Have Courage

img_0785Off on a new adventure! It took me an hour just to find a working bike rental system. It only gave me 30 seconds to remove it from its automated lock and it was stuck. It took me three tries to unlock the rented city bike with a basket.  

After figuring out how to free the wheels, off I was down the Rabbit Trail. What a beautiful and freeing feeling to ride with the breeze flowing in my face and not being strapped down to obligations at the moment. It was quiet and the trees and flowers were coming to life from their dormancy of Winter. 

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Amongst the new green grass, budding trees and blooming flowers were colors of purple, pink, yellow and white.  The sounds of the river rapids next to the trail were calming and lightened my spirit.

As clunky as that bike was, it sure put a smile on my face to bust through the fear of being a little woman going somewhere unknown, alone and unprotected. While it may seem like a simple experience to many people, stories of kidnapping and people going missing had been close to home for me and thoughts of not being so lucky next time raced through my head.  However, if we live in fear we are not living.  While we must take precautions it is exciting to discover a new path.

Nature was awakening. The birds and sounds of Spring made me no longer feel so alone.  They replaced the noises in my head.  My gut was feeling safe so I decided to listen to the truer voice.  The voice of reason.

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Sometimes we lack the courage of trying new things for fear of the unknown. However once we do discover there is nothing to fear, that freedom renews our energy and confidence and brings a new life to us much like nature comes alive in Spring. When was the last time you were held back by unnecessary fear?  If you listen closely to your gut, you can sense the difference between moments where you need to use precaution and other moments where you need to shut off the negative voice and go for it.  Next time, have the courage to listen closely.

Lion Statue taken near Reedy River Falls in Greenville, South Carolina 2019

Surprise Yourself!

Being a soft-spoken person, there have been many times where people didn’t believe in her.

1. In elementary school, someone close said she didn’t see that shy girl going to college but she did.

2. That little girl’s best friend said she was surprised at how competitive she was in sports in Junior High given her timid nature.

3. Bullies in Junior High were surprised when she fought back.

4. Classmates were surprised at her performance in speech class.

5. Her track coach admitted he didn’t expect much of her because of her little build yet she broke a record the first time she was placed on the relay team.

6. Her guidance counselor in High School thought she could not make it in advertising and thought she should be an accountant. Yet advertising sales gave her the chance to meet amazing people, challenge herself, have fun and make money.

7. Her friends and family have said they have been amazed at what she has been able to accomplish given how little she spoke around the dinner table growing up.

8. One of her first teammates in her first sales jobs questioned the manager for hiring her on one of the first days on the job. Yet that same person has worked with her for a third time because he saw what she was truly capable of achieving.

9. While even her husband who has believed in her even when she did not believe in herself, jokes now about how he thought they would be poor. He could care less about her career success though. It isn’t him that didn’t believe in her.   It was the girl who didn’t believe in herself.  That girl is me.  It can still be me when I let self-doubt take over.

If you are a soft-spoken person you have likely felt the same way. If you haven’t surprised people yet, then what is stopping you? Even if you are not soft spoken for all of you who don’t believe in yourselves, ask why? Why can’t you do what you want to accomplish? You are capable if you have a strong desire! Have courage! Remind yourself every time you have been able to accomplish more than you or anyone else thought you could.

Make a list. Write down all the nonbelievers in your life and who you welcomed to the club of people who thought you couldn’t yet you showed them they were wrong about you! Recall all the times you even didn’t think you could but did!

Start preparing your mind through positive self-talk. Whether you are soft-spoken, little, not as … as you wish you were, think again. Instead, when anyone underestimates you, think to yourself “watch out!” Be energized by showing them what you can do!! You may be able to climb mountains! You will blow them away!  Most importantly, set out to surprise yourself and have glory in being amazed by the one person that matters most! All you need to do is believe in yourself! You’ve just been taught how!

 

Photograph taken of Half Dome Mountain at Yosemite

Identify What Stops You

It was the Fall of my Senior year of high school when I heard someone tell me a friend of mine’s parent had described me as “backward.”  BACKWARD?! I had felt the rage inside of me develop out of the piercing aching feeling that deflated me and question how I saw myself.  I quickly became defensive and said, “How could she say I was backward?!  I would say quiet but NOT BACKWARD.”  That sounded to me like awkward and that was NOT how I wanted to be defined.

Now as I type this, it sounds so ridiculous.  Why did I let one word spoken by someone who barely knew me be my blockade and resurface as my inner critical voice for so long? Had I been strong enough in myself to not believe it, I would have brushed it off and explained it as their problem not mine.  So it didn’t start there.  It started earlier.

I had been a timid girl in new situations as early as I can remember going back to Kindergarten. Looking back, I was more like many other kids than I had realized.  Yet, my reserved nature was intensified by my family environment of being number nine of ten kids.  It seemed fighting to have a voice felt like more work than what it was worth which invited the habit of me just not sharing my opinion in group settings.

It wasn’t until Junior High where being quiet became one of my insecurities.  The more I heard, “Why are you so quiet?’ the more I withdrew inward.  Sixth grade was a year where I had went from a class of 20 students who I had grown comfortable with to a class of 84 where those closest safest friends grew other friendships.  Those years where judging became so common I rehearsed what I was going to say in a group setting so much that my words were left unspoken. It was no longer relevant to the conversation I was in with my friends.  People who had been my friends started writing letters to me.  Some in concern and another saying “I followed them around like a puppy dog.”  It hurt.  However I did have the inner strength to fight back.

