Silencing Our Own Voice

Silencing Our Own Voice

I remember when I brought her home for the first time.

Betsy, I called her. I’m still not sure why. But, Betsy would be her name going forward.

She was beautiful, perfect in my eyes. She being my first electric guitar.

Me? I was gonna be a rock star. I already had the hair.

There was only one problem.

I had always wanted an electric guitar, and I had heard that Mr. Britto on Smith Street had one he was willing to sell. My enthusiasm convinced my Mom that she should let me spend the money I had saved and buy it. It was $40 back when $40 was a lot more than what $40 is today.

I didn’t know how to play guitar when I bought it, but I assured Mom that I’d learn. Taking music lessons didn’t quite excite me, no matter how good I was at playing scales or “Mary Had A Little Lamb”. I had a few friends who played guitar, and I was able to learn a bit from them. Ultimately, I sort of just dabbled with it, occasionally made some noise, and eventually Betsy ended up under my bed in the case I first brought her home in.

That one problem?

I never really thought of myself as a guitarist.

A few years back I found the guitar while cleaning out a closet. Immediately my mind went back to that 14 year old wide-eyed, long haired version of me. Eventually, though, I started thinking about what I hadn’t done with that guitar, about the music I didn’t make with that guitar. Like, why didn’t I?

Because I never allowed myself to do so.

What holds us back from being all we were created to be is our belief system. How we see ourselves pretty much determines what we are willing to allow ourselves to be. In music. And in life. Our identity of who we accept ourselves to be regulates everything. If our beliefs are limited, so, too, will be what we are willing to allow ourselves to become. In music. And in life. I never really saw myself as someone who could confidently play the guitar, and I met those expectations with precision.

I used to regret lots of things, things far more significant than not learning to play the guitar. But the root cause of all of those regrets was the same. A belief system limiting what I accepted as possible for me. Even if I told myself I wanted to be more, I was never going to let me do or accomplish anything more than my belief system would let me.

Regrets can crush you or they can be the fuel that moves you forward. I’ve opted for the fuel route.

The good thing about any limiting belief is it can be changed. First you need to be open to the reality that you actually have them and self-aware to compassionately notice them. Not everything we think is true. We just think it is. But when you identify or suspect thoughts which are limiting in nature, you have the right, ability, and obligation to change them.

But that’s on you. Nothing on the outside can change what we are unwilling to change on the inside.

Is there something on the inside that needs to change in order for you to fully express who you were created to become?

Challenging what I think has been such a critical tool in my overall growth, especially what I think about me and what’s possible for me. The mind which can create limitations can also destroy them.

It works both ways.

The guitar? It now hangs on my office wall. I have no desire to learn to play it. Rather, it’s there to remind me of what self-imposed limitations can look like. In music. And in life.

What’s holding you back?

What music are you not allowing yourself to make?

Your music, your voice, is far too important not to be fully expressed.

Candles, Confessions, & The Art Of Self Forgiveness

Candles, Confessions, & The Art Of Self Forgiveness

It’s been a couple of weeks now since Mom passed. Expected yet unexpected all at the same time. It’s not something you can ever fully prepare for.

Recently, I found myself back in my old hometown and for some reason I felt called to visit the chapel Mom would quite often visit.

Mom was a woman of deep Christian faith, a guiding and comforting source for her throughout her life. Mom was also a prolific candle lighter, and Our Lady’s Chapel was the place she would light them. For family and friends in time of need or distress, Mom lit candles for us all.

It was my turn to light one for her.

After the candle was lit, I found myself sitting in the back pew of the Chapel. Just sitting. Observing. Remembering. Decompressing. A small boy sitting a few rows in front of me wandered away from his Mother and playfully pushed back the curtain to the Confessional located just to my left. His Mom was not at all pleased, but his actions got me to thinking about something I’ve not thought about for quite some time.

