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

Posts tagged ‘friendship’

You Gotta Have Friends

True Friends Came Late In Life

There’s nothing like forced isolation to make you realize how important it is to have, not just friends, but close friends. When you don’t have the option of going out to your usual haunts to hang with friends, sharing a mutually loved activity like dancing, life becomes an endless slog from one faceless day to the next without people to talk to via phone, text, Zoom, or Facetime.

You need people who understand your weird sense of humor, recognize when you’re not your normal, perky self, and can ask the tough questions without judgement or expectations. But if you’d told me this 20 years ago; even 15, I’d probably have argued it was true for some people, but not for me. Was I ever wrong!

Leave out the part about friends giving me things to write about (which they do quite often). Without my friends, I’d be spending a lot more sleepless nights, my yard would be more of a jungle than it is right now, I’d be at least 10 pounds heavier, and I might even be so depressed I’d be at a loss for reasons to get up in the morning. The good news is, none of those things are true.

The Give and Take of Real Friendship

Sure, my yard will require a lot more work before it looks decent again, much less until it’s readyCreated with Canva to plant vegetables and herbs. But because of friends, I not only have tools to make the job easier, but someone who is more than happy to get out of the house and do a little mowing fairly often. The dandelions cringe when they hear the mower firing up, as they know it’s time to have their little heads shorn yet again.

My friends also give me a mirror in which to see areas in myself that still need work. They allow me to help them, even if all I do is listen. It’s hard enough for me to accept help, but if I didn’t have opportunities to give back, you can be sure I’d refuse all offerings. Thankfully, I’ve finally learned, if not to ask, at least to accept help gracefully. I know right now, everyone needs to do some giving, if only to break up days that allow boredom to raise its ugly head if the monotony isn’t broken somehow, even if it involves physical labor.

Not that physical labor is a bad thing with dance halls, gyms, and hiking trails closed for the time being. The first couple of weeks, my body ached in all the wrong places because I spent too much time sitting on my butt in front of the computer or TV. My friends have helped me get out from in front of the computer, and turn the TV on only late at night, and then, mostly for noise and kitty cuddles.

Cultivating Friendships While Socially Distancing

Created with CanvaThey’ve given me dance nights, evenings on the porch having socially distanced conversations, hilarious Facetime conversations, and more. I’m learning to enjoy yard work, and heaven knows, it’s been years since I picked up a rake or a cultivator. (I think that’s what the 3-pronged thingamjig is called.) I’m delighting in the sight, smell, and feel of good, rich soil in my garden-gloved fingers.

Many nights, I don’t have to eat dinner alone in front of the TV as I have a friend to sit with, even if we have to bundle up a bit against the still-chilly evenings. Speaking of which, I’m getting a lot more fresh air than I used to too. I’m finding a lot more reasons to get outside, even if I’ve stopped walking while there are too many people out and about for my liking. I’ve acquired a new appreciation for my large yard, and the fact that my house was built at a time when land in this area was cheap, and builders saw no reason not to give homeowners a nice plot of land.

My friends keep me humble, and let me laugh at my own foibles. We have our inside jokes, and often laugh like loons over the same ones. They also help me see my own value which I’m wont to underestimate, or even disparage when left to my own devices. They build me up when I need a lift, or take me out of myself to do the same for them. Life may not be perfect, but it’s a lot closer to it, knowing I’m never alone.

No Longer Walking Through Life Alone

Knowing someone has your back, and will check on you if you’re out of touch for too long is a new, but heady experience for me. I know it seems odd for someone to learn so late in life the value of friendship. But the person I was raised to be, and who never questioned what I’d been taught in some areas wasn’t big on connecting with people. She didn’t feel comfortable letting anyone see her soft, mushy insides. She hid it all behind a thick crust; a wall that by her mid-40’s had achieved epic proportions.

What I didn’t realize then was it was mostly a facade, and one with a network of fine cracks to boot. It didn’t take much of an effort on my part to send it crashing down, though I learned the hard way I didn’t have a stable foundation to build on once I’d removed the vaguely protective layer. I was basically a newborn chick whose feathers were still wet, but I lacked the safety and security of a mama to protect me.

Looking back, it was a stepping stone I needed to tread, and it taught me not only to let people in, but how to be and have friends. There are moments I wish I’d learned the lesson sooner as it would have made my life and its many traumas a whole lot easier. Then I come to my senses and realize all those pieces; all the traumas I lived through alone; all the struggles I endured are what make me value and appreciate my friendships today. I never got the chance to take them for granted, and I don’t think I ever will. What I experienced was necessary, and wishing it were different won’t change that. So I push aside thoughts of what might have been and simply bask in the glow of something that, for me, is new, different, and makes me infinitely greater than I am alone.

Finding an Endless List of Reasons to be Grateful

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for the people who accept me as I am and allow me to call them “friend”.
  2. I’m grateful for the lessons I’ve learned, and the roads I had to travel alone to get where I am now.
  3. I’m grateful for broken, twisted roads.
  4. I’m grateful for sunshine, rainbows, storms, and clouds. All of one thing would get boring, and I’d become complacent. Variety keeps me on my toes.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; friendship, love, joy, commitment, compassion, kindness, health, companionship, hope, health, peace, harmony, balance, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a Holistic 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

Never Take Acceptance for Granted

Unconditional Acceptance

acceptanceAfter many decades, I’ve finally found my tribe; my people; the ones who accept me in spite of my faults—or maybe even because of them. Still, I have moments when I wonder if it’s all a dream, and I’ll wake up on the outside like I was for so many years.

