I was seeking the truth about why my words contradicted my actions. Why my good intentions were backfiring. Why I would say “I want to achieve this and I want to achieve that” all day long- but I never really met my goals head on. I got some half-assed results. Whether it was ” I will never let anyone treat me like that again,” as I jumped into bed with my ex or “I’m not eating another piece of fattening bread again,” as I smeared a slab of butter on the dinner roll. Contradicting myself all the time. Oh to be human.
I would set myself up each day for success, at least in in my mind, but by dinner time, I was right back where I started, sometimes even worse off. Self-sabotage. Overpromising too many people, including myself and underdelivering and setting myself up for failure.
It came to the point where I just couldn’t trust myself at all any more. I’d say things to myself like “I’ll start saving money soon,” as I continued to rack up my credit cards at my favorite boutiques, restaurants and cafes.
I’m working on building my trust back. Honestly, how can you trust anyone else if you don’t trust yourself?
Read: 21 Signs You Don’t Trust Yourself
Trusting yourself is what builds confidence. On the other hand, NOT trusting yourself, because you are lying to yourself, is what leads to self doubt and ultimately painful emotions. And you know how we don’t like to feel those.
“As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live.”
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust: First Part
Trusting Only The Good Parts of Ourselves
Personally, I have found that self-trust starts with self-forgiveness and taking the time to understand why we are so self-deceptive. I took sometime to think back on all the terrible, selfish and thoughtless things I have done to myself and to others throughout my life. Then I read the list. God that was hard. Then I waited a day and thought about more bad things that I did and added to the list. Oh, to take a good look into the guiltiness of it all. It was so damn painful. The crazy thing is – I would write down something I remembered that I did that hurt someone and then I WOULD MAKE AN EXCUSE FOR WHY I DID IT. Really??
The point I am trying to make here is that we can’t just trust some parts of of ourselves. Like the good parts with the good emotions. We have to trust our whole entire being. The good, the bad and the ugly. This starts by not abandoning yourself. You abandon yourself every time you don’t allow yourself to be completely honest, feel badly and sit with some of the pain and sadness you have brought to your own life. Don’t dwell there, just become more aware.
“Self trust is the essence of heroism.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson
“But I think that because they trusted themselves and respected themselves as individuals, because they knew beyond doubt that they were valuable and potentially moral units — because of this they could give God their own courage and dignity and then receive it back. Such things have disappeared perhaps because men do not trust themselves anymore, and when that happens there is nothing left except perhaps to find some strong sure man, even though he may be wrong, and to dangle from his coattails.”
― John Steinbeck,
I had so much, but felt so little. I think it was a deeper desire for more meaning and joy, for I had become numb, deadened and desensitized to my life. I wasn’t depressed, I was discontent. It wasn’t that my life was bad. I would have some nerve complaining about anything, considering those with real misfortunes. My life was just too predictable in an annoying way and I had way too many people leaning on me for support. To top it all, I was reliving the same problems over and over and over again, applying solutions that didn’t work.
I felt tired, disillusioned and quite unfulfilled. Everything was on replay. The things I collected, now collected dust and took up too much space – books, clothing, furniture – the clutter of “cherished” memories – did nothing but confuse me.
At the very same time, my parents, in their 70’s, living in a pretty remote part of Florida, were in need of some help. Their health was degrading. Actually, their lives were falling apart. The house in need of growing repair. It was May when I got the call. Mom developed stage four lung cancer and dad, tormented by anxiety and fear, slipped deeper and deeper into dementia. He was frustrated, angry and confused as well. They didn’t want anyone’s help, they didn’t want to see that they could no longer take care of themselves.
Every single day brought on a mini disaster as they continued to try to do the things they use to be able to do. Fires in the oven, crucial medication missed, terrible falls in the middle of the night and countless visits to the emergency room. I dreaded every flight I took to see them.
I witnessed first hand what people do when they hold on too tight, when they cling to the past, when they shut down, when they isolate themselves. They were terrified to the point of paranoia. They became delusional and just couldn’t and wouldn’t accept the inevitable – that everything eventually breaks down, fades away. Everything in life is impermanent. We die a little each moment, with each breath we exhale. This is a part of the process of life. It is also why we must hold life preciously in our hearts, while we have the time we do.