Growing up Catholic, I’ve certainly spent my share of time in the Confessional. As a boy, I’d kneel fearfully in darkness awaiting the priest to open the screen and I’d tell him of my sins for the week. Mostly about the number of swear words I’d used that week (I did my best to quantify my transgressions) and the occasional taking the Lord’s name in vain. Then, with nervous anticipation, I’d await my penance which usually involved a great deal of praying in the back of Church.

Spiritually, I’ve meandered a bit over the years. I’ve confessed a great deal over the years, just not in a Confessional.

Confession is the first step in forgiveness. It’s reflecting upon and acknowledging your actions, or, at times, the lack of them, and asking God to absolve you. In the secular space, I, too, have asked for the forgiveness of others for the times I’ve not lived up to my own Higher standard, for the actions I’ve taken or the lack of them.

Others have also occasionally asked for my forgiveness as well. Forgiveness is always granted, as the weight of holding grudges is more weight than I choose to carry, especially as I get older. I know I’m still far from perfect myself and I like to think I afford others the space to be less than perfect as well.

There is one person, though, I’ve often had a difficult time forgiving.

Me.

Funny how it’s often easier for us to forgive others than it is for us to forgive ourselves.

As I reflect about forgiveness, I realize that self-absolution has never been easy for me. The grudges I chose not to hold towards others I would easily hold against myself, mercilessly holding me perpetually accountable for my actions or lack there of.

Maybe you can relate to not giving yourself the space to be imperfect? To allow yourself to reflect and acknowledge the times in your life where you wish you responded differently, or had taken another path, and then forever beating yourself up for it.

Much of this changed for me when I was able to change the most important of all relationships.

The one with me.

The compassion and forgiveness I so easily dispensed to others? I threw a little of that my own way. I cut myself some slack. I accepted that no matter the result, I did the best I could at the time. I compassionately questioned why I’d befriend others yet wouldn’t extend that same level of friendship towards myself.

I stopped emotionally kicking my own ass.

I’m certain my issues with self-forgiveness can be traced back to the self-identity narratives which were created, nurtured, and perpetuated many decades ago. Many of them based in limitation, steeped in unworthiness, rooted in insecurity. What we are willing to accept as true for who we think we are impacts just about everything.

But narratives can be changed, if we are willing to question them.

It’s a conversation worth having.

It’s the most important conversation I’ve ever had.

When You Listen To What You’re Telling Yourself

When You Listen To What You’re Telling Yourself

“Good Vibes Only.”

It was a nice t-shirt.

But life simply doesn’t work that way.

At least not mine.

I’m a huge fan of good vibes. Love them. Strive for them. But I know that life, no matter what our clothing may say, isn’t always good vibes only.

I’ve come to appreciate all of my vibes. And I’ve got lots of them, too. The good. The bad. The angry. The empty. The frustrated. The disappointed. A full spectrum of emotions and feelings. I’m not sure if I’m complicated, or complex, but I do know at times I can be a lot for me to deal with.

As much as I prefer the good ones, I’ve found, paradoxically, that it’s the not-so-good ones which are the ones that lead me to more of the good ones.

Huh?

I’ve found that I learn from my vibes. Each one has something to tell me. Something to teach me about me and where I am at any given moment. Emotions are kind of my dashboard which lets me see what’s going on inside of me. Instead of fighting the ones I don’t want or feeding them further, I’ve learned to just notice them. A younger, far less self-compassionate version of me would often beat myself up for feeling a certain way. Now, I simply just let them be, without judging. Much like an auto mechanic, I don’t get mad that the dashboard indicator light is on, I use that indicator to get to the source of what needs tending to. Once I know where to look, I can work on getting me back to where I prefer to be.

Sometimes those not-so-good vibes stick around for a while, and I’ve come to accept that it’s OK if they do. Sometimes those emotions just need their space to breathe and not be forced back into the darkness. And in a strange way, being able to befriend the emotions and vibes I don’t really want to experience and learning to work with them helps me to more quickly get back to the positive and happier vibes I want to enjoy.

