Tag Archives: anxiety

Learning to trust what arises

Let’s be honest, if we had the choice, we’d all want to be happy most, if not all of the time; we’re only human after all.¬†In reality, life is a little trickier than that.

The trouble with feeling low, sad or anxious is that they don’t feel like very friendly emotions! They feel, if anything, like some form of punishment for something we’ve done wrong. We judge the emotion, and we judge ourselves for feeling it, which in turn only makes us feel worse.

I’ve read before about diving into every moment in life, trusting that it is our friend and not our foe. Spiritual writers seem particularly keen for us to ‘trust what arises’, no matter how bad we may feel at times. If I happen to be in a difficult place when I come across these messages, my reaction is usually not a positive one!! “If only they knew how bad I feel and how hard I’ve been trying to stop feeling this way, they wouldn’t be encouraging me to dive in deep and accept what is!”

My go-to response to feeling a difficult emotion is often to look for the escape button, in whatever form that may take. Now please don’t misunderstand me here – I’m not in the least suggesting that you stop yourself from looking for support, guidance or comfort in your moments of darkness. I don’t know about you, but I’m becoming increasingly aware of the fact that I’m not in this life alone, and whereas I absolutely must take responsibility for my own emotions, that does not mean that I have to do it alone. In fact, seeking support and guidance isn’t hitting the escape button – it’s a way of making what you’re feeling manageable and ensuring that you feel heard, understand and held. This is ALL GOOD and extremely important. Hitting the escape button, on the other hand, may include something that will temporarily numb the pain, but in the process prevent you from really experiencing what it is that is wanting to be seen. Think along the lines of a glass or two of wine, asking for reassurance instead of trusting that you can handle whatever life throws your way, or reaching out to someone you know gives you that rush of acceptance and approval, when what you really need is to accept and approve of yourself.

As I write this, I’m aware of how very hard it is to dive into the negative emotions that arise, and how much I still find myself wanting to fast-track my way to the good side of life. In fact, I’m writing this as an important reminder to myself, because it takes courage to sit with the ‘bad’ and trust that the ‘good’ will return. This stuff is hard guys! Like, super hard and gritty and painful and messy… It sucks, and I know it sucks, so please don’t think that I’m of the impression that any of this is easy.

It seems to me that there are a few key things to remember when it comes to navigating the darker side of life, and most of them have to do with trust… So get ready to learn how to trust, let go and allow life to unfold. It may seem scary, but it’s actually extremely empowering, and will help you to feel more connected with yourself and your fellow human beings. (Remember: no matter how alone you may feel, we are all in this together, and you are connected with every other living thing on the planet. The less ‘true’ this feels, the more you have to trust that it is).

  • Your life is not meaningless and random – it is VERY meaningful and everything is always exactly as it should be.
  • In every moment there are opportunities to trust more, let go of the need to control, and allow things to just ‘be’, knowing that life is always cheering you on and encouraging you to reach for joy.
  • Trust that you are worthy of joy and happiness. Often, when we feel particularly bad, joy can seem like it’s a very long way from us indeed. What I’ve come to realise is that joy is always present within us; it’s our ability to tap into it and get past our mental and emotional blocks that matters. If joy seems far from your reach, consider that it may actually be closer to you than you could ever have imagined, just waiting for you to give yourself a break, learn to love yourself or let go of the past…
  • Trust the journey that you are on. You know who you are, what phase of your life you are in, and what it is that you need to do to connect with that deep well of joy that exists inside you at all times. Don’t let the demons fool you into thinking that they know you better than you know yourself!! If anything, recognise that your fears are a natural part of being human, thank them for their concern, but ultimately remind them that they don’t get to call the shots. (NB: for more on living a more full and creative life in spite of the fear that arises for all of us, read ‘Big Magic’ by Elizabeth Gilbert – you won’t regret it!)
  • All of the above will help you to relax and breathe, anchoring you in the present moment, which ultimately is all that we ever have.
  • Remember that breathing through the pain doesn’t mean accepting that this is how you will always feel. It is absolutely possible for you to accept pain and anguish, whilst dreaming of and trusting in a joyful future ūüôā
  • Remember that you are ALWAYS loved. If you need a little encouragement with this one, please listen to ‘In Dreams’ by Jai-Jagdeesh. It’s a beautiful song to play just before bedtime.

