Category Archives: Stories

I’M NOT LIKE THE REST

As I have entered the part of my life where I am reluctantly now ticking the “35-49” age box, (and for those of you who don’t know how old I REALLY am – I have been 27 for 9 consecutive years now…) I have realised something.

The older I get, the more I realise how little I actually know about anything.

I know nothing about nothing.

Which is a bit of a lie of course.

I know a lot about a lot.

I’ve had a stack of different life experiences to draw upon.

I listened to a talk by the late philosopher Allan Watts the other day titled, “The Value Of The Psychotic Experience”.

He used the analogy of seeing a bunch of fighter jets flying in the sky.

He asked the question, that if one of the jets breaks away from the rest, who is it that is going in the right direction?

That’s a very interesting question.

Those that do not follow the pack, are often deemed as “crazy”.

But why?

Why is it that if we do not go along with what everyone else is doing, are we labelled as being completely mad?

And a more important question to ask – how do we know who, or what is right?

Is the one that has broken away from the pack crazy?

How would we know?

From my own experiences (and obviously, that’s all that I have to draw upon), I can only offer up this question.

What is right for you?

What if, by following that proverbially less traveled road, we discover that that’s the sane path?

So many of us are so afraid to break away from the pack.

Because it’s weird.

Because it’s lonely.

Because there is often no clear path mapped out for us.

Because we are so afraid of what other people might think of us.

Having come through the other side of having broken away from what was expected from me, I can offer up this advice.

Yes.

It is weird to NOT DO what everyone else does. But it’s even more weird to DO what everyone else does.

Especially if everything within your being is pleading with you to go in the other direction.

Yes.

It is ABSOLUTELY lonely to go off in the direction that no one else is going. You are going to be ostracised. I will tell you that right now.

It’s impossibly isolating at times to honour what you are silently, but powerfully being drawn towards.

But it’s when you have to ask yourself that confronting question – what really matters?

What is more important?

What other people think of you?

Or what you think of yourself?

In the end, we are the only ones that truly have to live with ourselves. We are the ones that need to be able to sleep soundly at night. We are the only ones that truly know what peace feels like for us.

Yes.

There really is no clear path mapped out for any of us.

Particularly when we have been convinced that the only true path is that of everyone else’s.

Said who?

Who made up that rule?

Who created that path?

I am here to tell you that it is a total load of crap.

You do what’s right for you.

Because in the end, everyone is only looking out for themselves.

Everyone has an agenda.

Yes – even you.

And finally…

Yes.

We are totally afraid of what other people will think of us.

Because we are human beings, as spiritually evolved as we would have ourselves believe that we are above all of that shit.

The reality of it all is this:

We can only ever validate the image of our ourselves, through the recognition of another.

We are constantly being reflected though the eyes of something external to ourselves.

Like Allan Watts also philosophically quotes – we cannot kiss our own lips.

We cannot bite our own teeth.

We cannot taste our own tongue.

Yet, we also cannot ignore our intuition on account of our own vanity.

We cannot discard what it is that we feel, purely because it doesn’t resonate with another.

From my own personal experiences throughout my 27 years *cough*, I have come to recognise that whilst I am painfully aware that I know nothing, and like everyone else I do often rely upon the validation of another, I do know how I feel.

And if something doesn’t feel good, I have to set it down.

I cannot be weighted down for the sake of what other people may think of me.

Because I will be dragged into the depths of someone else’s reality, that may well be my version of hell.

I have to have the humility to understand that whilst I might not know a thing, I know what makes me feel good. And what makes me feel bad.

And if it’s contrary to what is “expected” of me?

Hey – that’s the price I pay for peace.

So today, I ask you to look at who you think you are on account of what others tell you that you should be.

At who you know that you really are, deep within your centre.

And take a chance.

Who are you REALLY?

Just like that fighter jet that broke away from the rest of them.

You can only go with what feels right for you.

And who’s to say what’s right or wrong – except for what you feel that’s right for you.

Because we will never truly know who is right or wrong unless we have the courage to go with our gut, and break away from the pack.

All that matters is what is right for ourselves.
So what message do I want to drive home with this article?

If it doesn’t feel good, be brave enough to let go of the fear of how you may appear to others.

Understand that we are all different.

Let go of your ego.

Let go of the fear.

And accept this one thing:

“I’m not like the rest”.

IS IT TRUE? IS IT KIND? IS IT NECESSARY?

I mentioned in my last post that I thrive upon routine.

One of my morning routines, is to read both news articles and blog posts from various sources online.

I love words.

I LOVE them.

I love the way that people are able to paint a story with their words.

I love the emotions that they evoke within me.

Sometimes those words evoke laughter.

Sometimes empathy.

Anger.

Injustice.

Inspiration.

Thoughtfulness.

Awe.

Joy.

I appreciate those words regardless of how they make me feel.

What is important to me, is that they MAKE me feel.

Another thing that I have added to my morning ritual, is reading the comments on these published articles.

Now one thing that I want to talk about in this article today, is negativity.

“Dislike”.

I was brought up that “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all”.

To me, this doesn’t mean that you sit back and allow yourself to be totally fucked over.

It means, that it’s nice to be nice.

In the digital age, we have the safety of hiding behind a computer / phone screen.

This gives us the confidence to sometimes be absolutely horrible to other people.

And I think it’s not only unnecessary, but often downright mean.

If you do not agree with someone else’s perspective on their own experiences; on the thought processes of another; on the way that someone else has chosen to live their life – does that make these other people wrong?

Or worse still – does it mean that they should be abused and ridiculed?

Absolutely not.

It may be wrong for YOU, but it doesn’t mean that it is wrong for THEM.

Why don’t we try to take things back to basics, and ask ourselves if we would have those same discussions with these people if we were in a physical setting.

Like, if we were sitting down in front of them having an actual debate.

Face to face.

In reality.

We claim that we want to celebrate diversity.

We pretend to encourage people to “follow their dreams”.

We act as though we want to give people the freedom of speech.

But do we really?

Do we really want people to have the ability to express whatever it is that they wish to express?

Or do we try to convince them that that’s what we want for them, just so we can have the opportunity to tear them down whenever they do bravely choose to wear their hearts on their sleeves?

Some of the comments that I have read on fellow writers articles are disgraceful.

And it makes me wonder – have we become a bunch of bullies?

Are we truly being authentic? Particularly if these are conversations that we only feel comfortable having behind the safety, and relative anonymity of a computer screen?

Is it bravery?

Or are we simply being an asshole?

Are we so disconnected from reality that we feel have the “right” to behave unkindly?

Sure, there are so many times that I don’t agree with what a lot of other people are writing about.

It’s a given.

We’re all different.

But I personally take the approach of agreeing to disagree.

I would never attack someone else for their opinion.

Because whatever it is that they are choosing to post about or publish, is their own personal opinion, based on their own personal experiences.

Its right for them. And that’s all that matters.

I often quote other writers within my own articles.

And today is no exception.

And today, I quote, Socrates.

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

We often have no clue as to what has prompted someone to pour out their heart and soul, and be absolutely vulnerable in their musings on where life has taken them, or make them think or behave in a certain way.

And it doesn’t matter.

As the observer, it all comes back to having compassion.

And so many of us clearly have no idea of what compassion means.

“Sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others.”

And I will proudly admit that I possess the gift of compassion.

I am deeply sensitive.

I can walk into a room and pick up on the emotions of those that fill it.

And I know for myself, I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night knowing that I have hurt someone else at the expense of my own ego, entitlement, or self-righteousness.

So today, I would like to take this opportunity to openly express my dislike for this new “dislike” button that is soon to potentially be added to our options of how we choose to interact on the biggest social media site – “Facebook”.

I want you to stop and think for a moment, before you absentmindedly click what you think is a simple little button. I want you to be present, and to think about if what you are doing is “nice”.

And ask yourself this question, from the ancient philosopher, Socrates, before you go and respond to these people that have chosen to share their stories with you.

“Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?”

SAME, SAME…BUT DIFFERENT…

I have a girlfriend that is currently living in Thailand.

I was speaking with her on the phone this evening.

And she said that sentence to me.

It’s something that the Thai’s are constantly saying.

And I am too.

“Same, same…but different…”

But what does it actually mean?

Well, it means different things to each of us.

I am a thinker.

As my readers are well aware.

And that comment this evening, got me thinking about those words.

One year, and one day ago, I had days earlier just attended one of my best friends weddings.

It was the second wedding I attended after having separating from my long marriage.

My ex-husbands family were present at this particular wedding.

And I was on my own.

Like always.

Old friends that I had since been estranged from equally both by choice, and circumstance, were also there.

In my near constant anxiety ridden state, I made sure I wore a beautiful dress, and showed up as the confident women I not only am, but also the one that I pretend that I am.

I got up and did a reading at the church.

Where I clumsily, and nervously stumbled, and tripped through my words.

Where I swallowed back tears.

Because I pretend to be much stronger than I allude to.

And I personally believe that so many of us do.

At the wedding reception, I made sure I spoke to the people that were a part of my life for twenty of my most important years.

With the help of a little “liquid courage” of course.

When I left the wedding that night, upon seeing my best friend and her new husband ride off into the sunset, I came home to my empty house.

To my reality.

I was no longer married.

I was going to bed by myself, yet again.

And I slipped into a momentary depression about what was now, my life.

A few days later – a year ago yesterday – I had a brain snap.

I drank two glasses of wine, and with my alcohol induced bravado, I booked a flight to Thailand to go and see my friend.

I remember her words to me as I contemplated whether or not I should go and visit her.

“What are you staying for?”

And my God, it’s hard to be brutally honest with yourself.

But then in my mind, I answered that question.

Nothing.

I had nothing to stay for.

There was nothing keeping me where I was. Nothing, except for me.

And isn’t that so often the case?

So I went ahead and booked a flight to leave just 4 days later.

When I arrived into Thailand, after having been there just 2 and a half months earlier, I had a realisation.

Everything was “same, same…but different…”

It was not that anything about the place that I was visiting was different.

In fact, it literally was, “same, same”.

It was ME that was different.

I had new eyes.

New experiences to draw upon.

New bravado to display.

I had a new vulnerability about me.

I was open to new experiences.

I was open to meeting new people.

It was then that I had the realisation that everything was now different.

Not on account of any of my surroundings having changed, but that it was ME who was different.

I was somehow more resilient.

Less naive. In a way.

More able to truly be “alone”.

Which is something that so many of us don’t know how to do.

So many of us don’t know how to truly be “alone”.

And I do not mean being lonely.

Because everyone experiences that.

It’s something totally different.

Loneliness is absolutely NOT the same as being alone.

Feeling lonely is very different to being alone.

I find it difficult to find the words to describe the difference between the two.

I guess it goes something like this.

I have felt truly lonely in my life at times.

It has come from a real, or imagined sense of abandonment.

That someone else is meant to be there to help us pick up the pieces.

And then our bubble is burst.

When we realise that we are not a child.

That no one is there to “make it all better”.

And then we feel lonely.

Knowing it is up to us to “sort it out”.

And it’s a place filled with loneliness.

Because its’s left to us to figure out how to deal with it.

And the recognition that all we truly have is ourselves.

But being alone?

That’s something completely different.

And something that a lot of us don’t know how to do.

So many of us don’t know how to be alone.

I can say that I both fortunately, and unfortunately know how to be alone.

And often times, I prefer my solitude to that of the company of another.

What does it mean to be alone?

To be comfortable in our own presence.

To know how to comfort ourselves.

To be grateful for what is.

To appreciate the silence.

To love ourselves so much that it doesn’t matter if there is someone else sharing our space.

I attach the video of my church reading at my #BFF’s wedding to this article.

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And I will also take the words of the reading that I read out that day, and make sense of it what I will.

Because that’s what we do.

We do our best to make sense of everything that is presented to us:

“Be ambitious for the higher gifts. And I am going to show you a way that is better than any of them.

If I have all the eloquence of men or of angels, but speak without love, I am simply a gong booming or a cymbal clashing. If I have the gift of prophecy, understanding all the mysteries there are, and knowing everything, and if I have faith in all its fullness, to move mountains, but without love, then I am nothing at all. If I give away all that I possess, piece by piece, and if I even let them take my body to burn it, but am without love, it will do me no good whatever.

Love is always patient and kind; it is never jealous;

Love is never boastful or conceited; it is never rude or selfish; it does not take offence, and is not resentful.

Love takes no pleasure in other people’s sins but delights in the truth; it is always ready to excuse, to trust, to hope, and to endure whatever comes.

Love does not come to an end.”

What do I make of this?

It says it all really.

That all I need is to be WITH love.

And be ambitious for the higher gifts.

Whatever that means.

Because only then, am I “same, same…but different…”

IS THAT ALL THERE IS?

As I mentioned in my last article, lately I am a little obsessed with the late philosopher, Allan Watts.

I was listening to one of his many talks on youtube this afternoon.

The one I was listening to was about money, and what we would do with our lives if money were no object.

I believe it’s a really important question to ask ourselves.

So many of us get fooled into living a life that we really have no interest or enjoyment in living, in the desperate pursuit of money.

A lot of us settle for jobs we hate, relationships that make us miserable, and we live lives that are so far from what we truly desire.

I was so fascinated by his words, that I have written them below:

“What do you desire?

What makes you itch?

What sort of a situation would you like?

What would you like to do if money were no object?

How would you really enjoy spending your life?

Forget the money.

Because if you say that getting the money is the most important thing, you will spend your life completely wasting your time.

You’ll be doing things you don’t like doing, in order to go on living, that is to go on doing things you don’t like doing.

Which is stupid.

Better to have a short life that is full of what you like doing, than a long life spent in a miserable way.

And after all if you do really like what you’re doing, it doesn’t matter what it is. You can eventually become a master on it.

The only way to become a master of something is to be really with it. And then you’ll be able to get a good fee for whatever it is.

So don’t worry too much.

Somebody is interested in everything. Anything you can be interested in, you’ll find others will.

But it’s absolutely stupid to spend your time doing things you don’t like, in order to go on spending on things you don’t like, and doing things you don’t like, and to teach your children to follow on the same track.

See what we’re doing is we’re bringing up children, and educating them to live the same sort of lives we’re living. In order that they may justify themselves and find satisfaction in life by bringing up their children, to bring up their children, to do the same thing.

