Feeling Unworthy

{Etsy print by: Lori Portka}

{Etsy print by: Lori Portka}

It happened again.

I was feeling at peace with my life. The speeding ticket far behind me. The illness starting to heal itself. Acceptance was beginning to melt like chocolate, thick, rich and beautiful and seeping into anything hard and open.

And then it happened.

Life. It’s the person who’s doing better than you. The mom who seems to be perfect. The family with the bigger house. The friend with a better job. Suddenly, nothing you’re doing is good enough. And that’s not the end point.

The worse thing is when your child looks at you, when you’re staring straight in the face of your husband or your beautiful family, your home, your beautiful body, it’s not good enough. If it’s not good enough, you’re not good enough.

It’s a wretched feeling.

It starts with envy, but it’s an uncomfortable gnawing like the sound of nails on a chalkboard or a turtleneck choking your neck.

You know you should feel happy or use it to motivate you. But there you are.

How do you quell the critical voices in your head?

You keep telling yourself like I did:

“You are good enough.”

“Your life is perfectly imperfect, just the way it should be.”

Your fortune is in your ability to see it. Your happiness is dependent on imbuing the moment with gratitude. What you accomplish is not in direct proportion to your happiness or your worth.

Some people’s life from afar seem shiny and beautiful. They could be. It has nothing to do with you. It has nothing to do with your life.

Don’t wish for their life.

Wish for your life being as grand, as alive, as heartbreakingly profound as it can be.

Don’t skim the surface.

Dig in deep.

Stop throwing away the good things you do for the amazing things someone else did. Stop putting your life alongside another. Stop making what you do who you are.

And embrace it all: your flaws, your contributions, your moodiness, your beautifulness. Pretend you are an outsider looking into your own life. And be envious of yourself…

*I’m busy writing nonfiction articles (like this heartwarming story of an old-time local store in the business of serving people and their pets), an essay and a few fiction pieces. These mini lessons are a slice of soul I hope will inspire you. 

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It’s Not About Finding Your Purpose

Accepting who you are warts and all

When I started this blogging journey, it was all about my writing. I wanted a place to pursue my passion. I wanted an arena to showcase my work and a venting spot to unleash my unexpressed writing dream. Since then, I’ve moved to Hawaii, bought a house, suffered from a few chronic illnesses and had a baby. Through it all, I realized the journey has molded my intention rather than the other way around. Instead of a place to inspire creativity and to get more writing gigs, it opened up my soul. It’s not just about finding our purpose or living our dreams. It’s about loving your life and finding a way to accept wherever we are in the process. It’s about self-acceptance. Patience. Faith. And courage.

I realized this because I found myself getting too attached to external circumstances. How many people were viewing my blog? How many freelance writing jobs was I getting? Was my work good enough?

Understandable questions to ask when striving for freelance writing success. But it was the meaning I placed on professional achievement and positive feedback that was wonky. Success, attention, like Lady Gaga’s new song, Applause, should not equal self-worth.

Doing well in your profession is important. Never giving up on your dreams is important. But more than anything else, our goal in life should be to find ways to love our self.

Basing who you are and your value on feedback from others or from success will inevitably deplete you. What nourishes our soul, what we’re really looking for, isn’t temporary validation through external sources. What lasts longer than a complement is the belief that regardless of what we accomplish, our lives mean something.

And that doesn’t have to mean BIG, grand, dramatic things. Just because your neighbor, a Facebook friend or a relative has done something so fabulous it leaves your life seem boring and worthless in comparison, doesn’t mean your less valuable than them. Just because you haven’t found “it” yet (great job, relationship, etc.), doesn’t mean you should walk around with your head down and your voice squelched.

It’s not about what you do that matters. You matter because you are here.

The secret is not in uncovering what will make us shine. The secret is that we don’t know we’re worthy of shining.

If we could all take that in on a deep level, the world would be a kinder, more loving, compassionate place to live. When we’re not trying to convince others of our worthiness, we’re ourselves. Being authentically you and feeling good in your own skin are the ways to happiness.