As I move through my life, I am becoming increasingly aware that the only version of life that makes sense to me is a magical one, where we are all connected in a giant cosmic journey. The more magic I allow to be present in my life, the deeper my sense of trust and belonging. I’ve tried living in a mundane world-view, and it felt so far from the truth, and brought me so much pain, that I have no choice now but to dive in deep to the spiritual life I feel strongly is calling to me. If you too feel the call of the wild, please consider reading some of Martha Beck’s many wonderful books. She is one crazy lady, in the best and most wonderful way. There are days when just remembering that she exists brings me a sense of relief and belonging. I love you Martha!

Now go forth and allow yourself to begin trusting in yourself and your journey.

Much love,

Kath Xxx

 

Image courtesy of Terry Johnston via Flickr Creative Commons Attribution License

What made you happy yesterday might not make you happy today

Life is a journey, right? We are told this continuously throughout our lives, by friends and relatives hoping to provide some reassurance or insight. We too, have most likely bestowed this timeless phrase on our loved ones on many an occasion. But do we really know what this means in practice? Do we fully understand how to embrace the constant onward march of time, and the ever-changing circumstances we find ourselves faced with?

I can only speak for myself when I say that I have not yet mastered this skill. I understand the theory behind the journey of life, and letting go of the idea that I was ever in control. I’m certainly much better at accepting the light and dark that enters our lives, and recognising that maybe, just maybe, the lights have gone out so that we may discover something new about ourselves. But change I find tricky, and my skill-set in dealing with life often falls short when it comes to uncertainty and periods of transition. And there definitely is a skill-set involved, without which it’s logical that we may falter and struggle against reality.

There was a lot of change for me growing up, but this doesn’t mean that I know how to handle it. In fact, I’d say I’m less well-equipped than someone who has had a relatively stable upbringing, because our goal as a family was to run away from the problems, and wherever possible, pretend that they didn’t exist. This is perfectly understandable, given that my parents didn’t have the know-how to help us deal with what was going on. That’s not to say that they didn’t do lots of lovely things to soothe and comfort us, or that they didn’t desperately want for us to be happy and well-adjusted. Their love and adoration is not in question here.¬†I think perhaps one of the difficulties with a highly changeable upbringing is that you find yourself always looking for something permanent; something solid to hold onto in a seemingly unfriendly world. But by doing this, you overlook the importance of letting go and of going with the flow of life. And there most definitely is a flow to life, isn’t there? We’ve all experienced that delicious feeling of being on the right path, or of just knowing somehow that life is supporting you in your endeavours.

Note: it’s been important for me to realise that life is always supporting me, even when it feels as though everything is falling apart.

One of my biggest frustrations in life is that what made me happy yesterday might not make me happy today. I can be sailing along, having a perfectly wonderful week, then suddenly everything looks very different. “But wait! I was happy and content before – what’s happened to change how I feel? Why can’t I find that feeling again by doing the same things as before?” It’s a very disheartening experience, and one that can make you feel very powerless and out of control if you let it. The only answer I have come up with so far is to let go and let happiness reveal itself to you in its own time. As tempting as it is to keep looking in the same places, perhaps you need to take a big step back and view life from a different perspective? The truth is that life may look the same as it did yesterday or last year, but we are never the same person, from one day to the next. We are older, wiser, and hopefully have a little more clarity about how we wish to spend our time on this planet. Perhaps the previous year was spent making important discoveries about yourself and/or your relationships, but now the time has come to utilise that knowledge and express more of yourself to the world? Continuing to delve into your inner-psyche might not have the same impact as before because, well, you’re in a different phase of your life, and the nature of life’s journey requires that you move on from where you were before.

This is tough, and often requires patience, support from others, and at times, huge leaps of faith that will leave you wondering what on earth just happened. These are the moments in life where we must gather as much courage as possible, and maybe take things a little less seriously. I know how serious and dark life can feel at times, as I’m sure you do. But survivors of serious illness and near-death experiences will tell you how liberating it is to live for the moment and enjoy each day for what it is, instead of getting so bogged down in worry and negativity.

And let’s not forget that we are all connected in this journey of life. We cannot do this alone, and will never have to, no matter how alone we may feel at times. Being strong and independent doesn’t mean not needing anyone else for support and guidance, and in fact it is a sign of maturity to be able to reach out to others, and recognise when we don’t have the know-how to keep moving in the right direction. Life¬†will keep moving; it’s how we handle it that counts.

