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Reflect Out Loud

"The unexamined life is not worth living." – Socrates

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acceptance

People Pleasing

“You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, yet there will still be people who hate peaches.” Vita Von Teese

I have been guilty of being a people pleaser. Often saying “yes” when I really mean “no.” Often putting the happiness of others over mine. I am guilty of wanting to make the whole world happy, because if I make everyone happy then everyone will love and accept me – and then maybe I’ll be happy. Even as I am writing this now, I am trying to please you, reader, by not making grammatical errors so that you will like and respect me. I am trying not to make mistakes, because if I make mistakes then I probably won’t be accepted and respected by you. Right?

From childhood, many of us are rewarded and praised for being “good” but punished and scolded for being “bad.” My mother, for instance, would punish me if I fidgeted in church because that was “bad” and rewarded me if I sat quietly and still because that was “good.” I was told to “act like a lady” and to “eat with your mouth closed” because that’s the “right” and “acceptable” way. I was praised when I behaved in accordance to my family’s values and lectured when I strayed from their world view. As we grow up, we become wired to believe that if we are good, whatever that means, then we will be rewarded and people will, praise, love and accept us. But if we are bad, whatever that means, then we will be punished and people will scold, hate and reject us. So how do we get love? By being “good,” whatever that means, to others.

Now this puts us in a bind for many reasons. We don’t all agree on what’s good or bad. Some of us find it good to be reserved and introverted, others find it good to be outgoing and extraverted. Some like chocolate others like vanilla. Some like Bush others like Clinton. And in the end, we find ourselves pleasing some while disappointing others no matter which choice we make. Additionally, when we live only to make others happy, we fail to be true to ourselves and consequently suffer.

We all want to be accepted in some way or another – by someone or another. It hurts to be told that “you are not welcome here.” And if you’re anything like me, you find yourself putting others first because you don’t want to upset them, because to upset them means they’re unhappy and if they’re unhappy they will leave us. This search for approval and strong desire to be liked by everyone only becomes more complicated when you are torn by people whose pleasures are derived from different “good” standards. Your mom wants you to be a doctor, your dad wants you to work in the family business, and you want to be DJ, which they both loath. You want to move to California, your partner wants to stay in New York. What to do!?

First, and foremost, no matter what you do, someone out there will be unhappy. Some will adore you, some will despise you, while others won’t give a damn either way. Living a life that is designed around making others happy in order to receive love is a recipe for failure and pain. It is not your job to make anyone happy, nor is it anyone’s job to make you happy. When we place our happiness on anything that is external, we always lose because nothing external is guaranteed or permanent.

When you were born, you were there, and when you die, you will be there. You are the only one who will always be with you – no matter what, no matter where. For this reason, cultivating a life of love for yourself is crucial to freeing yourself from seeking validation outside of yourself. Everything else will follow from there. Once you are grounded in yourself, having the approval of others will not be required to validate your life because you will already have validated yourself.

Here are some tips on how to stop pleasing everyone while forgetting yourself.

  1. Practice saying “no” when you mean “no.”
    If you tend to say “yes” when you mean “no” only so that others can be happy with you, next time, when your gut feeling and real intent is no, say “no.” You don’t have to stretch yourself thin only because you are too afraid to say no. Saying no does not make you a bad person. You are putting yourself first and that is always important. It is like they tell you in the air plane, “secure the mask on yourself first, before putting it on your child.” You must take care of you first and be true to yourself first before you can tend to the agenda of others.

    2. Speak your mind.
    You are here to be expressed! The world needs your perspective. Your thoughts and feelings are valid. Do not hide your voice because you think others will be displeased with you if you speak up. Let the world hear your truth! You may be surprised to see that it isn’t as scary as it seems to speak your mind.

    3. Remember, you can’t please everyone and that’s perfectly ok
    .
    It is not your job to be the basis of happiness for others. You are not here to be the court jester of anyone. No matter what you do or don’t do, someone somewhere will have some negative thing to say about it. There is no way to please the whole world because we are all different and experience the world from a unique paradigm. Remind yourself that you are valued just the way you are and that it is not required of you to always be there for everyone all the time.
    4. Practice self-validating rituals.
    When you feel like you are “bad” because you aren’t pleasing everyone, practice self- validating rituals that refocus your attention back to who you really are and that help you let go of expectations. Tell yourself (as many times as necessary to sink in):
    I am enough as I am.
    I am valid and my feelings are valid.
    I am not bad for speaking my truth.
    I am not bad for saying “no.”
    I am not wrong for standing up for myself.
    There is nothing wrong with me.
    I am whole, complete, just the way I am.

