Rip off the mask, tear down the walls. Show the world my beautiful, vulnerable self!

Posts tagged ‘friendship’

Progress is Progress, No Matter How Small

Switching Things Up is Progress

September 11th came and went this year as it always does, along with the memories, the feelings, both repressed and expressed, and the knee jerk reactions. But then again, it wasn’t really the same at all.

In years past, when September 11th came along, I disconnected from social media and crawled deep into my self-imposed cave for 24 hours or more. Apparently, this is the year things were meant to change.

In the first place, it fell on a Wednesday which is a day I usually spend going to the gym and running errands. Sure, I could have moved things around, and probably would have in the past. This year, I didn’t feel it was important enough, so I got out of the house, perhaps a little later than planned, and soldiered on.

Losing Myself in a Crowd

I knew I wasn’t up for the more intimate group of dancers who meet at a friend’s house once a week but instead of slothing it in front of the TV, I got up, got dressed, and went to a larger venue where I figured I’d just blend into the scenery. Wearing uncharacteristic all black, I joined my friends on the dance floor, hiding in the middle, only to be called out by the DJ who’s known me for too long, but didn’t read my “I’m hiding” message in my black shirt and shorts.

The one thing I didn’t do was pretend I was fine. I also stopped saying it was the anniversary of my dad’s “death” in the generic sense. Instead, I said “it’s the 16th anniversary of my dad’s suicide”.

What I didn’t expect was so many have become used to me talking openly about suicide, that it didn’t shock so much as let people know I was feeling vulnerable. No one pushed or tried to be overly solicitous, but it was clear they were all there for me if I needed them. What an amazing and unexpected revelation!

Acknowledging and Releasing Old Pain

Slowly but surely, I’m revisiting and releasing old hurts, letting go of old baggage, and learning a lesson I missed growing up: how to be a friend, and attract my true tribe. Despite events of the last few months which are causing my ever-expanding tribe to gather in smaller pieces at a variety of venues, the emotional and energetic bonds we share are growing stronger. It’s clear to me now, time and circumstances don’t weaken bonds if they’re formed on the right foundation.

It’s become especially apparent as I revisit the rift with my blood family. It may be that “blood is thicker than water” but some blood is diluted by unseen factors. My family showed me unequivocably that they aren’t able to be there for me in times of trauma or strife. It isn’t a reflection on them as human beings. It’s simply the way it is. I’ve learned to not only expect but respect the dynamic—or lack thereof.

I was born into a family, but I see now, I was only there temporarily. It was a brief stopping point while I gathered a few of the tools and a lot of the traumas which would help me become the person I was meant to be. It’s been a long, slow process (I had to get past the desperation to be loved and accepted first), but I can see now it was a necessary step in my soul’s evolution.

Lessons Come in All Shapes and Sizes

Sometimes, I learn what to do and how I deserve to be treated from my various experiences. Other times, I learn what not to do and how I do not deserve to be treated. I’ve had many bosses who’ve shown me the wrong way to run a department or treat employees, just as I’ve had a few who showed me the right way.

Interestingly, it’s from a marketing group I’m in that I’m learning everything in life is about relationships. Even as a writer, I can’t operate in a vacuum. Not only do I get a lot of my topics from interacting with other people, I couldn’t grow my business without clients, and clients are always going to be other people.

Each step I take in dealing with my emotional traumas surrounding my parents’ suicides takes me further into the real issues surrounding my inability to form strong, lasting, functional relationships.

Relationship Building for Love or Money

I’m beginning to see my earliest lessons in relationship building came from my parents and blood family. I learned to hide my true self in what was ultimately a fruitless effort to fit in; to belong. It wasn’t until I endured the ultimate rebuff, and recognized it as such that I realized I was going about belonging in the wrong way. I’ve recently discovered positive indifference is an important factor, not only in whether or not I get a contract, but in establishing relationships too.

That doesn’t mean I go into social situations, guns a-blazing, acting like a jerk. Instead, it means spending time watching the interactions, observing the social protocol, and assessing how it makes me feel.

If it’s an environment where I feel comfortable engaging as my true self, I’ll probably stick around. If I feel like I have to stuff myself into an uncomfortable configuration, I’ll likely say a polite goodbye and move on. I don’t need to belong somewhere enough to pretend to be someone I’m not. 

The Epiphany of Authenticity

Learning there were people and places which would accept me as I am, and not Created with Canvaexpect me to be something I’m not shocked the hell out of me. It turned a lifetime of failed relationships upside down. It never occurred to me I was going about it wrong, trying to make people like me by being what I thought they expected. Instead of gaining the acceptance I craved, I came off needy, desperate, phony, and unapproachable.

People typically want to interact with others who are at least somewhat open and honest. Desperation is typically a turnoff, except perhaps to those who thrive on using other people. Thus, opening up, not only about my parents’ suicides, but about my own broken parts has catapulted me into both social and business environments which, at last accept me for who I am, and actually appreciate that crazy, messy person for her honesty.

Still Sharing Selectively But for the Right Reasons

https://www.flickr.com/photos/erix/66519749/in/photolist-6SW1e-VTKUdm-M1eYnL-242z7nc-oqkg1j-proThx-fsTWuh-6k2FkX-o4wR24-y6Zwr-KfMCGq-SFv9cS-8hfbmZ-bfs4it-SkpXJ5-fTkgBF-SRG43L-oaSpyU-6LELFf-8sY2Wq-65Q84A-4uhkK6-4CwKmQ-21jdqXp-ry5GpM-RHagrR-s7emTJ-b8moxH-pgqTW-GmKEPY-7h7g9p-6tuV9R-r3UHnJ-9kePpX-b1DnC2-9Gv9Kj-RFjn7k-6tuPQR-2b4oHPW-nxaMN8-Kez8E-6tuN7i-dUaLfP-6nXEKq-TiiQCx-nXxmkn-hCDNRa-CFeyn-2YRhRS-9BUEVIt doesn’t mean I “bleed” all over everyone. I’m still selective about what and with whom I share, aside from my writing. I’ve recently discovered I can share more here because it’s still safe. I’m not subject to acceptance or rejection. I don’t feel someone’s distaste or disgust. If they don’t like what I’ve written, they typically won’t read any more, and that’s perfectly fine with me. I’m probably not writing for them anyway.

Those who come back; who read my posts regularly, and often tell me so are the ones I write for. They want to see the parts of me I’m still working on fixing; the imperfect parts I’ve come to accept and even appreciate; the successes when I overcome past traumas and conditioning. Why? Because they’ve been through their own share of crap. They deserve applause for their successes too. Most of all, they deserve to keep the messy, gooey parts they want to keep. And so do you!

