Healing comes in unexpected packages

How vulnerable do I give myself permission to be? That was the question that opened the floodgates. I was on my ½ hour scheduled call with my wealth coach and I was discussing my next steps around putting myself out there to deliver value to my future clients and the subject of perfectionism came up in the last 15 minutes of our call.

I’ll be 38 in January and never once have I allowed myself to be anything less than capable. I strive for excellence in everything I do. If at first you don’t succeed, try try again has been an unwritten rule I’ve lived by and it’s clearly seen in my work product. Anyone who’s worked with me expects no less than the best possible outcome on any product or project I work on.

So, for the past year, I’ve been confounded by why I haven’t been able to get my coaching business off the ground. I’ve gone through countless training programs and acquired an amazing amount of knowledge and have ample personal experience to support why I’m good enough to help people gain self-awareness, heal from trauma, and create healthy intimate relationships and yet, something was holding me back.

In speaking with my coach, it began to dawn on me that I’d assigned different meaning to my ability to succeed intellectually than emotionally. Success in connecting emotionally, aka, in being vulnerable was alien to me and so I protected myself by building sky high fortresses against attack. Questions like “How would I be seen if this didn’t work out?” and “How would I feel about myself?” and “What would I make that mean about me?” sprung to mind and that’s when through all my mind chatter, I heard my coach ask “How vulnerable do I give myself permission to be?”.

All the air suddenly left my body in a sign of relief and unburdening. I vibrated with the realization that no one had placed any expectations on me and that it was all me and all I needed to do was let go and allow, give myself permission to be vulnerable. I’m stronger than the seven year old little girl who couldn’t fight off her rapist and I’m stronger than the nine year old little girl who desperately needed love and couldn’t say no to her molester and I’m stronger than the fourteen year child who ran from her attacker believing that in order to survive she had to be closed off and watchful, untrusting and afraid.

I built my fortress to shield and protect me but it became my prison, disconnecting me from my essence, a loving, giving, compassionate being, distancing me from experiencing true connection with other loving beings. I believe I stepped outside my prison in that moment and in doing so, the floodgates of pent up sadness, isolation, and burden of unnecessary expectations was opened up and released.

I am a wise and strong woman. I gently and tenderly care for my wounded inner child. I am freedom expressed. In my vulnerability, I find my voice and my strength. I am love calling out to you who are wounded, living in the world in isolation, desperately seeking love and validation and security from others telling you that joy and peace can be had from within.

Wonderful things can happen when someone holds space for you to safely step outside your self-constructed emotional prison. I will hold space for you.

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You decide when the time is right

I know it gets scary sometimes, at times lonely and overwhelming but don’t let anyone set your timetable for you. Only you can decide when you’re ready to let go, make a change and find a way out of your sorrow but until then, have a support system around you, to encourage you, to be a shoulder to lean on and to be there for you propping you up when you are ready to decide, because believe me, you may falter and you will need a foundation of support to help you keep moving forward.

So yes, I will talk a lot about healing and why it’s important but I can’t tell you when is right for you. Just know that I am here when you do feel it is the right time.

2 Important Reasons for Healing Emotional Wounds

Adobe Spark

You can’t see emotional scars but if left untreated they will begin to infect not only the point of injury but surrounding areas as well such as your self-worth and self-esteem.

These wounds can go unnoticed for a long time surprising and confusing you when they surface because they don’t look like low self-esteem or low self-worth, rather they sneak up on you as symptoms.

Symptoms like impatience, intolerance, lashing out in anger, being physically abusive, accepting physical abuse, belittling, bullying, depression, suicidal thoughts, attempting suicide, poor grades, mood swings, food addiction, chemical addiction, alcohol addiction, sex addiction, love addiction, co-dependence, extramarital affairs, inability to express emotions, closed-off or walled up, social anxiety, anxiety attacks, obsessive tendencies, constant fantasizing, mental breakdowns, high blood pressure, shortness of breath, weight fluctuation, being overweight, anorexia, bulimia, distrusting, manipulating, controlling, solitude, lying, compartmentalizing, and the list goes on.

I wish all doctors were like Dr. House but they’re not. I’ve been lucky to have been treated by true diagnosticians when I’ve been physically ill in that rather than putting a band-aid on the symptom, they have searched for the root cause and addressed it on a deeper level rather than on a surface level.