    5. Give yourself a pep-talk.
    Sometimes you gotta be your own coach. When you feel like you’ve let others down by putting yourself first, give yourself a talk. Proudly proclaim to yourself:
    This is YOU time!
    You’ve already done what you can, now it’s time for YOU.
    You got this! You rock!
    You can’t be there for others when you’re not even there for yourself. So just BREATHE. Don’t you dare feel bad. You’re amazing!
    This is ALL ABOUT YOU NOW! Walk out there strong, and ROCK IT!
    #TEAMYOU

    I hope this is helpful to you.
    Always remember that you can’t please the whole world, but you can please yourself by being true to yourself simply because you’re worth it. You are important – live like it!

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Vibe With The Scales of Your Life

You don’t have to be happy all the time.
There are things in life that are sad. There are difficult moments. Frustrating moments.

Yes, it’s freaking sad when you lose people you love. It’s sad when things don’t go well at work. It’s sad when your kids are out of control and you don’t know what to do about it. It’s sad when people betray us, lie to us, leave us. It’s sad when sad things happen.

It’s crazy to think that you must be happy ALL THE TIME.

Sometimes you gotta just cry.
Sometimes you gotta just be like “whoa, my life REALLY SUCKS right now.”

This is called acceptance.
Acceptance of what is.

When you resist whatever emotion or whatever situation is happening in your life you only add to the pain already present.
Acceptance, however, allows you to be present with whatever happens in your life.
If you think you need to be happy ALL the time, then you end up abandoning yourself anytime you don’t feel happy. You run away from your emotions. You tell yourself “Oh, no, I don’t feel happy, so there is something wrong.”
Let me tell you right now, THERE IS NOTHING WRONG!!!!!
Feelings are part of life – ALL FEELINGS. Not just the high vibration, “good” ones, but also the low vibration “bad” ones.

You wanna think about this like music.
There are many instruments. Many tones. Many pitches. Many scales. Can you imagine if there was only high pitches in music!? It would feel empty! It would be missing that bass! That deep, RAWR like sound that just brings it all together like a yummy, wholesome meal!

Lol… “I’m all about that bass, about that bass, no treble” (Meghan Trainor)!

^ *Random!* 🙈

But seriously! We gotta take it all in. We can’t abandon ourselves when we feel sad. If you feel sad, angry, upset, THESE ARE ALL VALID EMOTIONS!
What you wanna do is accept that that’s how you feel. Accept that, damn, things aren’t the best right now – but you know what? It is what it is! And I accept this moment fully, wholeheartedly, just the way it is.

What is powerful about acceptance is that you don’t abandon your feelings when they come up. You just sit there with them and allow them to be without making yourself feel like they are wrong and that you should feel happy, joyful, or whatever else instead.
Naturally, as all things, that emotion will pass. You WILL get to a different point in time where you will feel better. When you DO feel better, that is the time to start thinking about what you wish to change in your life and assess where you want to be and what you want to do.

You will NEVER rid yourself of low moods – (because there is no high without low – the piano is a complete scale!) you will only grow to the point of being able to become less attached, and therefore, able to flow in and out of different emotional states with more ease. You will be able to DANCE to the BEAT of your life! Without blaming, judging, or hating yourself for being and feeling the way you do.

YOU ROCK! YOU ROCK ALL THOSE TONES OF YOUR LIFE! High and low!
Up and down the scale of the piano of your life :)!!

Let it Be

Let the wind blow through your hair. Don’t worry if it gets tangled and wild.

Let the rain get you wet. Don’t care if it seeps into your shoes.

Let yourself be late. Don’t frazzle about what you can’t change.

Let yourself mispronounce a word. Don’t judge yourself for your mistakes.

Let your tears roll down your cheeks. Don’t hold back from what you feel.

Let yourself snort when you laugh. Don’t worry about who is looking.

Let yourself get some mustard across your face. Don’t be embarrassed at such simple things.

Let your life be. Let yourself be. As things are. As you are. This doesn’t mean cross your arms and do nothing while life passes you by, it means don’t resist what is, but rather, make the best of it.

