Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Authentic Self and a Life of Love

Our purpose in this life is to grow into our fullest self. Your purpose is to be wholly you. No one else can do it. This is for you alone. The journey of growth in this is one of discovery, of who we truly are, what we desire, what our gifts are, how to love.

This isn’t a short course. It isn’t “Nine Days to the Authentic You!” No, this journey of discovery and self-fulfillment takes a lifetime. And it is full of suffering. I’m sorry, but it just IS. We have traumatic experiences, conflicts, wounds from childhood and beyond. The more we run away from the pain, the more painful it becomes. When we begin to face our wounds, they somehow lose their power over our minds.

This is the thing: truth frees us.

We are on a spiritual journey. It is a journey of discovery and the country we explore is within. There is wonder there, and fear and doubt, beauty, power, and awe. When we journey in the light, our way can seem easy. The deep ravines, however, can seem endless and filled with hazards. Our work, on this journey, is to allow the light to shine into even the darkest places within our own souls.
Marianne Williamson says that “as we open our hearts more and more, we’re moved in the directions in which we’re supposed to go. Our gifts well up inside us and extend of their own accord. We accomplish effortlessly.” My experience of this is that it is true. As my heart opens, I am guided. As I relinquish the need to control, as I live into my natural gifts, my life unfolds. This extends to every area of my life.

I tend to “hit bottom” when I am in a cycle of trying desperately to figure things out. In the fall of 2012, I was approaching the end of my job as a communicator, the result of a downsize. I’d been interviewing for positions but nothing was panning out. With two young men dependent on me, I was beginning to feel overwhelmed as the end of the year, and the end of my salaried position, approached.

My mother had died the autumn before, my dating life was getting no traction, my job was ending, and I didn’t know what to do. I was busy, busy with a job search and full of fear. One Friday I felt like I’d hit a wall. I thought, “I’ve got nothing.” I felt out of resources, out of time, out of luck. So I gave up. Completely. And I thought, “I’m going to go with that. I’m going with I’ve got nothing.”

I spent the weekend at Total Surrender Bootcamp. That’s what I called it. I started Friday and went straight through to Sunday. No socializing, no job hunting. I meditated, journaled, read Thom Rutledge’s amazing book, “Embracing Fear,” went hiking, and took naps. I worked on my fears. One of the exercises in that book is making lists of fears. Here are some things I listed as fears:
Emotional insecurity
Financial insecurity
Being unlovable
Being alone
Vulnerable in my writing
Poverty and debt

All pretty normal fears. Some realistic, some not so much. And contradictory. I’m both afraid of intimacy and of being alone!

I explored the dark caves of my heart during that weekend. By Sunday, I was filled with joy, hiking, and singing. None of my material circumstances had changed. But my interior world was transformed. Two months later, I started my own business doing spiritual coaching and intuitive guidance, writing, and teaching. I released my fears through a process of facing them and stepped into myself and I have a sense of fulfillment I’ve never experienced before.

The ongoing work with fear continues, and with it, my claiming myself in deeper and richer ways.

We spend so much time trying to figure things out. With our anxiety driving us, we think, “what am I to DO?” “Who am I meant to be?” And our minds drive us on, spinning and spinning.

When I released my mind from the need to figure out, when I completely surrendered to the wonder of “I don’t know” and “I’ve got nothing,” it was then that I began to step forward into a richer, freer life.

In addition to fear, another thing that holds us back from claiming ourselves is the need to take care of everyone else. This brings up the topic of service. Being of service to others is a wonderful thing and relates to our life purpose. But I feel strongly that service is not our life purpose. When we live as ourselves, fully who we are meant to be, service flows naturally. We don’t have to work at it or seek it out or try. Our natural gifts and talents flow, love flows and we are of service in being who we are. I have a friend who recently said to me, “I really feel that, up until now, I’ve been playing a supportive role in my own life.” This is someone who is of great service to others but for a long time, in doing everything for everyone else, he lost himself.

We just don’t have to work that hard. When we live into ourselves, our presence is an act of service.

This ultimately is about choosing ourselves. This may sound selfish to some, but it’s the only way to really come alive. Shakespeare’s “to thine own self be true” is a famous quote on this topic and widely used in the 12 step community. But the entire quote is enlightening.

It’s from Hamlet and spoken by Polonius:
This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.

This living into oneself, leads to service of others but it also leads to true intimacy in relationships. “Thou canst not then be false to any man.” Others have an opportunity to love us for who we truly are. When we live fully into our inner truth, we end the need to do for others the things they can do for themselves. We end resentments. We learn the beauty of “NO.” We offer our true selves and nothing more. When we are true to ourselves we find that we live from a place of love. False expectations end. Obligation ends. Commitments become lighter. We find safety in vulnerability because when we show who we are and are received with kindness, we build a true relationship. When we are not received with kindness, we find the courage to choose differently.

I want to note here that vulnerability is not the same as Too Much Information. Vulnerability does not mean complete transparency with everyone. Vulnerability means boldly choosing what we share and do not share. This power of choice is profoundly different from hiding something or secret keeping.

When we live more in our own truth, we find the courage to be. This doesn’t mean we are no longer afraid.

Live your truth; watch your joy grow, as will your relationships and experiences. 

© 2014 Janet Tuck