And your true calling?

It will find you on that path.

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The Missing Piece

{via colettepaperie from Etsy}

I’ve blogged about finding your calling here and here. But it seems as though I missed the boat when it comes to helping you find your dreams.

After you’ve discovered what you want. And you’ve thought about it. Wrote about it. Did what Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert does every day and write what you really, really, really want in your journal. Took all the steps to get to it. Marketed yourself. Educated yourself. Networked yourself crazy. But you are still here.

Waiting.

Praying.

Wondering.

Doubting.

Cause you’re still not where you want to be…

Maybe you’re starting to think taking that e-course would have been the way to go or that you shouldn’t have turned down that job offer you had recently. What’s taking SO long?! And why oh why haven’t you gotten there yet?!

I am an impatient person so I totally understand what you’re going through.

But the truth of the matter is the greatest obstacle that could be standing in the way of your dreams is…Y-O-U!

If you’ve ever questioned your talent, doubted your efforts, find yourself wondering if you’re really worthy of ______ (happiness, success, love, etc.), then you’re the one who’s holding yourself back.

The missing piece is you. It’s always been you.

It’s not your father, your teacher, your difficult client, your children, your siblings, your uncompassionate friend, your unsupportive spouse.

It’s you.

You are unfortunately and fortunately the thing in the way of your dreams.

And the only way you’re going to get there is to stop blaming others and start healing yourself.

How do you do that?

1. Bully yourself with love. When your thoughts are filled with negative self-talk, overpower them with positive words of self-love.

2. Remind yourself of what you’ve already accomplished. When faced with a new opportunity, you may automatically respond with the thought: “I can’t do that.” Tell yourself, “I already have.” Remember all the impossible feats you’ve already overcome.

3. Visualize yourself already there. Sometimes the fear that we can’t do something, sabotages our efforts. Visualizing that we’ve already achieved what we’re afraid of somehow makes the tasks seem less intimidating.

4. Remember why you want it. Focusing on why you’re doing what you’re doing can help alleviate some of the anxiety associated with success. If you’re intention is to help others, you will be less likely to shirk away from that next project because you’re focused on a larger goal.

5. Practice patience. When we are wounded, we put a band-aid over the sore spot to give it time to heal. It’s the same with our soul. Sometime it takes times to be where want to be. Have patience that you will get there. In the meantime, work on loving yourself. Work on healing the wounds of insecurity, rejection, unworthiness with love, acceptance, understanding.

Eventually, a new door will open. The question is, “Will you be ready for it?”

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When Your Best Is Not Enough

I was suffering from “not enough-itis” just last week. In case you’ve never heard of it, here’s my own definition.

Not Enough-Itis: An insidious disease that can damage your health, your relationships and your self-worth. It’s what happens when you compare yourself with others and in comparison, nothing you do is enough.

I’m not even a parent so I can’t imagine how much worse the disease gets when you have kids too. Fetchingly, Sarah Jessica Parker’s new movie I Don’t Know How She Does It is out in theaters as a preview to that life. I haven’t watched it yet. But I get the premise. The pressure for mothers trying to juggle everything perfectly, but never successfully.

Sadly, this is where we’re at as a society these days.

We’re moving away from “just enough” to “gotta do it all.”

I’ve never been one to embrace a fad, but this one somehow wormed its way into my psyche. That’s what happens when you spend too much time online and watching TV. Everyone else’s life looks perfect and yours always seems to be slipping through the cracks.

I’m pretty honest about my faults and my imperfections. Call it the gift that being an awkward teenager gave to me or growing up as a rebel where pretending to be perfect was the ideal. But who am I kidding? Isn’t this the life we all live these days?

As for me, I healed this insatiable disease by taking a much-needed break away, faraway from looming deadlines and impossible to fill pressures. I escaped into a little Snow White and the Seven Dwarves cottage in a not just inspiring, but awe-inspiring forest all the way in Mendocino.