So it’s all wretch and no vomit.

It never gets there.

And therefore, it’s so important to consider this question “what do I desire?”

The love of money is the root of evil.

The difference between having a job, and having a vocation is that a job is some unpleasant work you do in order to make money, with the sole purpose of making money.

If you do a job with the sole purpose of making money, you are absurd.

Because if money becomes the goal; and it does if you work that way – you begin increasingly to confuse it with happiness. Or with pleasure.

Freedom means the freedom to make mistakes. The freedom to be a damn fool.”

I know personally, that I spent a really long time doing jobs I didn’t like.

All of my working life actually.

Half of my teens, all of my twenties, and half of my thirties.

And I worked really, really hard.

I can honestly say, that I have never enjoyed what I have done for work over those past two decades.

However, I admittedly did enjoy the money.

Money, absolutely, beyond the shadow of a doubt, became the ultimate goal.

And I most definitely confused that money with happiness, and pleasure.

Until I didn’t.

And it was then that I had a lightbulb (or hair brain) moment.

When I sat down, and asked myself the uncomfortable and somewhat confronting question – WHAT DO I DESIRE?

And the answer was that it was none of the things that I had gone about creating for myself.

Was I happy? Like, truly happy?

It’s ridiculously difficult to be completely honest with ourselves.

Seriously.

And it’s even harder to try to stop convincing ourselves that what we currently have, is all there is.

So, was I happy?

It is with that question, that I will now quote one of my favourite authors, Paulo Coelho:

“No one should ever ask themselves that: why am I unhappy? The question carries within it the virus that will destroy everything. If we ask that question, it means we want to find out what makes us happy. If what makes us happy is different from what we have now, then we must either change once and for all or stay as we are, feeling even more unhappy.”

In a lot of ways, that question does come with it, the virus that will destroy everything.

Because it is true.

That if you recognise that you are unhappy, then you must change once and for all.

Or stay as you are, feeling even more unhappy.

To quote the words of the character Tyler Durden, in Chuck Palahniuk’s book “Fight Club”:

“It’s only after we’ve lost everything, that we’re free to do anything”.

What are you willing to lose in order to be free to do anything?

What do you want?

Do you want freedom?

I know I do.

And I know to a lot of people, with my desire for freedom, I probably look like a “damn fool”.

But I am now free to do anything.

And that’s all that really matters.

Because I would hate to have to spend the rest of my years asking myself, “is that all there is?”

IT’S ALL BEAUTIFUL

I have gotten into the whole adult colouring-in book thing.

I try everything I possibly can to try to still my beautiful, and restless mind.

I do anything to try to create a sense of peace, in my insignificant little life.

I try to sleep before midnight when I can, as allegedly, the hours of sleep you get before midnight count as double.

And hey, I am at an age where beauty sleep REALLY counts.

I take multi-vitamins.

I eat un-processed foods where I can.

I try to avoid preservatives, junk food, and too much caffeine.

Caffeine, in addition to life in general, gives me anxiety.

I’m a stupidly, sensitive soul.

I feel everything deeply.

My gift.

My curse.

I frequent the gym daily, in attempt to release those endorphins which make us feel so much better.

I try to think positively whenever I feel the darkness overtaking my thoughts, and attempting to hold me hostage, and drag me kicking and screaming into a downward spiral.

I drink the juice of half a lemon in water each morning before I do anything else.

It’s meant to alkaline your digestive system.

I do oil-pulling every morning.

Which is where you put a teaspoon of coconut oil in your mouth, and swish it around for 20 minutes like a mouthwash.

It’s supposed to remove toxins from your body, bacteria from your mouth, and whiten your teeth in the process.

I try to create a routine for myself.

I personally thrive on routine.

I like it.

And I attempt to surround myself with people who support me.

Those that are my advocates.

Who like me, for me.

Because I’m all about whatever it takes to get you to where you need to go…

But back to that colouring-in book.

It’s meant to help you practice “mindfulness”.

What exactly is mindfulness?

According to Wikipedia:

“Mindfulness is the intentional, accepting and non-judgemental focus of one’s attention on the emotions, thoughts and sensations occurring in the present moment.”

In layman terms – it’s being present.

Living in the moment.

Not in the past.

Which is a state of regret.

Not in the future.

Which is a state of fear.

It’s also about being mindful.

And what is the definition of being mindful?

The dictionary definition is:

“Attentive, aware, or careful.”

And it got me thinking about us human beings.

About those three things that the definition of being “mindful” are.

Attentive.

Are you attentive to what surrounds you?

Are you paying attention to what you have in your life? Do you give your attention to what matters? Are you giving your full attention to what is in front of you? Is your attention directed towards what really matters?

Aware.

Are you aware of the things surrounding you?

Are you conscious to what is going on for you? How have you actively participated in creating the things that you are surrounded by? Are you aware that you are always sending out a powerful current into the universe? Are you aware of the energy that you possess? Of the immense power that has a ripple effect on everything else? Of the way that that every single action, has a reaction?

Careful.

Are you careful of what you do?

How the way you behave, and choose to act, affects those surrounding you? Are you careful in the way you present yourself to other people? Are you careful about the way that you care for yourself? Are you careful to be considerate of others? Or are you only considering yourself? Are you careful in the knowledge that you are a mirror? That your own image is reflected back through the eyes of others? What is it that you see?

Lately, I have become completely enamoured by the late philosopher, Allan Watts.

He’s the one person, who if he were still with us, would be on my list of those I’d have at a dinner party.

Him, and Elizabeth Gilbert.

But that’s a whole other post…

I googled a bunch of quotes from him as I wrote this article.

And the one that has struck a chord with me is this:

“For unless one is able to fully live in the present, the future is a hoax. There is no point whatever in making plans for a future which you will never able to enjoy. When plans mature, you will still be living for some future behind. You will be never, never be able to sit back with full contentment and say, “Now I’ve arrived”. Your entire education has deprived you of this capacity because it was preparing you for the future, instead of showing you how to be alive now”.

It’s that stupid “what if?” trap.

The “I’ll be happy when…” crap that we go on with.

Stop fucking everyone around.

Yourself included.

That “mindfulness colouring book” has taught me quite a lot.

It’s taught me to live in the “now”.

To concentrate on the task at hand.

To pay attention to the “detail”.

And the result of being present, being mindful, and being “in the now”?

I personally feel as though I have created something beautiful.

And that’s what we should all feel.

That our presence, adds beauty to what is.

Because it does.

So stop living in the past.

In an endless loop of regret.

Stop living in the future.

In a perpetual state of fear.

Understand that all we have, is this very moment.

And start being present in the now.

It’s all about being mindful of the “what is”.

Because there IS nothing else.

And “what is”?

It’s different and unique for all of us.

But trust me, it’s beautiful.

It’s all beautiful.

CONFIDE IN ME

As I write this article, I am listening to “Confide In Me”, by Kylie Minogue.

I am always listening to music.

It distracts me from the noise of the silence of being alone.

Not that I have an issue with being alone.

Quite the contrary.

I lean more towards preferring solitude a lot of the time.

Yet, that silence got me thinking.

I think.

I think, and think, and think…

It’s what I do.

It’s both my kryptonite, and my super-power.

