A Slow Fade

~Similar to a sunset, it was a slow fade into something different. I can’t say it was a conscious change, but I definitely didn’t resist it. I was aware, however, of the growing discomfort of simply being. The feeling of being someone that was unsure of just about everything (including who I was) became a constant. I had somehow convinced myself that there was a timeline for everything and that not sticking to it equaled failure. There I was, newly married and NO CLUE what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how to change that.

Having some distance from that time in my life, I can now see how growing up as a chronic people pleaser had crippled my decision making. I was in the habit of out sourcing my happiness and my worth. If the main players in my life were happy, I was happy. Every decision I made hinged upon what someone else would think or how they would potentially react. My main objective was to please others, I had no sense of autonomy. So, getting married and finding myself in the wide open space of “Hi, hello, welcome to the rest of your life…what do you want to do next?” was INCREDIBLY uncomfortable for me. What I didn’t know then was that discomfort is a necessary component of growth. So, what did I do in the face of that discomfort? I hid and I resisted what I didn’t understand. I was still under the impression that life should always “feel good” (we’ll touch on that myth another time) and if it doesn’t feel good, then something is VERY wrong. That thought alone created so much shame and that shame was the beginning of my recoil. Struggling to see that my life had worth just as it was led me to rush in to motherhood. Do I at this point in my life regret it happening the way that it did? Not at all. However, I feel like it’s important to admit that my choice to have my girls when I did was directly related to me not knowing what in the heck I wanted to do with my life and the emotions that thought created.

I couldn’t see it then, but I was again outsourcing my worth, this time in the form of tiny humans. I feel like secretly a LOT of us can relate to this.

This is not the part where you relate and shame starts to seep in…nope, we aren’t doing that. This is simply the part where maybe you connect and find some awareness. Awareness is SO important, it’s the foundation of change. Granted, we can’t change the past, but we can change our thoughts about the past. My thought is, I did the best I could with what I knew and my guess is, you did too. Ok, good, glad you agree. Now, back to the story.

It wasn’t too long before I was knee deep in “Momdom.” I was even SO successful at motherhood that when my first child was 6 months old, I became pregnant with my second. Then, you guessed it, another came along and BAM, I’m a mom to a 3yr old, a 2yr old and a newborn. This seems like a good time to mention that you’ll never find an external solution to an internal problem. Not knowing that then, I continued grasping for worthiness and purpose while drowning in the overwhelm of motherhood.

I had grown up a very goal oriented kid. I never really had to be pushed to work hard. It’s difficult to untangle whether my motivation was fueled mostly by pleasing others or if it was actually self driven. It’s probably fair to say that it was a mixture of both. By the time I was 22, I had some genuinely impressive accolades and titles under my belt. Motherhood felt like the exact opposite of who I was or what I had thought I would become. I had some pretty big dreams as a kid. I think maybe most of us do. It was difficult for me to reconcile who I saw in the mirror with who I always thought I would be. Somehow being a mom wasn’t “good enough” or “impressive enough” at the time. Again, that thought created even more shame and so, I crept a little further into the shadows. Do you ever stop to question why it is that you believe what you believe? Do you ever stop to ask yourself if what you believe is even true? I sure as heck didn’t. I was use to listening to that little voice in my head and hung on its every word as if it were gospel. After all, that little voice was “the voice of reason,” right? That’s certainly what I was brought up believing.

Somehow I was lucky enough to end up with a HIGHLY CRITICAL “little voice.” I’m guessing I’m not alone here. Why do we do this? Why are we so careful with our words to others, yet rip ourselves to shreds? What lies at the inception of any “slow fade?” You guessed it, that critical inner voice, those seemingly innocent thoughts that create negative emotions and net negative results. We hear those thoughts as being “us” and so we listen and we believe, all while being oblivious to the fact that every single bit of it is optional. This is where the awareness I mentioned earlier comes in to play. Being able to STOP in the middle of a mental spiral or even in the middle of some mundane, innocuous thought and realize that the constant chatter isn’t really you is HUGE. Hang with me here for a second. You know exactly what I’m talking about. That voice in your head, the one that might be thinking, “This chick is a weirdo” right about now…that isn’t you. You are not your thoughts, friend. YOU are the one who notices your thoughts. Big difference. There are two parts to your inner self. The first is you, the one who is aware, the one who watches and the other is the part that you watch. The main issue is that the part that you watch never shuts up.