Be Here First. You’ll Get There.

“Worry a little bit every day and in a lifetime you will lose a couple of years. If something is wrong, fix it if you can. But train yourself not to worry. Worry never fixes anything.” – Mary Hemingway

Resisting your here and now because you want to be there and then will only create in you more emotional pain. You can eliminate additional, self-caused pain by accepting where you are in time as well as disidentifying from negative thought patterns.

There are times when our present circumstances are annoying. Of course you’d rather be in some future, more pleasant moment, because THEN you won’t be dealing with whatever drama is currently present. Totally understandable. Nevertheless, wanting to escape the present moment only adds to the already uncomfortable situation. For example, you have a job interview to get to but you miss the train so you’re probably going to be late. “FML” status, right? It doesn’t have to be.

Thinking to yourself over and over “I should have left earlier” or “I wish I was on the train” or “I will never get the job now” or “Why can’t I ever get anything right” or “Ugh, if only I never stopped for coffee” or “Ugh, where is the next train!!!??” or whatever other thought of this nature, will only add to the negative feelings you are already experiencing.

So what to do?
Be here now.
Be present with your situation without mentally projecting future outcomes and without blaming yourself or criticizing what is. This doesn’t mean become passive about your life and allow the world to just stomp over you. No. Quite contrary! When you allow yourself to accept whatever the moment is presenting you with, you approach your circumstances in a more peaceful, level headed manner. Instead of adding negative commentary to your already unwanted circumstance, you simply accept that this is where you are right now but it doesn’t define you. Missing the train is your present circumstance, and that’s it. There is no further need to add fuel to this fire with unpleasant thoughts. You accept that you are waiting for the next train and if there is anything else you can do about it, like take a cab for instance, you go ahead and do that. You do what you can do, and if there is nothing else you can do, you allow yourself to experience the truth of your moment without resisting what you can’t control. Breathe. Look around you and admire something beautiful. Take this moment to read or write. Take this moment to appreciate life and find something to be grateful for. If nothing comes up, allow yourself to just be present, breathing, being alive. Becoming frazzled will not solve your problems, instead, it will create additional pain in your life.

The mind will want to project all your worries and fears, but it’s only trying to protect you. It goes into “OMG, I am freaking out” mode because your mind wants your success and so it’s only natural for it to come up with reasons as to why missing the train was a horrible, horrible thing. Thank your mind. It is a tool that is only here to help you! Tell your mind that you appreciate it worrying about your well being and success and that you are going to relax now and breathe.

If anxious thoughts keep coming up, focus on your breath. Don’t attach to them and become identified with them as your ultimate reality. Remember, your mind is only trying to help. Let the thoughts pass like a cloud. Realize that you are not your thoughts. Breathe.
You’re ok.
Be here in this moment.
And from here, surely you will get there.
It starts with here. It starts with this moment.

Live Fearlessly

You are enough, valid, and fearless. Live it!

The external world can be an intimidating place.
We are constantly bombarded with information that tells us how to behave, what is appropriate, what is beautiful, what is acceptable and so on. When we live by comparing ourselves to others and comparing ourselves to the general understanding of what is “right” and “proper” we lose the chance to be who we really are. We start to embrace the world view of others and behave in accordance to what may earn us respect, love and acceptance.

This is where self love and self acceptance comes in. When you begin to validate yourself for who you are without comparing or basing your self-worth on external and unrealistic ideals, you finally realize the freedom and power you really have. You start to live from a place of fearlessness and embody confidence that radiates from the inside out. You learn that so long as you approve of yourself, it is not necessary to seek validation from others. You begin to trust yourself and realize how valid your sense of being actually is! You no longer need to act like somebody you are not simply because doing so may get you the approval of some. Approve of yourself! Listen to your heart and follow it without being afraid of what others may think.
Sooner or later you realize that when you live authentically, the right people will be drawn to you. You will start doing what you love simply because you love to do it and not because you want others to give you a tap on your shoulder.

Be free to be who you are without fear of judgment. No matter what you do or don’t do people will judge anyway. For this reason, it is important to be your own judge and to love yourself unconditionally. Love yourself with all your flaws and all your imperfections. Love all your good and all your “bad.” You are an entire package and every aspect of you is here to be shared and explored!

Next time you feel a strong urge to reach out to someone or say something bold, don’t hold yourself back or judge yourself harshly – be free to express yourself.
You don’t have to worry about who is judging you negatively because you already approve of yourself.