Granted, during those years, I was a chameleon; pretending to be what I thought others wanted to see. I didn’t have the confidence to just be me. I’d been knocked down too many times when I did. Many of the wounds were still open, and the pain came back if I so much as moved a little too far to the right or left. I learned to hide everything inside, and unknowingly made the wounds worse, and in fact, kept them from healing over and thickening my hide a bit.

I was what my parents and family called a “sensitive child”, and believe me, it was not a compliment. Sensitivity and overt emotions were frowned upon in my family. The punishment was ridicule and public humiliation. Yet hard as I tried, I always seemed to be the butt of someone’s cruel joke. What I didn’t know then, but understand better now is, I was a reminder of everything they worked so hard to keep from showing. In a way, they were probably envious I hadn’t yet learned to stuff it all down inside. That would come later. Perhaps they even believed punishing me would ease their own frustration.

Telling Myself Little White Lies to Blend In

I managed to convince myself my family accepted me, and that the ridicule was their way of showing it. I was half right anyway. My dad’s side, especially, only knew how to show they cared by teasing. The trouble was, the teasing managed to hit my pain points dead on more often than not.

Mom’s family was a bit more direct. They went right for the jugular; the things I was most sensitive about: my weight, my complexion, and my inability to measure up to the talents and skills of my sister and cousins. I grew up believing I could never get it right. I thought a was the family black sheep, when in truth, I was the one with rainbow splattered wool woven with moonbeams. In a world of subdued sepia tones doing their best to blend in, I was a beacon who stood out, threatening their safe, unremarkable world.

Over the years, I’ve learned blending in is easy as long as you are OK with losing your individuality and uniqueness. I truly tried, but there was clearly a spark inside me which refused to be dimmed, though heaven knows many tried. But that spark required self-confidence and courage to be able to un-apologetically shine. Traits I lacked for the better part of my life. At least I came to believe I did.

A Spark of Individuality That Insisted on Shining

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-9BUEVEvery time I’d push my unique, sensitive self down, it would find a way to pop back up, sending sprouts in different directions, scouting for the ones who’d accept the crazy, colorful mosaic that was my true self. I’d whitewash the heck out of it, and stomp down all the little runners, but somehow, some of them survived. The whitewash was swept away by tears and the storms which punctuated my life, and, though milder now, occasionally still do.

There came a day when I was no longer content with isolation; no longer willing to stuff my feelings away. I broke the urn containing my colorful self, and unlocked the box containing all my unprocessed feelings. I allowed anger, fear, guilt, resentment, and all of my ugliest feelings to run out until I sat for awhile in a sea of blackness.

Then came all the joy I hadn’t allowed myself to feel over simple things; a cat’s purr, a butterfly flitting past me on a warm Spring day; a child’s happy laughter. So many things I’d allowed to be buried under the worst feeling of all: unworthiness. It was then I took the first step towards being accepted. I accepted myself as I was; the crazy colors, and the darkest hollows. I opened a door I’d kept securely bolted because I’d been taught to open it was to invite catastrophe.

A Price to High to Pay

I look back now and realize my parents paid the highest price of all for keeping their own doors self lovebolted. They were utterly alone behind those bolted doors. No one knew them well enough to understand their darkness; their need for a light to guide them out when they fell in too deeply to get out by themselves. In fact, I suspect the few times someone got close enough to see the demons lurking in the darkness, they pushed them away.

I remember my mom ending friendships over the years for reasons I couldn’t fathom. Were they people who tried to reach her in the darkness? Did fear make her repel them, and eject them from her life before they got any closer? Was the possibility she’d be accepted in her entirety too frightening to consider? Or did it not even cross her mind anyone could accept what she’d been taught to believe was a horrible, even evil part of herself?

Or was their version of acceptance simply too foreign? She’d taught me what she learned from her own family: love equals abuse. Kindness isn’t to be trusted, as it surely hides a snake ready to bite you in the butt and steal your soul.

Learning to Tease Gently

https://www.flickr.com/photos/chrishuggins/4675505957/in/photolist-88ac2F-8LnEVQ-r3ZSnA-rkryn2-dEHqQa-buZGL5-9NXU2Q-uQd4Gi-8HtvkK-brtvSa-mc16EB-zKaXu-mayYKi-LpBQx-24Q2uC3-5fjkkg-eJzqz-di4zr7-di4Cts-9d5Zj3-9SKTfn-FCdjdz-f5wwhN-XjXzMf-9P5vA2-kVMXd9-47aeuC-zNAvV-dZ5cLv-5P5kRq-5z3cp5-7fRw8n-Ad6nP2-fjj4VF-nPSwLg-GUXa92-ERVZat-YW3tj5-sgc13A-xYkggi-SwjMJA-K74gKR-qod9ho-evhnbP-5mpBv5-v38BL4-26QXWnW-nCnBUo-JSkWR-88acaPIn my minds eye, I see my parents now as haunted souls, afraid to let even those closest to them inside their tightly guarded walls. They tried to teach me, but while I managed a semblance on the outside, my insides were churning; demanding an ultimate melt down and release. I can only be grateful my melt downs were less extreme than those of my parents or my aunt. I managed to keep functioning enough to raise my kids, hold down a job, and pay my bills. If I was socially awkward, it was because I didn’t know how to get along with people who weren’t constantly putting me down.