By my freshman year in my little home town, alcohol was plentiful in social settings so I would have some to help fight my social anxieties.  I also started to run track and ended up being good at it so it built my confidence. I then started to talk more in High School and started overcoming some of my shyness. While I still struggled with grades and sharing my opinions, I had at least let enough people get to know me and surprisingly was chosen for Prom Queen. Yet the insecurities of not being smart enough and that “awkward” label during moments of insecurity still didn’t stop that inner critic from speaking loudly:

“They don’t want to hear what I have to say.”

“Why am I so awkward?”

“I hate hearing myself talk.  It sounded better in my head.  Maybe I should just leave it there next time.”

“I am a weird.”

“I am not smart enough to share my opinion.”

While reading “Shining Freely” by Josie Muterspaw,  I realized  I need to “let go” of these labels that have been stuck in my head.

She says:

“The truth is, what you don’t let go of won’t let go of you.”

“We kill our joy, our destiny, our freedom and our passion when we chew on the things we were meant to let go of.”

“Our emotional experience can be clouded by past hurts and then the fear guides our perspective instead of truth. ”

She talks about how decades can go by where we are stuck in those old hurts.  I recognize how I have been running away from that person in high school and have been overly driven to prove all those people wrong about me.

I went off to a college where no one knew me so I could start over. Throughout my journey for redefining who I was, I held onto the security from family members who saw something in me as a child. Teachers who saw I was smarter then I thought.  Professors who taught me listening was a strength that could be used for sales to make money.  Leaders who shared their struggles of timidness and inspired me to see the person who I could become.  I had a mentor who coached me out of my comfort zone and helped me discover how I could be brave and a high performer in sales and management.  They all helped get me to believe in myself and enabled me to accomplish what I sought to accomplish.  However, when the sense of accomplishment was not there, I felt lost and not valuable.

While that ambition and inner motivation has helped me overcome a majority of the insecurities, I let the list of accomplishments take over and be my source of where I found value in myself.  Rather than confronting the source of the pain I have used it as a driver. Yet while running from who I was, I lost site of the beauty within my own unique purpose.

Over the past couple of years, I started to hear things that moved something in me.    I wanted others fighting the same battle of getting asked “why are you so quiet?” to read the book “Quiet” by Susan Cain that had resonated with me so they would also know they were also not alone.  I didn’t want them to feel the same self abuse.

It wasn’t until I heard a client talk about his daughter who was quiet and share how he had wanted to change her so the world could hear her voice that I started to have a different perspective.  At first, I wanted to immediately come to her defense. However, after he explained himself I realized he didn’t want to change what I had internally defined as “awkwardness” at all.  He wanted her to share her inner beauty and thoughts and opinions to have impact on the world.

Still, it wasn’t until I started my spiritual journey at Southbrook Church and got certified in Pastoral Counseling where I gained a deeper understanding of myself and how many successful others struggled with negative self talk and feelings of inadequacy.  I have become more aware of the roots behind the self talk along with the practices needed to be a healthier more joyful version of myself. I started to listen to the “significant events” that started occurring in my life journey.  Those being things that stir emotion inside you.

What I have learned has developed a spiritual awakening within me that has made my inner voice want to shout out to the world everything bottling up inside me or held secret to those closest to me and use it as a way to make a difference in the world.  My battle to do that first starts with facing that inner demon.  For when I tell myself:

“I am worthy.”

“My opinion is worth hearing.”

“I do have a unique perspective to offer that is good.”

I then speak in a way that shows I believe in myself and then I do feel I am heard. I don’t feel awkward at all unless I start listening to negative self talk, become self conscious and clam up.  With positive affirmation practice I have recently overcome one major milestone. During a meeting with top executives of the multi-billion dollar company I work for, I was included in a group of people  who were asked to provide feedback in a room with about 40 people on what we did that worked in a recent initiative. I was proud of myself for overcoming the intimidation of such high level executives especially in a group setting where I would normally remain silent and was able to confidently share my honest professional opinions without a shaky voice in a big group setting.

While I have more work to do to be more consistent, I have a strong desire to use my story of perseverance and overcoming feelings of unworthiness to give hope to those who don’t believe in themselves.   I am so thankful for the people in my life who have inspired me.  I also need to forgive the people who did not realize their painful words would have such an impact on me.

My vision is to utilize the lessons I have learned and multiply positive impacts on others.  To let go and tell those inner ugly words, “Get out of my way.”

What is it that stops you?

Two experienced counselors, Jeffrey Stokoe and Denise Ashworth, have helped people by getting people to listen to those negative voices.  They recommend to write down what they are saying.  Recognize the common themes. Then think back to the earliest memories and identify what it is that ignited them.  Then start asking yourself, is that really true? Think of all the times where it wasn’t true.  You will start seeing the light and realize the lies you tell yourself.  Those lies that stop you from your true potential.

Resources:  If you struggle with self esteem and inner critics, please look for the True Profile and Anxiety to Peace workbooks within TimeToHeal.solutions website.

“Shining Freely” by Josie Muterspaw

Photograph Taken Near Lakes of Killarney Ireland