Happy to Be Grateful

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for friends who “get” me, and who love me because of my imperfections.
  2. I’m grateful for the small bits of progress. Put them all together, and I’ve come a lot farther than I realized.
  3. I’m grateful for my current work environment. I work without the need to please anyone but myself and my chosen clients, without distraction other than my own monkey mind, and with the co-workers who suit me best; my furry family.
  4. I’m grateful for the support I’m getting as I learn to be more myself and less a facade.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love, friendship, support, laughter, dancing, kitty love, perspective, ambition, guidance, peace, harmony, balance, health, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, ghostwriter, and an advocate for cats and mental health. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward

Insecurity May Lie Dormant But Never Dies

The Scared Little Girl Who Lurks Inside

https://www.flickr.com/photos/60740813@N04/34504735502/in/photolist-Uz4MJN-7H8hqz-r2covS-8wbGLH-8wcEVv-8weaum-8wcFMc-r2c6ww-r2iYrg-qmL3eU-8w9Dpr-r2jtjr-riJFWH-8wcT7A-8wcK8r-8wbRuV-8wcj84-8wanQx-8waPPT-8w9c4V-8w97ek-r2j3iV-riCAji-8w8skp-r2cTQq-8wfuwo-8waMUv-8wfDJJ-8wdgXY-qZq9cM-8wd2u3-8wfVzw-8wbq15-8w8bJP-8w9Wdc-8wcQdR-riF3r5-riJvW2-8wbTSq-r2cNH1-8wc6wN-r2d6wG-8wcM6o-r2jiHn-8wdexo-riJBiz-8bQ1eC-8wfeYo-riJJHV-8w9YqrAfter having a disturbing and bizarre dream, I remembered someone saying that the really bizarre and disturbing ones carry a message, but not what we’d think. The more disturbing and bizarre they are, the more they’re simply trying to get our attention. After spending 30 or 40 minutes writing out what I remembered of the dream, I found the underlying message. The message itself was uncomfortable and disturbing.

For all the work I’ve done on myself, the scared, insecure little girl is still alive and well. I still believe people don’t notice when I’m not around, and that I have no one to turn to if I’m feeling really disturbed or distressed.

Talking to a couple of girlfriends later that night, I realized I’m not alone on many levels. First, because I have people who understand and are there for me, but second, because they too feel insecure and alone a lot of the time.

Self-Protection on Overdrive

This feeling of alone-ness wasn’t the biggest revelation, however. As I looked at myself, my friends, and what we have and haven’t shared, I realized there are still large parts of me I share with no one. Whether it’s fear of being judged (something I learned I share with my friends), fear of letting more of my broken parts see the light of day, or fear of losing my ability to, at least occasionally wear a strong facade, I’m stuck in some of the same old patterns.

On a conscious level, I know until I’m willing to accept and acknowledge those parts I continue to keep hidden, I am, in some ways no closer to healing than I was 10 years ago. Sure, I’ve made progress, but there are parts of me still unwilling to let go. There are pieces of my heart still encased in bubble wrap to hold all the broken parts together.

The Long, Winding Healing Journey

Created with CanvaHealing means carefully unwrapping those parts, laying them out so I can see where the broken edges fit together, then fitting the pieces back together like an intricate jigsaw puzzle. Once the edges are matched, I need to glue them back together, not with adhesive or even gold like the Japanese kintsugi, but with love and understanding. I have to share my brokenness with the people who love me so they can help me put the broken parts back together stronger and more resilient.

I realize now I’ve opened up about some things, but most are experiences I’ve had, not my deepest, darkest feelings. Those continue to hide in the depths of my mind and heart, mired in darkness, afraid of coming into the light. They blink and squint if I so much as allow a single beam into their sacred space.

Overcoming My Own Resistance

Like my mind resisting change, those broken bits and pieces resist being put back together. https://www.flickr.com/photos/gastaum/14490581818/in/photolist-o5u28y-YfsirJ-k8x7MM-bxbe69-W1rTYx-arWoEp-9hSaAd-ahFY4U-dUPFnv-cbTML-9dRrhQ-nNcDz4-W1scJn-6Q5kQB-aPHuVt-dF2PfA-qsan3a-9Q3GD-7puXf-ca3kUb-8Qnh5S-7EPcJ1-9RZQ7L-2jv27s-3ytNAS-4Ax3Vm-7P6ms6-fLeJCZ-9eA4z4-dUzmHi-dJ2ajE-4s4eeJ-9ZWATV-4Ax3K3-6459Qr-r7YPq9-7ZBske-3ypqPa-7yi435-9uRzwZ-kdLtng-2c5brCn-HLfJSP-qTk7jd-oSdAwv-pNeYXi-3fqAZV-5btNtn-72Kth6-V4V7jqThey know the process will mean they have to grow and adapt because the reassembly won’t be the same as their original construction. In fact, I may find a way to put them together into a different structure entirely; one which utilizes parts from all.

Isn’t that really what our lives entail? We break apart and put ourselves back together, but never in the same way. New experiences become part of our new structure making it stronger, but also changing it forever. Once reassembled, there’s no going back to the old ways, because who we were no longer exists. We’ve taken life’s experiences and woven them into the fabric of our lives indelibly.

By hiding all the times I shattered into a million pieces inside myself I don’t allow the rebuilding. I don’t allow myself to be stronger for my experiences. I fail to grow and evolve.

A Reminder I Still Need to Get Out of My Own Way

https://www.flickr.com/photos/nhoulihan/4038592452/in/photolist-79SQQm-TfUffd-pgu9hJ-qfYXYE-pDVWDB-6UQgZM-KFog6C-TFYhqd-29TMHM-fP6i28-j73ZT5-atsnGd-C4HxXs-5eRdT5-YoKVff-24PBcMS-28G1ckh-AqrzL-haocsM-o1RCfj-4iigfF-6hbQxG-TCfZem-qVx4n8-U63bC7-dCTxQg-amkKyF-eiY1qF-Ct5hqm-hSGXpV-BcaCh-8c2bVB-27RWaS2-eQjYy1-cJWTgw-ehKQWJ-AJSt63-ay4RXc-cxa1zW-UFe9Vq-aC3EP1-pkL1fr-ehKSrs-qxMMJj-bvMGyV-VG1fkR-ay4Sgv-aDNaMx-aE1tNY-h7171rI might believe I’ve come a long way, and in fact, I have. But I’ve put giant boulders in the way to prevent progress in certain directions. Thus, I’m rebuilding on shaky ground once again, because I’m leaving too many crumbling parts in my foundation.