As “enlightened” as I would have myself believe, I am a slave to my thoughts.

And it got me thinking about when people ask that generic question that we so often ask each other, out of courtesy.

“How are you?”

What is it, that those that are asking, how we are, will hope the answer will be?

That we are good?

That we are suffering?

Are we in the habit of saying that all is right in our world, for the sake of others, when in reality, it is far from anything but?

What if we got in the habit of answering things honestly, and we gave a truthful answer as to how we TRULY are feeling?

I have found this coming up for me a number of times over the past week or so.

And if I were to be completely honest, I am not good.

Far from it, in fact.

I am currently in the midst of a financial separation with my ex-husband, and it’s not going as I had anticipated.

In fact, I am heartbroken over the way that it is currently unfolding.

I am potentially naively, and in a state of utter despair, that after having shared a lifetime with someone, that it has come to what it currently has.

But like my younger sister told me once I had made the decision to finally leave my marriage, “you don’t really know someone until you divorce them”.

And there is more weight to that statement than anyone could conceivably comprehend.

And so, when someone who is not amongst those that I have on the list of being those that have my heart; amongst the special people that I “count on one hand” – when they generically ask me how I am, I am also a little heartbroken about their response when I am vulnerable and totally open in answering that question.

And on account of being transparent, I have discovered, that there are two types of “friends” in this world.

The first type, are “true friends.

Your cheerleader.

They support you.

They hold your hand.

They dry your tears.

They reassure you that everything is going to be “ok”.

And they defend you passionately. Furiously.

They are there for you no matter what.

Without judgement.Without their ego intercepting, and making them want to “win”.

My muse, Paulo Coelho, sums up these two different types of “friends” perfectly:

“Our true friends are those who are with us when the good things happen. They cheer us on and are pleased by our triumphs.”

Our true friends are those that genuinely “have your back”.

Which brings me to the second type of friends.

False friends.

Those that pretend they have your back.

They drip feed you information; they act as though they are your advocate – yet it’s only so that they can have something interesting to talk about.

Because when “push comes to shove”, and when you have put them in a position of actually requesting that they assist you with what you have humiliatingly admitted to them, and that you have pleaded on your knees that you need help with, they drop off the radar, and are nowhere to be found.

Because they thrive upon the drama.

And sadly a lot of us do.

And without further “adieu”, here is the second part of Paulo Coelho’s quote”

“False friends only appear at difficult times, with their sad, supportive faces, when, in fact, our suffering is serving to console them for their miserable lives.”

It’s a hard pill to swallow when we finally open our eyes, and realise that all aspects of life consist of these polarities.

That one cannot possibly co-exist without the other.

As I wrapped up this article, I googled the lyrics to the song title that I have chosen to label this article with.

“We all get hurt by love
And we all have our cross to bear
But in the name of understanding now
Our problems should be shared”

I am contradictorily a deeply private person.

Yet I am compelled to share my story with others. As I hope it helps to set other people free. In whatever way you want to look at it.

Lately, I have been quite enamoured with the late philosopher, Allan Watts.

Before I published this article, I posted a quote to all of my social media outlets, from Allan Watts.

“Advice? I don’t have advice. Stop aspiring and start writing. If you’re writing, you’re a writer. Write like you’re a goddamn death row inmate and the governor is out of the country and there’s no chance for a pardon. Write like you’re clinging to the edge of a cliff, white knuckles, on your last breath, and you’ve got just one last thing to say, like you’re a bird flying over us and you can see everything, and please, for God’s sake, tell us something that will save us from ourselves. Take a deep breath and tell us your deepest, darkest secret, so we can wipe our brow and know that we’re not alone. Write like you have a message from the king. Or don’t. Who knows, maybe you’re one of the lucky ones who doesn’t have to.” – Alan W. Watts

In all of my writing, I truly hope with all of my heart, that with all of my successes and fuck-ups, that I am able to tell you something that will save you from yourself. That none of it has been experienced in vain.

And with regards to the two different types of people that I personally believe exist in this world?

Keep your wits about you.

Use that intuition of yours, and only confide in those that you know that truly “have your back”. That do not take pleasure from your temporary misery.

Find your advocate, and confide in them.

And if you were so inclined?

You can always confide in me 🙂

 

 

OH, AND CHANGE YOUR FUCKING LOCK…

After a session with my “life coach” today, she sent me a picture message, which read:

“My only regret is that I didn’t tell enough people to fuck off”.

In the words of Frank Sinatra: “regrets, I’ve had a few, but then again, too few to mention…”

I’ve had a bunch of regrets, Like most of us human beings, but in all seriousness, there really are too few to mention…

I’ve had a brilliant 36 years so far.

I’m totally thankful for the life that I have created thus far.

The one regret that is worthy of a mention today, is the quote that was sent to me today.

It put me in a particularly reflective mood.

Where I began to examine who it is that I am.

I am soft.

Easily manipulated, as I have been given the gift – and curse, of seeing both sides of the coin.

I am often a pushover.

I’m too nice.

I bite my tongue often.

I’m a “peace-keeper”.

And my silence has brought to me a place where I have realised that in hindsight, I probably should have spoken up a little sooner in terms of what I wanted for my own life.

Actually, scratch that.

I should have most definitely spoken up from the beginning, and listened to my intuition, like I so often try to tell my readers to do.

My writing is there to serve me, to teach me lessons, as much as I pray on bended knees that my own trials and triumphs assist others.

Being now 4 years off entering my 4th decade on this earth, I want to share that “regret”, and wisdom with those who follow my writing.

And it goes like this:

Don’t you dare settle for anything less than what your heart truly desires.

Don’t settle for anything less than what you know in that heart of yours that you deserve.

Love, lust, friendship, mutual respect, compassion, empathy, generosity, kindness, laughter, acceptance, understanding, vulnerability, and compassion.

Life is way too precious, and too short to fill in the gaps with other people’s utter bullshit.

With their narcissism.

With their ulterior motives.

With their selfishness.

With their insecurities.

With their desire for control.

With their own pride, ego, and vanity.

I recall reading a quote a while ago from the author, William Gibson:

“Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self-esteem, first make sure that you are not, in fact, just surrounded by assholes.”

So many times throughout my life, I have been crippled with debilitating panic attacks.

With relentless anxiety.

With depression.

Which is repressed anger and injustice.

With carrying the guilt of that stupid thought of “but what will they think of me?”

It’s taken a really long time to accept within myself, that I do not care what anyone thinks of me.

It was always someone else’s inner dialogue that convinced me that what matters, is what someone else’s opinion of me is.

All that matters in the end is what I think of me.

But who AM I?

What do I know about myself?

I know that I’m a good person.

I am compassionate.

I am charitable.

I am generous.

I am respectful.

I am caring.

I apologise way too much.

I am insecure.

I suffer terribly at times from anxiety.

I am a complete jackass, with a fantastic sense of humour.

I am understanding.

Accommodating.

Yet, I have limits. And I am not to be messed with.

I am loving, and loveable.

I am fragile, and contradictorily strong.

And I am also spiritual.

That spirituality has helped me separate the “wheat from the chaff”.

And what does that mean in simplistic terms?

The dictionary definition breaks down that statement as follows:

“To choose what is of high quality over what is of lower quality”.

