The Three Words That Changed Everything

I love this post which I found on Truth and Cake and it’s all about acceptance. Accepting myself is something I have recently “discovered” and boy oh boy what a relief! I love this so much I wanted to share it.

Truth and Cake

Photo: Sachin Khona Photo: Sachin Khona.

Something’s been brewing out there. In the work I’ve been doing with my clients. In the world of social media. In conversations with family and friends. In the atmosphere. People are waking up. They are wanting more. They are beginning to believe that they can have lives that are different from the ones they’ve been sold. Easy lives. Free lives. Rich lives. Lives full of love and purpose.

There’s something I say regularly when I’m coaching and it never fails to stop people in their tracks. I went through the fire to learn it. I travelled to Australia, California, England and Spain seeking the answer. I went night diving, drank plant medicine, holed up in a yurt, sank into grief, rose up, lit bonfires, trekked through nature, fell in love, lead a retreat, road-tripped, got messy, got brave and had a hundred conversations about it along the…

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I’m falling for myself….and it feels wonderful!

After 43 years and 4 months I have finally decided that I quite like myself. Not that I can say I’ve spent all that time getting to know myself……  

5650847281_fba4f449caI can honestly say that I have spent 43 years looking outwards, comparing myself to other people and mistaking insecurity for love.  It was just a few months ago that the breakthrough happened. I just decided enough was enough.

I turned inwards, took a deep breath and said “I am what I am”.

What I think has followed is a huge wave of acceptance.  It’s swept away so much of the rubble that I was burying myself in.  I was buried in fear and insecurity.

Now I can see a chink of light. And after all these years of bring a prisoner and not knowing it, I am rushing towards it.  Just try and stop me.

Accepting the package deal

I’m sensitive.  I am introverted.  I get exhausted if my routine is disrupted.  It recently took me a week to recover from a weekend away in the Cotswolds (a 90 minute drive from home), which my partner and I find quite hilarious.  I am very untraveled – I can count the number of times I have been on a plane on one hand, including the return journeys.  I hate parties, I’d much rather watch a film and cuddle up with my dog.

I have really mischievous curly hair which isn’t the same sort of curl all over and I have spent most of my life trying to straighten.  I have loads of freckles, I burn really easily in the sun, suffer from hay fever and other allergies all year round and my feet are kinda quirky.

But.

The fact that I am sensitive and introverted, despite the challenges, has made me what I am.  The very qualities that I have found so hard to accept are leading me to my true path.  I love to write really honestly from within and love expressing myself with music.  I can listen to a beautiful piece of music and enjoy the sensation of the hairs on the back of my neck standing on end when others around me are not so affected.

My sensitivity manifests itself in creativity and love…….as well as hay fever and freckles.

No cherry picking

4774984453_6c78679e1c (1)We have to accept ourselves in our totality.  Acceptance has to be whole….or it won’t work.  The acceptance has to become part of who we are.  We either accept all…….the good and the bad bits……or we accept none.  Acceptance has to become part of the very fabric of our being.

We have to laugh at our “imperfections” and “failures”.  Celebrate our unique talents and endeavours.  Rejoice in our individuality.

We can’t be everyone, everything and everywhere

A turning point for me has been accepting that we are just one human and part of a bigger a collective.  I used to compare myself to other people and feel that my own life wasn’t as valid as theirs.  I now realise that I have a special contribution to make to the world in my own way.

I used to date a very extroverted guy.  He always wanted to be out and about constantly and took part in extremely energetic activities.  I somehow felt that my own desire to be at home and just play my guitar and potter about was not as valid.  It seems ridiculous to me now that I thought that way.

I have started to think of myself more as part of the team of humanity.  We are all designed to play a part and we are all different for a good reason.  The survival of the human race depends upon us having different skills and temperaments.  And there is no one “player” who is more valid than another.  It takes all sorts.

The challenge ahead

I have a very sensitive daughter.  She is beautiful, talented and wonderful….but she doesn’t believe in herself.  15374407461_ceee4a62e1_nThe thought that she also might spend the next 43 years working out that all she needs to do is turn inwards and accept herself in all her uniqueness is one that worries me greatly.

I hope that I can steer her onto the right path and just be there to help her along the way.  She is 11 years old.  She is just about to start secondary school.  Everything is changing in her little world.  There are going to be friendship issues to deal with, fear of not fitting in, not to mention a few teenage heart breaks to get over.  All of this will be so much easier if she can learn to love herself.