My disturbing and bizarre dream was a pointed reminder I can’t ignore all those piles of broken pieces. I need to incorporate them into the newest version of me I’m building. Leaving them out means returning to ground zero again and again until I figure out how to weave them into the fabric of my life, not as failures, but as lessons.

The voice of the frightened little girl inside me is growing louder and more insistent. Opportunities to open up, bring those pieces into the light, and join them to the pieces I’ve acquired through life lessons are here. They become more obvious and accessible every day. But until I bring those broken pieces into the light, I can’t fully avail myself of those opportunities. I can’t complete the assembly without those pieces as well.

Creating a Mosaic of My Life

Like you, I’m a mosaic; a combination of pieces accumulated over the years from each time I created with Canvabroke, but also, each time something or someone came along and offered me some of the missing pieces to help strengthen my structure. How many times did I turn away and fold further into myself, refusing the help, ignoring someone else’s need to help me grow? How many times did I fail to see my broken parts fit exactly into someone else’s?

Talking to my friends, we admit to holding back parts of ourselves we’re not ready to share. Yet do I; do they really know what those parts are any more? They’ve been buried so long, I suspect were we to pull out all of our parts and lay them on the table, we’d find we could put them together in just about any manner, taking pieces from each other and fitting them into our own mosaic. The result would not only be stronger, but more beautiful for all the different shades and facets we bring together.

Creating a Safe Space Together

https://www.flickr.com/photos/philleara/7246573430/in/photolist-c3mzPd-djJiUe-oajKtQ-djJjmv-djJjLR-oapGkZ-djJjb9-djJj5F-cntb2u-7Y2xWm-cntayf-c3mLB3-n329S-7XYhYD-cntbhs-TCrSUz-gg7DZE-gg7XMV-6Ak5ks-9a2C7g-djJjz6-cntb85-rCKS6-cntag1-azBhou-3oXQYc-cnta8q-cntaL7-ocbPjv-oa7hn8-fJm576-baRPgp-7Y2xp7-8ommnm-bA1QHR-cnt9j1-dmywKj-7Y2x7b-4vwAew-aAPJwq-oa7iJB-cnt9xu-2FtNgi-gunWiW-hLgWLK-e4kv6P-2FtPvB-9GPQLh-4vsuDF-baRMyvPerhaps that’s the answer. Instead of trying to force ourselves to open the box where we store all our missteps, our broken dreams, our losses, and our fears, we need to open them in the safety and comfort of friendship where everyone shares pieces, and we create one giant piece of art which is better able to withstand life’s earthquakes and mudslides.

We learn different lessons as we travel through life. What I know well, someone else needs support and guidance. Where I feel weak and unable to withstand the gentlest breeze, someone else has mastered and can help me become stronger.

Years of trying to manage everything alone has certainly left its mark on me. It’s left a similar mark on many of my friends. We’ve all learned we’re stronger together, but are still learning how to maneuver the “together” part without needing to pull back into our shells, afraid of being let down or broken once again. Until I do; until we do, we’ll continue fumbling in the dark in some areas, never quite seeing that the path in front of us is smoother than we believe.

Need Help Putting it All Together?

Are you struggling to keep all of your entrepreneurial balls in the air? Would you like to take a task or two off your plate? Maybe it’s content creation, or perhaps it’s getting your books in order and creating a budget. If this sounds familiar and you’re ready to streamline your life and give your business space to grow and thrive, CONTACT ME and let’s talk!

Grateful for Who I Was, Who I Am, and Who I Can Become

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for friends who understand I’m still struggling in some ways.
  2. I am grateful for disturbing and bizarre dreams which make me take a good hard look at what I’m doing with my life.
  3. I am grateful for friends who aren’t afraid to share some of their broken parts with me.
  4. I am grateful for days alone when I can sink into introspection. They make me face the world outside with more confidence, not so much in my abilities alone, but in the knowledge that I’m not alone at all.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, friendship, imperfections, community, joy, dancing kitty love, peace, harmony, health, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, ghostwriter, and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws , of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward

Helping the Traumatized or Depressed

Proactively Helping Our Community

You see it all over social media these days: “If you need help coping with {insert traumatic event here} I’m here for you. Just reach out and I’ll be there.”

While I commend people for wanting to be there for their friends, family, and community, I’ve seen all too often that those who need help the most are the least likely to take the hand reaching out to them. The reasons are endless, but here are just a few of the ones I’ve seen, heard, or even spoken myself:

  • I’m fine. I don’t need help
  • Others have worse troubles than me.
  • Everyone is busy with their own lives and problems. They don’t need to be burdened with mine.
  • They don’t understand what I’m going through, and I don’t feel like explaining it.
  • I just want to be left alone. I’ll figure it out.

Showing Up for Those Who Can’t

The reality is, life is a lot like writing. We have to do more showing and less telling. Instead of posting our offer of an ear, a shoulder, or a sanctuary on social media for everyone to see and scroll right past, we need to be proactive. Let’s put our money where our mouth is.

Is there someone who hasn’t shown up lately? Give them a call. Invite them out for coffee, or a meal, or a walk in the park. Whatever you think might interest them. If they decline, call again in a few days and offer again. Or show up at their place and insist they come out with you or at least let you in for a visit. Even if they’re less than gracious about it, deep down, they’re grateful, believe me.

There is nothing worse for someone who is dealing with deep, emotional pain or trauma than to be left alone for too long. Left to their own devices, they’ll talk themselves out of being valuable to anyone. They’ll wallow in their misery and watch it grow bigger and scarier every day they’re alone.

Better by Degrees

We may not be coping much better than they are, but the fact that we can leave the house and reach out to someone puts us in a much better place from which to heal and move forward. If nothing else, the best way to help ourselves is to reach out and help someone else.

Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against those who make a public announcement they’re available and ready to help their friends in need. I simply think we need to take it one step further and do something. I’ve seen for myself how much healing happens when a few people get together and share their feelings, or do something they all enjoy to take their mind off reality for a little while. Sitting alone and stewing never did anyone any good.

Knowing they’re hurting, we have to be ready to switch gears if they try to change plans at the last minute. They’re not up to going out for coffee or a meal? Bring the coffee or a meal to them. They just want to sit on the sofa and veg? Bring over a couple of movies or channel surf and find something you can watch together. Or talk to them. Carry the conversation until they’re ready to contribute something of their own.