Self-awareness and a bit of compassionate patience have become such powerful tools for me to try and take better care of the emotional side of me.

Perhaps that’s the most important good vibe of all?

Who Owns Your Happiness?

Who Owns Your Happiness?

Goodbye, New Hampshire!

Moving day. The truck was loaded and we were ready to head a little south. After a brutal winter of construction delays our new home was finally ready for us to move into.

We loved our apartment, but moving into your own home is extremely exciting. Especially your first home. A real sense of ownership, a place to call our own. 

Owning is better than renting.

When it comes to real estate.

When it comes to peace and happiness.

Have you ever wondered who owns your peace and happiness?

I think we’ve all had similar experiences of linking our peace and happiness to things outside ourselves. Of needing certain results or outcomes. Of needing certain people. Of needing certain people to act in certain ways. Of needing certainty.

On my path I’ve gone down many a road looking for that elusive peace and happiness, convinced that this time I was on the right one. Once I got to where I told myself I needed to go I would recognize in short order that it was just another dead end. Whatever I told myself I needed to achieve or attain, once achieved or attained I would eventually feel that all too familiar sense of frustration and disappointment. I thought it was supposed to fix everything.

It never did.

The same can be said for relationships. How often do we need people to be and act in ways which make us happy? Sure, it’s great when that happens, but what happens when they stop? What happens if they change? What happens when they know what we need from them and it is purposely withheld? What happens if they leave?

It’s just renting happiness, and renting provides no emotional equity.

Because we don’t own it.

When we look outside of ourselves for peace and happiness we never own it. If we are fortunate to think we’ve found it, just wait. It’s inherently temporary. Just like renting. Even a lease isn’t forever, and the price of outsourcing your happiness can get rather emotionally expensive. And since the emotional landlord sets the emotional rules the relationship is never one of equals. 

I was quite apprehensive about the idea of owning my peace and happiness. It intrigued me but I didn’t think it was possible. After all, wasn’t I the one convinced it was all outside of me? That’s where I’d been looking for the vast majority of my life.

In having tried many external options, I’d come to realize the one place I’d yet to look was inside of me.

Becoming the primary source of your own peace and happiness was a lot more work than I thought it would be. My relationship with me wasn’t always a good one. Quite abusive at times, actually. I wasn’t ready to love me, so I just started to like me. More like a friend. I started to compassionately work with me and not against me. I started to prioritize me, my wants and my needs, my own wellbeing. From the inside out. 

The better I got at taking care of me, the less I needed things outside of me to take care of me. The better I got at taking care of me, the less dependent I became on others to take care of me. More emotional equity means more freedom, and that freedom is quite empowering.

My peace and happiness are now my responsibility. I know me and I know what I need from me. Sure, I still enjoy favorable outcomes and favorable people, but the equity I’ve built in owning my emotional well being doesn’t make them necessities. 

I just don’t need things or people to be anything other than they already are.

Yes, I still get angry and disappointed at times. I simply don’t allow myself to stay there

When it comes to your peace and happiness, are you owning or renting?

What Is It That You Need To Hear From You?

What Is It That You Need To Hear From You?

It’s a tough conversation. Because you know they’re the one responsible for how things turned out. They’re the one who fell short of what could have been. It’s a tough conversation because of who this person actually is.

You.

We hold ourselves to such alarmingly high standards, don’t we? We can be relentless at times, honestly. And when we get caught in a cycle of disappointment or regret we can poison ourselves with the venom of blame and anger. 

What is it that you need to hear from you? Are you able to release yourself from the heaviness of the burdens you’ve placed upon yourself? Because their weight is something you’ve no need to carry. Are you able to look at your younger self and understand that you did the best you could at the time? Because you did. Are you able to forgive yourself for falling short of the unrealistic expectations you’ve often set for yourself? Because forgiveness changes your relationship with you.

Only you can make peace with you. Only you can move you past your past and onto some solid emotional footing to move you forward and into who you now know you really are.