If she can truly love herself and celebrate being she will be like a little magnet drawing equally amazing people towards herself.  Of course she has to go through the learning curve like all of us.  I just hope it doesn’t take her as long to get to where I am now.

Closing thought.  In loving ourselves, we can truly love another

Once we are prepared to accept our selves in our entirety something rather magical happens.  We can do the same to other people.

So instead of looking for Mr Perfect and analysing their every action, suddenly we are able to really Love another person.  Of course we have to find someone who is compatible but once we have done that then we need to extend the process and accept and love them for all their so called “imperfections”.  Truly rejoice in their individuality.

Falling for myself feels wonderful.  Falling for another?  Perhaps the sky’s the limit.

Megan Jennifer

If this has resonated with you in any way please scroll on back up to the title and click the leave comment link.  I’d love to hear from you. 

With thanks to the wonderful photographers……

Photo credit : Amber Dancing

Photo credit: He who likes cherries….

Photo credit : Mother and daughter

My logo : Karen Gray Photography

Sitting Next to Loneliness

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I have a garden bench on which I sit if I am feeling an uncomfortable emotion.  I like to sit and embrace my emotions……, befriend them.  I invite them to share themselves with me rather than fighting and resisting them as if they were enemies.  This weekend I spent an hour sitting next to Loneliness.  We sat, surrounded by the sounds and sights of nature that fill my garden.  And we came to know one another a little better.

Now I have to confess that this blog was originally going to be called “The Unique Loneliness of Introversion”.  I came close to posting it.  But the more I wrote, the more uncomfortable I felt.  Yes, I am an introvert.  Yes, I like a small number of friends and the depth of my connections matters more than their number or frequency.  So perhaps loneliness for introverts does have some unique qualities.

But Loneliness is……Loneliness.  We all feel it at times whether we’re extrovert or introvert.  So I decided to change my focus and share with you what I learned on the garden bench the other day with my new friend, Loneliness.

Acceptance, not Fear

There is a natural tendency to want to shun Loneliness and hide it away.  Do anything to bury it.  Loneliness has no friends.  No one seems to want to embrace it.  But as I sat on the bench that day I simply sat for a while and realised that Loneliness is just a feeling.  It feels hollow and empty.  But underneath it there is peace.  There really is nothing to be afraid of.

We think of Loneliness as something to be ashamed of.  If we feel lonely it’s almost like we’ve failed somehow in Life.  We feel defective and not validated.  But as long as we fear it we will automatically act in ways that do not help to alleviate it.  If we fear it we may come across to others as desperate and needy.  We may try too hard.  We may rush into unsuitable relationships or sacrifice our wellbeing for the sake of being in a partnership.  The fear ends up keeping people away, the one thing we really want to avoid.

Accepting the Loneliness, and I mean really accepting it into the very core of our Being, means that we are no longer driven by the fear of it.  We start interacting with the world differently.  And before we know it the fear has transmuted into something much more powerful.  Love.

True acceptance comes when we sit and really become comfortable with something.  We open ourselves to it fully.  So I invited Loneliness to sit with me for a while.  I just sat and allowed myself to turn inwards and get to know the feeling.  And it really wasn’t so bad.

A Message of Love from Within

As I sat for that short while with Loneliness I felt that rather than an emotion to be suppressed and hidden from it was just a messenger.  It was carrying a message from deep within me urging me to connect to others.  It was clear to me that as humans we are all connected, whether we feel it or not.

Loneliness is Life’s way of telling us to connect.  Whatever fears are stopping us from doing that – whether they be fear of rejection or ridicule – need to be let go of so that we can share ourselves with other people.

7944381364_51fd0922edAnd what I learned from Loneliness that afternoon was that connection is a two way thing.  In order to feel loved we need to give it.  We need to be open to being loved.  We need to take a good hard long look at our walls, our barriers to others, and take them down.

The Ebb and Flow of Impermanence

imageA few hours after my encounter with Loneliness the feeling had passed.  Emotions are temporary things.  Sit with them for long enough then they simply pass.  The tide of loneliness comes in, and then it recedes.

I have always found the idea of impermanence – nothing lasts forever – quite comforting.  We have to accept that things change.  And when it comes to difficult emotions and uncomfortable feelings then impermanence is on our side.

Loneliness arises in all of us from time to time.  It may be after a relationship break up, loss of a friend or bereavement.  It may arise when we simply don’t feel deeply connected to the other people in our lives.  But whatever the cause of Loneliness it does pass.  Life does move on especially if we invite Loneliness to be our friend.

