Fear can make you take a perfectly good life and turn it completely upside down. At least it did in my case.
When Shauna and I were developing the material for our last retreat we had this brilliant idea to write down all the fears that came up when we thought about living out our biggest boldest dreams and then transform them into positive statements that we could write on the sides of a wooden block. The block would represent our barriers and the positive statements were to remind us that our fears were only thoughts and we could change our thoughts at any time.
I came up with my list rather quickly:
- I am not successful enough.
- I am not a good mother.
- I am not okay.
- I am bad.
- I have no control.
Well, as you know, a block has 6 sides and as I filled out my block I only had 5 statements:
- I am successful.
- I am a great mom.
- I am okay.
- I am good.
- I am the author.
As I stared at the 6th side wondering if I should leave it blank, it hit me that I had forgotten the most important ones and I couldn’t choose between them so I wrote them both down on my 6th side.
I am seen and I matter.
So many of my life hurts could be traced to feeling like I wasn’t important. From how I felt as a young child all the way to the downward spiral I was currently trying to pull myself out of.
To give you a snippet, when I was 5 my parents forgot me at a party. When they returned over an hour later they found me sitting on my Barbie case in the driveway crying. When I was 7, they forgot my birthday all together. My birthday is New Year’s Eve. When I was 8, I stopped bringing home my awards and accolades from school because I knew that they would go unnoticed. As an adult, I can look at this all with compassion for my young self and also for my parents. I can also see the full picture which is that I was off by myself when the whole party decided to move locations and each parent thought the other had me. Or that my parents were throwing a huge New Year’s Eve party that consumed a better part of the week in preparation and planning and my birthday got lost in the madness. Or that no one asked me to stop bringing home my awards. I had a sibling who struggled with school and it was hard to acknowledge one without hurting the other. Who knows why we make the decisions and interpret our experiences the way we do? Why we choose certain memories to hold on to and shape us and let others completely go. But these were the ones that I let shape my belief about myself.
The idea that my work didn’t matter was the trigger but the unwinding went into all the ways that I felt insignificant. Clearly, I had some healing to do but I didn’t know how. I stayed in therapy for six sessions but it was taking too long. I wanted to move through the painful place I was in faster. I’d spent far too much time watching my thoughts and working on my mind to stay in this place of fear and anxiety. Just like I’d detoxed my body, I had to detox my mind. I started with forgiveness. I forgave myself for drinking too much and making a fool out of myself. I forgave myself for letting someone’s opinion hurt me so badly. I forgave myself for causing drama with my husband and my friends. I forgave myself for being needy and insecure. Then I forgave everyone that I could think of that had hurt me. You can say you forgive someone or yourself but to actually forgive takes some work. I did that work.
Then I got to the business of making myself important to me. I made my relationship with myself a top priority. My first rule was kindness. I was adamant about that. In fact, I became so conscious of how I talked to myself that I gave the negative voice in my head a name. She is judgmental, sharp, and worried about what people think. She frets about pointless things a lot. Her favorite time to bother me is late at night when my defenses are down and I’m extra tired. I have become good at acknowledging her with love and when I do she goes away and I get to be the me I enjoy. I know now that that voice is only a small part of who I am but it’s a voice that needs to be heard and loved. I wouldn’t say I’ve tamed my wild mind, or even that I need to, but I would say that I take loving care of it.
All of this didn’t happen overnight. I came out of the place of deep pain after a month or so but it would be several months before I felt light again. However, I felt light in a way I had never been before. The melancholy that I’d been wrestling with for pretty much my entire life was gone. I feel deeply grateful for the whole experience because of that. I didn’t realize how down I was on a regular basis until I wasn’t down anymore.
You know how they say that when you change your inner world your outer world changes? Well that’s started to happen. I’ve taken care of my health, my family, my business for years and years but taking care of my mind is when I really started to come into my own. My relationship with my husband is my favorite part. He used to complain that no matter what he did, I was never happy. He doesn’t say that anymore. He knows I’m happy.
Above my desk I have a sticker that says I SEE YOU. It’s been there for years. I had it there to remind me that the most important thing that I do for people is I see them. I would not have that sense of purpose if it had not been for my life experience. That fear of not being seen has made me an observer. It’s made me insightful. It’s made me who I am. What I missed is that I did not give to myself what I so easily give to others. I didn’t acknowledge my value and contribution. I wanted someone else to do that for me and it could not be done. That is my job.
I’ve written this for you. To encourage you to take care of that mind of yours. And to share with you where the Wild Mind Retreat came from and why I think taking that journey inward is so important. So many people wanted me to do the vision retreat again, but I felt called to do this work, because really it’s the best I’ve ever done. I can hold you accountable, I can create a container to help you get things done, I can help you create a bold vision of your most beautiful life, but if you arrive and you feel as you do now, and how you feel now is not that great, than what’s the point? That’s what was happening to me at least and so I realized I needed to go deeper and that’s just what I’ve done and it’s changed everything. I welcome you to do the same if you feel called.