Alas, not everyone can afford multiple lab tests to search for the root cause of their physical ailments and so band-aid after band-aid after band-aid are applied to fix one symptom or the other only for other symptoms to surface which only leads to greater expenses than if the money had been spent initially to discover the root cause.

Emotional wounds are treated much in the same way. We learn how to deal with AKA put a band-aid on the individual symptoms as opposed to taking the time to discover the root cause of our symptoms. We take an effective communication class or go to anger management meetings or take medication to calm down or cheer up or yo-yo diet to lose weight or go to counseling for 16 years telling the same stories over and over again.

We have internal mechanisms that heal our physical scars but no such mechanisms exist for emotional scars so how does one heal?

One of the things that naturally aids in the healing process of our physical wounds is oxygen. You can Google the science of oxygen and wound healing but suffice it to say that oxygen is required for healthy cell creation and regeneration and we are made up of cells.

The equivalent of oxygen on an emotional level is exposing the source of our wounds, the root causes and expressing their symptoms and consequences on our lives. Lastly, prevention is required to ensure we are not re-wounded in the same ways, AKA by re-building our emotional immune system.

It sounds simple but it’s not easy and it takes time. You may say “I ain’t got time for that” and that’s just a lie you tell yourself so you don’t have to face the biggest fear you have, the fear that you are not.

Not strong enough
Not good enough
Not brave enough
Not deserving enough
Not worthy enough
Not woman enough

Whether you’re aware of it or not, these beliefs are stopping you from taking loving and necessary action to create the life you deserve and desire. YOU ARE ENOUGH but you will never realize that until you stop ignoring your pain and rip off the band-aids. It’ll sting for a bit but it will not hurt you, it will release you to build up your sense of self-worth and self-esteem.

Self-worth must be rooted from the inside out, coming to terms with the emotional damage done and taking steps to rewind the lingering trauma so that it does not result in what is more often than not, a seeking of external validation and approval in things or people that only adds anxiety and pressure to perform or to be perfect.

Self-esteem, like self-worth, is an inside job that requires daily action to support feeling good about yourself. That means taking care of yourself in ways that nourish and support you and bring you comfort, peace, joy, satisfaction, happiness, contentment and fulfillment. When you feel good about yourself, the words and actions of others have less power over your emotional well-being.

Healing is a process, not a destination

When I was seven years old, I was raped by my male babysitter, the son of friends of my mother. Following that episode, I grew a very strong dependent attachment to my mother and became withdrawn and reserved, hesitant around strangers. Before this, as per a close childhood friend and confirmed by my mother, I was outgoing, social and enjoyed connecting with others.

My mother became my security blanket and she appeared to take that job very seriously taking me everywhere she went, never leaving me in the care of strangers, speaking for me when I was silent when meeting new people, shielding me. Today, as an adult, reflecting back on this behavior, I see how unhealthy that was for both her and I. If this continued, I would not develop independence and coping skills to face life’s challenges. Children learn from their caretakers how to be in the world and even though I needed physical protection, she could not be there every second of every day with me and I needed to develop emotional resilience to deal with things on my own.

Skip ahead a couple of years and I would be given exactly such an opportunity. Unfortunately, I was ill-prepared for what was to come. There wasn’t a slow build-up, in fact, it was like being thrown in an ice bath and I went into complete shock. I don’t remember the events leading up to or following this episode but I do remember being in the car, getting out with my mother, she taking me to the home of a friend and telling me she was going away and that I was to stay with her friend.

Remember that my mother was my life at the time. My identity was woven into hers. To set the stage a bit more and explain why this became the most poignant moment in my life and in my estimation was the most traumatic event of my life, is that this was taking place outside of a home on a small island in the Caribbean and my mother was moving to America and she was not taking me with her.

I clung to her, screaming and crying, pleading for her not to leave me. She tried pushing me away from her but I was holding onto her for dear life because she was my life. Her friend tried pulling at me from the other direction to no avail. My mother kept walking away towards the car, trying to disentangle herself from me and then she stopped, turned to face me and said “I’m not your mother”.

Perhaps you can imagine what that felt like. My arms fell to my side and frozen in place, I stared blankly at her get into the car and drive away. I wouldn’t see her again for 3 years. I once had a therapist challenge whether she actually said those words out loud but it doesn’t matter whether they were voiced or not because that’s what it felt like. Something happened to make me let go of her and meant or not meant, said or not said, the sting of the feeling is as true today as it was nearly 30 years ago.

