Unless you know me personally, odds are good you have a skewed picture of who I am. Because of what I choose to focus on in my writing, etc., you probably have a picture of me as a positive, passionate, and (hopefully) insightful person with a commitment to focusing on what’s good.
And while that’s an accurate picture, it is also incomplete.
Forget having it all together
One of my big beefs about the self-help industry is how little most self-help experts talk about the “dark side” of their own lives. I don’t think it’s an intentional attempt to mislead. It’s simply the nature of what they feel called to focus on, which has more to do with the positive.
That winds up painting an inaccurate picture. If they own up to bumps and bruises, it is typically in the past tense. “I used to be like this. I used to experience that.” Barring any current information, people tend to fill in the blanks and conclude that those experts have it all together in the here and now.
The problem with that is that the people consuming their insights often don’t feel like they have it all together. Sometimes they feel like they can’t even relate to where the experts are coming from. And that creates a gap between who they perceive themselves to be and who they perceive the experts to be, one that makes it easy to say, “Well obviously I don’t have what it takes.”
I’m here to tell you, I have met very few people – in the self-help world or anywhere else – who if they’re really honest will say, “Yeah, I do feel like I have it all together. There’s no place in my life where I feel like a quivering lump of uncertainty/fear/insecurity/anger/whatever.”
Which means you can give yourself permission to NEVER have it all together!
My life: The good, the bad, and the ugly
Remember that possibly inaccurate picture of me? Here’s a fuller picture. Yes, all those good things I mentioned earlier are true. And I’ve had a really challenging last couple of years. I’ve struggled in numerous areas of my life, from a downturn in business to challenges with relationships to a spiritual dark night of the soul of sorts.
Have there been bright spots? Absolutely! Things like having a chance to interview uber-inspiring people like Byron Katie, Gretchen Rubin, Jen Louden and others, getting notes from clients telling me how their work with me has changed their lives, and the love and support I continue to be fortunate to get from friends and family.
At the same time, I have found myself grinding through dark patches filled with frustration and self-judgment and an inner critic run amok (I call my inner critic Brutal Bart). There have been times when I just wanted to explode. Times when I have felt stuck face to face with problems I couldn’t find solutions to, feeling inadequate and inept. I have screwed up more times than I like to admit, big time on a couple occasions.
Harvesting the blessings of trouble
As much as all that has sucked, I also feel really blessed by the challenges I have encountered. I have grown more, evolved more, become more aware, let go of more, and found a greater overall sense of peace in the last two years than during the entire previous decade.
As I have navigated life the last couple years, I have found myself on numerous occasions having the dichotomous response of wanting to scream in frustration and simultaneously feeling really blessed to have the opportunity to do the kind of deep work that can only be done when things are challenging.
Along the way I have had the opportunity to work on letting go. To work on loving myself more. To sort through limiting stories about myself and release them, over and over and over. To stop resisting discomfort and and be with it instead. To bit-by-bit let go of my identification of my small and limiting sense of self.
And as much as I would like to say all of this in the past tense, the reality is that it is still going on. And to varying degrees, it likely will till the day I die.
Newsflash! I’m human! (Oh, and so are you.)
My focus on the positive in my writing is authentic. I frequently ask myself the question, “Is this the kind of energy I want to put out there?” before posting something, for example, on Facebook. And despite my frustrations and dark patches, I’m still pretty chronically optimistic. Overall, I feel pretty good about my life.
But do I have it all together? Ha! ROFLMAO even! I happen to be really good at what I do, but I also have as much FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) in me as the next person. I have my own challenges, and I struggle with my own demons.
That doesn’t mean I’m irreparably flawed (despite the fact that sometimes I feel like I am). That doesn’t mean I don’t have what it takes to create the life I feel called to create (though I sometimes don’t believe that) . That doesn’t mean I’m broken (even though I’m occasionally quite sure I am).
It means I’m human. It means I’m on this journey, just like you, learning and growing, exploring and stumbling, sometimes feeling shitty, sometimes shining.
I don’t always like the path, but I have started to learn to feel blessed by it. And to keep going and growing.
I hope the same is true for you.
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