Being the Friend in Deed

https://www.flickr.com/photos/jkfjellestad/17408694382/in/photolist-swm7k9-5RUVz2-mJjTbx-5RZcQG-LaVetu-ehWSkL-mJjNaa-mJncXh-UQc1nx-mJkdTR-mJnhJS-UNopBe-TLtd22-UnTzSt-UKUNfQ-TvXc6r-UWzrjN-g9uykn-H7hkTY-27dmuiJ-dPKPg5-StARkr-H28Np7-TLyHW2-SasSyJ-ovj4Jg-TDQz2w-g9v3mc-H7rXSy-UWEf8E-qxwgcP-X7uFem-TyrPG7-g9uRij-g9vmqr-TLF3sZ-683YTJ-4DjRMh-5R69WX-eiwKNy-873BnY-787D4h-g9vKLK-UWGbnj-TytBPA-p92cJn-Ufcsfy-URnUfu-TrXPo4-UMmQvhIt’s funny. This isn’t a new concept. There’s an old proverb that says “A friend in need is a friend in deed”. By taking action instead of just offering to be there, we’re taking the act of friendship to the next level. We can even let them know that their company is just what we need right now to get past all the tragedy and pain we, too are experiencing. Take the pressure off of them to be helped by turning it around. They are helping us by allowing us to try to take their mind off the voices in their heads.

I spent a lot of years alone, broken, wallowing, and unwilling to ask for help. Granted, I’d done a bang-up job of pushing people away or keeping them out entirely, so there weren’t many to choose from, even if I knew how to ask. It was a dark, lonely place, and I would have been happy if someone took enough of an interest; cared enough to brush off all my excuses and help me get out of the funk I’d sunk into. But no one did. No one offered. No one visited. And I wallowed for years in my own private pity party.

Look for Those Who Need Help Climbing Out of Their Funk

I’m one of the lucky ones. I found a way out of my funk. I took a couple of suggestions when Created with Canvathey were offered. I decided I was tired of being miserable, and set out to address my ghosts and invite them to leave. The recent suicides of one of the Parkland survivors and the father of one of the Sandy Hook victims makes it clear there are many who can’t do it alone. And it’s more than likely they’re also the ones who won’t reach out or even accept an offered hand.

It’s OK to be sad. It’s OK to wish things hadn’t happened; that lives hadn’t been lost or homes destroyed. But we can’t change the past or make it better than it was. We can, however, change the future by taking action now.

It’s the Little Things

Gather with friends. Visit memorials. Bring soup to a friend like someone did for me not so long ago. Even let someone help you even if you don’t feel you need it.

I recently called a friend to change some light bulbs for me. I could have climbed on a ladder or chair and done it myself, but he’s tall enough to reach without either. He helped me by preventing a potential fall (I’m a well-known klutz), but I got him out of the house for a little while too. Win-win.

My point is, we could all use help once in awhile, but tend to blunder along on our own rather than ask. If someone shows up on our doorstep it’s harder to make excuses, turn them away, or even do without. Sometimes, we might even enjoy the company or a break from our usual routine. We truly are better together than alone.

Gratitude Attracts More to be Grateful For

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful there were caring people around to help me emerge from a decades-long funk.
  2. I’m grateful for the lessons I’ve learned, the people who’ve reached out, and those who’ve allowed me to reach out to them. We all heal in the process.
  3. I’m grateful for choices. Sometimes we really do need to be alone, but too much of anything is not a good thing.
  4. I’m grateful for lessons I’ve learned and people who’ve been there when I needed an example or a teacher. I might still have made progress, but it would have taken much longer.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; new clients, new projects, new opportunities, progress, inspiration, motivation, productivity, joy, love, dancing, positive indifference, peace, health, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, ghostwriter, and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws , of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward

People Are Not Labels

Labels are for Soup Cans

https://www.flickr.com/photos/poorcans/20900661451/in/photolist-xQVmtV-yh8Gq-8Br9Sd-4Maaoo-aQmNMR-6EtxkP-4yy1G9-2Pvp9C-8FsGxQ-7ACUMX-7YQMzo-sKdkT-6gF66N-4k4cjt-tH52Y-7wBA9z-Uq8r73-6naAjp-5WoaMD-7qEHtt-NphFXZ-8C8jQm-26PmX2c-8KwHYS-7Pc1gd-6BYvZN-2e9wtSE-EKpx8-6GaRw7-QtPQN8-283eQFu-s7emTJ-qJT9mH-zauotZ-21EW38n-C5z8wF-6KkmjD-HXUSJ-69sF6V-dPZ1QG-BL7Pye-m5bGQX-ajS8qC-8AyreB-8HEnCg-8gXZjp-6HNM47-bvN9eN-79sdVC-86nchvI’ve always found it both offensive and short sighted to assign labels to people because invariably it leads to a judgement based on generalized characteristics. Lately, I’ve realized I’m guilty of labeling and judging myself, and frankly, I don’t like what I see.

As an Empath who attracts other Empaths, I’ve learned to be especially aware of attracting Narcissists too. My fight or flight reflexes are set to ultra-sensitive after too many experiences with people who only loved my for my energy and nurturing qualities. But sometimes I overdo it, especially when I operate under the mistaken belief I need to protect my friends.

Observe More, Label Less

Lately, I’ve applied the label “Narcissist” too often and too quickly, instead of standing back and watching; allowing the person to show their many facets instead of focusing in on a single one. Needless to say, I’ve judged people overly harshly, overlooking signs there may be something far more complex going on.

When my daughters were young, a psychologist was quick to label them ADHD and ADD, completely overlooking their intelligence and ability to learn and understand complex concepts quickly, even at a young age. A year or so later when they’d tested into the G.A.T.E. (Gifted and Talented Education) Program, I attended the parents’ orientation meeting. Large posters were tacked above the blackboards in the classroom depicting various aspects of the G.A.T.E. personality. Lo and behold, the characteristics were EXACTLY the same as the ones I’d been told were indicative of ADD and ADHD.

While contemplating my guilt in being too quick to apply the label “Narcissist” I’m reminded of that long-ago lesson. We all exhibit a wide variety of behaviors which are common to different personality types. That doesn’t mean we ARE a certain personality type. I suspect there are some who exhibit narcissistic behavior when they simply haven’t learned how to have a give and take kind of relationship. It’s not that they don’t want to be loving and giving. It hasn’t made it into their skill set yet either through nature or nurture.

