Standing in my power: what does that mean?

My personal theme for the first half of 2015 is exploring what it means to stand in my power.

I was going through a difficult situation recently and a very good friend of mine urged me to ‘stand in my power’ by not continuing an unhealthy dialogue with someone. It hit me like a ton of bricks – the realisation that I have absolutely no idea what it looks like to stand in my own power.

I look back to my childhood and cannot think of any role models of people in my life who stood in their power. I think of my own mother and how she allowed people to walk over her, and was resentful and critical, unhappy and two faced instead of standing up and saying ‘NO’.

It’s really making me explore what it would look like to stand in my own power. What does it mean? How do I value myself enough to realise I am worth it? And even if I realise it, how do I DO it?! Something juicy for me to explore over the next few months.

My good friend who first urged me to stand in my power, interprets that as meaning “to not be swayed / moved by people or situations or circumstances”. I’m not sure I fully agree with that, or actually I’m not sure I agree with that at all. Because of COURSE we are going to adapt and be flexible and change our view depending on people / situations / circumstances. And that’s ok, right? I wouldn’t want to live my life ploughing forward regardless of the impact on those around me. Does that make me weak? Or is that a characteristic in myself I should love and value? Where is the line, between being loving to others and yet standing in my own power; being loving to others and still loving to myself ; being compassionate and understanding and yet having limits and boundaries with regards to having my own needs and desires met? So sticky, so new, so uncomfortable and difficult.

I need to work out where my personal boundary lies, and how to stand in my power and love myself, while still aligning myself with my core values of love, compassion, kindness and empathy towards others. My biggest struggle in this area is giving people excuses for their behaviour. When something happens I usually think “everyone is human, everyone makes mistakes”, and I try and be compassionate and understanding. I can see how that means sometimes I may be trodden on, let down, or my own needs go unmet. I want to figure out how to set healthy boundaries and hold my truth while still being compassionate and understanding towards others.

More questions than answers in this post, but it’s the start of my journey. I am going to try and think of some examples of women, either in real life or famous, who stand in their own power, so that I can really immerse myself in what it looks like (though of course it looks different for everyone – I just really am not sure how to do it so reading about and learning about women who do it will really help).

I’d love to hear: what does ‘standing in your power’ mean to you? What is your understanding and experience of it? How do you find that sweet spot between being compassionate to others yet making sure your own needs are met too??!

 

The Year of Nuts

This year has been…. Nuts. Nuts.

D started kindy.

D dropped out of kindy.

We put our house on the market.

We sold it.

it fell through.

we started renovations.

our builder tried to kill us. (Not literally; just by choking us with cement dust and trying to  electrocute us with exposed live wires)

We had to move out and live with neighbours for two weeks

my main social/support network almost imploded

we sacked our builders and have been left with holes in the wall and a building site for a home

My partners contract didn’t get renewed (on our wedding anniversary!)

Wuuuuut is the universe trying to tell me?!

And the message I keep getting… that I have to make sense of…

PATH OF LEAST RESISTANCE

 

 

 

My Emotions Don’t Own Me

I can be very fiery and have a habit of stewing on my emotions. I have never been very good at ‘letting go’ of my feelings, and I tend to think about how angry or upset I am feeling over and over, feeding my anger until small upsets become much bigger issues.

Recently I managed to completely change how I react to and handle my difficult emotions. Through learning about mindfulness I have realised that I can have my emotions, and fully observe and experience them: but, they do not own me! I do not have to be consumed by my emotions!

The mind is separate from the thoughts that it produces.

This is a very subtle but hugely important tenet in being mindful. It can be difficult to grasp at first but as soon as it ‘clicks’ for you, there is no going back.