I still have friends who tease each other back and forth. I wasn’t going to stray completely from what I knew. The difference is, the teasing is light-hearted and silly rather than pointed and painful. We find humor in our humanness, not in our weakness. The humor isn’t one-sided, but shared by all concerned. My friends make me feel like the times I trip and fall are shared. We all stumble. We all make mistakes, and sometimes do foolish things. Picking each other up and finding humor in the situation takes away the sting instead of adding to it.

A Family Forged With Our Broken Parts

My circle; my family; my community are different these days. Everyone has been broken at one 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-h7171rtime or another, but have found ways to get back up and keep going. At the heart of it all is a level of acceptance I never before experienced. Each of us is accepted because we allow our imperfections to show; because we openly admit we don’t have all the answers or get it right every time.

Each of us had struggled with parents, siblings, or children, or maybe all three. Not one of us has had a life of ease without a single trauma. Most of all, the challenges we’ve faced haven’t made us weak or less than. They’ve simply made us human. Sharing those traumas makes us relatable to the others. It’s something my birth family never figured out. They insulated themselves to the point of isolation. Somehow I knew from early childhood I needed to learn a different way, even though it meant ultimately disconnecting from my own family.

Today, I value and appreciate those who accept my imperfect self far more than I ever did those who loved me into existence. What they knew could only take me so far. The rest, I had to figure out on my own until I connected with those who could and do take me farther than I ever dreamed I’d go.

Gratitude for Learning to Accept My Differences

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the friendships I’ve formed by allowing my imperfections to show.
  2. I am grateful for the opportunity to share what I’ve learned with a hearty dose of compassion.
  3. I am grateful for a life that’s very different from the one I imagined when I was young.
  4. I am grateful for an amazing, supportive family, very few of whom are by blood.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; joy, friendship, compassion, support, opportunities, motivation, inspiration, peace, harmony, balance, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a Holistic 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

Making Perception Match the Changed Self

Your Own Perception Can Be More Enemy Than Friend

I’ve spent a lot of time in the last decade or two undoing a lot of my early conditioning and beliefs. I truly like the me I’ve become in the process, but didn’t realize I’d skipped a huge step in my internal renovations. While I’d changed how I presented myself to the word, and shown more of my perfectly imperfect self, I’d failed to alter my thinking regarding how others perceived me.

In other words, deep inside, I still believed people saw me as the reserved, closed off woman who never let anyone see her flaws, and as a result was unapproachable and cold. Though I’ve been enjoying the connection with other people, I had yet to truly believe others saw me as someone they looked forward to seeing, or felt comfortable with. The job of becoming a warmer, more compassionate person was only half done because I was unable to see how much I’d changed not only in how I felt about me, but in how others saw me too.

Realization began to dawn when I did one of those personality games on Facebook. The result I got is in the image. I shared it with the comment “this one made me laugh”. To my surprise, a woman I’d met in the last year or so commented that she agreed with the result. Not  only that, she said I put her at ease. Of course, I was touched, but I was also stunned. Someone feels comfortable with me, and thinks I put them at ease? How can that be? My inner voice started clamoring.

But that wasn’t the end of it. Someone else I only get to see occasionally told me they always look forward to seeing me, and made it clear we have a connection that goes both ways. Wow! It seems I’ve been so focused on my inner work, I’d completely missed seeing how much it was becoming a part of my outer self as well.

Letting Others Decide What They Think

I realize you never really know how you’re perceived unless someone comes out and tells you, Created with Canvabut it’s become abundantly clear I haven’t learned to believe people are truly and honestly happy to see me and include me in their lives. I’ve been so used to being on the outskirts of any group, or worse, tolerated, I failed to recognize it was no longer true. Deep down, I’m still waiting for that moment when I say or do something wrong, and am back on the outside looking in.

There’s a position on the Celtic Cross Tarot spread I’ve used for years entitled “how others see you”. I’m learning I have a lot of work to do as far as reading this one correctly. My inner child spent long years believing she could never belong; that she was destined to be an outsider for the rest of her life.

It didn’t matter how many positive changes I made. They would all be for me, and would go unnoticed, even by those I called “friend”; not because I was still trying to fit in instead of being myself, but because I’d falsely accepted a role as an outsider, and never realized I’d been projecting my insecurities and false beliefs on the people around me. Just as I’ll occasionally hear an inner dialogue where someone I see is viewing all my imperfections with disgust, when they’re likely thinking nothing of the sort, and probably, aren’t aware of me at all, I put thoughts based on my lifelong insecurities into the unknowing, unwilling minds of my friends and acquaintances.