Time does not stand still for anyone and while I was extremely sad, I am grateful that I was able to comprehend the lesson and the wisdom in my parent’s painful decline. Clinging to what once was and wishing things were different does us no good and only has us suffocating and suffering more.
It was with this that I made the non-negotiable decision with myself, that I wanted more joyful moments in my life while my vision is not blurred with cataracts, my hands can still lift a pot to cook and my legs can carry me for long walks along the shore
We must be grateful for every second we have now and every gift of a moment we have from this second forward. We must learn, adapt and find new ways to stay relevant and useful. Purposeful while doing the best with what we have.
At the same time that I was keeping my head above the water with my parents in crisis and my freelance work, my husband, my darling, told me that he never took the lithium he very so needed to keep his bipolar illness at bay.
In and out of hospitals for much of our marriage, it was one roller coaster ride after the next.
The meds seemed to help keep him balanced, or so I thought. It was the last draw and he lied to me and that hurt very much. He began self-medicating with drugs and then alcohol and then God knows what. Anything to soothe his mania I guess. He was trying to help alleviate the heightened anxiety. All of this crazy behavior around me was pushing me further and further into disassociating from all of my emotions.
I did not want to accept the reality of all of this pain. He too, may have been on a path – while I was choosing to discard of anything that no longer served me well. He may have been seeking the same, using different tools, a different approach. Somewhere along the way there was a huge disconnect. That’s the trouble with chemical imbalances and mental illness, you never know what’s real or what’s just a troubled mind gone off on a really wild tangent.
So, the only question to answer: What do I do now?
Forgiveness first, self-care second. I’ve been exploring the wisdom of Buddhism, the secrets of the Kabbalah and enjoying the calm and mind-clearing benefits of meditation and yoga. I am doing more of what I enjoy doing. Swimming in the ocean, bicycling, Soul Cycle, exploring new places, reading, long walks, dancing and time with my daughters and friends.
So far, I have come to understand and respect, that by becoming more curious about myself and how I think and in turn expanding my awareness by building my propensity to be mindful, to forgive and to give with loving kindness. I feel healthier and more energized. By asking What am I to do now? What is the right thing to do next? I am guided by my heart and values that I hold dear.
With the current state of world affairs, I have been questioning just how sane we really are. Frankly, I am frightened of what’s to come and the media loves it that way.
My biggest concern is to have a strong enough mind that I don’t become brainwashed by all the bad news. I have always wondered how people followed someone like Hitler, let alone Trump. This truly concerns me. Reading books about the holocaust like Man’s Search for Meaning Viktor Frankl and watching movies like Schindler’s List and Life is Beautiful, I still ask myself, how do these atrocities happen? I have become so concerned that if the world completely fell apart, I want to make sure that I have a strong enough mind and spiritual base that I do not follow the herd.
This herd mentality is something I know I desperately need to avoid. I need to seek a more meaningful understanding of life, so that I can strengthen my mind and continue to think clearly. So that I can better understand the truth and the purpose of living and giving with intense gratitude each day. I know that clinging to fear of falling prey to stronger (albeit: unhealthy) minds. My mind should never be controlled by outside forces, including fear.
Isn’t it peculiar when you find yourself waking up from living in a moment that doesn’t even exist yet?
An important note about why we overthink things. Why we try to forecast the future, figure out what is going to happen next and play out the scenarios before they even happen.
We find comfort there. It gives us power. It can be a good thing.
We find companionship within the constant conversation we have with ourselves.
The addicting mind chatter becomes even more distracting when we have a challenge we can’t solve or when we feel all alone. We wander behind enemy lines (inside our perturbed minds) and begin to overthink it all.
The path to more peace, is to sit with how things really are and examine all the ways you chase for comfort when feeling vulnerable, lonely, frightened and anxious. We become addicts to unnecessary activity and addicted to the discursive thoughts in our mind.