Perhaps a year went by, I’m not very clear on the timeline, where my younger brother and I were in the care of a friend of my mother’s. She had moved into our home with her 3 children and periodically, my mom sent home care packages of clothes and books and toys, a lot of which this woman’s children had first dibs on.

During my time with this woman, my brother and I were treated less than her children, made to scrub the floors and got beaten if we disobeyed or asked for things which our mother sent for us. Since my brother was 4 years younger than me, only 4 or 5 years old at the time, I protected him. I remember one time that I couldn’t protect him. She had beat him and locked him in the bedroom in the dark. Sitting on the other side of the door, sobbing, forbidden from opening it, I listened to him scream and kick and cry to be let out.

I recall our uncle coming over a couple of times to check up on us and I would tell him what was going on. He asked me to write a letter to send to my mother explaining our circumstances and I did. Next thing I knew, I was on a plane to Canada to live with my Aunt and her husband.

Compared to my life in Dominica, Canada was a paradise. I had a 3 year old cousin and my aunt and uncle were kind and generous. That wasn’t to last though. My aunt was physically abusive towards me. If I said or did something she didn’t like, she hit me and I’m not talking about a slap on the hand or even the face but spankings on the kitchen floor that had me backing up into corners trying to escape the blows. The worst came one day after school. I arrived home to a barrage of questions about who I’d told about our personal business. You see, that day in school, I told my best friend about what was happening at home and she told the teacher and the teacher called my aunt and uncle. No authorities ever got involved but I knew after that that what was happening to me was wrong.

My uncle, when he was home, would intervene, getting in between her and I, calming her and soothing me. They were both nurses and would work alternating day and night shifts. When my uncle was home, he would make my favorites like lasagna and scrambled eggs with cheese and he would take me into his bedroom at night time and touch and fondle me.

I grew used to these episodes, even enjoying them for a time and anxiously await him once my aunt went to work. He was loving and kind and he protected me. From those moments I learned that sex equated love and that to receive love, I should give sex.

After two years with my aunt and uncle, we took a road trip to New York City to visit my mother. It was Easter weekend and I had no idea that would be the last I would see of my friends in Canada. I don’t remember what it was like seeing my mother again, I believe it was strange because when the trip was over, I was ready to go back to Canada but my mother asked if I wanted to stay with her. I felt torn but I said yes because that’s what was expected.

My mother worked long hours and she lived in an apartment with her boyfriend, the same man she immigrated to the United States with. I was lonely, spending hours by myself, watching tv. I waited for her to get home on my 12th birthday but after a couple hours went by without her saying anything, I sadly reminded her. It had been so long, she’d forgotten and it hurt.

I remember these commercials to call a 1–900# to join a kids party with a clown and I called. When the bill came, I denied making any calls because my mother was so angry. I didn’t have a concept of money but the consequences of making those calls were real and she beat me for the first time.

My brother also came that year. He arrived a shy and shattered 7 year old boy who hardly spoke. 3 years had gone by and even though during that time, I lived in an abusive household, I was relatively safe. He, on the other hand, lived with strangers in physical danger from the age of 4 to 7.

Now that we were all together again, the expectation was that things would improve but they only got worse. My mother’s boyfriend was an alcoholic and he was abusive towards her. While he was never abusive to us, we were witness to increasing violence. She had kicked him out once or twice but took him back. One night, he came home drunk and he and my mother began to argue in their bedroom then the fight shifted and escalated in the living room. Things started breaking, someone, my mother I’m sure fell onto our glass coffee table, shattering it. My brother who slept in his own room down the hall, came into my bedroom and got into bed with me and we both huddled there, frightened.

Words foreboding terrifying things were shouted between them, then I heard my mother screaming his name. I can’t remember at what point she called the police but even though things got quiet, my brother and I couldn’t bring ourselves to unlock the door and go to her. A knock on my door caused me to let go of my brother. When I opened it, she stood there bleeding from her chest where he had sliced her across her breast with a machete. She said she was going to the hospital and not to worry because he wasn’t coming back. I don’t think we slept that night and true to her word, he never came back.

As I reflect back as an adult, my mother was battling her own demons but as children, we only needed comfort, safety, and love. Easy things to provide in my mind but that can’t be provided when you’re broken. The violence perpetrated on her was now being perpetrated on us. She was angry all the time and I learned to be invisible and walk softly around her.