Much love,

Kath

 

p.s. I always want to apologise at the end of my blog posts: “Sorry it was so wordy and long, or that it didn’t sound intelligent enough or have enough content”. Well today I will not apologise. If you didn’t like what you read, I salute you for having your own ideas and preferences. If you did like it, well how very exciting!

Image courtesy of WILL POWER via Flickr Creative Commons Attribution License

Shadows and stars

There are so many hidden parts of me, just waiting to get out. I see now, after so many years of anxiety and sadness, that I have been living in the shadows, unaware of what was waiting for me in the light. Like a long dark tunnel, it is necessary to keep moving forwards in order to reach the light. It’s terrifying – truly terrifying. But oh… once you’ve glimpsed the light which lies beyond that dark and confined space, you will know in your heart that there is no turning back.

It’s a strange thing to awaken to your true self. The truth of who I am has always been there, but I have been so very oblivious to it I can hardly believe it. I have been afraid, but I see now that I am brave – courageous beyond my wildest dreams. Where once I felt ashamed, I am beginning to feel a joy in letting it all hang-out. This is me, and there won’t ever be another one of me. Similar, yes. Kindred spirits – definitely. But an exact copy? Nope. I am a part of the universe that has never existed before, and will never exist again. And the same is true for you, whoever you are. A friend of mine called me a ‘star’ the other day, and I liked how it reminded me that I am a part of a much bigger picture. As Gill Edwards put it: “We are all pieces in a giant cosmic jigsaw” (I’m paraphrasing as I don’t remember the exact quote). Needless to say that when I first encountered this quote in Gill’s writings, I felt a sense of belonging and of family that I have spent my life searching for.

I realise that this post makes it sound like I’m close to having all the answers, which is far from the truth. I believe I have a lot more to learn about myself, and I hope many more adventures to go on. But for the first time in my 35 years on this planet, the longing to be my true self is greater than any anxiety about what people may think of me.

So much life to be lived. So many parts of myself to explore and express. So many lovely people to connect and share experiences with.

I still have days where I struggle to feel connected to myself and others, but I know now to let these days pass me by, trusting that they will give way to something more joyful and more true. My disconnected state isn’t my true self, but rather a state of being that masks my true self. This is different to the concept of light and dark existing alongside one another; there will always be good and bad times in our lives, just like the sky can’t always be filled with sunshine. But our true selves remain constant, even if they are hidden away, and even if it’s grey outside and everything in our lives seems to be falling to pieces.

So, I put this to you, my lovely readers. You are a star, shining brightly in an ever-unfolding universe. You are part of something wonderful, but you yourself are wonderful, just as you are. So make like those cheesy slogans we see all over mugs and tote bags, and shine bright for all the world to see.

And one last thing: if you’re only just entering the dark tunnel of your life, be kind and patient with yourself. Keep moving forwards, bit by bit, and when you least expect it, a small amount of light will begin to appear at the other side. Whatever you do, don’t look back.

Love,

Kath

Don’t judge me, I’m only human.

Please don’t judge me – you know nothing of what I’ve been through.

You may think you know, just as I may think that I understand you.

But how can we? How can we really understand what it’s like to walk in each other’s shoes?

I see the way you look at me – constantly assessing my character.

You’ve been doing it since the day we first met, and even now, after all these years, you can’t seem to just let me be.

I know you love me, as I love you.

I try not to judge you, and to let you be. But I do judge your judgement of me.

I have felt judged my whole life, and the last thing I need is to feel that I am under your scrutiny.

You don’t mean to, I know, but I always feel so belittled, so inferior under your watchful gaze.

You can’t know that this is the story of my life – feeling that I’m constantly falling short.

Never belonging

Never fitting in

How could you know? You have never asked, and I have never told you.

In any case, I know how you’d react.

You’d be full of judgements and opinions on that too:

“Oh there’s no point holding onto the past! You’ve got to let these things go like I have”

“You’re too much of a worrier, that’s your problem”

“Stop procrastinating and live for the moment! Enjoy life – it’s wonderful!”

But I see how much the past troubles you

You mention it all the time

You protest too loudly for me to believe you when you say that you have moved on

And as for my worrying… well, there was plenty to worry about growing up, and no one who could really help me to get a handle on life; to manage my emotions and feel safe in the world.

Under these circumstances, most people would become prone to anxiety and worry.

