you’re ashamed of the way you look, feel, or your education. Einstein didn’t let his look stunt his creativity. Steve Jobs never graduated college; his education didn’t hamper him from creating Apple. To fear and shame I say SO WHAT! I’ve been writing less because of some criticism I got a few weeks back, I allowed someone else’s fears about themselves to influence how I felt about myself. I started writing to show others that they’re not alone in some of their feelings. I don’t write because I’m looking for recognition, or fame; I would have required that people pay me to read my posts if that was the case. We all navigate this world in our little bubbles, and the one thing that’s fundamental is that we all want to feel understood. So I’m saying I hear you, I too feel shame and I’m afraid. To help in overcoming shame, Brene suggests you speak to someone who you trust. I know I’m going out on a limb here and sharing my story with everyone, but I’ll also be asking questions from those close to me. I should mentions also, only tell your story to someone who has shown they are capable of being trusted, if they’ve betrayed your trust before, you probably don’t want them to know you’re ashamed, just saying!

With each day that passes, I grow stronger, and more courageous. I’m confident that I’ll make it, but my life isn’t about the stuff I have at the end of it, it’s about what I do with my time, the people I influence, and those I’m able to help accomplish positive changes. Oh and for the critics I’ll leave you with this gem from Brene Brown:

“If you’re not in the arena with the rest of us, fighting and getting your ass kicked on occasion, I’m not interested in your feedback.”

Adversity leads to Triumph!!

Change Ahead

With the holidays behind me, now it’s that time of the year, you know when you make all those promises you’ll never follow through with!! Time for those New Years Resolutions! Well that will be another post to follow in a few days, I wanted to take some time to look back at my year in review. A friend of my put it best “…you have been exposed to some eye opening experiences.” She is certainly right 2013 has been a year of adversity, but I’ve learnt soo much from it.

For me I see adversity as an opportunity for growth, I can bore you with endless quotes of how you can triumph over your Strong Foundationtrials, but as you’re in it, that just seems like a bunch of hog wash. It’s afterwards when you’re in the reflecting stage that you see that your trials were an opportunity to grow, and as you implement those changes  for the future that’s when the growth happens. I think very few people can realize in the middle of something “hey I should use this bad opportunity to learn something.” Don’t feel bad if you don’t learn life lessons until after you’re out of the situation, on the plus side you’re at least aware that growth can come from bad situations. 2013 has been an interesting year for me, bad things happened to people around me, and that’s where the most of the growth happened for me. I can think of 3 friends in particular who I know I made a positive impact on, I showed up at just the right moment, to say or point out what they already knew. For a long time I resented myself for my last failed relationship, I never forgive myself, I’ve since taken a different view on life. I believe that some people are in our lives for a season, and they have a specific purpose.  My last relationship thought me not to be as structured, to stop and enjoy life as it happened around me. Whether it’s my military background or perhaps my upbringing, sometimes I can be too structured, too rigid. Once I learned to relax, I learnt to appreciate the beauty of life, I learnt to trust my instincts more, I learnt what my natural gift was. My faith is definitely stronger, and I have a relationship with God again, and I’ve learnt all that this past year.

Although 2013 seemed to be a year of adversity, I feel as though it’s preparing me for what lies next. I believe in my heart that 2014 will be a year of triumph. I feel that I will be put on the path to actualizing my true potential. I think that I will find Love, or it will find me. I’m learning to be more kind and loving. To be more authentic, to show my true self and not be afraid to show who IClimbing MOuntain am. It sounds silly but why not show my authentic self, if I want people to love me for who I am; showing my authentic self sounds like a no brainer. I read somewhere that if you want to find love, you should be love, because love attracts love. Although I have all these revelations, lets not be naive, change is hard, and it will not be an easy journey. I’ve come to an amazing revelation though, we always have the tools and people around us we need. Think about it, at every moment in the past that you’ve overcome a difficult situation, you always had what you needed to get through it. I’ve also come to learn that I know some pretty ammazing women, and they have all inspired me to be a better Man in their own way. As a side note if any of them happen to read this, you’ll get your own  special recognition from me in an email addressed just to you.

