You can’t give love and light to the world if you don’t have it inside you.
This sentence keeps being fed back to me by the women who were gracious enough to listen to my story of unbecoming this week. It struck them and I’m glad.
The world teaches us to acquire and achieve. When we have and do certain things we will be happy. It just isn’t true. We hustle and we strive until we burn out or we reach the top, and either way we still sit there wondering, “is this all there is?”
Stop faking it. No more struggling in silence. Now is the time. Don’t wait until your death bed. Your life can be different. You can’t outrun your past and you can’t control the future. It’s time to take responsibility for your thoughts, feelings, and actions.
If you are feeling dissonance or dissatisfaction, if you are stuck or hopeless, please know you are not alone and you have choices. Those feelings are signals. Don’t ignore them because they won’t go away. You can carry and bury them, but you can’t get rid of them until you struggle with them, feel them, and shed them. Signal –> Struggle –> Shed. This has become my freedom mantra and allowed me to flow through life without being knocked down by the weight of tough things.
It may be scary and it will be uncomfortable, but you can get through it. On the other side is a great sense of peace and an unending source of love. All you have to do is surrender.
Exploring who we are and who we were created to be is our most important work. You’ve been becoming since the day you were born. The person your parents and culture told you to be. That is not the person you were meant to be. There are many layers holding you back…limiting beliefs, negative thoughts, and misperceptions based on experiences and influences. You have to shed them. You have to unbecome.
My family struggled with addiction, depression, and abuse. I built up layers of guilt, shame, unworthiness, and anger. Negative experiences and worldly pressures kept me from loving myself and letting others in. It was up to me to stop the blame, stop the shame, and stop playing small. To take responsibility, find clarity, and be a good steward of the resources and opportunities provided to me.
The unbecoming and awakening started with exploring and understanding who I was. Learning to love and lead myself so I could love and lead others. I knew I was making progress because I could operate more consistently from a place of love and trust vs. fear and doubt with the situations and people I encountered.
It started with silence. I had to sit with my thoughts and feelings. Write them down. Evaluate them. Be honest with myself about what I was thinking and how I was feeling. Let God speak to and through me.
I explored (and continue to explore) questions like:
- What do you wish were different about your life?
- What do you believe about yourself? Other people? The world?
- Who do you need to forgive?
- What are you running from? Toward?
- What does success mean to you?
- What is meaningful and valuable to you?
- What will be significant at the end of your life?
- When you consider what’s meaningful and valuable, how do those answers align with the way you spend your time, energy, and money?
- If you only had 6 months to live, how would your life be different?
- At the end of your life, what do you want people to say about you?
It’s your turn. Take them one at a time and consider them. Sit with them. Struggle with them. Find and refine your answers. Through the seasons of life your answers may change. Your answers will be different from those of your family, friends, and coworkers. Explore them together to better understand each other.
A great life isn’t up and to the right. I heard a friend describe it less like a ladder and more like a lattice. That is beautiful. Explore what’s interesting to you. Figure out the best way to live. You are the one who knows what’s best for you. When you become curious about yourself you will find renewed conviction and commitment to life. You will find new energy, and you will become more open. Even when life gets hard, you won’t need to close your heart. That is what it means to be alive! Accepting all that was, all that is, and all that will be. Remaining open to everything, attached to nothing (Thank you Wayne Dyer).
That is the freedom that comes in the silence.
That is the freedom that comes with surrender.