Learning to Set Judgement Aside

https://www.flickr.com/photos/jfolsom/5931303869/in/photolist-a38tZP-dmn34H-a7FwQm-antZ2h-bwzwuR-5stPPH-6EsqoX-T4qUgL-4hmxbh-8MJPmb-fEFoSF-kCt71i-2ikr4t-8MF532-WNwMjy-8tMnKX-fEFoGg-fEXXd7-afuD1a-8MEuUF-95Mr5j-dySrRf-bfNhFR-9oSxoh-5WgF4Q-8MHZfC-7VroTL-9PiLGB-oaW3YQ-K4CQFx-8YSrLp-mSLwB-7VqeAh-5hfnTx-KfhXca-e3u44f-99b5UG-7BeZaD-8MHAVw-kAEoL3-6qZ9C6-5thpD3-ai9p7Z-9gCot5-o8bKtB-5W8sPu-85jA66-6PCR9M-bJ7tue-97oqD4While I’m honored, blessed, and grateful for what is clearly a much more positive impact than I gave myself credit for, I’m a bit ashamed for misjudging the people I started attracting when I stopped trying so hard to fit in, and began letting them see who and what I truly am.

Like everything else in life, I know things happen for a reason, and in their own time. This is no chicken and egg situation. I had to make the changes in myself first. The next step is learning to believe the effort I’ve put into making those changes is clearly visible to those who’ve given me a chance to not only be my authentic self, but to belong for the first time in my life. In truth, I need to have a lot more faith in the people who are in my world now by choice. Not one of them is the cruel, unhappy person I used to attract, not because I found comfort there, but because I attracted what fit my own self-image.

Given the Chance, People Will Surprise You

In the past, I was constantly surprised (and not pleasantly) by how mean and hurtful people could be. Today, the people I know and love surprise me with the depths of compassion and acceptance they constantly exhibit without hesitation or prejudice.

I’m still fumbling around; dismissing some who deserve my compassion and openness, trusting some who don’t. I’m working hard to be more trusting and accepting. I feel better about myself, and frankly, the amount of damage those who don’t deserve my trust can do these days is minimal, and easily cast off. I know their unkindness is a reflection of their own pain, and is neither personally directed at me, nor even conscious all the time. I keep my bucket of imaginary heart- or star-shaped confetti handy for those people, and administer it abundantly.

I’m also working on that inner dialogue that erroneously sees others remarking on those flaws to which I continue to give overmuch credit in my own head. I’m learning no matter how much you do to change your beliefs of yourself, the job isn’t complete until you stop allowing yourself to believe others still see the person you used to be. Sometimes, that’s the toughest change of all.

 

Looking at the World With a Grateful Heart

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for friends who offer feedback which debunks my own mistaken beliefs.
  2. I’m grateful for the people who are attracted to the new, authentic person I’ve worked so hard to become.
  3. I’m grateful for being proven wrong.
  4. I’m grateful for a warm, loving, compassionate community which opened its arms to me without judgement, reservations, or expectations.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; friendship, love, joy, compassion, lessons, dancing, energy, opportunities, motivation, inspiration, peace, health, prosperity, and philanthropy.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a Holistic 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

Christmas: Healing and Moving Forward

Healing: My Greatest Miracle

Christmas this year brings up a lot of emotions. I can’t help thinking back to last year when my entire community and family were reeling, not only from the murder of 12 amazing members of our dance family, but the brutal wild fires that ripped through our area the next day, leaving many temporarily displaced or homeless.

If that wasn’t enough, I lost my sweet Munchkin; another victim to feline lymphoma. Needless to say, it wasn’t much of a Christmas around here. I didn’t even go to my daughter’s as I usually do.

But it’s another year. A lot of healing has occurred; a lot of joy has been found in connections, new dance venues, and shifting priorities. New friendships have formed, and old ones have strengthened. Many of my friends are now couples as they’ve let go of old beliefs and embraced love and connection. Before you ask, I’m still flying solo, at least for the moment.

Embracing Change

This has been a year for making changes, most of them internally. I’ve focused on writing more, and putting my work out into a wider arena. I’ve gone out into the world to dance in venues new to me, though apparently, old news to many of my dance family. In the process, I’ve even reconnected with old friends.

So often, tragedy brings people together, though in my experience, it’s often temporary. Though it’s flung my dance family far and wide, in the general scheme of things, I believe it’s brought us closer together too. We saw how quickly things could change, realized how important we are to each other, and how much joy we share. We learned how much we’d taken things for granted, despite losing several of our clan in the last few years to cancer, suicide, and more.

Every day; every hour; every minute is truly a gift, whether it’s spent alone, with our pets, or with a person or people we love. The hugs I’ve always loved giving and receiving take on a whole new level of importance now; a new sweetness in the exchange. The person I’m hugging may need the hug more than I know. Life might be kicking their butt while they show the world a smiling face.

Allowing Myself to Need Other People

healing with hugsOr I might be the one needing that hug while wearing a smile. It doesn’t really matter. The hugs are heartfelt and filled with love no matter what, and the exchange makes the worlds of all participants brighter. In a lot of ways, it makes the whole world brighter as we add another injection of love and joy to help push back the darkness.

Light and dark can’t inhabit the same space any more than two physical objects or beings can. The more light we create through our actions and thoughts, the less room we leave for the darkness which creeps insidiously into any crack or crevice it can find.