My bedroom was my sanctuary and my books became my escape. There were no words of love spoken in my home. I didn’t have very many friends, I couldn’t hang out. Boyfriends were out of the question but I rebelled on that one. I began having consensual sex at 14 with my first boyfriend and then sex with random strangers who paid me any attention.

My mother would send my brother and I out to play in the park but because I was so depressed, though, at the time, that word was not in my vocabulary, I would just find a place to sit by myself. Our neighborhood had this water fountain installation and I would go there sometimes. I was approached by a man once, who sat and talked with me and asked me if I wanted to come home with him. I don’t remember the conversation but off I went. When we arrived, there was another guy there who watched while I submitted to sex with this man.

I lived in a haze of emptiness and disconnection from life and myself until I went away to college at 17. The 4 hour drive up to the school was tense. We all sat in silence. I in the back of my mom’s friend’s car while he drove and she sat in the passenger seat. I navigated even though I’d only been to visit the school one time and that was via greyhound. It’s amazing what your brain can recall under stressful circumstances then again, I might have the whisperings of a photographic memory.

There had been no question I was going to college but my grades began slipping in high school. I went from top of my class to below average in those 4 years. If my mother was to get her way, I would go to college in the city and live at home. I was only accepted into one school and that was under a special program that required remedial classes and frequent check-ins with program administrators.

The day came and I was all packed and ready to go and then my friend called to say her car had broken down and would not be able to take me. I thought my life was over, that I was stuck in NYC under the watchful eye and heavy hand of my mother for the rest of my life. When she came home, I took a deep breath and approached her. Unable to make eye contact, I explained I had no ride to school, nor did I have any money to take a bus and asked if she could drive me. Her response was “Well, I guess you’re not going.” I went to my room, sat on the bed and sobbed.

The drive was 4 hours from the city to upstate New York. She had called a friend to drive us and I was evidently a pain in her you know what since she had to take time out of what little she had to rest from her workday to take her daughter to college.

When we pulled off the highway exit, internally, I was so afraid of messing up the directions and she had warned me that I better not get us lost. We finally pulled up in front of my freshman dorm and I just sat there, seemingly awaiting instructions that it was ok to get out of the car. She turned around to look at me and said “If I see one C, I will come and pull you back by your hair” and she turned around and just stared ahead. Her friend got out, telling me to come out and get my bags. I walked around back as he pulled my bags from the trunk. He gave me a hug and told me to take care. He got back in the car and I turned around to look at my mother. I guess I was expecting her to come out and say goodbye but they just drove off.

I fell into a depressive state and got all C’s my first semester. If I wasn’t in class or eating meals, I was in my dorm room. I didn’t have a roommate so I didn’t have to hide my emotions from anyone and I cried all the time. I tried seeing a counselor but the pain was just so raw, I couldn’t talk about it. I went home only once for Christmas and the next 3 years, I took summer classes and worked so I didn’t have to go home.

I had my first lesbian experience in college and dated my girlfriend for 2 years. She was studying psychology and I told her about my life. I learned about depression and she asked me to seek counseling which I tried and again quit.

After 4 years, I moved back home and began living under this black cloud of oppression again. I was online by then and had a french pen pal I met in my last year of school. I was studying intensive french and found someone to practice French with and he could practice English with me. Our pen pal friendship grew to attraction and I visited him in Paris several times over our 4 years of long distance dating. We talked about me moving there permanently but I never did. He was my first heartbreak and it was devastating because I had become very attached to him.

I began sleeping around after that and soon met another guy, this time in Sweden. Desperately wanting him to save me as well but I couldn’t take the leap and move. I decided to join the Peace Corps and broke things off. While I waited for my country assignment, I went on a sexcapade, looking up sex partners online, meeting strangers in their homes, up for anything just to feel numb.

I attached to anyone who showed any interest in more than just sex, latching on to their affectionate words, taking off work to spend more time with them, fantasizing about a relationship and moving in together.

My Peace Corps application was completed and I was assigned a country and in 2003, I moved to Cameroon. The volunteer contract is for 2 years but I fell in love with another volunteer as my first year was coming to a close and decided to terminate early and move back with him. We were going to get married and have babies.

Well he proposed and I got pregnant but not in that order and we did not get married and I had an abortion. One morning, as I sat in his bedroom in his Baptist mother’s house during a visit to tell her the good news, a movie started playing over and over in mind that I was either going to harm this child or myself. I had experienced heightened anxiety like this before.

