Tuesday, June 28, 2016

How The Image You Portray To Others Influences The Quality Of Your Life Part 2

No one can ever know you until the mask is removed. Adam Tebbe

Some children learn to rise above childhood hurts and maintain an authentic self. But some create a false image to insure a particular response from others, and so protect themselves from being hurt. And this image becomes who they are to themselves and to the people in their life. Sometimes this can work, but too often this false image does not produce the desired results.

Last week I gave several examples where the mask backfired, and desired results were not realized. The People Pleaser mask resulted in being used by others instead of being loved. The Do Gooder's efforts were appreciated, but without personal approval. And the wall built by the Independent Self-Sufficient image brought loneliness.

Be the person you intended to be before you intended to be the person you are not. It's time to seek authenticity in ourselves and remove all masks. Daniele Maylyn

In some ways a mask may make life a little easier, but sooner or later something deep inside signals a kind of unrest. You may know something's missing underneath, but not realize you're living your life behind a mask. For most of my life I didn't know I wore my Independent Self-Sufficient mask. I thought that was me. Then I felt a nudging telling me to look inside for what was missing. And I'm still finding myself.

Everything you're looking for lies behind the mask you wear. Stephen C. Paul

If you've been wearing a mask as you, then where is that authentic self that got lost in the pain behind your mask a long time ago? Do you ever feel unrest inside and long to reclaim your true self? Would you like to be You again? Would you like to greet each day knowing You are living your life ... overcoming your own challenges and creating your life as you want it?

It's not easy to release an image you're portrayed for so many years and embrace a new you ... the real you. As you find new ways of expression, you'll find resistance from people in your life. They'll have to learn different ways to respond to you. And people don't want to change. You may even be afraid for people to see the real you, although you were born lovable, special, and beautiful. And you still are. For a while it might be scary as you learn to live without your protective shield. But ...

Fear is the brains way of saying that there is something important for you to overcome. Rachel Huber

Over time, recapturing your authentic self is a process that must unfold. And the first step is intention to release your false image and allow your authentic self to emerge and express in your life. Voice this intention every day as you work on being less mask and more you.

Discover what situations in your childhood brought pain and fear that could have created your protective shield in the first place. Was it feeling unloved, not appreciated, misunderstood, being ridiculed, feeling unworthy, invalidated, guilty, etc? Mine was finding no one there when I needed comfort during a painful time. So vowing to not ever need anyone again protected me from pain in the future when no one was there for me. I became quite independent, but also lonely.

Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Steve Jobs

Look at your feelings and behavior patterns for clues. And confront your masks false beliefs about you. You are not your mask. We have an innate desire to be our authentic self to find and fulfill our purpose and meaning in life. And this desire cannot be denied forever by any false image we've created. In spite of our facade, we want to grow and express more of what makes us unique and special, and be free to feel our true emotions and make sincere choices. Go within and listen, not to the lies about you that try to take hold in your mind, but to the truth you find in your heart. And be that person.

I wish you happy freedom to be wonderful You.


Monday, June 20, 2016

How The Image You Portray To Others Influences The Quality Of Your Life Part 1

We all develop a sense of self from messages received during childhood. some messages teach the child to trust who they really are and live their life free from fear of being hurt. But with others, the authentic child gets lost in negative messages about who they are and what the world is like. And they will create ways to protect themselves from being hurt.

We humans are resourceful. And the crutches we use to protect ourselves come in many forms. We put up walls. We live in denial. We guard our feelings. We buy love. We avoid threatening situations. And so on, and so on. We create a protective mask, and this image is what we present to the world.

You wear a mask for so long, you forget who you were beneath it. Alan Moore

We all wear a mask from time to time, but our facade can become so real, we may forget who we were before someone or something forced us to create a protective shield. And others will react to us according to the person we appear to be, not knowing that beneath our mask we may feel inadequate, unloved, rejected, lonely ... any pain from our childhood.

Behind every mask there's an unmet need, something we missed as a child. And we never found the courage to explore life as our true self. We hide behind our mask to feel safe, and that can work for us. We project silent messages, and others respond. But sometimes the mask can backfire and leave us defenseless, as in the following examples.