So what will I need to take on this next challenge? I already believe that I have all the right tools and people around me; I just have to commit to it now. In reflecting to write this I thought about why I didn’t get the things I wanted earlier. Aside from not being ready, and perhaps not having all the tools together until now, maybe I’m part of the problem. For sometime now I’ve felt that my drive has been missing. Take the Marines for example, it was physically and mentally tough, plus so much more to overcome. Another aspect I rarely talk about is my fear of water, I’ll avoid the water because I’m not comfortable in it. A big part of my training was passing the Swim Qualifications. I had worked for 10 weeks and if I couldn’t overcome that, it would have all been wasted. That didn’t stop me from getting in the pool, well that and the scary guy yelling at me. That was nearly 15 years ago, do I need a Drill Instructor yelling at me to get off my butt now? I read a great article on The Daily LoveAll of your Relationships are Assignments” where the writer talks about the role your Ego plays in your decision making. I think that I’ve gotten to a stage where I feel entitled, I feel that I’ve worked hard, so certain things should just be handed to me. Perhaps that’s my Ego lying to me, it’s feeding me a version of my reality that isn’t true. I need to trust in my heart, to know that decisions that come from there come from a place of love. Besides I have my faith in God to rely on, what better person to lean on for guidance and inspiration.

The  past year has been filled with many lessons, but I’m confident that what lies ahead is going to be amazing. Just as a rolling stone gains more momentum as it goes down hill, I will gain more confidence as I take each step. What about you, what have you learnt this past year, what will you do differently? Is 2014 going to be your year of Triumph, if not Why? What’s stopping you, other than you!

Time to Hit Reset!

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The past few weeks have been frustrating! I’m making really good progress in my spiritual life, and I’m learning to be more in tuned with others around me, but I’m struggling with my work life. If you’ve been around me in the past few months, I’ve been able to pick up on other’s struggles, and been able to offer encouraging words when needed. Have you ever wondered why psychologists go to psychologists to figure things out? Perhaps it’s that some of us are good at expelling advice, but bad at applying some of those lessons to ourselves. I’ve been letting work get me down, I’m not necessarily where I think I should be, and it’s making me unhappy. But as a friend so brilliantly pointed out “so you’re not where YOU’D like to be, but you’re where you’re NEEDED.” For the first time in weeks I started looking at the bigger picture. I’ve been praying and asking for patience, and what do you know my work life was testing my patience.

So I decided that it’s time to change my thinking, in my heart I know I’m being pull in a different direction. I’m now starting to understand my purpose and my gift, although I want to be at the finish line, to have my own Counseling Practice. I’m not quite there yet, I think I was getting too far ahead of myself, I needed to take things one step at a time. Of course as I stopped thinking about where I wanted to be, and started paying attention to where I am right now. Things at work actually started turning around. Now that I think about it, I wrote about living in the now in my last post; there I go again not taking my own advice.

Ok so now that I’m thinking about the bigger picture, what next? What’s most important to my life? Last week the messages I heard were about being bold, by taking a step into the unknown and having faith that things will work out. This week it’s about setting my priorities right, I have an idea of my end goal, but what’s important to me? Since I’m thinking big picture it’s time to fill in the gaps. I’m working on a new set of core principles for my life: 1. God (spirituality), 2. People (relationships), 3. Everything else. If there is any one take away from this week it’s this. I should live in the now, don’t worry too much about the future or the past; I have no control of those two. While I’m here in the now I’m doing my best, I learnt this principle from “The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel. It’s kind of remarkable how much easier life is when I just do my best, yes some days I won’t be at 100%, but I can still give my all. Just by taking these few simple steps, I was able to turn my mood around, things are looking up, and I’m starting to feel like my old positive self again. Hope these words can find a way into your hearts and thoughts. Maybe you’re having the same problem; things aren’t going the way you’d like. Then ask yourself, am I doing my best? If you’re not giving it the best you can, then start! If you’re already giving your best, then relax things will work out in a way that best uses the tools you have right now.