In Cameroon, I went to visit my boyfriend and we hung out in town before catching a bus to his village. He had rented a hotel room and things were fine until we were lying in bed, he was kissing me and I stopped responding. I was there, I knew what was happening but I felt outside myself. My body had gone numb and I lay there staring up at the ceiling unblinking. He was obviously frightened, calling my name, slapping me, lifting my arms that fell heavily back on the bed, even splashed water in my face. When my eyes finally moved and I came back to myself, I told him I felt like I was going crazy and that was my biggest fear.

There have been times when I didn’t want to be touched by anything, not the carpet I was standing on and not even the clothes I was wearing and would rip them off and curl up in a ball, lie on the ground and wait for it to pass.

When we left Cameroon, we drove around the US a few months, visiting his friends and our parents. We decided to get pregnant and I really thought that was what I wanted but my mind was fighting an internal battle and was losing and I felt my biggest fear was coming true. He drove me to New York and I made an appointment at a clinic.

My mother offered to take care of the child if I delivered and he said the same thing but they both honored my wishes. He took me to the clinic and waited, met me after and consoled me while I cried from this emptiness I felt.

I broke it off with him and he moved across the country and I stayed in New York with my mother. That lasted for about 3 days. I called him and told him I wanted to get back together. Deep down, I knew the relationship was untenable but he was the only person who deeply cared for me and I needed that and took advantage of that. He gladly took me back, found us an apartment, worked to support us and I stayed home and cried.

I eventually got a job and he came home one day and told me that the local university had free counseling with the student psychologists and suggested I go. I certainly was a case study for my student therapist. I went for a few sessions but she was graduating and moving on and we’d gotten to a point I was unwilling to take further action. She highly recommended I get professional help.

After nearly a year, I applied to graduate school in New York, got accepted, broke up with my boyfriend and moved back. I lived with a cousin, completed my Master’s degree in Library and Information Science and got my first real job at 28. I enjoyed my job until I didn’t and after the first year I resigned, almost. My boss told me to take some time to think about it. My ex and I had remained in contact and it was almost like we were still together so when I got frustrated at work, he was my first phone call. I told him I wanted to come back and he accepted. He met me at the airport with a ring which I put in my bag and then a desk drawer.

A couple months later, I took on a project for work and 9 months later, I moved back East to take on a new position, breaking up with him for good and cutting of all communication. I know I hurt him terribly and I have since apologized. I told him I was gay and that I could no longer deny that part of myself. He’d always known of my attraction to women but at the time, I just figured I was bisexual.

I began dating only women but codependency continued to play a huge part in my relationships. I fell head over heels, making my partner into my world, falling apart when they left me and then sleeping around, usually with unavailable people. If I did happen to be in a relationship that was good, if it got too good, I would create drama to end it.

Nearly 3 years ago, I began seeing through the haze and realized I had a problem. I was a workaholic who hated my job. I attracted assholes, was unable to say No and protect my heart, slept around, had low self-esteem and was a hermit.

I decided it was time to come out of hiding and joined a lesbian meetup group. I started hanging out more, making new friends and next thing I knew, I became coordinator of the group when the old coordinator stepped down. I was having fun and engaging in life. Then I was gifted an opportunity to work with a career coach and with her help decided to go back to school for something completely different from the corporate arena I had been in for the past 8 years. I moved to Arizona and began studying life coaching, hypnotherapy and aromatherapy. That’s when I learned about addiction and its affect on my life and acknowledged that I was a love addict. Through my hypnotherapy and life coaching coursework, I did a lot of healing and decided I wanted to pay it forward.

After a year of alternative healing therapies training, I moved back home, to what is now home, Las Vegas, bought a house and started my coaching business.

Rebuilding Your Emotional Immune System

Your emotional immune system is restored when it’s rebuilt on a foundation of self-love. Self-love is made up of self-worth, self-respect, self-esteem, and self-confidence. For survivors of abuse especially in childhood, like myself, our emotional immune system was damaged at essential stages during our development. Self-love can be cultivated through practicing elf-compassion, self-acceptance, self-forgiveness, and self-trust.