It’s part of Life

It seemed to me after I had embraced Loneliness and said goodbye (for the time being) that it is just part of life.

Whenever it comes to visit, instead of tensing up, running away or hiding we need to sit quietly and spend some time with it.

Loneliness is a voice urging us to connect.  And connect we shall.

Megan Jennifer

With thanks to the wonderful photographers.

Photo credit : Bench

Photo credit : A family

Photo credit : Alone

My logo photo : Karen Gray Photography

Introvert Relationships: Exquisite One-on-One Time Is As Crucial As Alone Time

There’s an unusual and unexpected loneliness that can come from introversion. We need to deeply connect with others even though we crave alone time. Intimacy is so important. Check out this blog post from space2live.

space2live

abrazos-amor-apoyo-beautiful-Favim.com-2000908I recently realized that one-on-one time with my significant other is as vital as time to myself. I need and crave both. They are on equal footing. I used to worry about asking a partner for alone time — so many still don’t understand that need for quiet internal recharging. But now I see that I also have to request alone time for the two of us, and not just time to run errands or have sex. Time for exquisite soul connecting where the core of me touches the core of him.

When an introvert cares about someone, she also wants contact, not so much to keep up with the events of the other person’s life, but to keep up with what’s inside: the evolution of ideas, values, thoughts, and feelings. — Laurie Helgoe author of Introvert Power  viaIntrovert, Dear

In, If You Love an Introvert, a beautifully useful…

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Hairy whales……and circular visuals of human relationships

You may have stumbled across this post in the hope that you will find out some interesting marine facts. I am afraid you are going to be disappointed. It is actually an article about relationships. The human kind.

Whilst looking for an example picture of a Venn diagram online today, the reasons for which I promise will become apparent very shortly, I came across a Venn diagram showing the characteristics of whales and fish.  Did you know that whales have hair?!

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Yes, whales have hair.  I’ll leave you to reel in wake of this amazing fact but will return to the Venn diagram in a short while.

Viewing relationships in terms of circles

I recently read a very interesting article which has got me visualising my relationships in terms of circles.  In a healthy relationship with a man for example, we would both be represented by a circle each.  Where the two circles overlap is the “us” but we are two complete circles in our own right.  The circles of course symbolise our wholeness as individuals.  The part of the circles that are not overlapping are the individual selves.

I have never liked the idea of referring to someone as “my other half”.  This implies that we are not complete and happy unless we are part of a couple.  Although there is something spiritual and meaningful about male and female energies merging together, I believe that we can lead fulfilling and wonderful lives outside of a conventional relationship.    Following the circle idea, the “other half” concept would be illustrated by two semi circles joining together to form a whole.  And unless the circles are joined together we’re not whole……I don’t buy it.

A much more healthy relationship is the two whole circles overlapping so I’m going to run with that analogy and leave the “other half” idea behind.

Venn Diagrams

It was during a discussion with my partner recently  about the circle concept that he pointed out that what I was describing was like a mathematical Venn diagram, with the overlapping parts of the circle being the universal set.  It made me chuckle.  If only human relationships could be boiled down to mathematical formulae and illustrations.  Life would be much easier.  And my partner and I would be pros as we both have an A level in maths.

During a follow up discussion we were debating how many circles are required for a Venn diagram with a universal set.   I won’t bore you with the details of our “hilarious” banter, but it did lead me to find the picture above of the whales and fish Venn diagram to illustrate my side of the argument.  And that is when I learned that whales have hair.  I am slightly taken aback by this new piece of knowledge as you can probably tell.

I wonder if the whales have hairdressers…..there are perm whales after all….

I digress.

Changing amount of overlap

In a relationship of overlapping circles, there are times when the two circles overlap too much.  This may result in a possessive type of relationship with very little sense of individual Self.  There are other times when the circles don’t overlap enough and this leads to a feeling off not enough “togetherness” and intimacy.

Throughout the course of a relationship the degree of overlap may alter due to circumstances.  It is also possible that one individual desires more overlap than the other, either permanently due to some sort of personal insecurity and fear, or just at certain times due to some passing and more temporary reason.  At times one circle can feel that they are being pushed away completely.  This may be real but very often is just perceived.

What we can learn

So what can we take from this overlapping circle visual?  I believe there are many lessons to be learned.

