We only know what we know. Read that again. As a two year old you probably knew how to say ‘mum’, ‘dad’, and the word ‘no’. You may have also been able to do a wobbly walk and attempt to feed yourself with a spoon. But that’s all you knew because you were two. You knew what you knew. That was all the life experience you had. So before you read any further you need to forgive yourself right now for all things you still carry from the past that you wish you did differently. You did what you did because you knew what you knew, which was different to what you know now. Give yourself a big old high five for surviving the best you knew how and move on. Your future self needs you to do this.
We are all born with DNA, It’s just something that is there. It determines the colour of our hair and eyes and shape of our nose. I also believe we are born with our very own GPS system. I’m not a scientist or a doctor but it sits somewhere between our heart and our stomach and your soul is responsible for driving it. When you’re off course your heart and or your stomach will tell you. Your heart will feel heavy, your stomach will feel squeamish and you will feel completely out of line with yourself.
I used to feel like this all the time, In fact it was for most of my life. The only times I could really remember feeling ‘myself’ was as a small child. I guess that was a time in my life where I wasn’t so impacted by outside influences because I was comfortable with who I was because I was, well just me. As I got older I started to compromise myself to fit in. We all do it to a degree. Whether it be family, work or social situations we all want to be accepted and most of all we all want to survive. Put those two needs together and you have a recipe for all sorts of dangerous compromise. Some people can get so caught up in the web of compromise that they are never truly themselves. They are never truly free. We were all born on to this earth to really live!! You get ONE shot at the life you were given. Give it everything you have.
Somewhere in my teens I grew into a massive people pleaser. I will go as far as tooting my own horn when it comes to being able to read people and adjusting myself to exactly who they need me to be, I was incredibly good at it. Having a very big fear of not being liked, getting in trouble and breaking any rules, even if the rules made absolutely no sense whatsoever, I was not going to break them!! Just incase something terrible happened.
It didn’t take much to manipulate me, I was quite an easy target. Sadly this left me quite vulnerable to being used, abused and spat out. Even sadder, the people closest to me were the ones to take advantage. Everyone has an agenda, even me. Mine was to be liked and accepted, even if it meant tossing my values into the wind. I didn’t do this consciously, in fact if I’m honest I didn’t even really know what my values were. All I knew is that I was actually sacrificing my happiness and going against my gut instincts to serve others hoping for friendship in return.
Lesson #1; Get out of your comfort zone – like you have no choice, this is happening, nothing good is going to happen inside of your little box. Believe me!
I actually used to get so cranky when anyone would talk about stepping out of your comfort zone. “New age hippies” I would think to myself while rolling my eyes. I was quite content hiding in my safe bubble of pretend living.
It’s down right terrifying at first. Whatever you can think of that sounds so awful you feel like you could be sick, do it immediately! A few examples of those things for me were, eating out alone and posting unfiltered photos of myself on social media. I still remember the time I posted a picture of myself in bathers. I was literally shaking, posted it and had to throw my phone under my bed, get in my car and drive away to stop myself from deleting it. Why you may ask? Because the idea of being ‘judged’ or even ‘seen’ terrified me. And do you know what happened? Nothing bad! Just amazing feed back from other woman who also felt as terrified as me about doing that kind of thing and thanking me for being brave and encouraging them to be brave too. The other thing that happened was is because I’d done this one thing and didn’t die I then had the courage to wear my bathers to the beach that summer and swim in the ocean with my children. My eldest is 14 and my youngest is 7 and that was the first time I’d ever done that with them. Because for 14 years I sat on the beach covered up in my “safe zone” hot, sweaty and uncomfortable and missing out. But it was ‘safe’ there.
The other thing I did that made me incredibly uncomfortable was to say no. No to anything I didn’t really want to do. I’d never done that before. It’s so darn liberating!
Lesson # 2; Rejection is like vomiting. It’s an uncomfortable purging of something that does not belong, followed by immense relief.
It wasn’t that long ago that I was so overcome by the pain of feeling rejected that I laid on my kitchen floor sobbing. It’s incredibly painful! After following my gut instincts and standing up for what I believed in I found myself virtually alone. Suddenly the people I interacted with daily didn’t want anything to do with me. I was no longer useful to their agenda, therefore no longer needed. This is why it’s so important to find YOUR tribe not A tribe.
Lesson #3; Healing takes time. There is no quick fix. Nor do you want there to be because this is where we gain the wisdom.
The deeper the wound, the greater the come back.
You have to feel all of it. It’s like antibiotics. If you don’t finish the full dose the virus will come back.
You will have amazing days and you will have awful days. Both are necessary. Don’t fight the process. You are exactly where you need to be. Be kind to yourself along the way. Find the people that have your back. If you can’t, have your own. After all you need to be your biggest advocate.
Lesson #4; Spend time alone.
I read an amazing book that talks about listening to the still small voice inside. The problem was is that I was never still enough to even hear myself breathe let alone anything else.
Take yourself on dates. Literally. I’m not kidding. Take yourself out of the house, sit alone at table with a good book, a notebook and a pen, or even just your thoughts. It’s incredibly confronting at first if you’re not used to it. If that’s you maybe start with a book. At least then you can look like you’re doing something if you feel self conscious. I did this for over a year. It was actually like dating myself. I had always been so busy “doing” whatever it was I felt was expected that I actually had NO idea who I was. No idea what I actually liked. Like no idea!
Lesson #5; Love the crap out of yourself!
This was by far the hardest one for me. To me the concept sounded so vain, and to make matters worse I had this mad belief that I had to be Instagram model worthy to even toy with the idea of liking myself let alone loving myself. The fact that I thought those things makes me SO sad not only because I deserve so much better, but because I have children. Daughters who are learning from me how to treat themselves and sons who are learning what to expect for their wife one day.
This process for me was very uncomfortable. It took a whole lot of self acceptance as I am, right here, right now. The thing that really helped with this was knowing that those closest to me, my husband, children, parents, really close friends, the people who truly mattered to me, loved me unconditionally. They didn’t care if I was having a bad hair day or hadn’t won a Nobel prize. To them I was a very important part of their world. Just as I loved them all unconditionally. No expectations, no conditions, come as you are.
Lesson #6; Trust
I’m not going to lie, I’ve found trusting others and especially myself difficult. I’d been burned, badly. The one person who saw it coming though didn’t step in fast enough, that was me. I had to gain trust in myself again before I could even consider trusting others.
Take baby steps. By this point I was in full re-set mode. I’d started again, but there were days the idea of going back to what was familiar was so tempting. Stay strong, you’ve come so far, you are so close.
Lesson #7; Forgive
This takes us back to we only know what we know. Just as we need to forgive ourselves we also need to forgive those around us. Whether the hurt they may have caused was intentional or not, they too only knew what they knew.