I fell in love. I remembered who I was separate from what I did. I remembered to breathe. I remembered what it felt like to have a “home,” a real place where you can softly land after a stressful day.

My body felt healthy. I suddenly felt like I had been holding my breath for far too long. Nature felt like it was embracing me and it wouldn’t let me fall.

My inspiration returned.

My writing flowed.

If I could wrap up that place in a snow globe, I would. I’d take it out and shake it and feel the fresh air blowing my hair in my face and the healing sound of complete silence.

It reminded me that not enough-itis was the fairy tale. Not this place. This place was the truth. This is what I needed to take me out of the “I can’t tweet/blog/Facebook/comment on every single person’s inspiring blog” to save my life. But that’s okay. All I needed was to do what I was doing. Focus like a dog zooms in on his bone, with mindful attention and purpose. And never mind the distractions, the people doing this or that, the distance still not traveled.

It will be there tomorrow. But today. Today is for living and dreaming…

For more photos, check out my Etsy site: http://www.etsy.com/shop/TheInspiringBee

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Cultivating Confidence

{flickr photo}

I remember the exact day it happened. It was April 26, 2011. It was a Tuesday, and an ordinary one at that. Except for one thing.  I went to the gas station that afternoon and I said, “$50 on number 8.” There was no hesitation in my request. There was not a slightest high pitch, lilt at the end of my statement. For the first time in my life I was confident in what I was asking.

Just weeks earlier I was apologizing profusely when I had to stop working from a serious bout of food poisoning. In between bathroom breaks, I continued to work on my laptop. Months before that I questioned the validity in ending a relationship with a client who went from benign to ballistic in mere months.

I often got confused as a teenager when calling people on the phone. When I was 25 years old a classmate who I hadn’t seen in years asked me what I was doing for a living. I mumbled, “Loaned Executive.” I was quite proud of it actually, but I was too embarrassed of my pride to spit out the words. This was the result of years of grooming. Never stand too high among the grass. Better to hide than to stick out. Better to blend in with the crowd than to rise above it. But something changed. I went from 13 to 33 in six months.

What sparked this spontaneous bout of confidence?

It took my entire life, but I realized that to live my dreams, not just dream them I needed to strip away at every thought and belief I had about myself. I had to leave the inner critic on the wayside. I needed to rise about the limitations that kept me bounded with fear for so long.

In a few words, I learned to have the courage to be me.

 

How do you cultivate your own self-confidence?

  • Begin focusing on your passion. Read books that fill that need. Attend lectures, workshops. Find people who share that passion with you. When you are filled with what moves you, your confidence will rise to the top.

  • Fake it until you make it. Everyone starts from the bottom. Until you have the confidence that comes from experience, act as if you do. Act as if you already believe you have the skills, talent, and years to back up your career. You may surprise yourself and realize you already do.

  • Communicate with confidence. Everyone experiences a lack of self-confidence at one time or another. Maybe it’s the weight you gained or your inexperience that has you lacking the big C. I find that if I focus on the person in front of me instead of on myself, insecurities and fear fades and my confidence soars.

  • Confidence comes from self-worth. Like a flower that needs care, it’s important to spend time growing your self-esteem. Keep a daily success journal with all the things you have accomplished in a day. Reflect on moments where you surprised yourself and achieved great things. Be kind and compassionate to yourself. Nurture your inner spirit by learning to trust your instincts and respect your decisions.
  •  

    Remember that cultivating confidence takes time. Remember that you cannot buy it with fancy clothes. Remember that confidence comes from an inner strength of being not outward actions to impress others.

    Today, I heard a talk on love. The person asked, “What if you were to love yourself just the way you are?”

    If you can begin to practice doing that, you will exude confidence effortlessly. For confidence doesn’t just come from what you wear and how you shake someone’s hand. It comes from the belief that you are worthy of success and happiness and by believing in yourself and your endeavors.

    Pretty powerful stuff!

    What did it take for you to cultivate your own sense of self-confidence?

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