And it with that is that knowledge that perhaps, at times, and maybe for a significant portion of my life, I have probably surrounded myself with assholes. Because I didn’t know how to choose “what is of high quality”.

And I believe a lot of us suffer from this delusion. And we settle for less than we truly are worthy of. For a myriad of reasons.

However, it is with this epiphany that I go back to yet another quote, from someone whom I feel has spiritually held my hand through the past few years of my bizarre little life.

From the inspiring author and philosopher, Paulo Coelho.

“The boat is safe anchored at the port; but that’s not the aim of boats.”

Have I compromised who I am, by not telling people that don’t really deserve a place in my life, how I REALLY feel?

And I have to say yes.

That one of my few “regrets”, has been that I didn’t tell enough people to “fuck off”. Especially when my intuition was screaming at me to do so.

So my advice today?

Do a stocktake of your life.

And start deciding how you want to live your life.

Do you need to do a cull?

Who do you need to tell to “fuck off”?

As I finish up this article, I am listening to a cover of “I will survive”, by the band “Cake”.

Which I feel is a prophecy of sorts.

The lyrics that boom through my earphones are:

“At first I was afraid.
I was petrified.
I kept thinking I could never live
Without you by my side.
But then I spent so many nights
Just thinking how you’d done me wrong.
I grew strong.
I learned how to get along.
And so you’re back from outer space.
I just walked in to find you here
Without that look upon your face.
I should have changed my fucking lock.
I would have made you leave your key
If I’d have known for just one second
You’d be back to bother me”

Make of that what you will.

From me to you, and from what I personally make of the song that filled my ears as I completed this article, and with my whimsical, free-spirited nature of looking for a meaning in everything, move that metaphorical boat of yours.

You are destined for so much more than you think.

Open your eyes, and recognise that you are not meant to safely sit in a harbour of complacency.

Oh, and change your fucking lock…

“CAUSE THERE’LL BE NO SUNSHINE, IF YOU LEAVE ME BABY…”

I have my headphones plugged in all of the time.

I am constantly listening to music.

It has a lot to do with not wanting to feel alone.

If we are honest with ourselves, none of us ever do want to feel alone.

It sucks to feel alone.

If there is noise, there is something always present.

And I’m all about doing whatever it takes…

Even if it is just an illusion.

And you all know I’m all about whatever works.

Right now, I’m talking about the loneliness of divorce.

After having shared my life with someone for 20 years, and my personal living space with someone for 13 years through marriage, the silence that has ensued since choosing to part ways, is something that is often positively deafening.

Yet, it’s funny how silence can often speak louder than words.

So I counteract that silence with keeping myself plugged in.

Constantly.

There is always the noise of something other than the noise that comes up in my head.

Those that are close to me, know that only too well.

I recall the day that I signed my divorce papers.

Well over 6 months ago now…

I was stupidly anxious that day.

Going to sign a piece of paper that freed me from what I had consciously chosen to walk away from.

I didn’t know how to do it.

I didn’t know how I COULD do it.

Yet, I did.

I somehow found the strength within me to push forward with what I’d asked for.

Nothing in life comes with a book of instructions.

And my over-thinking mind held me a prisoner in the symbolism of it all.

That all it took, was my signature on a piece of paper to end it all.

It made it all seem so insignificant.

Difficult for a sensitive soul like myself.

That day, I got an email from one of the beautiful women in my life:

“Because I know your headphones are the hugs that we can’t give you.”

Attached was a song called “Blow Me One Last Kiss”, by the artist, Pink.

The chorus of the song is as follows:

“I’ve finally had enough,
I think I think too much
I think this might be it for us
You think I’m too serious,
I think you’re full of shit
My head is spinning, so blow me one last kiss”

Separating from a “significant other” is never easy.

For me personally, it was the hardest thing that I have ever had to do so far in my relatively short life.

But like the last article I published, I had chosen to “love myself” enough to free myself from what I knew no longer resonated with me.

For so many, many, MANY reasons.

It’s hard to be candidly honest with ourselves.

It really is.

We often look to others as to what it is that “life” is supposed to look like.

But we never take a moment to consider what that “life” looks like for us as individuals.

We lie to ourselves all the time.

Make of that what you will…

Honesty is a difficult thing to come to terms with.

Particularly when we are desperately trying to be authentic to ourselves.

Let’s break it down.

What is honesty?

As far as a definition goes, it is as follows:

“The original sense was “honour, respectability”, later “decorum, virtue”. The plant is so named from it’s seed pods, translucency, symbolising lack of deceit.”

It takes all of your spirit to harness what honesty truly is.

To live your life not only honestly, but also authentically.

The definition of authenticity is:

“Originality. Rightfulness. Legitimacy. Validity.”

Are you being honourable?

Are you being respectable?

Are you displaying decorum?

Virtue?

But most importantly, are you being original?

Are you being true to yourself?

Are you being rightful?

Are you being legitimate?

Are are you respecting those around you?

Are you respecting yourself?

Are you being original?

What is it what you WANT?

Are you being considered in the grand scheme of things?

But most importantly, are you considering yourself in this short lifetime of ours?

Let’s switch off the noise for a minute.

Let’s disconnect from the “sound” that we attempt to distract ourselves with.

Let’s ask ourselves some candid, and uncomfortable questions.

Are you living honestly?

Are you living authentically?

Or are you trying to drown out the noise of everyone else’s expectation of what “normal”, or “conventional” looks like?

Are you trying to please everyone else, at the detriment of yourself?

Are your own potential, future relationships suffering as a result of this “people pleaser” attitude, that you cannot seem to not be able to let go of?

Well, welcome to being a grown-up.

It’s every man (or women), for themselves.

Everyones’ world revolves around themselves.

Everyone is selfish.

Sorry to burst that bubble of yours.

Given that, how about we start revolving our own seemingly “selfish lives” around “us”?

The ACTUAL centre of our universe.

Because we ARE the centre of our universe.

Let’s be completely honest with what it’s all about.

And let’s be totally authentic.

Why don’t we start learning that the “significant other” that is spoken about so often, is ourselves?

Are you valid?

Of course.

And if you feel you’re not, why are you allowing yourself to succumb into the trap of feeling not being valid?

Why do you care so much about what everyone else thinks?

Because, hey, no one really gives a fuck about anyone else except themselves.

#SorryNotSorry.

Why not take it all back to basics.

Let’s look at what we start as.

Babies.

Babies will vocalise what it is that they need.

They cry, and scream, and throw tantrums.

And they ultimately get what they need.

And at the end, when they are happy, everyone is happy.

Let’s take a leaf out of their books…

As I wrote today’s article, I was ironically drowning out the noise that often torments me, through way of my headphones.

The lyrics that played through my headphones was a song by Bruno Mars.

“It Will Rain”.

The lyrics that stuck out for me were the ones that I have chosen to title this blog with:

“Cause there’ll be no sunshine, if you leave me baby”.

If you leave yourself, if you abandon your honesty and authenticity, what you are feeling deep inside, will there be any light at the end of the tunnel?

All we have at the end of that proverbial tunnel, is ourself.

If we discard who we are are at our core, in our hearts; if we abandon our own happiness for the sake of the peace of others, are we left with only darkness?