These addictions we have come in all types of forms, some more healthy than others. We become addicted to work, exercise, food, adventure, meditation, yoga, anything to remove us (read: escape) from the painful truth of reality.
Watch: How to Use Drugs by Alain de Bottom.
A drug can be anything that increases an expanded state of consciousness (that is the state or quality of awareness) in which the pain of immediate troubles is lessoned by euphoric recognition of nature and the cosmos.
Kintsugi is the Japanese art of mending broken objects using gold or silver epoxy. The Japanese believe that when something has suffered damage and has history, it becomes more beautiful.
I’ll never forget the first time one of my twin daughters had her heart broken. She was all of 16 and completely devastated. I remember her face as she curled up in my bed, in physical pain, her head in the pillow and eyes swollen with tears, hand on her heart, she said, “Now I know WHY they call this a broken heart,” “It actually feels BROKEN in my body.” Shattered like glass.
After someone breaks up with us, we can feel very, very lonely. Abandoned, rejected, thrown away. What are we do to with this deep seated pain?
I am studying Pema Chodron’s Heart Advice For When Things Fall Apart.
Usually we regard loneliness as an enemy. Heartache is not something we choose to invite in. It’s restless and pregnant and hot with the desire to escape and find something or someone to keep us company. When we can rest in the middle, we begin to have a nonthreatening relationship with loneliness, a relaxing and cooling loneliness that completely turns our usual fearful patterns upside down.
An inspiring tale of self-discovery, I have read The Alchemist.
Next on my reading list. . . .
The Middle Way & The Manual for The Warrior of The Light
We are all faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as impossible situations.
Rule #1 Stop doing things that don’t produce results.
My smiling days. It felt like my energy was pure & protected from the pains of the world.
I want to get that great big beautiful smile back. I want to FEEL the way I did when I didn’t know much.
How to Re-energize My Life & Produce Some Damn Good Vibes
Most people – “the good vibes only” people in particular – tend to shy away from and may even passive-aggresively shame people who come to the party of life angry. No drama here. No conflict. No, no, no. . .they will have none of it. Confrontation just freaks them out.
I’ve come to know anger on a very intimate level. We’re like BFF’s and believe me you, more recently in my life, my anger has served me well. It has acted like a guiding light, helping free myself from the pain, guilt and shame I’ve been lugging around for years.
One of my first really angry memories involved being bitten bloody on the arm by my raging cousin Ralph. Oh what a misfit he was. A terror. It hurt like hell. A big imprint of his huge buck teeth piercing the broken skin on my upper arm. It was a typical Sunday dinner at nanny’s house. Steaming plates of pasta and a big loud Italian family, all talking on top of one another, no one listening, ignoring the children, the women complaining and the men, oh the bravado and machismo. A scene out of . . .
I was so enraged that I ran up to the dining room table and decided to let all of the adults at the table about what happened. I yelled at the top of my lungs, “YOUR SON JUST TOOK A BITE OUT OF MY ARM, HE IS AN ANIMAL.” And in less than a split second everyone at the table began to laugh out loud at me. The table was rolling with laughter. I was astonished.
Ignoring anger, any type of anger, whether it is yours or someone else’s, is not a strategy, period.
Pretending your not angry, “working out” your rage at the gym, downward dogging that dreaded pain and/or massaging your mind with positive affirmations will only create a deeper harbor for anger to anchor itself in your subconscious, and those are some deep and dark waters my friend.
I have been accused of being angry most of my life. I have damaged friendships, relationships and have gotten shunned by almost every member of my family for being angry. We are all good now, but it took a lot of deep digging to find out why I was a rage-full mad woman.
I have come to learn that anger needs some proper investigation on a regular basis because it is a sure sign that something in your life is out of alignment with what you value and an indication that you are in need of some loving care.
It’s a red flag that your needs are not being met. And damn we have to meet those needs. Anger actually is a powerful emotion that protects us from feeling hurt and hopeless. Maybe even powerless. Feeling powerless is about as low as you can go.