Being a Light in the Darkness

I don’t know anyone who hasn’t spent time in a dark place thinking they were all 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-9BUEValone in their sadness; their misery. Many come out of it on their own, but the process of emerging back into a place of light and joy is expedited by the love and care of others. I read stories all the time of people who emerged on their own, and I’m one of them.

Am I proud I managed to emerge on my own without help? Not really. I’m grateful, but not really proud of eschewing all help and keeping other people out for as many years as I did. Granted, I didn’t know any better. It’s how I was raised. How my parents, and probably their parents before them were raised too. Perhaps there was a time when keeping struggles within was necessary for survival, but that time is long gone. Yet I had to figure that out for myself.

What I can say is I’ve made a lot more progress not only leaving my own darkness behind, but finding and exuding joy since I began allowing others to help, even if it was something as simple as a heartfelt hug. Then again, is a heartfelt hug that simple?

A Hug is Powerful Medicine

I still have friends who struggle with giving heart and soul to a hug. They’ll give a little scratch on the back, or a quick squeeze. I get it. It’s an intimate act when you put everything into it. Some aren’t ready to open themselves up that way. Others do it selectively. I’m selective about it myself, only going all in when I feel safe with someone.

Nonetheless, the mere act of hugging, whether full on, or with reservations is an act of love and trust. Like love and trust, we all give it when and where we feel comfortable doing it. I certainly don’t open my heart to everyone (except maybe on these pages where I’m safe behind my screen), and don’t expect others to either.

Sharing those intimate pieces of ourselves takes courage. I certainly have my share of trust issues after getting burned many times before I shut down completely. But like a butterfly emerging from its chrysalis, I’ve slowly learned to attract people I can trust enough to allow them to see my pure, unadulterated self.

Sure, it’s been a rocky road where I trusted a few I shouldn’t have, but each time I’ve retreated, it hasn’t been as far, nor for as long as it used to be. The value of evolution is learning when and where to trust, but also how to heal more quickly when I misplace that trust.

The Mating Game Goes On Around Me

It also means I can feel joy for friends who’ve found a mate without feeling envy https://www.flickr.com/photos/34167287@N05/23787059822/in/photolist-CeYUa5-f3skzG-26xyyFN-8Uqt6v-7RUJnT-5631Bv-9KzjET-otM3UU-9KC7p3-6EcqkE-rtobLr-5xx9XP-7Bj5nM-4JDZ1E-21oAHiQ-7Csyge-7YZVSv-7Z4a4L-7Z4a5b-4Btbxi-5m1iya-i54aYC-4BxARm-i54aXq-YA2ERd-4kmex7-WgVGRw-8GceK9-i548Lu-6m1sit-ospDf4-58cZtS-i54b7d-ggwmL-cKWfHj-bg5Uu-bsSgAg-8GcvXA-q68RzV-4fFkFc-e3cS7q-aQ7Ph-bg8hZ-q6pHnG-4VXWUt-dYksek-277AbZE-4VWArR-4VXUXR-2b2aNGJas well. There was a time I’d tell myself I was meant to be alone, and that I was OK with the idea. I’m starting to release that notion, though it’s happening in small steps.

First, I can see myself in a committed relationship, but still maintaining separate households and a fair amount of time alone. I recognize I need the space not only to recharge, but to create. I can start a draft of something in a crowd, but to truly get into the writing zone, I need ample time in my own company when I don’t feel obliged to give someone else my attention.

Whoever is meant to come into my life in that capacity will need to understand and accept that aspect of me. More, he’ll need the same kind of space. Hopefully, the timing of those needs will coincide at least part of the time.

Second, I realize I could go further, faster with regular encouragement, and even a kick in the butt or two. I’d love to have someone in my life who recognized that and was there to drag me out of those periods of sloth I sometimes fall into—far more often than I care to admit.

And third, I no longer see myself as an island who stands free and strong alone. I know I need people; not to make me whole, but to round out my life and world. I don’t feel envy for my coupled up friends because the person each of them is with is perfect for them, not me. I do feel a certain amount of wistfulness if only because I still have trouble picturing myself in the arms of someone who loves and cherishes me the way I want and need to be loved and cherished.

Learning to Love and Be Loved

I guess in some ways I am caught up in old patterns when I turned myself inside out to keep a dysfunctional relationship going longer than necessary. I’m a little afraid I’ll do that again, though I like to think I know better now.

Once again, I’ve talked myself around in a weird kind of circle. What I’ve learned in the last year is how much we all deserve to be loved and cherished, and how much better alone is than being in a one-sided relationship. In the last year, I’ve had the privilege of seeing a lot of beautiful relationships grow and thrive, as well as getting a closer look at those which have lasted decades.

The examples of the last year are slowly pushing the old, broken ones I learned from my birth family away; replacing dysfunctional with warm, loving, and beautiful. I’m honored to have the opportunity to see so much love first-hand, though somewhat saddened it took a series of tragedies to open my eyes and heart enough to see and appreciate what’s been there all along.