People Pleaser message: If I always give and do what you want, that will please you, and then you'll love me. So I'll put your desires ahead of my own. Other people's response: So that means I can run to you any time I want something done, you'll do it for me. My own gofer. Yeah. Result: People Pleasers can get used, and not always be loved.

Do Gooder message: I'll serve my community and always help others. Then I'll get everyone's approval for being such a good person. Other people's response: That person is so dedicated to helping others, but he/she doesn't know when to stop. Result: Do Gooder's efforts are appreciated, but no approval as a person.

Center of Attention message: I have no pain from childhood. I'm okay just like I am. So I can do whatever I want, and everyone will like and accept me. Other people's response: He/she is all right for a while, but not the center of attention all the time. It's too much. Result: Center of Attention's denial of any pain underneath isn't working, and there's no acceptance by others.

"We try so hard to make ourselves lovable, and yet each layer of this mask puts another wall around us--a wall that keeps love out." Vironika Tugaleva

When I was 6 years old, my father died, and I was heart-broken. But no one understood or comforted me. So I vowed to take care of myself and need no one. Without realizing it, I put up a wall and projected an Independent, Self-Sufficient image to everyone in my life. And of course this brought a Response that said: Oh, you take care of yourself, and you don't need help. You always look good and seem so happy. You don't need us. The Result of this image brought loneliness behind my wall.

Because an illusion is an illusion, reality always exists despite the facade. Kasie West.

Do you wear a mask to protect yourself from childhood hurts? If so, living with a false image may get you through life, but that allows your authentic self to remain lost inside, yelling "Let me out. See me. Hear me. Love me."And somewhere inside you know it. You feel it. You may not realize you're living a protective facade, but your life is worth exploring to find out where you're really coming from and whether or not you're happy with that.

Tune in next week for Part 2 with ways to be less of who you are not, and be more of who you really are.

Let your light shine.


Monday, June 13, 2016

Love Your Whole Self Right Down To Your Toes

This week I've been dealing with a health challenge, and was not able to get an article ready for today's blog post. However, I found a whimsical short story I wrote several yeas ago that may give you some chuckles. And, hopefully, you will forgive me for coming up short this week.


For as long as I can remember my little toes have denied their relationship to their eight sisters. But they're born of the same feet, so they can't escape their heritage. While the eight march forward with heads straight up, these two turn on their side and point outward from the others. I always felt embarrassed when someone glanced at my strange toes. Those little ones were embarrassed too and searched for a quick escape. But they were dreaming. Unless they get caught in a wild hacksaw, they're attached for life. 
       For years we experienced one conflict after another. Cutting those little toenails takes expert wrist manipulation. I have to twist the clippers around and hold the toes while I cut from the side. Until I became adept at this maneuver, I got a lot of flack when I caught some skin in the process. It was only a little skin, but you'd think I actually severed the toes.
       Our trips to the shoe store were torture. Those toes objected to everything I put on my feet. I tried strap sandals, but they stuck their heads out between the straps, and then blamed me for their discomfort. But I refused to consider any of those sensible clodhoppers like my mother chose for me when I was growing up. For a couple of years, in defiance, I feigned a smile and sashayed around in my mini skirts and gorgeous black spike-heeled shoes with pointed toes. But I had to relent and give up my beautiful stylish footwear. I could no longer tolerate my little toes' suffering.
       I tried going barefoot at home to give them a rest, but they experienced painful injuries before I learned to send out invisible antennae when passing a protruding chair leg or some lethal weapon that might catch one of them in midair. Each time they got caught, they yelled all the way up my leg. It took an ice bag to quiet them down. Once I tried nail polish to improve their mood, but they sabotaged that project. In no time they were scratched and half naked while the others stayed a bright color. I just couldn't please those guys. (girls?)
       I was at a loss to find a mutually agreeable remedy for our unhappy relationship until fate brought a blessing into our life that changed us forever. A few years ago, I was in a serious car wreck, and I spent two months in a residential rehab facility. Soon after I arrived, a nice aide put lotion on my foot--the other foot was in a cast. That gesture sent me half way to heaven, but what he said sent me the rest of the way there. 
       "You have such nice feet," he said. "Many people's feet are really messed up."
       Wow. Either he didn't notice that little toe sticking out, or he felt with a toe like mine, I deserved a kind word about my feet. Either way, I loved him for the compliment. After that, lying in bed with broken bones wasn't so awful. And my little toes took on a new character. I often looked down at one toe enjoying the freedom to lie quietly in painless repose, and the other toe safely wrapped in the cast on my foot. And I realized those little toes were not a separate entity infringing on my life. They were a part of me, as important as any other. And I was grateful all of me was still intact.
       When I recovered from my ordeal, I gave up my need for style and headed straight to the shoe department I had so often avoided. My little toes were thrilled when they saw where I had taken them. In no time, we walked out in a pair of sensible brown mud-walking shoes, and I could hear my toes giggling with pure delight.
       I guess the secret to a happy life for me and my renegade toes rests with my choice of footwear. And you know what? It feels good to have all of us happy.