Communication in a relationship is always important.  Expressing thoughts, fears and needs.  But also fostering an understanding of your partner.  The circles do not exist in a vacuum.  Sometimes external circumstances can impact the circles, usually temporarily.  My partner is sometimes very busy with his work, and that can affect the closeness of our circles.  But he is human.  We all have other demands on our time and energies.

I have learned recently through visualising my own relationships (past and present) in circle terms that a little more work is needed on my own individual circle.  A bit of self esteem focus can greatly improve a relationship and its overall balance.   If both parties have a healthy self esteem they can interact more authentically without insecurity clouding things over.

I find the idea that the degree of overlap of the circles will naturally change over time quite comforting. It’s a reassurance to keep an eye on the bigger picture.  There is a natural back and forth in a relationship.  An ebb and flow.

The possibility of break up

But if you feel that the circles in your relationship are always too overlapping or always too far apart, communication doesn’t resolve it and you are certain that your own fear and insecurities aren’t at fault, maybe it is time to find a new circle to partner up with.  Or better still, make sure you’re a whole, complete circle on your own first.

It’s irresistibly corny

It is hard to resist circling back on myself and returning to the marine theme that I began with, especially when talking about the possibility of relationship break up.

As all mothers used to say to comfort their teenage daughters during boyfriend break ups, there are plenty more fish in the sea.  As it happens, there may be a few hairy whales too.

“Contentment”

There’s a certain kind of happiness that emerges from Acceptance. True Acceptance right from your heart.

Acceptance of your life situation, whatever that may be.  Acceptance of who you truly are inside.   Aceptance of your own unique qualities.  Acceptance of what Is.

This kind of happiness doesn’t jump about celebrating and making a scene. It is quietly self sufficient.  It just Is.

Contentment.

The Pre-conditioned Menace

Have you ever felt a strong emotional response to something someone says or does, but you’re not exactly sure why you’re reacting that way?  Chances are, you’re reacting out of your pre-conditioning.

We’re all programmed or “pre-conditioned” in certain ways.  Our childhood, upbringing, society and culture all play their part.

I had a very conventional upbringing.  My parents were married (and still are…it’s been nearly 50 years now) and we had a traditional upbringing.  Our childhood was safe and secure.  My father commuted to London to work every day and my mother was a housewife, always there when we came home from school.  We were well-educated, taught very strict manners and old fashioned values.

My own life isn’t quite panning out the same way as my parents.  I am divorced and a single parent to two teenage children.  And my pre-conditioned mind, which believes that in order to be happy I need a “conventional” life like my parents, quite often causes an uncomfortable emotional response inside me.

A Menace Wanting to Sabotage

The news flash is that my pre-conditioned mind doesn’t have my best interests at heart.  In fact, it is a saboteur, anxious to interfere and make me suffer unnecessarily. Let’s call it “The Menace” from now on.

Recently I have been giving quite a bit of thought to whether I need to live with someone in order to be happy.  The answer I know on an intellectual level is a clear “no”.  There is no reason why I can not be happy with my life just the way things are.  I enjoy a loving relationship in which we both have our own homes.  We are both quite introverted, meaning that we need quiet time to recharge and it all works rather well.  Lovely weekends together followed by a week of time apart to nurture our selves.

And yet, The Menace still likes to make me react sometimes as if living together is absolutely crucial to my happiness.  And it can make me really quite miserable at times!  It has a very strong magnetic pull.

Causing Mistakes to be Made

Oh boy, what mistakes the Menace can cause!  20 years ago The Menace thought marriage was the only thing to make me happy.  And it had to happen before I was 30.  So I ended up marrying a man who was totally unsuitable for my introverted personality.  To our credit we muddled through 10 years of reasonable marriage but it ended in tears in the end.  Of course it did.  It was a decision made by The Menace.

It is interesting that over the years The Menace has gradually down-graded its requirements for conventional living from marriage to just living together.  In the initial years following my divorce it ranted on for a while about re-marriage but when it wasn’t making progress with that one it lessened its demands slightly.

Becoming an Observer

Over time I have learned to observe my emotional responses rather than be completely taken over by them.  It’s like watching a small child misbehaving.  As long as I don’t act on the emotion, eventually it passes.  The Menace gets bored and quietens down if it’s not given the attention it demands.  Gradually, with each pre-conditioned response I am letting go.

And the more I let go, the less power The Menace has over me.

The Joy of Authentic Living

If we can let go of our pre-conditioned responses one by one, over time we will come closer to our true selves.  What a relief it would be to live an authentic life, without pre-conditioning.

What a joy to be able to live free from the grip of The Menace.