You rock! Remember that! Always.

Dance With Your Life

“Everything – the good and bad, pleasure and pain, approval and disapproval, achievements and mistakes, fame and shame – all come and go. Everything has a beginning and an ending and that’s the way it’s supposed to be.” – Richard Carlson

Life can be so unpredictable. One moment you are sitting there smiling, sipping some coffee – the next you’re in tears because of unexpected events beyond your control.

We cannot control what happens outside of us. A plate breaks, someone yells at you in traffic, a woman cuts you in line at the grocery store, your company downsizes and you are cut from the team, the kids are in trouble at school, there is a sickness in the family, the list is endless. Nevertheless, you can control how you react to your external circumstances.

When you live your life from the inside out, you finally come to a place where you always have control. You always have a choice when it comes to your internal feelings about the chaos going on all around you. Life will hand you curve balls. Inevitably, something will eventually go wrong, and it is at this moment where you can breathe and tell yourself “I am in control of how I respond and of how feel about this situation.” You can think to yourself, “Will I react by feeling defeated, angry, and upset? Or will I let go, breathe and invite peace into my heart as I take deliberate, intuitive steps to bring myself out of this situation?” You always have the power to choose the latter. You do not have to choose to feel bad when the car breaks down or when you lose your job or whatever other difficulty. It may not be easy at first to realize that you have the power within you to switch from painful reactions to peaceful ones. But with practice and awareness you will come to see that you do have a choice as to what you harbor in your internal space and how you will react to your external world.

Life will always hand us troubles and because of this it is important to become a peaceful warrior. Challenges are opportunities for our growth. We learn from our mistakes and from our difficult circumstances. We learn to let go and realize that when one door closes it also opens new doors of opportunities. One day, we will all eventually let go of everything – this is called death – the total letting go of all. So why not practice now? Let go of painful reactions and embrace peaceful responses that allow you to dance with the unexpected maneuvers of life rather than battle with them only to bring yourself more pain. Dance with your life!

There is Nothing Bad About You

Allowing yourself to be means accepting all of you. Even the parts you believe are “bad,” “inappropriate” or “scary.”

For so long I have been trying to deny the darker aspects of my personality. For so long I have been telling myself that it’s not okay to feel sad or mad or angry. I would tell myself that there is something wrong with me because I feel sad often times. I would see myself as a problem when I became angry or upset. I would try hard to change my feelings and to deny my tears with a smile. It is common that when I tell people “I am sad” they respond with something like “don’t be sad,” as if being sad is wrong and something that we shouldn’t experience.
But I am learning that my feelings are valid. All of them. I am learning that my body works in my favor and that my feelings exist to communicate with me.
When I am sad, rather than resisting my sadness, I have to allow my sadness to be. I must allow myself to be sad without feeling sad that I am sad. Feeling sad that I am sad or beating myself up for experiencing “negative” feelings only adds to my negative feeling. It is like throwing more wood, or in this case emotion, into the fire.

Are you sad?

Ok. Good.
It is okay to be sad.
Be sad. Let it be because it is there to help you.
Be there with your sadness right now.
Tell your sadness that it is okay for it to be here and that you have no intention of shunning it away like if it were an enemy. Tell it that you understand that it is here to help you interpret your experience. Tell it that you hear its voice telling you there is something you may want to change or there is something that you do not like.
It is okay not to like something.
It is okay to want to change something.
It is okay to be sad. Breathe with your sadness.

Do not resist yourself. Do not resist your body. Do not resist parts of yourself. Allow yourself to sink deeper and embrace all of who you are. All of who you are is working together for your best interest.
Your body is working in your favor at all times.
At all times your body is trying to heal itself and bring you into homeostasis. Your emotions are working to help you – do not beat yourself up for anything that you feel.
Instead, listen to your body.
Does it feel angry?
Does it feel upset?
Does it feel hurt?
Talk to it.
Listen to it.
Dwell in it.
Know that it is protecting you and trying to bring you into your best place.

Do not feel bad for what you feel.
All that you are, good and bad, is good.
Be. Be all that you are.

THE PROCESS OF BECOMING

Who are you?
Answer: ___________________________

You might answer this question by telling me your name. Your age, cultural background, your social security number, and yada, yada, yada.

