Honor Your Story

Image copyright: 123rf/Alexey Poprotsky

On Sunday I went the book launch of “Watershed Moments,” a compilation of stories from individuals who had overcome dramatic events that changed the course of their lives.

The events the authors described were filled with pain, fear, and anguish. Each shared how these seemingly “end of the world” experiences were simply the end of one world and the birthing of a new one.

If you’ve ever given birth or watched someone give birth, you know there is nothing simple about it. It’s not easy. It’s painful. It takes time to heal and to understand the magnitude of the miracle that has come into your life.

It was true for each of these authors. Their transitions were definitely not easy and often painful. It took time for them heal and to understand that a miracle had occurred and that their future was once more, or for the first time, filled with hope and possibilities.

I’ve heard people say we need to give up the stories of our past so that we can write a new one. After reading this book, I believe we should not give up these stories. They are a part of our history, and we need to honor them, for they have impacted who we have become. We may have found or regained our power, our voice, our courage. We may have deepened our faith. We may have become more authentic. We now stand as the heroine of our own story and in the process inspire others to do the same.

Sweeping Away the Eggshells

I always considered myself to be a strong person, except when it came to relationships. In my everyday life, I would speak up if I didn’t agree with something or walk away from things that didn’t seem right. In the dating world, not so much. I was basically a “yes” person. Whatever my date wanted to do or wherever he wanted to go, I agreed, even if I wanted something else. I always seemed to choose the guy I knew wasn’t really that interested in me, while saying no to the ones who were. It’s was almost like I didn’t feel I deserved to be treated well or be happy.

By the time I met my husband, I had sorted out some of the inaccuracies in my behavior, although still not quite believing I deserved happiness.

Later in our marriage, we hit a major speed bump. He had addictions that were consuming him and had little time for me. Every day brought something that we couldn’t agree on and it always felt like I was walking on egg shells. I would try to share my feelings, but it seemed I could never say them right. I’d walk away feeling I was in the wrong yet again.

Even though I didn’t want to be around him anymore, I stayed. I wore our friends and family who listened to my woes and told me to leave him. Perhaps the complaining, although negative, was my way of getting the attention I wasn’t getting from my husband. Someone told me I was a strong person. Was I? I seemed strong enough to stay but not strong enough to leave someone who was causing me such unhappiness and stress.

Eventually, he was able to receive help and overcome most of his addictions. However, in my mind, one addiction remained, but in his mind, it did not. This left me more frustrated, angry and sad. Would I ever let myself be happy?

While wandering around the house one day feeling extremely unhappy, my voice showed up. I was able to communicate to him precisely how I felt. This time he listened. A weight had come off my shoulders and it felt wonderful. At last, I was able to start sweeping away the eggshells.

Self-blame vs. Self-responsibility

The following is a guest post by Yvette Erasmus. 

Some days, I am simply not ready to be a grown up. At all.

Waking up with anxiety recently, I buried myself deeper into bed. Free floating thoughts about finances, major life decisions, relationships and a harsh, critical voice pointing out all my failings and failures wafted through my mind as I lingered between sleep and wakefulness.

Although I decided years ago to stop indulging in self-blame and fear, judgmental and critical thoughts still arise. Regularly.

So, you can imagine my pleasant surprise on this recent morning to discover a gentler part of me speaking up, taking stock and responding to the various complaints with tenderness. “No, we aren’t doing that anymore. What do you need?”

It’s like I had come upon an inner Florence Nightingale tending to my inner suffering. I know she didn’t just appear magically; I’ve been practicing this shift for a while.

I’ve learned to watch critical, judgmental and fearful thoughts arise and then embrace them with compassion, but I simply don’t allow myself to camp out with them anymore. Self-blame is not the same as self-responsibility. It is exhausting and draining.

Grounding myself in the wisdom of being open to outcome, but not attached to outcome, I remind myself to feel my feelings, to attend to my needs and to focus on what will help move me in a direction of my choosing.

Self-responsibility is an empowered way of both perceiving and responding to life. It grows out of disciplined attention to four transformative questions:

  1. What is happening right now? (I am lying in my bed, dreading my whole life this morning. The dog is wagging her tail at me. I am thinking she needs to pee and that, if I don’t get up, she will. Here in my room. This thought fills me with urgency to take her outside.
  2. What feelings are activated in me right now? (Anxiety, fear weariness, heaviness, urgency, activation.)
  3. What is deeply important to me? (Security, clarity, purpose, growth, contribution.)
  4. What will help? (taking my day one step at a time, focusing on gratitude for all that is present now, asking for help, getting the information I need to make high-stake decisions, practicing being comfortable with uncertainty.)

Building inner resources allows me to cope with the heaviness that life sometimes brings, with more fortitude, strength and resilience.

As a soul-friend of mine recently reminded me: I want to respond to life with grace. With love. With faith. With hope. With courage.

The more I practice compassion instead of judgement, self-care instead of self-recrimination, openness to outcome instead of attachment to predictability, the more I am able to truly live in alignment with my deeper values and my more soulful self.

Women, Divorce, and Courage

Courage is fear that has said its prayers.—Dorothy Bernard

Written by Louise Griffith, One Shining Light

Courage is a state of “being,” rather than “doing.” It is to be held close, developed, and savored. Your inner courage will direct you to the areas of your life calling out to be changed. The rewards of honoring this are far greater than the risks, even though you certainly may not have a sense of the outcome. When you stand in courage, you make powerful choices for yourself.

Find the courage to be who you really are. It is within you, and no one can take it away from you. Courage is the willingness to act, even when frightened. Give yourself permission. You have the right to be different from how others think you should be. Identify your wants, needs, and feelings. Be yourself. Find the courage to live the life you love and live it powerfully.

Courage is the key to conquering your objectives. Without it, you would not take the first step or take necessary risks to achieve your dreams and goals. Confidence, courage, and a spirit of sacrifice are essential to get you to where you really want to go. Courage engages your heart.

You are the expert on doing something to take you out of your comfort zone. It is not about “right or wrong.” It is not about comparing comfort zones. It is about honoring your truth with a sense of adventure and fun. What is courageous for you is to live your absolute truth. Honor that.

Without courage, all other virtues would be obsolete and fail to exist. It takes courage to display passion, humility, honorability, integrity, truth, confidence, strength, compassion, and vulnerability on a day-to-day basis. It is also the foundation piece of the essence of who you truly are.

I Am Worth It Next Steps:

  1. As you reflect over your life, do you see when you first began to lose courage?
  2. How did you regain it?
  3. What are three courageous things you have said or done of which you are very proud?
  4. Where do you find the courage to make the changes you know you need to make in spite of the reactions of others? It is there.

You have the wisdom and courage to take your next step. You know what it is.   You ARE Worth It!

Thank you Louise Griffith for sharing this chapter of your inspirational book: You are Worth It

Louise Griffith
One Shining Light
“Illuminate Possibilities. Inspire Change. Transform Lives.”