Personalities Formed By Nature and Nurture

https://www.flickr.com/photos/mamnaimie/8680429035/in/photolist-ee4t8z-cNjy5-oKBJYc-7tRBmg-7dpdWv-buv1Nu-aDa4AY-51uTxq-fRQgnM-7zy4Hg-ceoS1-5u6JJ6-8JFHxV-7zy4Be-ceox3-apMg6S-bR4un-dq9xPC-4zmBQJ-hPY7A8-3bZjT7-daFcd2-6ZUq3Z-27uhQ9f-r7LzYM-K5keCM-L2RZSV-dg2mJw-2bFvdJJ-i63E4D-h9hrmr-JBNmhV-7pv8vg-f8R7b2-bj66S-rBh74r-DGtb3m-EkjWM8-dg2mfg-AcSwRy-26RUBUZ-fJwZNH-prZ4C3-23RFdN8-bj6mk-8zSsSY-defSSm-4Kx1jx-pEcuwd-eiC5SUMy family wasn’t the warm, touchy-feely type. I learned how to be affectionate and loving only after I started recognizing familial behavior patterns that needed to be broken and started breaking them. To someone on the outside looking in, I suspect a lot of my behavior was narcissistic in nature.

Someone on the Autism spectrum also isn’t inclined to show affection or even endure being touched. They might appear overly demanding while giving nothing back, even though they’re giving as much as they’re able.

Sometimes we have to take a step back and ask how we’d feel if someone slapped a label on us and dismissed us out of hand, especially when we’re doing so to someone else. When an Empath friend sees something of value in that person despite their outward behavior, it’s a pretty good indication we need to broaden our perspective and give that person another chance. Maybe there’s more than meets my admittedly jaded eye.

Never to Old to Form New Patterns

For years, I had few friends and no one close because I shut everyone out, or more accurately, https://www.flickr.com/photos/anieto2k/8156999698/in/photolist-dqNKPQ-8xXrZz-a2tqF7-ecib3q-aR5rxR-23UMduh-aWLsg4-aQ6X3p-dTTc5c-dcyQ5m-b1FLUp-drS8ZF-bsmN5R-nNhBzE-6ssEeg-9jEcfZ-aVXtzx-j6LK2o-aNpZyT-dCTfD3-dvswdt-b3pgdi-dtXu4B-6LJawW-8CFHEg-8aL7Jf-hDdmuC-anA578-cPoDxo-9qmjuQ-dtXueV-qsdJSm-dqq1i2-2cGG4pp-dqq1sP-hp14Hw-cbnjHE-7bv7xs-chavXC-7uLgNT-8E3GL9-ar7X3y-aai6ME-nt1LXG-gZvg1N-S1DgTf-8kUop7-6532HD-exeWcJ-di6ynQclosed myself in. But even as I open up to people, I still crawl back into my turtle shell when faced with behavior which at one time caused me pain. While it’s important for me to break old family patterns of behavior, I’m beginning to see I need to look at some of the patterns I formed myself.

Certain actions on the part of others trigger old memories. Those memories are painful, so the corresponding emotions are triggered causing me to shut down instead of protecting myself and adopting a wait-and-see attitude. By failing to give the person who triggered the memory a chance to show me the many facets of their being, I’m cheating myself out of getting to know someone who may have many amazing qualities, and who could bring new and wonderful experiences to my life.

Expanding Our Comfort Zone

By going with my first response and slapping the “narcissist” label on someone I don’t know very well, I’m ending a potentially wonderful relationship before it ever has a chance to take root. In every case, the only one I’m really cheating is myself, and to what purpose? Will their lives be less because I’m not part of their social circle? Probably not. Will they be hurt or slighted when I shut down and turn away? Maybe for a minute, but they’ll have plenty of others ready and willing to give them the chance I don’t.

I think instinctively I still believe I need to keep my circle small and well-known. But people become well-known and trusted over time. When we label people such that they’re unworthy of our circle, we’re really moving ourselves to the outside. Others are including them so our obvious negativity is going to affect everyone and leave us standing alone eventually.

I’ve been enjoying being part of a large, diverse group, but realize I’ll endanger my own acceptance if I believe I’m in a position to look down on anyone for any reason, much less a single behavior pattern which triggers unpleasantness for me. I need to remember ostracizing leads to being ostracized. I talk a lot about acceptance, forgiveness, and positivity, but there are times I fall back on old patterns, to my detriment.

Oh, Those Less-than-subtle Reminders

The Universe finds ways to remind me I’m being unkind and judgemental. It shows me myself 10 or 15 years ago, alone, lonely, angry, and judgemental. I had no compassion for anyone, not even myself. It’s a harsh but effective reminder I need to take a good, hard look at my own behavior and fix it before I break something important. I need to reach deep inside and connect, not with old pain that’s outlived its usefulness, but with the compassion I’ve found in recent years.

Do you assign labels before you get to know a person? Do you dismiss people without a fair chance? A chance you’d want to be given yourself? Do you allow old pain responses to cheat you out of adding amazing people to your social circle? Answer these questions honestly and without emotions clouding your judgement. You might find you’ve been unduly harsh a time or two like me. It’s not too late to fix what may only be chipped or cracked. Open your heart, and shut down the automatic responses. You might find a few diamonds amidst the rocks you so casually tossed away.

Showing Gratitude for Gifts Both Great and Small

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for reminders to be kinder and more compassionate.
  2. I am grateful for friends who set examples I need to learn to follow.
  3. I am grateful to be able to recognize and change some of my own conditioned responses.
  4. I am grateful for the experiences which created the conditioned responses, and the lessons I’ve learned which allow me to let those responses go.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, friendship, kindness, compassion, joy, health, peace, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, ghostwriter, and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws , of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward

Awakening From Oblivion

Living a Life of Oblivion

https://www.flickr.com/photos/augustbrill/5025448773/in/photolist-8E5JQv-bj2Q3-buZES-NosS3S-bE9C2-8NP6x3-oKBJYc-7yxvUJ-4eRexw-28mE1ch-5tW6Kf-f2JEoo-acCwSd-eajL56-paxFhz-4cv8b7-7yxvw5-7D7azC-ofd2U1-4jX86v-cLpNW-7yxvPb-7yxvS7-6hKsj7-7ytH5n-6ZkEpv-nxKqWs-pz4SNk-8HDCce-gT2U3W-7AkeTX-5hzA7T-5hDXEh-fjpMeq-ceoQ2-5hzAiF-51qGYK-ceoza-51qFRM-9vkmV9-5v6EqD-ceoGA-51uTs5-51uSJo-8NP6zA-51qEZx-7zy4Hg-ceoKc-ceorH-w9TTqAll my life, I’ve been accused of being oblivious. Not when it matters to someone else, but when it might matter to me, were I to recognize it. Typically, it revolves around men and dating. I think it has a lot to do with the low self-esteem I grew up with and the hard knocks I’ve taken over the years when I let my heart engage with a single human being.

I’m fine when it comes to engaging with friends and family. But even that took a lot time to recognize, expose, and feel safe doing. I don’t typically recognize when a guy is interested, mostly because, quite frankly, I still have trouble believing anyone would be; could be.