#1 Benefit of Self-Love: SELF-WORTH

When we believe we are inherently defective, we then have to hide our real self, our essence, and try to become what we think we need to be, to be acceptable. The wounded self takes over and loses touch with our core Self – who we really are. We are stuck defining ourselves through our looks and performance, and we are stuck suffering the anxiety that comes from being so vulnerable to others’ disapproval. – Dr. Margaret Paul

For many years, I allowed my value to be defined by my ability to please others. It made me physically ill to disappoint those I looked to to give me a sense of value, my friends, parents, teachers, bosses and my intimate partners. I made everyone I came into contact with responsible for my feelings and tried to control how they felt about me by being who they wanted me to be.

The fear that they would see me the way I saw myself, as worthless, was so great, it took all my strength and focus to keep up the pretense that I was perfect. I lived this way for so long, I forgot who I was and how to be me. I was unable to see myself through the eyes of pure love. Relationships based on external approval will never survive. The real you, your essence will always seek to be seen, heard and felt and the discord this creates between the pull to be free and the push to suppress facing your truth will always cause you pain.

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#2 Benefit of Self-Love: SELF-RESPECT

Your values and beliefs determine how you see yourself and your place in the world and go hand in hand with what you deem acceptable behavior and treatment. As children, we were unable to protect ourselves from those who were stronger than us and meant to do us harm. As adults, we alone are responsible for our path in life because we have freedom of choice.

Our experiences in childhood shaped our values and beliefs so if your experience as an adult is less than desirable, do a self-inventory to determine what your values and beliefs are. What, where and with whom you spend your time and money on will tell you your values. Your results in health, wealth and love will clue you in to your beliefs about your self-worth.

An aspect of cultivating self-love is liking, accepting and honoring who you are and where you are in life even as you take steps to change your adult experience into one that is more loving and supportive to your well-being. As you like, accept and honor yourself, you become intolerant to anyone or anything that is not in accordance with that. As you journey on your path to self-improvement, self-respect will help keep you grounded and protected from those who wish you harm.

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#3 Benefit of Self-Love: SELF-ESTEEM

Self-esteem is the result of taking loving action, not the cause of it. It doesn’t matter how badly you were treated as a child, or how badly your parents treated themselves. Your actions need never be governed by your past. When taking loving action in your own behalf replaces your inattentive and judgmental behavior toward yourself, you will discover that the result is high self-esteem. – Dr. Margaret Paul

Are you more critical and judgmental of yourself or more loving towards yourself? Do you treat yourself and allow others to treat you in ways that build up your spirit or in ways that tear you down? Think of the thoughts you have about yourself when you stand naked and look in the mirror or when you make a mistake at work or have an argument with your partner. How many of your daily thoughts carry negative energy? Do you think things like “You’re so fat” or “You’re so stupid” or “Why can’t you ever do anything right” or “That was a dumb thing to say”?

It’s been said that if you tell a child they’re stupid enough, they start to believe it and I believe that’s true. As a child, I received a lot of mixed messages that I carried with me into adulthood. I was told I could accomplish anything I set my mind to and that I was smart but I was also told that I couldn’t run, had a big forehead, big eyes and wouldn’t be loved if I was fat. The positive messages made me successful in school and work but only when I wasn’t weighed down in sadness because of the emotional pain I carried from the negative messages and the abuse I suffered in childhood.

In order to remove the unsupportive beliefs we have about ourselves, we first need to become aware of them and then take repeated steps, “loving action” to replace them with supportive beliefs because if you tell yourself something enough, you start to believe it. Actions speak louder than words so in order to change your negatively charged thoughts, do things that nourish your mind, body and spirit, that make you feel good about yourself, happy and at peace like acknowledging your feelings, eating right, exercising, meditating, going for a stroll in nature, listening to music, joining a support group, going to church, practicing gratitude, not allowing others to mistreat you.

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#4 Benefit of Self-Love: SELF-CONFIDENCE

Self-esteem is believing that you are worthy and deserving. The combination of believing you are worthy and deserving along with the belief that you are capable creates self-confidence.

Self-esteem is something I still struggle with which is why sometimes I come off as cocky and a know-it-all. I know I’m capable, there’s never been any doubt of that and I received positive messages about my intellectual brilliance from a very young age. I excel in anything I put my mind and effort into yet there was always a part of me that was clouded by self-doubt and a feeling of unworthiness. I always worried about what other people would think. Would I be congratulated or made to feel like I could have done better? Would they see how hard I worked or would they be dismissive of my efforts?

