Words are just words unless YOU give them meaning.
Faith, fuck, family, love, happy, marriage, bad, shit, honesty, right, good, truth, hell, belief, lie, dream, kind, relationship, passion, father, ambition, mother, friend… grass, sky, school, finger, rain, job… you get the picture. They’re all just words. (Say “grass” aloud 20 times and TELL me that word isn’t random af!:)
Until you assign a meaning and believe in that meaning, adopting what that word will stand for and hold value to, it is meaningless.
I first started thinking about this idea when I began to realize my idea of “marriage” was dying an excruciatingly slow, painful, inevitable death. I’d say, “Marriage. It’s really not all it’s cracked up to be.”
I became so frustrated, feeling everyone who sang praises of being married had LIED to me and I had bought into the lie and ruined my prime years (twenties) and probably my children because of it!
Eventually, as I usually do, I began to see my responsibility in living the definition of marriage that I chose to be a part of and it wasn’t pretty. I adopted the idea that I would be submissive to my husband and try my damnedest to learn how to be gentle and… quiet. (In case it isn’t obvious, my influences were the church and the patriarchal system.)
None of this went well for me, as I am the actual opposite of those things. I consider myself to be a wild woman meaning I have always roamed with spiritual beings in wide open spaces as a free bird, changing directions and a lot of other things on a dime and in my own time. But I am also deeply connected to myself and others, nurturing authenticity, drawing out the heart and holding it safely as it speaks to me and I speak back to it. There is a lot of tenderness and peace in who I am, but I prefer to not be corralled or limited to only one way of relating, being, or personifying the rushing waters of my soul.
So, “marriage” became almost meaningless to me because I began to see all around me that what I thought it meant, it didn’t actually mean at all. People were having affairs, becoming drug addicts, quitting their jobs and leaving their families, sleeping in separate bedrooms, and asking their spouses for “permission” to do this or that… it all made me want to puke.
I stopped holding marriage in such high regard. It wasn’t an achievement to me anymore–no matter how long some couples had endured it–because what’s the point of two miserable people continuing to miserably coexist forever and ever until one of them dies? That kind of existence is the opposite of anything I esteem.
Now, I’m not saying marriage is lost. But, as Mark Groves @createthelove says, “Since when is quantity over quality more admirable?”
All of that to say, my questioning of definitions and terms began with “marriage” then moved to “truth”, “reality”, “living”, “worth”, “honesty”, and pretty much hasn’t stopped since. Even cuss words are literally worthless unless you associate offense, passion, cruelty or emotion with them.
I get it, if someone said, “FUCK YOU” it would definitely be intended to puncture, but does that mean it has to?
No matter what the words are, even when they’re “I love you,” I always read the full picture. The actions around them, the tone beneath them, the pain behind them, the hope in front of them. It’s not that I don’t trust people, but you know when someone is trying to manipulate you? HOW do you know? Because you’re reading all around the words. The words becoming meaningless and everything around them become the true message.
This makes the giving of meaning very powerful and the sort of thing that shouldn’t be done so… unconsciously.
When my son says in a fit of rage, “I hate you! You’re the meanest mommy ever,” it hurts my feelings because I give those words meaning when they come out of the mouth of the person I hold dearest in life. Even still, the meaning of those words isn’t SO deep that I become blind to what is happening around the words. Here’s what I see swirling around his firing tongue:
First, his age. Then I pay attention to how he is still learning how big feelings feel and how to let them move through him. Next I remember the times before (usually just hours before) where he softly runs his fingers through my hair and whispers, “I love you, Mommy,” with no prompting and straight from the heart. And lastly, I tune into what he is holding onto in this moment of hurtful word tossing, and that it usually his own… big shocker… hurt.
Ah, cue pivotal parenting moment! I will help him find the original point of pain and address that first, soothingly and with patience, then later when he is in a clamer state, we will circle back around to the hurtful words he threw my way. I will help him understand how they hurt me (and other people) and give him some better options for next time.
And the same goes with good words too. Did you ever date someone (or maybe you did/do this) who lavishly pours out love, intentions, and plans for a future with you and it seems so damn genuine, but then, in time, you discover it was all empty words and promises? Yeah… reading around the words never stops being important.
It’s always going to be OUR job to take inventory of other people’s full frame–not just their words, not only our feelings of attachment/excitement, not fixating on how they seem to meet our needs, and not only taking account for their actions either.