As a teenager, I was sucked in too many times by people saying “so-and-so likes you” only to find out they were playing on my innocence, and waiting to laugh when I got hurt. Needless to say, I’m less than trusting of those words even with my friends. Still, I can’t point to a single time when even those words from well-meaning friends turned out to be true.

Well-meaning Friends Don’t Always See the Whole Picture

Recently, two friends at different times and different places mentioned they thought someone was interested in me. As he’s someone we all see fairly regularly, I put out some feelers after telling both women he is friendly to a lot of the single women, which he is. Men in the dance community have a lot of choices, or can choose not to choose and just enjoy us all on the dance floor and at social events. It soon became clear they were mistaken, but unfortunately, it left me feeling rather disappointed.

The sad truth is, no one has shown an interest in me that way in decades (at least not that I was aware of). I admit I allowed myself to get a little excited about the prospect, knowing it was likely merely a mis-perception on the part of both my friends.

Humans Are Designed To Need Other Humans

It made me realize no matter how long we’re alone and how used to being alone we think we https://www.flickr.com/photos/iloveverdi/3816601106/in/photolist-6Pg5xm-gXawN1-bt4Hc6-o2zcEa-azqZX-dJJhWM-6Ghmz-dNWyTM-ah2ZCu-QhPTfW-9dJCYV-622yhY-J4a6AF-7b2eAR-awE9H6-6oZ7Rh-9dJC7t-d1cvX-9dJD9i-5UjRJq-5XU2Rr-a2AfUR-oCn4R5-dG1exP-7v3uXe-a2DbBA-4Q9psQ-92LhSw-quw5BF-qBKHg-9ikFaq-dbsGFY-4crP6A-U1TCwS-4cMu4S-92Li2d-Hoqu6W-aCibYr-WsU5m8-FqXn4e-Mp16Ah-NpUkH9-4XiwbG-RauRDh-252gqR3-YkGU4C-Lo1Xin-bmUifC-9dMGhq-b3pS1Kare, it doesn’t take much to shake our world and knock us off that flimsy pedestal of independence. Humans were designed to want and need other humans, a condition I avoided for a long time. Until the last few years, I really didn’t connect with anyone.

Sure, I had friends, if you could call them that. We saw each other dancing, and there were even times I got together with some outside of dancing. But there was never a connection, and those “friendships” wilted and died easily. I’ve come to recognize they weren’t really friendships at all, but rather, friendly acquaintances. They certainly weren’t people who’d miss me if I was gone, or check on me to see if I was OK. Then again, I wasn’t inclined to do so for them either.

Moving Through Uncharted Territory

https://www.flickr.com/photos/bellayet/8902404261/in/photolist-eyF9CD-2xn5QZ-8hpV2H-5srNL9-eyJMuh-eyF6pF-eyFGGB-8htaPf-49tB1t-c7MEkW-295uHRT-J34G1E-7VqaY4-eyHWQ3-7VqaqZ-eyFtcV-8rj3uZ-eyJwQh-aMdnLH-7Vqeua-eyJuEE-7VtrxY-49tB8P-eyEXbR-eyJhrj-7Vtrsd-7VqcUK-empKfP-eyEPeD-7Vqe7F-5srShj-7Vqf36-nWe6z3-8Sn78P-65W5RC-fDuG3c-8Ytfoc-7pK9rq-rDwaU9-LDCsyF-6aA4j5-38821k-9y1GNY-4X4rny-aJh7Rv-c7MEk1-8Sbpz9-2dWK5zU-fuj8Yj-bwwXMvMany people are raised to keep their hearts open and to connect with others. For people like me, it’s like traveling to a foreign land where you don’t speak the language or understand the culture. You have to step carefully and learn the rules as you go. Sometimes you get knocked down hard and others, you meet people who ease you in gently. I’m learning those are the ones who are meant to be your tribe.

We can’t even reach the borders of that country until we’ve done deep internal work on ourselves. It begins with deciding we’re not going to live in isolation any more, and likely comes after some kind of tragedy or trauma. For me, it took quite a few, and several years of working on myself before something finally broke down my door and invited me to come outside and play.

Trauma and Tragedy: We Either Connect or We Isolate

I don’t think I’m any different than anyone else in having lived through a series of tragedies and traumas. The details may differ, and the way I learned to handle them is certainly unique to me, but everyone faces challenges. Even the major earthquakes I’ve seen affected people in different ways. I was fortunate to have been far enough from the epicenter in both cases to be spared any major damage to body or property. But I know many people who weren’t spared, and who had to deal with the aftermath.

Those who had others to depend on managed the emotional side of the tragedies far better than those who, like me believed they could and should depend on no one, and tried to slog through the mire themselves. Looking at those people from my former perspective, I can’t even imagine how they got through it all without breaking into tiny pieces themselves. Some didn’t.

Healing Ourselves As We Grow

But the more we change and grow, the more we find pockets of ourselves which are slower to adjust and adapt. For me, it always comes down to confidence. Whether it’s stepping into the fact that I am an expert in my field (not THE expert, but AN expert), or believing I deserve a loving, supportive, joyful relationship with a man, I still have doubts, fears, and a whole lot of that scared little girl getting in the way of my progress.

Fortunately, I am learning to step into my expertise with the help of my coach, Linda Clay. But I’m also getting a lot of positive feedback for my writing and the topics I choose. It all serves to remind the scared little girl she’s come a long way and learned many things which need to be shared for others who might need to hear them.

Alone Again, Unnaturally

When it comes to a mate, a life partner, or whatever you want to call it, I’m still on the schoolyard feeling alone and left out. I know deep down inside, I still don’t believe I deserve to have someone like that in my life. I still don’t see I have enough to offer someone that they would choose me over the multitude of other choices. In short, my insecurity fuels my inadequacy and I remain alone.

I joke it would take a guy practically hitting me over the head with a sledgehammer to get me to acknowledge his interest, but it’s not entirely a joke. I would need to be pretty darn sure he was honestly interested in the real me, and not someone he thought I was before I’d crack open the door and allow him to begin the long, slow process of earning my trust. In my experience, most people don’t want to put forth that much effort when there are others willing and able to meet them halfway.

I know when I talk to my friends about this, they are both saddened and disbelieving. I envy the courage they have in giving one man after another a chance to be their “one”. They seem to heal quickly from disappointments and are soon ready to move on to the next one.

Judging by Past Experience

I don’t heal that fast. But a lot more gets wounded each time I get dumped on my ass. The pain goes deeper than anyone else can see or imagine, and I have to go back to square one and heal things a step at a time.