So don’t judge me or make me feel that I’ve somehow got it all wrong. I’ve judged and chastised myself enough over the years.

What I need now is love and acceptance

To feel deep down inside my bones that I belong and that I am connected to the world around me

Your judgements do not serve me, but your love means the world.

 

Image courtesy of Johnny Lai via Flickr Creative Commons Attribution licence

Is it any wonder?

Is it any wonder that I failed to speak my truth growing up?

So much to say, but no one to hear me – including myself.

I learnt to be silent

I learnt to value the opinions of others above my own

I never learnt how to be an ‘I’

No sense of self

No space to freely explore and express who I am

And oh so much fear

Insecurity reigned, like an evil queen.

Always too scared to discover what’s on the inside

Too frightened to let anyone in

Have I ever truly let someone in?

And felt that true connection with someone I love?

There have definitely been moments: tiny sparks that burned bright but fizzled out all too soon.

But that inner-wiring exists nonetheless

I am hardwired for connection; we all are.

But first I must connect with myself, daring to lift the lid and see what’s inside.

I’m sure that what I see won’t all be good or perfect

But who wants to be good and perfect anyway?!

I will see – have seen – kindness, that’s for sure.

Oh yes, there is a giant heart beating inside my chest.

A heart that so desperately wants to reach out and touch the hearts of others

But first I must heal my relationship with my self

Then I will have much to share with the world

Then I will feel peace and joy

Then I will know that I have found my way home

 

Image courtesy of Ghost of Kuji via Flickr Creative Commons Attribution Licence

I’m just a teenage dirtbag

So, one of my biggest obstacles for moving forward in life and doing what I want to do (as opposed to what I suspect others want me to do) is that I have an angry, scared and confused teenage version of myself who feels stuck and controlled. I woke up this morning feeling just this – controlled and powerless – and began to have a gentle conversation with myself about it, whilst trying not to judge myself for how I’m feeling at this moment in time.

This concept of different selves has slowly emerged for me over the last few years, and I’ve become increasingly aware that my teenage years were a particularly dark phase in my life. These are the years when I decided that the only way to survive and feel safe was to work incredibly hard to get the very best grades, and to decipher what other people deemed acceptable in every interaction I had with another human being. This is a tricky and pointless endeavour, I must warn you, since everyone you meet will have a different idea of what’s ‘right’ or ‘good’.

So yeah, teenage me is terrified. She doesn’t believe me when I tell her that she is loved and that it’s safe to follow her heart and do what feels right for her. She’s definitely more on board with my adult view of the world than she was previously, but when a big change comes along, she tends to get really angry and try her best to control the situation.

I can’t encourage this kind of personal insight enough; getting to know your many ‘selves’ can be an incredibly important and useful tool for addressing any hang-ups you might have and living the most balanced and joyful life you possibly can.

I used to see this teenage version of myself as a problem. I didn’t like her very much because she seemed so angry, and as a person who struggles to express ‘negative’ emotions, I found it difficult to accept this part of myself. Expressing anger is a dangerous business, and absolutely makes me a terrible person – or at least that’s what I’ve believed for most of my life. It’s taken me until now to realise that all emotions are acceptable, and that to not express or acknowledge huge chunks of your personal/inner experience is a recipe for misery.

Slowly but surely, I’m beginning to value and even treasure this angry adolescent version of myself, because she is only ever trying to do what she feels is the best. She’s using the tools she has at her disposal to try to keep me safe, and if it weren’t for her, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. It’s through her experience of the world that I’ve learnt to worry less about what others think, and to place a much higher value on my own inner journey. It’s thanks to her that I’m now pursuing my dreams. And if I really wish to make the leap and live the life I suspect I’m supposed to be living, she needs to come along for the ride – both as a navigational aid, and so that she can continue her journey towards healing and learn to express the parts of herself that she’s long suspected are bad and unworthy.

I realise now that I’m almost at the end of this blog post that I haven’t explained the reason for the title: ‘I’m just a teenage dirtbag’. Well, when I was feeling all angsty and mixed up this morning, I went to turn on the radio and sent an intention out into the universe that whatever song came on would somehow give me an insight into what I was feeling. Hilarious, thanks universe.

I must go now. Me and my teenage dirtbag self have some work to do.

Sending much love and encouragement to all of you.