With Heartfelt Gratitude for All I Know and Love

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for friendships which have deepened and grown.
  2. I’m grateful for life’s earthquakes which shake old, broken parts loose for good.
  3. I’m grateful for hugs.
  4. I’m grateful I’ve found people to accept and love me as I am, broken, clumsy, and awkward as I might be at times. Who know I’m still learning how to be human, and don’t hold it against me.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love, joy, friendship, hugs, acceptance, compassion, understanding, giving, receiving, dancing, new beginnings and endings in their time, peace, harmony, health, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a Holistic 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

Embracing My Flaws

My Flaws Hold My Uniqueness

I get inspiration from many things. Today, it’s a post from a friend who shared a picture of a gorgeous heart-shaped necklace she got in Greece. Like me, she sees the beauty in a flawed stone.

It reminded me I am drawn more to imperfect or “flawed” stones when I choose my crystals, just as I’ve learned, albeit late in life to appreciate imperfections not only in myself, but in the people with whom I surround myself. Putting on a perfect face isn’t a sign of strength at all, and in the long run, it isn’t sustainable.

No one is without flaws, and in fact, they make each person unique, interesting, and approachable. The masks people affect to hide those flaws in the mistaken belief they’re ugly and offensive are worn at a cost no one would willingly assume, were that cost clearly marked on the masks and walls.

Releasing Outdated Beliefs

For decades, I believed what I was “supposed to”; flaws were ugly, and showing my flaws or struggles, much less a tear or honest emotion meant I was weak. It meant I was often fair game as a target for others who were also trying to hide flaws and weaknesses from the world.

Like a well-trained monkey, I hid my own fears and kept my tears deep inside, little realizing each time I did, a small piece of myself broke off and crumbled into the dust which formed my foundation; a dust even a light tremor stirred up by the time I was 40. By then, my entire foundation was unstable layers; the dust of broken and unfulfilled dreams, friendships based on false faces hiding massive insecurities, and a disappointing life where only the love of my children was certain. Even that was, in one case, only temporary. Once she reached the edge of adulthood and began making her own mistakes and choices, that love, too was conditional, until I was no longer willing to meet the conditions.

It took a few more years, but when I began sweeping away all the accumulated dust, I discovered there was still a firm base to build on. For awhile, I narrowed my focus; self-love, smaller successes, and returning to my first love, writing. Hundreds of thousands of words later, I learned my flawed self wasn’t ugly at all. But I had a lot of fears to exhume and revisit before sharing those flaws finally led to real friendships with others who’d learned to find their true beauty in flaws instead of an unachievable perfection.

A Beautiful Mosaic Created from the Rubble

created with CanvaI see life now as a mosaic. I’ve built my life on false beliefs only to see the entire structure crumble before my eyes. I thought when things crumbled I had nothing left; no solid ground to stand on, and no more strength to rebuild. I was wrong.

Having everything crumble around me turned out to be the best experience of my life (once I got past the excruciating pain, of course!). Not everything dissolved into tiny motes of dust. Some simply broke into pieces. In their previous configurations, they’d already proven unstable, but what if I put them back together in a different order, using the love, connection, and compassion I’d gained as the grout which held those pieces together? What if some of the pieces I stuck together came from outside of me? In other words, what if I finally learned to ask for help?

I learned when I stand alone, depending only on myself to manage whatever life throws me, I do without a lot of things because I have no idea how to make them work. Just as I don’t know how to re-wire my house and need to depend on others, there are important aspects of my growth for which I have no experience, or even knowledge they exist, much less how important they might be to my overall construction. Until I interact with others, sharing both strengths and perceived weaknesses, I don’t know what I’m missing, or why my structure remains unstable.

One Woman’s Junk…

Many of my own broken pieces are of no further use to me, but to someone else, https://www.flickr.com/photos/funnybusiness/3503946843/in/photolist-87XXr1-87XZPQ-6kCDjB-2M1zdU-21ukmo7-o6vHsS-87ULKc-87XTkL-87Y3bu-87UGPM-87Y4kq-2EeDrw-7fF1mf-87Y8QS-9MnMAZ-DpnEKh-7kNkRC-87UZma-87Y5qAthey might be the piece they’ve been needing to give their own structure and foundation the stability they need to withstand life’s 7.5 earthquakes. In the process of sorting through my own rubble as well as that of others, I’ve not only cleared away what no longer serves me, but found everyone gets to find what’s needed to be strong, stable, and connected.

While I’ve learned we’re already connected energetically to everyone and everything on the planet (and perhaps beyond), the bond is further strengthened when I’ve incorporated pieces of others into my own foundation. My own strength and resilience may be lacking in some areas, whether it’s confidence, flexibility, or something else. My experiences make me stronger in some areas and weaker in others, as do those of every person I encounter.

Creating a mosaic with features from different people allows those missing strengths and resiliencies to permeate both structures; both foundations. What might have felled either person before might still put us under stress, but will no longer bring us down like a stack of cards. We reinforce each other more than emotionally.

Finding the Support I Need

Even when I need to fall back a few steps, I only go far enough to reach the support of those I’ve not only learned to trust with my naked, unadorned face but who know where my wings aren’t yet ready for a solo flight. Sometimes, I fall back with others who are being buffeted by their own storm. Together, we create a shelter where we’ll wait out the current storm and regain our individual strengths before setting out again, together, or apart, as needs dictate.