My dependence on other people’s approval and trying to prove my worth created a lot of stress on my psyche. I became a workaholic so my bosses would recognize what a dedicated worker I was. I became addicted to love and sex to please partners so they would love and appreciate me. I learned how to become someone else in public, putting on a smile, being the good girl and the accomplished woman. All that effort created a wall between the persona I’d created and the person I really was inside.

I had an inherent fear that even if I accomplished everything my heart desired that it would all fall apart because I didn’t deserve to have it.

Understanding how and why I had compartmentalized so much of myself that I couldn’t find my way back to me through hypnotherapy and NLP has helped tremendously in restoring my self-worth and letting go of my addictions but it’s an ongoing process. My message to you is that you can heal, you will feel better but you have to choose to make yourself a priority.

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Below are four practices you can start today to build a foundation of self-love including self-worth, self-respect, self-esteem and self-confidence.

Lastly, I also recommend reading Pema Chodron’s “Comfortable with Uncertainty: 108 Teachings on Cultivating Fearlessness and Compassion (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1590306260?ie)

Self-Love, demystified

Self-love demystified

Consider this and imagine yourself as a container, any size will do. What makes this container so special is that it contains love. What does love feel like to you? To me, love is warm and safe, it’s laughter and joy, it’s bright and calm and it’s ever flowing.

When we’re born, our containers are full, overflowing with love but the walls of our container are thin which makes the walls of our container susceptible to tears and holes if our container isn’t well taken care of. Our caretakers are meant to be the protectors of our container, their job is to make the walls of our container strong and impenetrable and they do that by reinforcing what’s already in our container, love.

Our container walls need to be strong and impenetrable because the world can be harsh and rightly so. We can only grow and learn when we’re challenged. When our container walls are fortified, we can get through any challenge in time but when our container walls are thin and have tears and holes, it makes it very difficult for us to get through challenges. We lose our way, we fall into depression, we look for any and everything to plug up our holes and repair our tears and sometimes those quick fixes work but eventually they fail and leave even bigger holes and larger tears.

Every time we get picked on and called names, every time we’re made to feel small and less than beautiful or smart, every time we don’t feel protected, seen or listened to creates a small tear or hole in our container and love spills out. The holes and tears created in childhood are the most impactful because our container walls are thinnest in childhood. Our caretakers are our shields and we look to them for protection and comfort. If our caretakers do a great job, the challenges we face in childhood are filtered through the containers of our caretakers so the impact is not as great and even if we do sustain a tear, it’s quickly repaired and that impact area is fortified by the care we receive.

Because we’re so dependent on our caretakers to protect us, when the damage comes directly from them, we have no shield and the damage can be catastrophic, losing our essence in gallons.

Because love is what we’re made up of, when we lose too much of it we forget who we are and in the forgetting become vulnerable to emotional vampires. Emotional vampires are people who have also forgotten who they are because they’ve lost their essence and in trying to get it back, pull whatever you have left out of you but one’s essence cannot be replaced by someone else’s.

The beautiful thing about your container is that it can be repaired even if it’s riddled with holes and tears, it may take some time but it can be done and the way to do that is with self-love. I think of self-love as the act of nourishing your emotional body, feeding it the nutrients it needs to get strong and be able to face challenges head-on without forgetting who you are.

While there are practical things we can do to practice self-love like taking care of our bodies by eating right, exercising and practicing good hygiene, surrounding ourselves with positive, supportive people, staying away from emotional vampires, using affirmations and more; for these solutions to be successful long-term, you must truly believe you are worthy.

If you have a core belief that you do not deserve to be loved, these surface solutions will not hold up very long because they depend on willpower to remain focused and on track. Willpower requires the effort of your conscious mind, the part of you that thinks logically and practically. Think about the last time you tried to not do something because you knew it was bad for you but you did it anyway. Your conscious mind makes up only 15-20% of who you are you. It helps you make logical decisions and solve problems, it helps you remember your way home, buy groceries and pick up the dry cleaning. What it doesn’t do is help you change habits, behaviors, and beliefs that are tied to your emotional state and your subconscious mind.

The coaching work I do uses hypnotherapy to access the subconscious mind, the seat of your emotions and beliefs which drive the motives behind your habits and behaviors. Repairing and fortifying the damaged walls of your container means revisiting what caused the holes and tears in your container, which are the experiences stored in the subconscious mind, then reprogramming your subconscious to adopt more positive, supportive, loving beliefs thereby creating new motives which lead to new habits and behaviors.