Bye for now x

Self-acceptance is a unique and personal journey

There is no rule book or set of processes to go through to gain a sense of self-acceptance. How could there be, when we are all so unique and have experienced such different life circumstances? That’s not to say that there aren’t tools and resources that we can use, and teachers (in the form of friends, authors, movies etc.) that will encourage us on our journey. It’s more that how we interpret them and what they mean to us as individuals will be highly personal.

This, of course, is no bad thing. If anything it’s part of the wonder that is human existence. Life is beautifully messy and chaotic.¬†We¬†are beautifully messy and chaotic. We are all united in our uniqueness and the complex twists and turns that life sometimes takes. Difference is a unifying factor – not a reason to find fault, or fear what we don’t understand.

My problem of late has been realising that who I am is so very different to the person I thought I was (or ought to be), that transitioning – or allowing myself to transform into the person I was always meant to be – is downright terrifying. Let me give you some background…

I’ve always been someone who feels things intensely and is highly emotional. I soak up other people’s emotions like a sponge, making many social encounters emotionally and physically draining. This has made working in a shared office environment practically impossible for me in the past, and I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that I’m not suited to a busy, fast-paced lifestyle. I used to believe this meant that there’s something wrong with me or that I’m deficient in some way, but I’m coming to understand and respect this aspect of myself and not view it as a weakness or a failing.

My environment has always been extremely important to me, and the smallest detail such as lighting or the position of my desk in relation to the door has always had a huge impact on me. I know I’m not unique in this and that many people are ‘fussy’ about their office or home environments. I’m sure I’m not the only person who drives by houses in the winter time and wonders how on earth people can stand to sit in a brightly lit room with the television on full blast, with not a scented candle or joss stick in sight! I also detest brightly lit supermarkets and shops, which seems to be the norm these days. Something about those harsh overhead strip lights just does something to my brain and I can’t think straight or concentrate. Modern day living just doesn’t seem to suit me, no matter how much I’ve tried to make myself fit in. I often wish I was living in a small town with cobbled roads and a smattering of local shops – all lit by candlelight! I’d probably hate this is reality, but something about it really does appeal to me.

I’ve been a career person most of my adult life; ticking off the list of things to do as you enter and work your way through adulthood:

  • Get a good education
  • Get a job and stay there for approximately three years
  • Move on to a better job with greater prospects and increased pay
  • Get married and start thinking about having kids

In the last few years I’ve come to realise that this life was not serving me. It wasn’t allowing me to give the best of myself, to express who I really am, or to live anything other than a half-life. Now, I’d like to say that I came to this decision myself, by a process of careful analysis and deduction – but the truth is that life forced me to take a huge step back and reevaluate just about everything in my life, from my relationships to my career and my style of dress. My way of perceiving the world also changed, as I could no longer believe that our existence on this planet is just a happy accident and that human existence has no real meaning. I’m not religious. I do not believe in God in the sense that a member of an organised religion does. But I do believe that we are all part of something much greater than ourselves, that we are surrounded by guidance at every step of the way, and that we each had a purpose (or ten) when we entered this lifetime. I’ve experienced enough strange and magical moments over the last few years that I have no choice now but to wholeheartedly believe such whimsical notions as:

  • Life loves us all
  • We have a soul/higher-self that is always trying to guide us towards our highest good
  • We all have something unique and meaningful to offer the world

I’m finding these things very hard to come to terms with, because I still feel like a bit of a nutcase when I express my views on life. People regularly giggle at me, and I often make a joke of myself by making reference to hippies and rainbows, and generally¬†poo-pooing my own belief system. It’s just going to take time, I guess. The day will come when I can stand tall, look someone in the eyes and say: “You are a beautiful beam of light”, without laughing nervously afterwards! In the meantime, I’ll just keep giggling.

So, as you can see, self-acceptance is quite a roller-coaster for me, because to accept who I truly am, I have to accept that:

  • My life now looks completely different to how it did
  • A lot of people in my life either don’t approve or are taking a while to get on board
  • My views are more than a little ‘out there’ for the average conversation over a cup of coffee
  • The more I believe in myself, the happier and more fulfilled I feel, so I have no choice but to keep going, no matter how much I want to run back to the safety of my old life. Anxiety and depression come when I deny something fundamental about myself, and follow social constructs about what I should do and who I should be.