Don’t trick yourself into thinking that the noise of someone else’s chaos is the answer, just because you fear the silence of your own mind.

Or even worse, because it’ s all you think you know.

If all of our worlds revolve around us, then you are a wizard, and can create whatever it is that you want for your life.

Don’t buy into anyone else’s bullshit.

You are the master / mistress of your own domain.

Let us bask in the light of our own sunshine, solitude, and silence.

Of our life that we have actively, and consciously CHOSEN to create.

And know that no matter what, if the other persons logic doesn’t resonate with us, then it doesn’t make a  goddamn difference one way or the other.

And that it will always be ok.

No matter what.

We are strong enough within ourselves to recognise that the light that has always shined within – that cannot be snuffed out no matter what, is all that matters, so long as we are being totally honest with ourselves.

Life always has a way of working out perfectly, despite the fact that we cannot always see it at the time.

Let’s not abandon our true selves.

We will always be fine.

Trust me.

Trust you.

Keep fighting to be honest, and authentic.

Speak your truth.

You are not second to anyone.

You are always first.

No matter what.

Cause there’ll be no sunshine, if you leave me baby…

…LOVE YOURSELF, LOVE YOURSELF, LOVE YOURSELF…

I have dropped off the radar for a little while again now.

As I do.

Hey – I’m one of those “creative types”.

I’m hyper-sensitive, and a little bit mad.

But aren’t we all?

I have a lot going on right now.

My silence drives those that are close to me completely mad.

I go quiet when I am trying to make sense of things.

However, I think it’s important to listen to what feelings are coming up for you, and take action accordingly.

For me personally, I am riddled, and often crippled with self doubt.

I question what it is that I am feeling constantly.

I don’t trust myself.

I do not trust the feelings that are there as my constant, guiding compass. Despite the fact that they have always led me to safety…

My feelings have told me a lot of things lately.

But the one that has spoken the loudest, is the one that has told me to remain silent.

For now…

I have started seeing my “life coach” again recently after a bit of a sabbatical.

As I sat with my life coach today, she noted that I was wearing a pair of red jeans.

She noted, with interest, that she had never seen me in red jeans.

I often dress for my mood.

I like to dress in “themes”.

And todays mood was “anger”.

A “primary emotion”.

Which is something that I will address in a moment.

I’m all about surrounding myself with those that are there to help us to become the best possible version of who we truly are in our hearts.

I have spent a long time “building my tribe”. http://chasingamy.com.au/2013/10/building-our-tribe/

I have a few things that I feel as though I need to work through.

I’ve never shied away from the fact that I am a work in progress.

I am never going to be finished evolving.

Never, ever.

And, *NEWSFLASH* – none of us ever will be.

One of those “things” that I am attempting to work through, is my emotions.

All of us struggle to understand our emotions at some point or another.

Fuck me – I do on a daily basis.

Feelings…

What are they anyway?

The dictionary definition of “feelings”, is as follows:

“An emotional state or reaction”

“The emotional side of someones’ character; emotional responses or tendencies to respond”

“Strong emotion”

“An attitude or opinion”

“The capacity to experience the sense of touch”

“A sensitivity to, or intuitive understanding of”

Let me break down all of these definitions to you.

Because that’s what we do right?

We like to define things.

To put things into boxes.

For whatever reason.

So here goes…

* “An emotional state or reaction”:

If you are physically reacting to something, doesn’t that tell you that your body is trying to tell you something?

That you are not comfortable with what is going on?

That you are physically feeling ill?

That you are feeling excited? Scared? Joyous? Anxious? Happy? Fearful?

Whatever the “emotional state” that you find yourself in, why are you not paying attention to it?

* “The emotional side of someones’ character; emotional responses or tendencies to respond”

How are you reacting? How are you responding? Why are you responding? What’s going on?

*”Strong emotion”

Pay attention.

Pay attention.

Pay attention.

We are not as highly evolved as we would like to think we are.

What is the emotion that is arising within that is making you feel the way that you feel?

* “An attitude or opinion”

Is it really so bad to have a strong opinion or attitude on certain things?

I don’t think so.

If it doesn’t sit well with you, you have to find it within yourself to know on that deeper level, that you owe it to yourself to love and respect yourself enough to know that whatever it is that you are experiencing is not right for you.

It might be right for someone else, and hey, that’s their journey, and that’s what resonates with them. But if it doesn’t feel good for you, if it conflicts with your own attitudes, opinions and morals, then you need to pay attention to what’s coming up for you.

* “The capacity to experience the sense of touch”

What is it, that is “touching” you?

What is touching that delicate, and sensitive heart of yours that will one day stop beating?

And more importantly, “who” is touching you?

What are you moved by?

Who are you moved by?

What are you feeling on a physical level that makes you sit up and pay attention?

What is important to you?

WHO has your heart?

WHAT has your heart?

* “A sensitivity to, or intuitive understanding of”

What is that above mentioned, sensitive and delicate heart trying to tell you?

What is it trying to make you understand?

What is your “intuition” trying to tell you?

Your intuition is something you often feel in your “gut”.

Did you know that we have a “second brain” in our gut?

It’s called the “sympathetic nervous system”.

And for me, it’s something that governs everything that my life is about.

It always has.

I go by my feelings.

My gut.

If it doesn’t feel good, it’s just not going to happen.

Whichever way I look at it.

If it doesn’t resonate with me, if it doesn’t feel good, I must have the maturity and self-love, to have an “understanding of”.

That “understanding of” is something that needs to be paid attention to.

Because if we repress the “feelings” that are trying to make themselves known, we not only emotionally, but also physiologically do things that do not serve us well.

We access our “secondary emotions”.

And that’s not a good thing to do.

Because we are not being authentic.

I learnt something today upon “venting” to my life coach.

We have two emotions.

Primary emotions, and secondary emotions.

Primary emotions are:

Love

Joy

Surprise

Anger

Sadness

Fear

These are all healthy, and rational emotions.

Our secondary emotions are:

Lust

Pride

Irritation

Rage / envy

Shame / neglect / disappointment / suffering

Nervousness / anxiety / depression

These are all “repressed” emotions. Secondary emotions. And they are not healthy.

They are all states of dis-ease.

Disease.

How about we stop trying to repress, and suppress our primary emotions.

The dictionary definition of primary emotions is as follows:

“Those that we feel first, as a response to a situation. Thus, if we feel threatened, we may feel fear. When we hear of a death, we may feel sadness. They are unthinking, instinctive responses that we have.”

So let’s start giving ourself the gift of feeling things first.

Let’s start loving ourselves enough to speak out about the things that we feel in that second brain of ours.

Let’s start standing up for ourselves when it doesn’t feel good.

When we feel anger.

When we feel fear.

When we feel sadness.

When we feel threatened.

Let’s start saying, “Hey you! I don’t like this shit that’s going on! And I am going to protect myself! I am better than this! And I love myself! This doesn’t feel good! And you can go fuck yourself!”

Let’s not repress our emotions to the point where they become harmful, secondary emotions.

Let’s not allow it to get to the point of “dis-ease”.

And my advice today?

Put on your angry red jeans (or whatever works for you)…

Tell those secondary emotions to go fuck themselves.

Listen to your gut.

But most importantly, listen to those primary emotions.

