One of the things that I got really good at for a very long time was taking a look at my life, compare it to what everyone else was doing, then deciding that I was a failure and needed to change everything about myself.
What I wasn’t doing was REALLY looking at what was going on in my mind. I wasn’t really giving myself the space to SEE myself. And because I never actually looked – I never actually followed through on any plan I came up with to change all of these ‘wrong’ things about myself. I would buy all of the things that I thought would change me. I tried to action my way to the finish line. That looked like me believing I could never change, feeling totally defeated before even starting, and then white knuckling my way through a workout, payment plan, or diet until I could no longer muster the energy – which was like…3 days tops.
You see, I would look at the debt, the weight, the over drinking, the over social media-ing, the under planning, the under saving, the over yelling at my kid, the hating of my job – and I felt so much shame, that I would just quickly look away. I even did this while looking in the mirror. I never ACTUALLY looked at my results or even my own face. I just saw what was on the surface level, told myself how terrible I was (as a person) for creating this ‘mess’ and then retreat to Shame Land and would wallow there for … well… until the next time I would pop my head out to look again.
Have you done this? You let life just go – then you stop for a brief second and take a look around and are so mortified by what you see, but you just don’t have the inner strength to look long enough to really evaluate? Man. I did this for so long.
Here’s the crazy part. While continuing down the over eating-over drinking-over complaining-staying stuck-spending too much money-not planning-being a mad momma road felt so terrible…my brain told me that it was less terrible than looking and just being present with the reality of what I had created in my life. I mean, I had gotten so good at hating myself that it just felt like home. So, I would retreat, wrap myself in a warm blanket, get a bottle of wine, and binge watch Netflix while vicariously living through Lorelie Gilmore’s life while also buying every DVD, planner, book, and cream to make me skinny-rich-sober-and a good mom.
Coming to terms with where I was (and then having to admit it out loud) with my health, money, career, parenting, all felt like I would curl into a ball and just die. It literally felt like my skin would catch on fire and I would burst into a ball of flames.
You see – for the last 2 years I have been learning tools to effectively create a life that you want by choosing your mindset. I now know that my brain was telling me to avoid all change because it looks to keep me safe…and making big changes in my life = a lion trying to eat me to my brain. It has no idea what the road of making those changes looks like, because well, we’ve never taken that road… so there could be pot holes, downed power lines, monsters, flooding, and no food or gas stations along the way. WHY WOULD WE GO DOWN A ROAD WE’VE NEVER BEEN DOWN?! We don’t even know all of the directions yet – ARE. YOU. CRAZY?! <— That was my brain. I just had no idea that’s what my brain was doing. I just thought that ‘I was the kinda person who didn’t do things in life that required effort or motivation’.
For so long I was under the same spell that most of us are – we have no control over our emotions, feeling terrible is the worst thing and should be avoided or fixed immediately, if you have failed at something, you should just go bury yourself in a hole to avoid the judgment of others, and doing anything outside of the socially accepted path is reserved for ‘other people’ (I still haven’t figured out what is required to be considered ‘other people’). I also wrapped my worth in the opinions of everyone else and could never imagine loving or liking myself unless everyone else agreed that I was lovable. God forbid I be too… into myself. I needed to save my admiration for others. I didn’t need to go gettin’ too full of myself.
For 30 years I believed that other people’s opinions of me were way more important than my opinion of myself and that my opinion of myself should absolutely be dependent on what others thought of me (because of course they know better). I believed that if I was feeling ‘bad’ that it needed to be fixed immediately. I believed that money was hard to make and there will never be enough – but also, spending every penny you have was normal because you can always just borrow more. I believed that dreams were only for some people (not the ‘me’ kinda people); that normal people immediately went to work after high school and just kept working and as long as the bills were paid, you were doing fine. I believed that being fat was the worst thing in the world that could happen to a women – but also, I should be able to over eat, use food as a reward, pay no attention to nutrition, eat everything on my plate, and that I was doomed with the Crisp (maiden name) fat gene, so the hope of losing weight was pretty much never going to happen. I believed that judging people was normal and okay as long as you never said it to their face. I believed that solutions to problems are found in a pill or some quick fix. I believed that I needed permission to speak up – and only when what I was saying was in alignment with other’s beliefs should I even ask for permission to speak up. I believed in order to achieve anything good in life, someone else needed to do the work for me. I believed that being angry meant yelling and holding a grudge – even with your own offspring, especially with your own offspring…they needed to be reminded who is boss. I believed that showing emotion was weak.
I believed all of these things only because I never once stopped to question any of it. The beliefs were taught to me over and over again and at some point my brain just accepted them as truths. Beliefs are just sentences you say over and over again until your brain registers them as true. I just didn’t know that then.
I believed that the way my life was going was just how it went for someone like me. Someone who was supposed to struggle. Someone who needed to settle. Someone who was too fat to do anything that required being seen or heard. Someone who wasn’t skinny enough to have a great marriage – because what really amazing man wants to be married to someone so fat? Someone who wasn’t smart enough to go to college and ‘really make something of herself’. I used the check list of life that I was given and just kept going through the motions.
Those beliefs got me here. Those beliefs are what create the feelings that drove my actions that produced my results.
I can see that so clearly now. I can (conceptually) see that the results I have created are totally neutral in the fact that I get to choose what I make all of them mean. I am still working on the not making them mean I am a shit person belief.
See, once I learned (what actually felt more like remembering) that my belief systems create my results – I did what most people who are taught this work initially do… I felt so much shame. I asked myself questions like ‘How could I let it get so out of hand?’ ‘How am I ever going to get past this?’ ‘How will I learn how to believe so many new things about so many different areas?’ Shame spiral. Overwhelm. A true identity crisis. Who the fuck am I? I see who I have been and I see who I want to be and I am somewhere in the middle. I have no identity. I felt (and am still working through feeling) numb. Pulling away from relationships, avoiding old familiar situations, and just taking it one day at a time have now become my new MO.
Here’s what I have come across in the last couple of weeks. Shame is not going to get me to where I am going. Shame is going to keep me hiding from myself and my life. Shame is going to drive me to try and eat my feelings. If there is one thing that I have proven to myself over and over again is shaming and hating myself into the start and completion of a new goal never fucking works. Ever.
It’s time to take the mask off. Get out from under the covers. Look at my results straight in the mother freaking eyes. And just decide. Do I want to change my life? Do I want to CREATE my own life? Okay. Then what do I need to believe to get me there? Get honest about my starting point and get really fucking clear on the goal end point and just get to work. No more hiding. No more shaming. No more hating. And no more seeking god damned thoughts, opinions, and approvals from everyone else. This time I am trying on love. Loving myself unconditionally and having an unwavering belief in my own dang self without permission or validation from anyone else. If anyone jumps ship because they can’t handle that… so be it.
I have produced the results that I have with my brain. My results have no bearing on my value or worth as a human. They simply are what they are and I can continue to create the same or choose something different.
Shame is no longer an option.
I choose courage.
Aren’t you tired of shaming yourself? Aren’t you tired of hiding?
It won’t get you to where you wanna go. Get off that merry-go-round.
Life is waiting. Choose courage.