What does self-acceptance mean to you? Are you gay but don’t feel able to come to terms with it? Are you a geek surrounded by people who don’t understand your passion for 18th Century literature? Are you a wild soul who lives in the suburbs and longs to sell up and build a tree house in the forest?

No matter who you are or what you’re going through, self-acceptance is possible. Please don’t tell yourself that your life is so unique that no one else has ever overcome something similar and found peace within themselves.

The one thing that we can all benefit from, no matter who we are or what we’re aiming for, is a tribe: a group of people who are on our wavelength, who help us to become more and more of who we are, and who inspire us to live our best lives. This tribe of people will look different for all of¬† us, but they will all have the same effect of supporting us and providing space for us to explore our true selves in a safe environment.

I’m at a loss at the moment. My old journey seems to have come to an end, and I haven’t fully embraced the next chapter of my life yet. I’m in a state of limbo; too scared to move forward, but even more scared to go back to my old ways. I’m not 100% sure where I belong or what my ‘tribe’ looks like. I guess for now all I can do is respect the process, be kind to myself and know that no matter how small my progress may be, I’m moving towards something wonderful.

I love you all, because I’m a great big hippy – yay!

Bye for now,

Kath x

 

p.s. Image is by Travis Simon via Flickr: https://tinyurl.com/ya6d6vtg

Showing up for the things that matter

Oh wow, I seem to be having a series of epiphanies over the last couple of days, and it’s blowing my mind into a series of small pieces. Hopefully they will come back together to form a single entity, but for now it feels like I need to ponder the topics that have arisen. So let’s begin!

My life has been about achievement for a very long time; doing things that will earn me a sense of acceptance, worth and security. It was the only way I could feel safe, and to just do whatever I fancied doing at any given moment was a very dangerous act indeed, and one that I could derive no enjoyment from. I have had to gradually re-learn how to live life in a healthy and balanced way, and slowly but surely I am able to dedicate more and more of my time to the things I love to do. But I still have this feeling – this critical inner voice – that tells me that doing things simply for enjoyment and fulfilment is utterly pointless. And I’m not just talking about going to the beach or riding a roller coaster at a fairground: I’m talking about writing my book. Because there’s no guarantee that it will be successful, gain me recognition, earn me money… etc. It is something I have faith in, and I know I need to write it because it’s sitting inside of me screaming to get out. But I’m still stuck in the illusion that the only things that matter or that are capable of making me feel safe and whole, are the ones that will earn me some sort of badge of recognition. Writing an essay for my degree course? Bring it on. This has been assigned to me and there is a grade waiting for me at the end of the process.

Note: I should point out that I graduated from university in 2006, and I’m firmly in my thirties – just in case you thought I was still a spring chicken.

But writing a book with no guaranteed anything at the end of it is terrifying. The only thing that keeps me coming back to this blog is the fact that I can see my subscribers steadily increasing and I get an occasional (and much appreciated) like from one of you lovely people. Of course, we all need to think of ways to remain motivated, and I’m only human, so I don’t need to be too hard on myself. But there’s still this enormous sense of ‘what’s the point?’ when it comes to anything in life that is purely for my own benefit and sense of wholeness. I mean, I’m only just learning that I have a sense of wholeness, and a voice inside of me that is uniquely mine and that I can trust above all others. I sure as hell don’t know what to do with any of this information yet.

If life was one long, never-ending degree course with an assessment at the end of each stage, I would be in my element. This is what my childhood prepared for, and only this. Academic success was my only way of feeling safe and acceptable to others, and when I finally finished my studies and entered the world outside of education, things started to get really scary for me.

And let’s be honest, my story won’t be unique. Even those of you who weren’t so hung up on grades and success will have felt that feeling of ‘WTF?’ when your schooling came to an end and the script ran out. And I really believe that ‘script’ is the right word to use here, because for the most part our plans in life are handed to us by our parents and society as a whole. Up until a certain point, we have no real reason to pursue our own truths, because we’re so busy doing what is expected of us, or handed down to us by others. Is it any wonder that so many people go through such deep darkness in their adult years; they’ve been on a box-ticking mission, and it turns out that life is about more than just making sure you sign on the dotted line.