The first time I tried this technique of mindfulness was after someone had upset me and I felt hurt, angry, and disappointed. I was ranting about it to my husband when he said “isn’t this the kind of time you could practice that mindfulness you were talking about this morning?” Rather than biting his head off I thought, ah, good point – and it actually worked! I was amazed. This is what I did…

First, I tried to almost ‘step out’ of my mind, to observe what was happening as if I were a bystander. I saw that I was feeling hurt, anger, sadness. I still allowed myself to feel the emotions – it is very important to still feel them and truly experience them, or you end up with a whole host of other issues!! But instead of allowing myself to be consumed by the emotions as I normally would, having them fill my whole brain and not being able to move on, I tried something else. I took a step back, to observe them, and did not allow myself to be taken hostage by them. I actually visualised myself standing on a river bank, the water being my mind, and watching my feelings bobbing up and down in their individual ‘boats’ on the river. I also had an internal conversation with my mind, describing the feelings it was experiencing, and that it was ok to feel that way.

Importantly, I accepted the negative emotions. I didn’t allow myself the usual guilt of having them: I didn’t spend the usual half hour bitching to my husband to justify to myself why I was angry. I purely accepted the negative emotions as valid, and allowed myself to feel them and observe them.

Having followed these steps the last part then came completely naturally and even unexpectedly. I was able to let the negative feelings go, sailing down the river in their little boats, and I realised I had experienced anger without getting angry myself. This was a huge internal revelation to me, and such a powerful tool of mindfulness.

My emotions no longer own me. I feel so free!

Being Fully Present in the Moment

I’ve had a bit of a personal revelation this last week, and would love to share it with you.

I was brought up in a very busy household and have all my life struggled with the feeling that I always need a project on the go; to be busy with something; to somehow be doing something. It has never come naturally to me to just sit, and be, and enjoy the present moment. I always worry about what I should or could be doing.

It’s only in this last week, after reading a bit about mindfulness in the Evening Standard magazine, followed by some articles on Zen Habits and some remarkably insightful e-mails from Karen at The Global Kindness Initiative, that I realised why this was.

You can only be fully present in the moment, if you are happy and comfortable with yourself. If you love yourself.

Sounds obvious, doesn’t it? But it has taken 31 years of self discovery for me to make the connection. It is only in the last couple of years that I have grown to accept and love who I am, and only then comes the ability to be able to just enjoy the present.

When I was not happy with who I was, when I hadn’t fully accepted (and loved) who I was, my constant having to be busy and working on something was, I now feel, a form of escapism. I was constantly wanting a project to work on or think about as something to do so I didn’t have to deal with the uncomfortable reality of the present, which was that I wasn’t fully happy with myself.

When you are being completely mindful and present in the current moment, there is a raw truthfulness about your situation: your inner core is laid bare as there is nothing to hide behind or distract yourself with. And that is why I could only become fully present in the current moment, after accepting who I am and being happy and joyful with myself!

I feel truly liberated to have made this connection, by gaining the inner truthfulness that allows me to just be and to enjoy the present moment, without worrying about the future. For I think that is what all this busy-ness was about: trying to constantly make things different, better, and planning how the future should be rather than experiencing the now.

In the last week alone this realisation has beautifully enriched my relationship with my daughter. I am her fulltime carer, and I have always been careful to be fully present with her in that I don’t use the phone, TV or do other things while playing with her. I only now realise that although I was ‘physically’ fully present, I was not generally fully mindful, or ‘mentally’ present.

I am so glad that I stopped to think for a while about why I was unable to be fully comfortable in the present moment, and what it was that was stopping me.

Having finally understood the gift of mindfulness, and the importance of inner acceptance, truthfulness, and of just being in the moment and savouring it for what it is; our connection has been so much stronger, so much more joyful. I feel alive and full of peace and joy in a way I have never before experienced!

I invite you to take a journey inwards and have a think about if there is anything stopping you from fully enjoying the present moment? Do you fully accept yourself as you are? Are you fully comfortable with yourself, your strengths, your weaknesses, with you? Do you love yourself? I wish you all the best on your own inner journeys.