Anger can be a very necessary emotion which will let you know without a doubt when you are feeling threatened and vulnerable. When we approach anger with curiosity, when we ask ourselves “why the hell is this making me so angry?” when we take a peak at what is behind the anger curtain, the root of the problem, we find that we may be feeling hurt, betrayed, disappointed and disillusioned.
It is to this place we must go, to the pain behind anger, with open arms, where we feel ourselves turned inside out, where we feel raw, bloody and wounded- that is what is underneath the anger. If you really want to become less angry, this is the bleeding wound that must be healed. And you can’t rely on others to rub in the ointment and wrap the bandages. Oh no, this is an inside job.
So if you struggle with a low tolerance for frustration or someone tells you that you need anger management therapy, try a bit of self-care. Investigate that anger. Get up close and personal with the pain.
We might explore this possibility by asking ourselves about where our anger really comes from. What is the other side of anger? Fear. We can’t free ourselves until we work through both our anger and our fear. And what is the cause of fear? Ultimately, it is the fear of nonexistence, death, the fear of losing ourselves and being forgotten. But a fear of death translates into a fear of living, because impermanence is itself a fundamental condition of our lives. In this fear lie the seeds of anger.
So now, how do I deal with angry people? I realize that hurt people hurt. I approach them with curiosity. What is behind that big, bad bark?
For myself, now when I get angry, I know how to soothe myself (a very good thing to learn how to do by the way). I take to the waters and I meditate.
Now I know. . .
I am 1,000 % absofuckinglutely certain that I should be recognized in the Guinness Book of World Records for being the biggest idiot on the planet for repeating the same damn mistakes over and over again for most of my adult life. Life on repeat can be brutal.
Why am I so susceptible to making the same mistakes over and over again? Whether it’s ruining a diet with three glasses of wine, running credit card debt on a bunch of useless stuff I never needed in the first place, trusting a friend who was way less than honest or sacking up with an ex. What possesses me/us to continue to do things that get in the way of what we truly want? Is it fear of the unknown? Fear of what life would be if we didn’t do the things we did on repeat? Maybe. Perhaps it’s a matter of finding the holes. The holes we keep falling into. The mind-numbing, soothing and relaxing way our brain feels after a glass or two or three of wine. Or the familiar, comfortable and easy way it feels to slip right back into the arms of the one you once loved. I need to look at the benefits of my biggest mistakes.
Read: How to be honest with yourself and get more done, for some decent advice on how to avoid repeating the same mistakes.
Harmful Habits & Slipping into Default Mode
When we do something right, a pathway is created in our brain. Unfortunately, a pathway is also created when we something wrong. We basically build habits this way, both good and bad. So the reason we keep making the same mistakes is that we slip by default back into existing neural pathways.
Achieving Ego Free States
Sometimes I feel like I need a complete rewiring of the brain.
Research into psychedelics, shut down for decades, is now yielding exciting results.
It seems that individuals under “treatment” transcend their primary identification with their bodies and experience ego-free states . . . and return with a new perspective and profound acceptance. Read more in The New Yorker: The Trip Treatment
If you have ever been accused of “overreacting” and you think something is wrong with you because someone told you so, then this 10-minute watch is critical for your growth. Bottom line: Reactions are NATURAL. Overreacting is a warning sign that you have been hurt badly. You have to HEAL that, not shame it away.
When Our Minds Run in Circles
Reading, learning and practicing how to meditate to calm my mind, I am focusing on what Buddhists call “maitri”
Maitri – practicing loving kindness and awareness to all your thoughts. Read: When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron. The purpose of meditation is not to find your bliss, but to befriend and let go of all thoughts – the good, the bad and the ugly. To accept them all with loving-kindness, with maitri.
The Benefits of Being Socially Selective
I just don’t have the bandwidth, headspace or patience for anyone right now. That is quite alright in my book. Sometimes we need a little solitude to sort things out. I just wish more people were fluid in silence.
Comment below if you agree and have a great Monday.
“For me, I am driven by two main philosophies: know more today about the world than I knew yesterday and lessen the suffering of others. You’d be surprised how far that gets you.”
But How do You Develop Your Values?