Granted, I haven’t had the opportunity in a very long time, so it’s possible my healing process has sped up a bit. But without the courage or the opportunity to find out, I can only look at the past where a broken and withdrawn me attracted men who could and would never truly give me what I needed, nor allow me to do the same for them.

I think my biggest fear now is attracting someone who is not only as open and Conscious as I’ve become, but as vulnerable too. Getting hurt is bad enough, but hurting someone else; someone I care deeply for would be the ultimate pain.

And so, I convince myself to continue to walk alone.

No Matter What, I Always Have Something to be Grateful For

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the friends who’ve helped me step out of my old world and into my new.
  2. I am grateful for a much more active and diverse social life, and a willingness to do and try some new things.
  3. I am grateful for the ability to see where I still need help learning and growing.
  4. I am grateful I’m starting to question the voice that tells me I’m undeserving.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, friendship, joy, community, dancing, writing, inspiration, motivation, opportunities, exercise, health, peace, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, ghostwriter, and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws , of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward

Navigating Imposter Syndrome

Exiling the No-goodnicks

This has been a rough week for me. I’ve actually managed to convince myself (at least for a bit) that the last 5 years have been a complete waste of time in which I accomplished nothing. Sound familiar? Well, read on.

As many of you know, I quit my nice, comfortable, secure Corporate job nearly 5 years ago to pursue a new career in writing. Yes, I was slowly dying from the job, the environment, the tedium, and not doing the work I loved to do, but it was secure so that’s a good thing, right?

At the time, I believed all the security in the world wasn’t worth how miserable and stressed it made me. I scoffed at losing a regular paycheck, vacation time, a 401(k), and a reason to get up and leave the house every morning to join my fellow commuters slogging down the freeway. And in my naive little heart, I believed I could find success before the money ran out.

How We’re Able to Provide Does Not Define Us

This week, I got a backhanded slap of reality when I faced tapping into my final resource in order to pay next month’s bills. That was when the side of me that abhors change took over. Soon I was convinced I’d accomplished nothing, helped no one (especially not myself), and was no closer to my dream than I was when I started. I was foolish, untalented, lazy…I could go on, but I’m sure you get the picture.

The worst part, though, was when I went down the “nobody would care if I disappeared” path. That ugly, weed-filled, thorn-laden path that’s brought many a weaker soul to end their misery for good.

There are many things which stop me from following that path to the end, not the least of which is sparing my daughter the pain and the years of soul-searching and questions without answers I have, and will always live with since my parents’ suicides. Then of course there’s the fact that deep in my heart of hearts I don’t believe I’m beaten yet.

Recognizing Our Own Worth

As my friend pointed out, I’ve helped a lot of people with these emotional outpourings, both in print and on Facebook Live. Just because I’m not aware of the hearts and lives I’ve touched doesn’t mean I haven’t helped someone. The numbers might be paltry in the minds of those who look at numbers to determine influence, but there are some who read my posts all the time. So I must be doing something right.

The trouble is, a girl and her cats have to eat, and since my ability to keep the food bins full is suffering no small amount of threat to future filling, I started attaching my self-worth to my inability to provide. As if being an aspiring but as yet unpublished writer wasn’t enough!

But it doesn’t stop there. I sat here in my hermit hole surrounded by books, cats, and proof of my unworthiness to walk the same path as J.K. Rowling, Nora Roberts, Brenda Novak, Jacqueline Carey, Stephen King, and more. I lost sight of how each one had to start with their first sale. And Anne McCaffrey didn’t start publishing until she was in her 50’s!

I don’t doubt at least a couple of them went through similar times when they stopped believing in themselves. Yet they must have gotten past it as we read their books today, and some are still pushing out new ones if not every year, pretty darned often.

Emerging Again, Battered But Not Broken

Coming out of the downward spiral into unworthiness is harder than it is to go in. Sliding down merely requires succumbing to the voices telling you you’re an imposter and won’t amount to anything no matter how hard you try. Getting out often requires an almost physical wrench to disengage from the voices and begin the long, slow trek out of the pit of despair into which you’ve sunk.

One of the most difficult parts of emerging for me is remembering there are people out there who care about me. That I do have people I can call who won’t see my need for help, or maybe just a good kick in the butt as in imposition, or worse, an added burden to their already challenging lives. Some things from my childhood are buried so deeply, it takes an earthquake level shakeup in my life for me to even recognize them.

When the Imposition is in Trying Not to Impose

This time around, I realize feeling like I’m imposing if I ask someone for help, or to just listen comes from so far back I don’t even remember the point where it began. I only know I’m more than willing to listen and possibly help if one of my friends is hurting and needs to unburden themselves. But if I’m the one who’s hurting and feels like the load has become too heavy to bear, I find it nearly impossible to reach out and ask for a steady shoulder or a listening ear.

My friends have given me hell about it on countless occasions, and I am getting better about asking for help, when it’s something physical like repairing something at the house. When it’s personal, emotional, and probably irrational, I seal myself in like a clean room in a science lab. I convince myself nobody cares if I’m struggling. Nobody wants to hear I’m not perfectly fine. Above all, no one wants to deal with me when I’m a weepy, soggy mess.

I’m the first to tell you it’s important to allow your friends to help you sometimes, just as you allow them

to need you. I say a lot of wise things I don’t follow myself. But in my defense, when I’m feeling really down like I have the last week or so, I manage to convince myself there’s no one in my life who really cares enough to let me fall apart on their watch. I start feeling detached from the crowd even when I’m doing one of my favorite things in the world with some of the kindest, most compassionate people I know; the dance community. Without a conscious thought, I remove my broken and battered self from their exalted sphere, not physically, but by erecting the walls I thought I’d destroyed long ago.

Our Misguided Sense of Safety

I’ve mastered the art of hovering on the edges, taking in the warmth and love everyone exchanges amongst themselves, but allowing none of it to reach my own needy heart. It’s all part of the long-held belief of undeserving. I know it’s wrong. I know it’s stupid. I know more than one of them would be over here, giving me crap if they knew I was returning to my inner hermit again. Yet still that voice inside me says “no, don’t bother them. They’re too busy to bother with you. They only like to be around you when you’re cheerful and positive.”

You, me, and anyone else who listens to that voice for even a nanosecond needs to tell it to STFU. It’s insidious and evil. It doesn’t care about anyone but itself, and thrives on our misery. The less we think of ourselves, the happier it becomes.

As my friend and mentor, Linda Clay says “we can’t be positive all the time.” I might add, it’s exhausting to always see the sunny side of things and never have moments when we let go of our Pollyanna exterior and pull out those insecurities and weak points. We need to learn to look at them a little more dispassionately is all. See them as specimens under a microscope instead of gigantic monsters hiding in the closet, waiting for a moment of inattention to bite off a leg or an arm.