But see – that’s not really who you are. That’s information you have acquired from what the external world has determined for you.
You are the awareness of these things.
You are not your name, you are the awareness of your name.
You are not your age, you are the awareness of your age.
You are not your cultural background, you are the awareness of your cultural background.

Get the drift? I hope so.

“So what? So what if I am the awareness of that stuff?”

YAY! Great news, my friend!
Being awareness means that you get to choose your own reality!
It is up to YOU to decide what to accept or reject into your field of awareness.

So the process of becoming is simply asking yourself what are you aware of.
What thoughts are you aware of? Your own? Those imposed on you by others? A little bit of both?

If you realize that you have adopted the thoughts of others rather than your own, this isn’t a bad thing. It isn’t a good thing either. It just IS. This is how we grow – by exchanging ideas with one another.

Things are what they are – things ARE. PERIOD. Whether something is good or bad depends on the preference of the aware being.

So, for instance, the experience of eating chocolate ice cream may be good for me because to my awareness I experience something good from eating it. Someone else, however, may be eating from my chocolate ice cream cup yet have a distasteful experience because to their awareness they experience something bad from eating chocolate ice cream. There is nothing in the particles of chocolate ice cream itself that is coded with “goodness” or “badness” – these types of labeling are judgements of the experiencer based on the effect a particular thing has in combination to their particular being – to their awareness.

So what am I ultimately saying?
– Become YOU.

Do you like chocolate ice cream because YOU like chocolate ice cream or have you come to like chocolate ice cream because people might think you are cool if you eat chocolate ice cream?

Or fill it in this blank:
Do you like ___________ because YOU like _________ or do you like___________ because you believe X person(s) want you to like ___________?

Are you YOU because YOU take pleasure in who you are or are you YOU because of what you believe other people want you to be?
And maybe it’s a combination of both.
It isn’t bad to tag along with what others think is cool – that’s fine – we have words for that: admiration, inspiration, sharing, absorption, learning.
It only becomes a problem when you are not happy with yourself because you are not being true to who you are but are living a life that is decorated by what others want you to be.

When we seek to be what others want us to be, we are seeking approval.
We are seeking approval from others because we have failed to approve of ourselves just as we are. Somewhere along the way we adopted the awareness that “the way I am, as I am, is not good enough.”

Not good enough to whose awareness?

See, as long as to YOUR awareness you are enough, then no matter who tells you “YOU ARE NOT ENOUGH,” this statement will fall flat on its feet – it will have no power over you. It would be the same as a person telling me over and over “chocolate ice cream sucks.” This statement has no power over me because to MY awareness – CHOCOLATE ICE CREAM FUCKING ROCKS!

Be YOU Because YOU like it – whatever it is that you are. And if others like you too – AWESOME – if not, who cares? NOT YOU is all that matters. It is not for their awareness to decide what YOUR AWARENESS KNOWS TO BE TRUE FOR YOU.

YOUR AWARENESS IS ALL THE MATTERS.

Become YOU.
🙂 ❤

John

I will tell you about John.

John is a good guy. He walks around trying to do the “right thing.” He smiles at people hoping people will smile back. He yearns to connect; he yearns to be accepted and to accept back.

John loves all people. Even people with three or four heads and eyes. Even purple people, blue people, orange people and invisible people.
John is very curious.
John is scared sometimes because he doesn’t like pain. But he does like it when the nurse comes along and rubs alcohol on his boo-boo. It makes him feel loved. Like someone cares about his well-being.

John likes to play. He wishes he could play all day. He wishes he could climb trees and pretend he is a pirate looking out into the ocean for some loot and new found land.
But there is a thing called “job” he has to do.
John doesn’t necessarily dislike the idea of a job – he understands how important functions are to a well operating society. What John doesn’t like is when he is forced to play roles he doesn’t feel comfortable playing.

John wants to walk around the world and give everyone little paper hearts because he wants people to remember how to love.
John wants people to know how to see not just with the eyes, but with their whole entire being.

John gets angry sometimes. He gets angry when the world expects him to be more than what he already is. It is not that John doesn’t want to be more – or “expand” as he would call it, it’s that John wants the freedom to grow at his own pace.

John doesn’t like when he is corrected in a condescending way.
John wants to be the best John he can be and wants to be spoken to in a loving manner, not in a punishing manner.

John is tired now.

I will share more about him another day.

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