A Beginner’s List of Values
- Authenticity – to be genuinely yourself at all times. If you value your authenticity and you are in a position where you feel like you have to be someone you are not, you may become very frustrated and upset, because you are living against your core value of being 100% completely you. The same goes for if you are feeling unaccepted for who you are and what you stand for. If your friends or aquaintances disapprove of you, then you may be inclined to feel disappointed. To live an unapologetically authentic life while surrounding yourself around people who appreciate your uniqueness is extremely fulfilling. Find them.
- Being the best
- Care – if showing genuine care and consideration in your relationships is something you believe to be very important than you will be hard pressed to find compatibility with someone who doesn’t demonstrate a warm, affectionate, tender and kind reciprocation back towards you.
- Challenge – when one of your core values is to be continually challenged by a life of learning, growing and expanding your consciousness, it is difficult to associate with people who are content with staying the same.
- Financial independence
- Making a difference
- Resilience – to get back in the saddle, to bounce back from a bad moment, to keep on going. If resilience is what you value, you may become very short-tempered with people who give up quickly or enjoy a good pity party.
- Thoughtfulness – the act of being thoughtful means to pay attention to the details, to think things through before doing them, to plan with more discernment. If thoughtfulness is an important value to you then you may be very frustrated going to places and experiencing things that are rushed, unmannerly or discourteous.
- Truth – If you value the truth, you expect people to be honest with you and you earn and build their trust by being 100% real with them. When and if someone lies to you, you will suffer, because you value honesty in a relationship, whether it be a professional or personal one.
“When you understand yourself, you’re able to navigate the world,”
– Gary Vaynerchuk
Oh but where to begin. One idea. How about getting a bit curious about you. Instead of wondering why others aren’t liking your most recent Instagram post, spend just a little time learning more about what’s going on inside your head.
- What am I good at?
- What am I so-so at?
- What am I bad at?
- What makes me tired?
- What is the most important thing in my life?
- Who are the most important people in my life?
- How much sleep do I need?
- What stresses me out?
- What relaxes me?
- What’s my definition of success?
- What type of worker am I?
- How do I want others to see me?
- What makes me sad?
- What makes me happy?
- What makes me angry?
- What type of person do I want to be?
- What type of friend do I want to be?
- What do I think about myself?
- What things do I value in life?
- What makes me afraid?
These questions remind me of The Proust Questionnaire. The Proust Questionnaire has its origins in a parlor game popularized (though not devised) by Marcel Proust, the French essayist and novelist, who believed that, in answering these questions, an individual reveals his or her true nature.
So, what helps in the process of opening yourself up to yourself? How about getting out there and interacting with the world. However, one must proceed with caution. First we must remove all the emotional blocks and drop all the baggage. The grudges, the resentment and the anger that holds us back from really connecting. It begins with forgiving those that have hurt us.
Forgiveness is like a breath of fresh air, a lighting of the load you’ve been carrying, a softening of the heart, a soothing of the mind and a releasing of the soul. Compassion follows forgiveness because you have genuinely felt your own pain and getting close to your pain is an excruciatingly freeing experience. This is how we grow to understand ourselves and appreciate others. This is how we begin to truly build relationships.
We connect through truly understanding the human condition. With forgiveness and compassion we have the capacity to feel each others pain and with the right intentions and words, we can help each other release that pain and open up our hearts.
I truly believe we are here together for a reason – I mean we work together, we live together, we suffer together, we smile together and we experience each and every moment together. How could we possibly be so in our own heads?
Our growth expands the closer we get, the great and kinder the connections we make as we move away from the false and painful fantasy of isolation. We are not meant to be alone all the time.
Feeling for our fellow, showing care and concern, warmth, love and tenderness. To be sympathetically conscious of each other. To hold space for one and another.
The emotional ability to picture ourselves with the same problems in a non-blaming, non-shaming manner. Reading: Pema Chodron “When Things Fall Apart”
On a side note: I am on my seventh day of receiving motivational text messages from a chat bot on Shine Text. It’s a fun way to start the day. Kind of motivating. Check it out – daily shine.