A tough conversation.

But it could be one which sets you free.

What is it that you need to hear from you?

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Thriving In A World Of Magnets & Boomerangs

Thriving In A World Of Magnets & Boomerangs

It actually came back!  

For no particular reason I recently purchased a boomerang. Not a bucket list item, just something that I thought would be fun to have. I went to a large open field behind the school and wanted to see if this thing would actually come back. And it did.

I don’t know the exact engineering behind the design, but their shape and the laws of physics worked together to return to the thrower what was sent out into the world.

Kind of how life works, isn’t it?

The energy we offer to the world will find its way back to the source. That source is us. It doesn’t matter what vibration or emotion we release, eventually it will find it’s way back home.

With the boomerang I knew exactly what I was throwing. I could see it in my hand. I was able to witness the entire cycle of the process, of me releasing and of me receiving. But Continue reading “Thriving In A World Of Magnets & Boomerangs”

Perhaps You’re Just Not Ready To Love Yourself?

Perhaps You’re Just Not Ready To Love Yourself?

It sounds rather simple.

And it should be quite easy.

But in reality it’s often a very difficult thing to do.

Loving yourself.

After all, how could you love you? You know everything about you, the good and the bad. Especially the bad. There are no secrets in your relationship with yourself. And that little voice in your head is always quite good at reminding you of your mistakes, regrets, and shortcomings. How could you possibly love such a person?

Maybe love is too big of a first step.

Good relationships take time, especially if that relationship is between you and you. My Continue reading “Perhaps You’re Just Not Ready To Love Yourself?”

The Duplicitous Nature of Compassion

The Duplicitous Nature of Compassion

What is the one gift we are so willing to give to others yet seldom give to ourselves?

Love.

Most of us would think nothing of offering a kind heart to others in need, especially to those closest to us. We’d readily be available to a distressed friend, offering our unconditional love, support, and encouragement, even if all we could provide was a shoulder to cry on. We’d do whatever we could to help them up.

Would you be willing to treat yourself the same way?

When it comes to ourselves we often create a cruel double standard. Somehow we believe others are more worthy of our love and compassion than we are. We support our friends during their times of emotional need yet when we could really use a friend of our own we are nowhere to be found. Instead of picking ourselves up, how often do we beat ourselves down, reminding ourselves of our own perceived shortcomings and all Continue reading “The Duplicitous Nature of Compassion”

The Two Gifts Only You Can Give To Yourself

The Two Gifts Only You Can Give To Yourself

The road to finding peace and happiness is never straight. At least it wasn’t for me and those I’ve known who’ve spent years of their own meandering on a similar journey.

None of us are born angry, miserable, weak, unworthy, afraid, anxious, or insecure. Those are things we can become. Sometimes you can define the catastrophic moment when the world rose up and took away the peace and happiness you entered this world with. Sometimes, though, we look back and can find no specific reason why the peace and happiness we are looking for ever went away in the first place.

It’s surreal walking through your empty life surrounded by everyone else who have their lives all figured out and are moving forward. That’s what I assumed…everyone else Continue reading “The Two Gifts Only You Can Give To Yourself”

When You Forget You Are Beautiful And You’re Not Sure You Matter

When You Forget You Are Beautiful And You’re Not Sure You Matter

You are beautiful.

You are unlimited.

And you matter.

Perhaps you’ve forgotten this. Please let me remind you.

Or worse yet, you don’t believe it.

Please let me convince you.

Life gets busy and often the importance of perspective gets lost as we just try and make it through another day. Daily demands and prioritizing others often means you never get around to taking care of the most important person in your life.

You.

Here, in no particular order, are seven thoughts to contemplate in hopes you’ll take the a few moments to reconnect with this beautiful person you call you.

Beautiful isn’t something you become, its something you already are. Walk through any supermarket check-out and you are inundated with the latest fashion and lifestyle magazines, Continue reading “When You Forget You Are Beautiful And You’re Not Sure You Matter”