And above, and beyond all else…love yourself, love yourself, love yourself…

“I’M ENOUGH”

Todays blog, is a copy of the transcript from a Ted Talk on “The Power Of Vulnerability”, from the author, Brene Brown.

Her bio is as follows:

About

“Brené Brown, Ph.D., LMSW is a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work. She has spent the past decade studying vulnerability, courage, worthiness, and shame.

Her 2010 TEDx Houston talk on the power of vulnerability is one of the most watched talks on TED.com, with over 15 million views. She gave the closing talk, Listening to Shame, at the 2012 TED Conference in Long Beach.

Brené is the author of the #1 New York Times Bestseller Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead (2012). She is also the author of the #1 New York TimesBestseller The Gifts of Imperfection (2010), and I Thought It Was Just Me (2007).

Brené is also the founder and CEO of The Daring Way – a teaching and certification program for helping professionals who want to facilitate her work on vulnerability, courage, shame, and worthiness.

Brené lives in Houston with her husband, Steve, and their two children.”

And here is the transcript from that Ted Talk…

“So, I’ll start with this: a couple years ago, an event planner called me because I was going to do a speaking event. And she called, and she said, “I’m really struggling with how to write about you on the little flyer.”

And I thought, “Well, what’s the struggle?”

And she said, “Well, I saw you speak, and I’m going to call you a researcher, I think, but I’m afraid if I call you a researcher, no one will come, because they’ll think you’re boring and irrelevant.”

And I was like, “Okay.”

And she said, “But the thing I liked about your talk is you’re a storyteller. So I think what I’ll do is just call you a storyteller.”

And of course, the academic, insecure part of me was like, “You’re going to call me a what?”

And she said, “I’m going to call you a storyteller.”

And I was like, “Why not magic pixie?”

I was like, “Let me think about this for a second.”

I tried to call deep on my courage. And I thought, you know, I am a storyteller. I’m a qualitative researcher.

I collect stories; that’s what I do.

And maybe stories are just data with a soul.

And maybe I’m just a storyteller.

And so I said, “You know what? Why don’t you just say I’m a researcher-storyteller.”

And she went, “Ha ha. There’s no such thing.”

So I’m a researcher-storyteller, and I’m going to talk to you today — we’re talking about expanding perception — and so I want to talk to you and tell some stories about a piece of my research that fundamentally expanded my perception and really actually changed the way that I live and love and work and parent.

And this is where my story starts.

When I was a young researcher, doctoral student, my first year I had a research professor who said to us, “Here’s the thing, if you cannot measure it, it does not exist.”

And I thought he was just sweet-talking me.

I was like, “Really?” and he was like, “Absolutely.”

And so you have to understand that I have a bachelor’s in social work, a master’s in social work, and I was getting my Ph.D. in social work, so my entire academic career was surrounded by people who kind of believed in the “life’s messy, love it.”

And I’m more of the, “life’s messy, clean it up, organise it and put it into a bento box.”

And so to think that I had found my way, to found a career that takes me — really, one of the big sayings in social work is, “Lean into the discomfort of the work.”

And I’m like, knock discomfort upside the head and move it over and get all A’s. That was my mantra.

So I was very excited about this.

And so I thought, you know what, this is the career for me, because I am interested in some messy topics. But I want to be able to make them not messy. I want to understand them. I want to hack into these things I know are important and lay the code out for everyone to see.

So where I started was with connection. Because, by the time you’re a social worker for 10 years, what you realise is that connection is why we’re here.

It’s what gives purpose and meaning to our lives.

This is what it’s all about.

It doesn’t matter whether you talk to people who work in social justice, mental health and abuse and neglect, what we know is that connection, the ability to feel connected, is — neurobiologically that’s how we’re wired — it’s why we’re here.

So I thought, you know what, I’m going to start with connection.

Well, you know that situation where you get an evaluation from your boss, and she tells you 37 things you do really awesome, and one “opportunity for growth?”

And all you can think about is that opportunity for growth, right?

Well, apparently this is the way my work went as well, because, when you ask people about love, they tell you about heartbreak. When you ask people about belonging, they’ll tell you their most excruciating experiences of being excluded. And when you ask people about connection, the stories they told me were about disconnection.

So very quickly — really about six weeks into this research — I ran into this unnamed thing that absolutely unraveled connection in a way that I didn’t understand or had never seen. And so I pulled back out of the research and thought, I need to figure out what this is.

And it turned out to be shame. And shame is really easily understood as the fear of disconnection: Is there something about me that, if other people know it or see it, that I won’t be worthy of connection?

The things I can tell you about it: it’s universal; we all have it. The only people who don’t experience shame have no capacity for human empathy or connection.

No one wants to talk about it, and the less you talk about it the more you have it. What underpinned this shame, this “I’m not good enough,” — which we all know that feeling: “I’m not blank enough. I’m not thin enough, rich enough, beautiful enough, smart enough, promoted enough.”

The thing that underpinned this was excruciating vulnerability, this idea of, in order for connection to happen, we have to allow ourselves to be seen, really seen.

And you know how I feel about vulnerability. I hate vulnerability. And so I thought, this is my chance to beat it back with my measuring stick. I’m going in, I’m going to figure this stuff out, I’m going to spend a year, I’m going to totally deconstruct shame, I’m going to understand how vulnerability works, and I’m going to outsmart it.

So I was ready, and I was really excited.

As you know, it’s not going to turn out well.

You know this.

So, I could tell you a lot about shame, but I’d have to borrow everyone else’s time. But here’s what I can tell you that it boils down to — and this may be one of the most important things that I’ve ever learned in the decade of doing this research.

My one year turned into six years: thousands of stories, hundreds of long interviews, focus groups.

At one point, people were sending me journal pages and sending me their stories — thousands of pieces of data in six years.

And I kind of got a handle on it.

I kind of understood, this is what shame is, this is how it works. I wrote a book, I published a theory, but something was not okay — and what it was is that, if I roughly took the people I interviewed and divided them into people who really have a sense of worthiness — that’s what this comes down to, a sense of worthiness — they have a strong sense of love and belonging — and folks who struggle for it, and folks who are always wondering if they’re good enough.

There was only one variable that separated the people who have a strong sense of love and belonging and the people who really struggle for it.

And that was, the people who have a strong sense of love and belonging believe they’re worthy of love and belonging.

That’s it.

They believe they’re worthy.

And to me, the hard part of the one thing that keeps us out of connection is our fear that we’re not worthy of connection, was something that, personally and professionally, I felt like I needed to understand better. So what I did is I took all of the interviews where I saw worthiness, where I saw people living that way, and just looked at those.

What do these people have in common?

I have a slight office supply addiction, but that’s another talk.

So I had a manila folder, and I had a Sharpie, and I was like, what am I going to call this research?

And the first words that came to my mind were whole-hearted.

These are whole-hearted people, living from this deep sense of worthiness. So I wrote at the top of the manila folder, and I started looking at the data.

In fact, I did it first in a four-day very intensive data analysis, where I went back, pulled the interviews, the stories, pulled the incidents.

What’s the theme?

What’s the pattern?

My husband left town with the kids because I always go into this Jackson Pollock crazy thing, where I’m just writing and in my researcher mode.

And so here’s what I found.

What they had in common was a sense of courage.