For the sake of keeping things straight, let’s call the part that you watch your inner B.S. Short for inner Bradley or Brenda Smith, depending on your gender. What? You thought B.S. was short for something else? (cough, cough…it is.) But for those of you offended by such, we’ll stick with inner “Bradley or Brenda Smith.” I want you to imagine for a second what it would be like not to have to take your inner B.S. with you everywhere you go. True growth in EVERY aspect of your life happens once you learn how to turn down and even turn off your inner B.S. That’s right, you have a choice. Now, I’m not saying that your inner B.S. won’t try his or her best to keep you under their infulence, but simply being aware that you can choose what to listen to and what to table is where the shift in power begins.

I realize this is a tad off center from what most of us grew up being told, but if you’re searching for true happiness, peace, contentment, purpose, worthiness, and success…the best plan of action is to start by talking a deep look within. You will never shut your inner B.S. up by losing a certain number of pounds, getting that promotion, a six figure job, or finding the perfect mate. There are plenty of people who have achieved everything on the aforementioned list and are still unhappy. Why? Simply put, their inner B.S. is completely out of control. There are also countess others living small, resisting the discomfort of growth, and adopting a spirit of fear and shame all because they chose to listen and believe when their inner B.S. told them it was better to play it safe and or that their time to chase dreams is over. Did you know that everything we do in life is driven by an emotion? The actions we take are based on how we think we’ll feel when we’ve achieved it. This is where a great number of us get tripped up by our inner B.S. Pick a goal, any goal… You begin, things are going smoothly at first and then WHAM, the unexpected setback occurs. What we make that mean, what we let our inner B.S. tell us it means about ourselves, directly effects what we do next. This is where those who have true awareness are separated from those who still blindly listen to and believe their inner B.S.

This was my main source of discontentment for SO LONG. I felt like extenuating circumstances outside my control were all to blame. Never once did I consider myself to be the problem. Now, this is the part where some of you are going to feel EXTREMELY resistant. Many of us, myself included, get stuck in victim mode. We experience some sort of event or trauma and it marks us. We feel forever changed and powerless in the face of it. So much so that we decide to carry that mark with us from that point on. It becomes part of us, part of our story. Along with that extra baggage comes resentment, anger, frustration and sadness that is often times easily triggered. We refuse to put it down, no matter how heavy it becomes because we’ve convinced ourselves that putting it down and letting it go lets the offender off the hook. By all means, let’s continue to pile up upon ourselves any and all past offenses to self in an effort to punish someone else. That sounds super healthy and super productive, right? Still, you’d be surprised at the amount of people punishing themselves by carrying around old baggage. I say all that to say, your biggest hurdle in the way of the life you really want…will be YOU. Eventually you will realize, just like Dorothy and her ruby slippers, that you had the power all along. For some of you, that realization will bring with it a lot of anger. For others, it will feel like relief. For most, it will be a mixture of the two. However, if you are willing to do the work and feel the discomfort, a whole new world will open up to you. If you’re a Disney fan, I’m willing to bet your inner voice is singing “A Whole New World” from Aladdin right about now. Am I right? 😉

Seriously though, what I’ve shared with you is just a drop in the bucket of what I’ve been studying and practicing over the past few years. By turning down the volume on my inner B.S. I have found the worth and purpose I could never seem to find in my early 30’s. I slowly began to lean in to the discomfort and ultimately throw back the curtains on a life that had become too accustomed to the shadows of doubt. It’s my passion to bring as many people as I can into this type of awareness in their own lives. I shared my story of fumbling through life for a time not as an example of what not to do, but as an example of what is human and also as an example of just how much power our inner B.S. possesses when we remain unaware. Only when we know better can we do better. If any of this interests you, stick around. I’ll be sharing a great deal more in connection with this concept. It is my hope that you’ll find what I share incredibly transformative in your own life. All you have to do is decide you’re ready to step in to a deeper awareness of self.

Philippians 4:8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these thinks.

Luke 14:33 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.