There is so much joy to be had from being a member of the human race. And in fact, I’m beginning to realise that the purpose of life is joy. It’s what we’re here for, it’s just that everyone is so stuck in a fearful world view that they don’t trust that life could be that easy. We want to earn our right to be happy through hard work, struggle and perseverance, because this is all we know. These messages are handed down to us from our parents, and we in turn pass them on to our children. How can I expect my parents to support my ‘money will flow into my life when I do what I love’ attitude when they were brought up believing that the world is a dangerous and tough place, full of obstacles and opportunities to fail? If I want to break the cycle, I have to live my own truth regardless of what anyone else thinks, which again is frankly terrifying for me right now.

But I’ve always had this sense that I’m here for a reason. Not a mission handed down to me from on high, but rather a purpose that I chose for myself, that is part of my very being, and that only I can truly understand. I can surround myself with support and messages that encourage me to keep taking steps forward, but at the end of the day, only I can trust in my own journey. As much as I’d like to get someone to sign a piece of paper declaring that my life is meaningful and important and that when things get really tough I can find solace inside of myself, that just ain’t gonna happen! I have to write the declaration and sign it for myself.

If I’m completely honest, this is the moment I’ve been dreading: the moment I realise that my life really does belong to me and is a gift for me to unwrap in any way that feels right. I cannot emphasise the extent to which this does not feel safe. I can feel my fearful ego squirming inside of me and wishing desperately for me to run back for safety. But there’s no going back now. I’ve come so far that the only way forward is forward, and it’s going to take a whole lot of faith and love.

I simply can’t go on doubting myself and questioning my very existence. For one thing, it’s extremely cruel, and if I acted this way towards a friend they probably wouldn’t stick around for too long. It’s only acceptable because we’re taught that self-hatred and deprecation are OK, whereas to hate others is not. How messed up is that?! And for another thing, if I want to do what I sense I came here to do, there isn’t any room for the level of self-doubt I’ve been experiencing.

Life is so strange. We’re taught so little about it as children and adolescents, and spend the rest of our lives acquiring the knowledge we really need to survive and live a happy and meaningful existence.¬†So yes, I will write that book, and I will trust that it wants to be written as much as I want to write it, and that something good will come from it, even if it’s just a sense of personal satisfaction. Because I think we have to trust that if there’s something we really want to do, that there is some joy waiting for us at the other side.

Peace out, and thanks as ever for taking the time to read my words.

Kath

What happens next?

Hello, my name is Kath, and I am an acceptance junkie. Or at least I have been – big time – and I’m only just learning to brush this aspect of my existence off and get to the good stuff that life has to offer (joy, creativity, connectivity…). It’s been a long journey, with many twists and turns along the way, and I’ve walked so far now that I realise my surroundings are completely unfamiliar. In fact, the map I’ve been using doesn’t work anymore, because I’ve walked off grid and have yet to find a new one. Yikes! This is scary stuff. Everything I’ve known about myself and the world is changing, and although that’s a good thing, it absolutely isn’t easy.

When I was addicted to acceptance, I knew what I was working towards: becoming a version of myself that others would find acceptable.

When I was addicted to acceptance, I knew how to feel about myself: either terrible or absolutely wonderful, depending on what state my ego was in that day, and how many people I’d managed to please with my various efforts at becoming the perfect human being.

When I was addicted to acceptance, I knew what made me feel good and what made me feel bad…

You get the picture. I’m completely re-framing my life, and whereas I’ve managed to move away (mostly) from the unhealthy behaviours and ways of thinking about the world, I haven’t yet replaced them with anything else that makes me feel, well, like me I guess! It wasn’t healthy to look to others for a sense of self, but the fact is that I did, and now I feel like an empty vase (to quote a poem written by Monica’s sleazy boyfriend on Friends). I feel like I’ve entered a void and the only way out is to run back to the safety of my old ways, or to fill in the blanks with something new.

Currently, my life isn’t an expression of who I am. Or at least, I don’t feel that I am expressing the things that I want to express. In short, I need to get my ‘Kath’ on and start doing the things that I want to do, and feel that sense of purpose and joy come back to me. Because if I’m honest, at the moment everything feels a little pointless – as though I’m waiting for someone to come up to me and say: “It’s OK, Kath. You’re doing absolutely the right thing. Yes, that’s it – go out into the world and be an individual. That’s next on the list of things you should do”. But what if I’ve done away with all the ‘shoulds’ and I’m trying to live life on my own terms for a change, without waiting to hear what others think I should do?