And I want to separate courage and bravery for you for a minute.

Courage, the original definition of courage, when it first came into the English language — it’s from the Latin word cor, meaning heart — and the original definition was to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart.

And so these folks had, very simply, the courage to be imperfect.

They had the compassion to be kind to themselves first and then to others, because, as it turns out, we can’t practice compassion with other people if we can’t treat ourselves kindly.

And the last was they had connection, and — this was the hard part — as a result of authenticity, they were willing to let go of who they thought they should be in order to be who they were, which you have to absolutely do that for connection.

The other thing that they had in common was this: They fully embraced vulnerability.

They believed that what made them vulnerable made them beautiful.

They didn’t talk about vulnerability being comfortable, nor did they really talk about it being excruciating — as I had heard it earlier in the shame interviewing.

They just talked about it being necessary.

They talked about the willingness to say, “I love you” first, the willingness to do something where there are no guarantees, the willingness to breathe through waiting for the doctor to call after your mammogram.

They’re willing to invest in a relationship that may or may not work out.

They thought this was fundamental.

I personally thought it was betrayal.

I could not believe I had pledged allegiance to research, where our job — you know, the definition of research is to control and predict, to study phenomena, for the explicit reason to control and predict.

And now my mission to control and predict had turned up the answer that the way to live is with vulnerability and to stop controlling and predicting. This led to a little breakdown — which actually looked more like this.

And it did.

I call it a breakdown; my therapist calls it a spiritual awakening.

A spiritual awakening sounds better than breakdown, but I assure you it was a breakdown.

And I had to put my data away and go find a therapist.

Let me tell you something: you know who you are when you call your friends and say, “I think I need to see somebody. Do you have any recommendations?”

Because about five of my friends were like, “Wooo, I wouldn’t want to be your therapist.”

I was like, “What does that mean?”

And they’re like, “I’m just saying, you know. Don’t bring your measuring stick.

I was like, “Okay.” So I found a therapist.

My first meeting with her, Diana — I brought in my list of the way the whole-hearted live, and I sat down.

And she said, “How are you?”

And I said, “I’m great. I’m okay.”

She said, “What’s going on?”

And this is a therapist who sees therapists, because we have to go to those, because their B.S. meters are good.

And so I said, “Here’s the thing, I’m struggling.”

And she said, “What’s the struggle?”

And I said, “Well, I have a vulnerability issue. And I know that vulnerability is the core of shame and fear and our struggle for worthiness, but it appears that it’s also the birthplace of joy, of creativity, of belonging, of love. And I think I have a problem, and I need some help.”

And I said, “But here’s the thing: no family stuff, no childhood shit. I just need some strategies.”

So she goes like this.

And then I said, “It’s bad, right?”

And she said, “It’s neither good nor bad. It just is what it is.”

And I said, “Oh my God, this is going to suck.”

And it did, and it didn’t.

And it took about a year.

And you know how there are people that, when they realise that vulnerability and tenderness are important, that they surrender and walk into it.

A: that’s not me, and B: I don’t even hang out with people like that.

For me, it was a yearlong street fight.

It was a slugfest.

Vulnerability pushed, I pushed back. I lost the fight, but probably won my life back.

And so then I went back into the research and spent the next couple of years really trying to understand what they, the whole-hearted, what choices they were making, and what are we doing with vulnerability.

Why do we struggle with it so much?

Am I alone in struggling with vulnerability?

No.

So this is what I learned.

We numb vulnerability — when we’re waiting for the call.

It was funny, I sent something out on Twitter and on Facebook that says, “How would you define vulnerability? What makes you feel vulnerable?”

And within an hour and a half, I had 150 responses.

Because I wanted to know what’s out there.

Having to ask my husband for help because I’m sick, and we’re newly married; initiating sex with my husband; initiating sex with my wife; being turned down; asking someone out; waiting for the doctor to call back; getting laid off; laying off people.

This is the world we live in.

We live in a vulnerable world.

And one of the ways we deal with it is we numb vulnerability.

And I think there’s evidence — and it’s not the only reason this evidence exists, but I think it’s a huge cause.

We are the most in-debt, obese, addicted and medicated adult cohort in U.S. history. The problem is — and I learned this from the research — that you cannot selectively numb emotion. You can’t say, here’s the bad stuff. Here’s vulnerability, here’s grief, here’s shame, here’s fear, here’s disappointment. I don’t want to feel these. I’m going to have a couple of beers and a banana nut muffin. I don’t want to feel these.

I hack into your lives for a living. God.

You can’t numb those hard feelings without numbing the other affects, our emotions.

You cannot selectively numb.

So when we numb those, we numb joy, we numb gratitude, we numb happiness. And then we are miserable, and we are looking for purpose and meaning, and then we feel vulnerable, so then we have a couple of beers and a banana nut muffin.

And it becomes this dangerous cycle.

One of the things that I think we need to think about is why and how we numb.

And it doesn’t just have to be addiction.

The other thing we do is we make everything that’s uncertain certain.

Religion has gone from a belief in faith and mystery to certainty.

I’m right, you’re wrong.

Shut up.

That’s it.

Just certain.

The more afraid we are, the more vulnerable we are, the more afraid we are. This is what politics looks like today. There’s no discourse anymore. There’s no conversation. There’s just blame.

You know how blame is described in the research?

A way to discharge pain and discomfort.

We’re perfect.

If there’s anyone who wants their life to look like this, it would be me, but it doesn’t work.

Because what we do is we take fat from our butts and put it in our cheeks. Which just, I hope in 100 years, people will look back and go, “Wow.”

And we perfect, most dangerously, our children.

Let me tell you what we think about children.

They’re hardwired for struggle when they get here.

And when you hold those perfect little babies in your hand, our job is not to say, “Look at her, she’s perfect.

My job is just to keep her perfect — make sure she makes the tennis team by fifth grade and Yale by seventh.”

That’s not our job.

Our job is to look and say, “You know what? You’re imperfect, and you’re wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging.”

That’s our job.

Show me a generation of kids raised like that, and we’ll end the problems I think that we see today.

We pretend that what we do doesn’t have an effect on people. We do that in our personal lives. We do that corporate — whether it’s a bailout, an oil spill, a recall — we pretend like what we’re doing doesn’t have a huge impact on other people.

I would say to companies, this is not our first rodeo, people. We just need you to be authentic and real and say, “We’re sorry. We’ll fix it.”

But there’s another way, and I’ll leave you with this.

This is what I have found: to let ourselves be seen, deeply seen, vulnerably seen; to love with our whole hearts, even though there’s no guarantee — and that’s really hard, and I can tell you as a parent, that’s excruciatingly difficult — to practice gratitude and joy in those moments of terror, when we’re wondering, “Can I love you this much? Can I believe in this this passionately? Can I be this fierce about this?” just to be able to stop and, instead of catastrophizing what might happen, to say, “I’m just so grateful, because to feel this vulnerable means I’m alive.”

And the last, which I think is probably the most important, is to believe that we’re enough.

Because when we work from a place, I believe, that says, “I’m enough,” then we stop screaming and start listening, we’re kinder and gentler to the people around us, and we’re kinder and gentler to ourselves.

That’s all I have. Thank you.”

(The link to her talk is below:)

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