We all have times when we just can’t get up the energy to show our positive side to the world. In my case, it’s when I pull out the masks without even thinking (another remnant of my childhood) and hide my pain behind a face that says “everything is perfectly OK. Don’t look too closely though. This face isn’t much more than paper and glue.”

Our Real, Imperfect Self is the Most Beautiful Person We Can Be

I use this forum not only to rip off my own masks and expose the dark and gnarly interior, but to let you, my readers know you don’t have to hide your imperfections. Whether you show them or not, your friends and some family know you have them. In fact, they’d appreciate it if you let them see those imperfections once in a while. It’s awfully hard keeping up with someone who always acts like life is one happy party. Life is a combination of good parts and crappy parts. Why share only half of yourself? What kind of friend holds back the most interesting parts anyway?

With a Grateful Heart

  1. I am grateful there are people in my life who recognize my downward spirals won’t stop without intervention.
  2. I am grateful for the opportunity to help other people, even if it’s only by showing my own warts.
  3. I am grateful for my writing which has kept my sanity loosely attached for many decades.
  4. I am grateful words are flowing from my pen again, even if they’re not the project I feel I should be working on.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; friendships I don’t always believe I deserve, a daughter who loves me even at my ugliest, my cats who never judge, but always comfort, the roof over my head, the food in my belly, and the possibilities I can’t yet envision.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, Virtual Assistant and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. She specializes in creating content that helps entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers/clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author

Fear of Exposure: Do We Avoid Success Because We’re Afraid We Can’t Deliver?

Repetitive Failure is a Pattern That Can Be Broken

Whenever I find myself stuck at some point in my life, I tend to take a step back and try to figure out what is blocking my forward progress. In other words, I sift through what held me back in a similar fashion before.

At this point, with a career move that is clearly not going as I’d envisioned, I’ve spent considerable time dredging through my mental file cabinets for answers. Answers because no matter how dire my circumstances became, I always found a way out of them. Perhaps the direction I found wasn’t optimal but it always got me moving forward again.

What I’ve dredged up this time, however,  is a deep and hoary mess. It seems I’m hindered by something from my childhood, a time when I first started believing I wasn’t good enough. Of course I didn’t come up with the idea all by myself. The truth is I consistently disappointed my mom. I didn’t have musical talent like my sister. I was socially awkward like so many introverts so her dream of having a popular child to live through was quashed. I was slightly overweight, though to hear her tell it, I was morbidly obese. Eventually I just stopped trying to please her.

Though I was accepted by the two local universities I applied to, I just managed to get by and it wasn’t until years later that I finally earned my bachelors degree in a field far different from where I started.

Fast forward to today. I’ve spent the last 4 years and most of my financial resources trying to create a new career path doing what I love, but I seem to just be shooting myself in the foot. Now, I feel I’m being forced to fall back on what I knew and fell into all those years ago.

Rooting Out the Troublemakers With Vulnerability

So what’s the underlying problem, you might ask?

Despite over a million words I’ve written in the last few years both online and for my own writing projects, I haven’t been published anywhere that’s considered a reputable source. Not only to myself but to the world in general, I’m still a disappointment; a fraud. I haven’t stopped living down to the expectations I set when I gave up on ever making my mom proud.

I know on a conscious level that it’s all crap; that I’m smart and talented and insightful. But that inner voice, despite my best efforts is stopping me in my tracks. Whenever I try to grow past my limitations it calls me out for the fraud it still needs me to be. The question is, how do I put that nasty, destructive, hypercritical, and above all, wrong voice to rest for good and actually start living up to my potential rather than down to my old, outdated expectations?

I believe the most important part, albeit the hardest is to let my vulnerability show. I’m used to making it on my own, taking care of myself, and being strong. But I’m learning (through my writing, of course) that being strong is a concept I’ve misunderstood most of my life. It isn’t about doing everything yourself and holding the world at arm’s length. It’s not about wearing a facade that says everything is hunky dory when it isn’t anything of the sort.

Misconceptions About Strength

Being strong is a willingness to ask for help. It’s not being afraid to let people see that you can’t do it all by yourself. And it’s definitely not crawling deep into your cave, and pulling the door closed behind you when fear is crushing you and tears are too close to the surface for comfort.

Strength lies instead in sharing your fears and accepting comfort. It’s in letting people help you find a way out of your latest abyss. Most of all, it’s being willing to admit that you are not an island in and of yourself and that not only can you give comfort and support, but you can receive it as well.

This was one of my most difficult lessons. I always saw my dad as the strong one and my mom as the weak one. But as I’ve written my million or so words, I’ve had many epiphanies. The most surprising was the realization that the strong one in my parents’ relationship was actually the one who seemed the weakest. Mom may have worn a lot of masks, but she also knew how to ask for help from her friends, at least on certain levels. She did, on occasion let people see her vulnerable side. To my knowledge, Dad kept his well-hidden about 98% of the time.

Being Strong and Fearless As I Was Meant to Be

Admittedly, I’m still learning this lesson. Last night, my friend Kristal told me to be strong, and I said I didn’t feel strong at all. But she’s right. In letting her and other friends see me when I’m losing control instead of hiding until I can keep my false front in place, I’m exhibiting the strength I’m finally realizing. And where better to learn it than from a fellow dancer. We’re at our best when we put everything we have out on the floor. I guess this is true of most creatives; singers, writers, artists—we do our best work when we’re transparent and let all the crazy, messy emotions come out in our art.

I feel right now like I have a long way to go to climb out of the hole which is mostly of my own creation and a lot more tears to shed in the process. But I am also embracing this new version of strength which is so much more fulfilling than the version I used to embrace.

Finding Gratitude in the Everyday

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the lessons I’ve learned which taught me a much better definition of strength.
  2. I am grateful for the friends I’ve made since I broke the hard shell in which I’ve been encased and merely existing for decades.
  3. I am grateful for the tears which flow so easily right now. They are cleansing and cathartic, even if a bit embarrassing.
  4. I am grateful for my dance friends who have taught and given me so much more than I can ever repay. (and this is all friends who dance, not just the ones I dance with. Something about dancers; they understand the unspoken and give so much!)
  5. I am grateful for abundance; friendship, words, inspiration, motivation, agitation, upheaval, strength, growth, success, freedom, well-paying clients, imagination, dreams, love, health, peace, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

Today I share an extremely open and emotional post from An Upturned Soul

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, Virtual Assistant and advocate for cats. She believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. She is available for article writing and ghost writing to help your website and the business it supports grow and thrive. She specializes in finding and expressing your authentic self. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information.

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