Man this is freaking me out! I’m talking myself into feeling more terrified than I was before I started writing. Also, can I just take a moment to apologise for basically using this blog as a sounding board for my own problems, instead of imparting incredible wisdom and offering solutions to your problems? I’ll get back to the wise thing once I’ve got my groove back, I promise.

I’m seeing a therapist/life coach at the moment, and she has likened this current phase in life to weeding a garden: I’ve now got to re-plant it with beautiful flowers that I actually want to be there, instead of letting anything grow there and just letting life steamroll over me. So what flowers am I going to plant? What waves am I going to make? What is it that the real me, who is only just emerging after years and years of sleepwalking through life, has to say to the world? And what form will this take?

Well, writing is definitely up there on the list. I’m surprising feisty and opinionated on the inside for someone who’s made a career of worrying what others think. And I definitely feel like I’m holding myself back at the moment – waiting for the green light from the universe, instead of just trusting in myself and my inner guidance.

Yesterday, on my way home from an alpaca farm with my husband, we encountered a cyclist on a twisting and fairly fast country road NOT WEARING A HELMET! No sooner had we both commented on this, than I found myself shouting out of the open window: “Buy a helmet!”. My husband seemed amused and vaguely proud, but essentially discouraged me from shouting at strangers as we drive through the local countryside. To be honest, he has a point. It’s not exactly safe to shout things at unsuspecting cyclists who are trying to keep their eyes on the road, even if I did have his best interests at heart.

The incident with the cyclist was very out of character for me, but it felt good; a relief to be honest. There are lots of things I feel like shouting about at the moment, but I’ve done some research and it turns out people don’t appreciate it very much! Point is, it told me that I’m withholding something and not allowing myself to fully express myself, because self-expression and emotional freedom is all pretty new to me.

So, here I am. Much further along the journey towards self-acceptance than I’ve ever been, and instead of telling you how wonderful it is, I’m telling you all about how terrifying it is. Sorry about that.

But I wouldn’t for a second discourage any of you from following me down this path. I’ve experienced moments of absolute joy and love in my life over the last few years, and I owe that to trusting this journey that I’m on. So I’m going to keep trusting, as best I can, and probably with the occasional rant on this blog. And instead of waiting for someone to hand me a new map, I’m going to draw my own; it will be called the ‘Kingdom of Kath’, and it will be an honest expression of who I am.

So to all of you who are on a similar journey: keep going, know that you’re not alone, and when the time is right, start creating your own unique vision of the world.

Love,

Kath

 

p.s. Image is courtesy of Virtual EyeSee via Flickr: https://tinyurl.com/y9gof3s8

Do the things that make your heart sing, and your soul soar

I went swimming a lot as a child and young adult. From life-saving lessons, to speed swimming and diving – my sister and I did it all. We also spent hour upon hour mucking about, doing handstands in the pool and guessing what each other was singing whilst under water. Swimming was my exercise of choice, and pretty much the only one I enjoyed, since I’m quite a lazy person by nature. But the magic of being in the water was enough to counteract the call of sitting down with a book or watching the telly.

We’re not all alike, which is one of the wonderful things about being a human being! We all share so much more in common than the mass media lead us to believe, but in the end not one of us is 100% the same. I have a friend who hates being in the water, to the extent that she has the quickest bath she possibly can just to get it over and done with. Swimming in an open air swimming pool in a beautiful little village in the Derbyshire countryside (as I did today) would not have been her idea of a good time, but to me it was revitalising, refreshing, invigorating, and kind of a relief (since I haven’t been swimming for a few years now). It fulfilled a part of me that I had allowed to go unattended for such a long time.

Worrying what other people think of us depletes our energy and our sense of who we are. We question ourselves and try to bend and twist to please others. It’s the opposite of having someone with you to support and encourage you in all your endeavours – it’s like having a devil sat on our shoulders, whispering to us that we’re not good enough and that people will only love us if…

Doing the things that make our hearts sing and our souls soar replenishes our energies and our sense of who we are. It makes us feel stronger and more balanced, and we care less what others think of us without even having to try. Every activity we choose to do has the potential to either feed our sense of who we are, or to deplete it. Every thought and every choice is based on either love (I am enough) or fear (I am not enough). In a world where far too many of us are stuck in fear-mode, why not start to choose love instead?

What are the things that you love to do? What desires have you let go unattended for far too long? What advice would you give to your best friend? Start giving that advice to yourself, and watch the magic unfold!

Bye for now x