This last year has been the absolute hardest and best year of my life.
It started out with the most amazing, beautiful 21 day adventure of a lifetime that cracked me open, rocked me to the core, showed me love and forever changed the course of my life.
Or at least the one I’d mapped out in my head.
Returning to normal life after the adventure was no longer ‘normal’ or acceptable. I had bought a one-way ticket on the road less traveled and there was no turning back. Unbeknownst to me, this road lead deep within, at every turn confronting limiting patterns, beliefs, fears, insecurities, attachments, and expectations.
This has also meant a time of solitude, personal investment and inquiry. Though it may not have come at the most ideal time, it was required. This journey forced me into self discovery with what has felt like more sick days than healthy and more tears than laughter.
Through this period what has often struck me, is how we “show up” for one another, and how this is truly a reflection/projection of ourselves, our attachments and our expectations.
Months ago there was an occurrence that pushed me over the edge. It wasn’t the only one, but illuminates this path to self-awareness well. There is a young man who works for us that regularly sends money to his family. As gesture to help, we provided a place for him to stay for free. This, of course, made me feel great, like we were having an impact on this young mans life, creating possibilities for him.
One day, I went back into the area where he stays to retrieve a tool out of storage. I found his place in shambles. Garbage everywhere, just complete disarray. Work that was discussed incomplete, abandoned, and in some cases not started. I was beside myself.
“How dare he?” I thought. “How ungrateful! How unappreciative and disrespectful! My mother always taught me to leave a place better than I found it, to put things back where they belong, to clean up after myself. What the hell!”
I was so mad I couldn’t look at him or even talk to him. He was showing up for me as untrustworthy, ungrateful, disrespectful and so many other negative adjectives. I came straight home and cried. “Why me? I’m a giving person. Why does everyone always take advantage of me?” (Oh yes, full on victim mode in effect. It was probably a full moon.)
Out of nowhere a thought hit—I had prided myself on being a giving person. Holy shit! (Ah-ha moment.) In priding myself on being a giving person, I had expectations on how he should receive and use my offering.
Crap. How deep does this rabbit hole go? Turns out, pretty deep.
Here’s what I’ve uncovered and learned about myself:
In the past I’d been a people pleaser to the detriment of not only myself, but those close to me. Eventually, people pleasing started to make me sick. I lost a sense of who I was and what I wanted out of life. More often than not, I was doing things that only benefited someone else (and my ego). I was priding myself on doing things that made others happy, having no idea what made me happy.
Keep in mind this isn’t a bad thing necessarily. Unless, like me, you do it at the detriment of yourself, you start to resent it, and create underlying expectations of others resulting in friends showing up for you as unappreciative or disrespectful.
Ha! Do you see what just happened? You simply asked me to do something, and instead of being authentic (because that’s too scary), I’d accept the request that I didn’t want to do, and then hold it against you for asking me at all, and judge you for how you responded to my help. No one wins, and as it turns out the only one not “showing up” as a friend was me!
Looking back, there’s a pattern that emerged that coincided with people pleasing. This pattern has appeared in my work, in relationships with friends and partners. It goes something like this: discover a topic to be passionate about, dive in, become a spokesperson, start doing things that you don’t want to do to please others or to look good, become resentful, get disappointed, avoid confrontation and look for reasons to part ways. Over and over again this shows up, and for each I carried a bag of shame.
As you can imagine, after 42 years that shame gets pretty heavy and hard to carry. It’s easy for judgment to get clouded by it.
Today, I’m beginning to learn to really test out doing things that make me happy and finding bliss in the flow regardless of how it makes anyone else feel. To allow the flow and my feelings to be guides. Sometimes this might mean saying, “yes” and later after further thought coming back to say “no” or vice versa. Even better, rather than enduring and complaining later, “that’s great, but it doesn’t hit the spot for me.”
So dear ones, if I’m showing up for you as uncommitted, flaky, or as someone who doesn’t follow through, who flip-flops even—I hope that you can look at your attachments and expectations of me and shift to see someone who is learning to follow her bliss, to always do what feels good, and if lucky enough others will benefit from it too.
“I’m sorry. Please forgive me. I love you. Thank you.”
~ Hoʻoponopono prayer
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Edited by: Ben Neal