I wish you happy feet and a happy heart.


Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Acceptance - Courage - Wisdom. Do These Words Have Meaning In Your Life?

Thoughts behind the Serenity Prayer have been around for centuries but, according to Wikipedia, the actual prayer as we know it was authored by the American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971) for sermons at Heath Evangelical Union Church in Heath, Massachusetts, and was first published in 1951 in a magazine column. The prayer spread through Niebuhr's sermons and church groups in the 1930s and 1940s, and was later adopted by Alcoholics anonymous and other twelve-step programs.

The prayer has appeared in many versions, and the best-known form with 3 lines is today found in many homes, including mine. Its meaning is profound when examined with the mind and heart. But its words are simple, and it's so familiar, we take it for granted. I doubt that many could explain its meaning in depth unless they knew it first hand as a source of hope and guidance in addiction recovery work. And unless someone is involved in this type of life-changing experience, the value of this meaningful prayer oftentimes is not being used.

How many times have you read the words in the Serenity Prayer and not related them to your own life? Are they just words, or could they have an important influence on the quality of your life? What does acceptance mean, and how is that done? What is courage, and where do we find it? What is wisdom, and how do we get it?

The real peace of mind is accepting reality as it is. Swami Premodaye

Acceptance: God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.
The first line of the prayer implies that serenity is needed to accept what you can't change. Acceptance doesn't mean it's okay if you lose your job, you experience illness, you lose a loved one, your car breaks down, a storm blows the roof off your house, whatever the situation. That is the pain of human life, and it's not okay that it happened or is happening. But you must accept that it exists, and you can't change it. It doesn't mean you won't suffer, but rather than stew, fret, stress over it ... Let it be. Be willing to assume a more calm, peaceful mind and heart to accept the reality of it and respond with the strength you need to survive, and not let it destroy you.

Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore. Andre Gide

Courage: Courage to change the things I can.
You were born with all the courage you need. Your courage just gets lost sometimes behind a fear of the unknown or in the false belief that you lack the ability to create change. But as you focus less on what you can't change and increase focus on what you can, your confidence ... courage ... will increase. So when there's something that you can and want to change, then assume a calm, serene mind and heart attitude toward whatever's holding you back, and respond with your courage in spite of it. John Wayne said, "Courage is being scared to death ... but saddling up anyway."

Sometimes the status quo may feel safer, but how would it feel to spend the rest of your life watching ships pass you by and leave you standing on the shore in your own prison of fear? Think on that and heed the prayer for courage to change the things you can. Because you can.

Wisdom: And wisdom to know the difference.

Your life belongs to you. You have the power to accept what you cannot change and the power to change what you can. And wisdom is the ability to know and understand what you're dealing with and to act accordingly. It's been said that experience is the best teacher, and I think that's pretty true. So pay attention, and don't take your good times lightly or curse your suffering. Great lessons are learned from some of our best and worst times. And this teaches us to know the difference between what we cannot change and what we can. Read the Serenity Prayer thoughtfully in relation to your own life. Read it everyday. There's much wisdom here with opportunity to expand your life in wondrous ways.

Much of what I've written in this article is from my own observations with the Serenity Prayer. I hope you find some of them useful, and that your life is enriched with some of your own.

I wish you happiness as you create what you want in your life.