I know now, each time I fall back a few steps, I’m not losing ground. Instead, I’m gaining experience I’ll need in order to conquer the next challenge on my path. Sometimes I gain it by letting someone guide me, sometimes, when they allow me to do the guiding; proving to myself I’m stronger and wiser than I believe. 

My greatest weakness throughout my entire life was, and may always be my inability to entirely trust my own skills, talents, and abilities. I know where it began, but assess no blame. I needed to see where I gave myself too little credit before I could learn to trust. When the time has been right, a teacher always appeared.

The Teacher Appears When the Student I Ready

Whether it was learning to trust the visualizations I received concerning peoples’ auras, or what I was seeing when my healing talents began to emerge, people came into my life who could confirm what I was seeing or feeling. Ultimately, the gifts they gave me of trusting myself opened up my mind when meditating, getting a massage, and most of all, writing.

I stopped writing for years because I didn’t trust the stories in my head. I didn’t think I had the talent to make them interesting or even cohesive. I’d spent so much time telling myself what was coming out of my fingers was garbage, I didn’t allow what was inside begging for release to reach my fingers. Like so many creatives, I mistakenly believed it had to come out perfect the first time and tried to control every word.

What comes out of my fingers initially these days isn’t perfect, or anywhere close, nor is it as flawed as I once believed. bit it’s always from my heart. The real epiphany came when I realized that’s true of every one of us. No one is perfect. Perfection might be something to aspire to, but it is not the real destination. The real destination is learning to embrace what I perceive as flaws in myself and others, and to share pieces of myself to create a unique, powerful, radiant mosaic of people, experiences, compassion, and love.

Gratitude is my Strongest Feature

My gratitudes are:

  1. I’m grateful for the teachers who have come into my life when I needed them, and continue to arrive at the exact moment I need help learning a new lesson.
  2. I’m grateful for all the lessons I’ve learned, and those still to come.
  3. I’m grateful for the flaws which I’ve learned are not flaws at all, but beauty marks.
  4. I’m grateful for the friendships I’ve formed since I learned to remove the masks of perfection and be my real self.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; creativity, love, inspiration, motivation, friendship, joy, beautiful mosaics, community, peace, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a Holistic 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

Demons for My Overall Good

Recognizing Demons Are For My Own Good

https://www.flickr.com/photos/jslee/420574961/in/photolist-Dayhr-DaxXz-PH2XRJ-DaxBQ-6wyJCM-Q7Qs-Q7Q7-DaxQs-DaxK6-M5tZS-2etGoi-DaxLj-DayoW-cdfuY-DaxYZ-GRrsjX-Day3S-DZPnx-M5tYf-DaxuR-DaxHd-DaxAv-oPay9M-4VPXSt-56635o-DaxYn-DaxCk-Day1i-71dpo5-Day2u-Y62h-57R1nL-Day9y-6MtkU6-pHSVQ1-DaxqA-Days4-72V4qY-4P9zGm-Dayoh-7M8fgp-ptyCqq-Day4P-DaxRF-oP7HE7-DaxSB-DaxUT-Dayj8-5HDdsX-pttx4xI have my share of demons. They’ve grown out of the lessons I’ve learned and the mistakes I made learning them, my insecurities, and the times I’ve been hurt or slapped down. My mind has magnified some of them so they take on a life of their own when I’m at my weakest. Others are presented to me in technicolor glory when I think I least need to see them. But clearly I’m wrong as I always survive the visit; a little stronger and wiser for the experience.

Sometimes my demons are situational. I’m dumped ass first into a story I have to find my way out of using what I’ve learned previously. It’s a way of testing whether I learned the lesson well enough or I need another spin around the merry-go-round. Typically they come without any long-lasting emotional trauma.

Then there are the demons in human form. They sneak up on me, catching me when my guard is down. They earn my trust under false pretenses and embark on their own sinister game to see how much damage they can do before I figure out the game and pull out of something I can never hope to win. The odds are intentionally stacked against me, not out of malice as much as a test of my awareness and resilience.

A Warning Would be Nice

It would be nice if the demons in human form came with some kind of warning; glowing red https://www.flickr.com/photos/andrewmalone/2356413140/in/photolist-4AeewL-6ES3HA-VTd8P4-nXu85b-fzrS-ens7vC-5BeQL3-8ifuyk-pgu9hJ-9EjD99-WHSruQ-r9V4K1-bBptXU-oqGeq-58LxP-2gzW3S-fZx1ks-6ygo9B-5fQRwQ-cjdHDU-HaMQT-WxzyMz-eq7mdU-95UpbT-bYJXfd-4DMyEY-Tw5biF-8Dz2hm-Y1X5Mj-aEbAo-8cNsDh-Jh2VKF-22caxb5-N1Mzup-239JLXf-4nFd7o-6PrJ3Z-6WVShD-btbGoZ-ACUz-poZLWt-PvoDB-4oMwEC-jkU8qf-Qyf4bn-5QyTmd-6sThN9-n9hV6-gfvMZg-aYTgq4eyes, or maybe a cauldron of putrid slime. Instead, they look like normal people; someone you could trust to treat you right and never pull the rug out from under your feet just when you’ve begun to take for granted you’re on stable ground.

So what have I learned this time? Beware of people who accuse others of narcissism. Some have learned to use it as a smokescreen. As their stories about other people lean more and more toward them being the victim, or someone else mistreating them, look at the whole picture. Who is getting attention? Is it the person they’ve accused, or themselves? Are they hiding in a corner, or a flame surrounded by moths? What happens when one of their moths finds a new flame to follow, or simply wanders off on its own?

For most of us, losing touch with someone is something we take in stride. Life pushes us in different directions; towards some, away from others. It isn’t personal. It’s simply the ebb and flow of life’s tide. Beware those who take it as a personal affront, effecting punishment with either abuse or neglect; or worse, weaving stories in which you’re the latest villain.

Not Everyone’s Cup of Tea

It took me awhile, but I’ve finally learned there will always be people who decide to dislike me; some at first glance, and others after we hit some kind of snag in the fabric of our friendship. I know I’m an acquired taste, and no longer take it personally. Most people, including me sometimes make negative comments about others. I’m not proud of it, nor do I deny my own culpability. It’s neither right nor kind, and is one of those qualities I’m still working on.

Unfortunately, like most people, I’m also influenced to some degree by what the people I like and trust tell me. Like it or not, other people’s actions are colored by the stories I’m told, and not always fairly. Thus, I accept that some people are going to reject me based on what they, themselves have heard. I have to believe in some regard those demons I mentioned are doing me a favor. By making me their villain, they’re ensuring I don’t stumble into the path of more of their ilk. I only have to fight off a single zombie instead of an entire flock of flying monkeys.

This time around I’ve taken several stumbling steps backwards and set some new boundaries along the way. I’m putting more trust in my ability to shield out toxicity, and discovering a resiliency I wasn’t aware I’d developed. I’m finding much of that resiliency from the support of the people I’ve allowed into my world, and who’ve allowed me into theirs. I’ve learned following a runaway train might be exciting at first, but will invariably lead to a choice between jumping off and risking a few cuts and bruises, or flying into the abyss with the rest of the revelers when the whole thing goes down in flames.

Won’t Get Fooled Again…Or Will I?

As I try to avoid beating myself up over misinterpreting the message I saw clearly in the eyes, https://www.flickr.com/photos/moonjazz/4322051067/in/photolist-7zVDcR-5HMRtL-WXwZ4x-5HwZ1W-W8gjMg-cmRixy-6QT7w5-644Ln2-aqnYV4-t3u4Vo-a3fPm8-96X9E-661V8k-7imNtn-dyL2X1-pqPPxB-8ZBwzC-6aTwUf-8X7nVL-98Xpyp-91GcS5-8QFSZ3-8QCL54-8QCLjR-fD8pbT-fke9kC-8rt4if-6eLvkB-2fF3nDE-8QFRwq-8VvhHg-39jdZK-fjZ1WZ-fjZ1nc-fjZ1JR-6jPBns-TCH7H7-dKE42n-GhN8P-21yUcgH-d5ogN-616Soq-7L5RSL-fjZ1PX-94tRCT-fjZ1AB-fke9Qh-SZrAL7-5ZFHzH-jSKjmJ“Smiling Faces” by The Temptations runs on an endless loop in my head. Though the pain I saw in those eyes was real (after all, people do hurtful things to others because of their own pain), I allowed myself to overlook the blame attached to the pain which in hindsight was blatantly obvious in every instance. I allowed myself to be blinded to the repeating pattern, and their innocence in every single story because I wanted to believe in goodness and kindness.

Yet as I look back while dusting myself off and getting ready to jump back into whatever life brings me next time, I find the resentment and hurt fading quickly. I’m grateful for the innocence and naivete I’ve retained despite being stomped on over and over for trusting too quickly and believing there’s good in everyone…even demons. Perhaps there’ll be a time when I’ll get to help one find that goodness and release some of the pain they’ve been carrying around, ignorant to their option to put it down. Something in me insists I keep trying and giving the benefit of the doubt until proven otherwise.

I’m also grateful for the opportunity to see how quickly I rebounded. Each experience makes me stronger and more resilient. Yet it isn’t making me cynical. In a recent post on Facebook, I wrote:

I will help all I can, but I’ve learned you can’t help someone who does not want to be helped. You can only walk away and save yourself from absorbing their pain.

Still, I leave a piece of myself behind with each person I have to walk away from. I’ll always wish I could have done more, though I understand for them it was neither the right time, nor place. They came into my life for a reason, and we parted ways when that reason had been fulfilled—for both of us.

Something to be Grateful For, No Matter What Cards Life Deals

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful I haven’t allowed life’s lessons to take away my trust, my naivete, or my innocence.
  2. I’m grateful for the lessons I’ve survived and the strength I’ve found with each new challenge.
  3. I’m grateful for the supportive friends I’ve attracted. There was a time I didn’t feel I deserved them, and even now, I’m marvel at all the wonderful people in my life.
  4. I’m grateful for resilience and boundaries. Both have carried me through more than I realize.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love, friendship, joy, strength, support, community, opportunities, manifestations, motivation, inspiration, health, peace, harmony, 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

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

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