People who deserve to have meaning attached to their words–the people with high integrity–will show you that in the entire frame of who they are, not just pieces or scraps here and there. But that is on YOU to do your due diligence and not allow your wounds and insecurities to overlook the half-assed people in your life. You’ll learn how to do this in your own shadow work.
It’s part of paying attention to your life and living consciously. Learn to do it and you will be well on your way to becoming a relational jedi.
So, what words are hurting you? Fueling you? Filling you? Giving you hope? Piercing your heart? Makin’ you feel all the feels? Or triggering you?
Pay attention to what’s happening around those words. What behaviors support them? What messages are grounded and true about them? Is there any part of your “bullshit radar” going off about them? LISTEN. Get curious. Dig deeper.
Find your truth, then find the truth about the words you’re hearing (and speaking).
If the pain you experience robs you of joy, it will be the practice of gratitude that returns it.
When connection is severed. Heartache, palpable. Grief, asphyxiating. Fear, consuming. Regret, crippling. Existence, a black hole.
Gratitude will be the way by which you find you are powerful again. Every moment spent in thanks, another stepping stone out of the hollow is laid.
Each of us has dark moments, demonic sides, shame stories, and fears so powerful we spend our whole lives avoiding a complete thought about them in hopes it keeps them from happening.
For those of us who have experienced “worst case scenario” (sometimes more than once), the hollow only deepens. We know the cruel edges of life’s bitter, wicked truth.
So, how do we keep living? What will pull us from the shadows and into the light of loving again, believing for good, hoping once again, finding peace?
There is more power in gratefulness than a thousand logical reasonings. When you position yourself to look for things to be thankful for, you not only shift your focus, you change your energy and the direction of your intention.
Practicing gratitude adjusts core beliefs, bypassing the body, the mind, the heart. Gratitude shakes your soul and the result is a shift in energy, perspective, and beliefs about yourself and the world you live in.
Radical gratitude can be as powerful as being in love, achieving a lifelong goal, or overcoming a difficult challenge–only you have ALL the power and it only takes SECONDS to accomplish.
A powerless human is a susceptible human. Lacking power will leave you vulnerable to experiencing emotional beatings, a lifetime of regret, and agonizing restlessness.
If you need power, control, direction, vision, advice, answers… start practicing gratitude.
Every morning and before you close your eyes to sleep at night, think of three things you’re grateful for. Keep a gratitude journal. Set reminders on your phone. Be purposeful. Follow through. And keep doing it.
Brick by brick, step by step, you’ll see you had every bit of strength you needed to pull yourself out of the hollow threatening to swallow you up right there inside of you all along.
There. You have a new tool when storms roll in. Let the black clouds of pain be your new cue: time to GO GRATEFUL.
Keep breathing, beautiful people. You’re worth every bit of beauty and goodness life can offer just because you’re alive.
I’m thankful for your life and mine today.
Ever think, “Kids these days are such… brats, left to their own devices, disrespectful, lacking character, etc.”? Probably.
It’s a normal part of adulthood–looking on the next generation with a head shake and a genuine concern for the grim future our society is shaping up to be.
Where did we go wrong? What can we do to fix it? CAN we fix anything or is it too late?
Well, it’s NEVER too late and I have the perfect starting point for those of us who have a radar for future generations and it’s going to blow your mind.
It seems ridiculously simple, and it is! But it’s also very dynamic in essence.
See, what a commitment to honesty does is it requires you to level-up (i.e. connect with yourself to find the root honesty in every situation in your life, uncover the bravery that has perhaps been lying dormant in your soul, act above what you’ve seen growing up by approaching others with respect and love even when it’s uncomfortable, as well as, face conflict, resolve fears, make eye contact, and so many other pure gold character building actions).
If you decide to be honest in all areas of your life, you’re going to automatically position yourself to do the work it requires to be someone of high quality integrity, therein ushering yourself into a new sector of socialization–one where respect and individualism are esteemed and small-time behaviors fall flat (like cowardice, avoidance, overthinking, codependence, etc).
Ugh. I know, whhhy would anyone sign up for that?! Ignorance is bliss, right? I mean, this honesty stuff is the kind of character that haunts you in your dreams when you’re sitting dormant on an issue of your worth or pecks you like a relentless ticking when you are happily avoiding what you know is the best (but hardest) choice for YOU (be it a conversation, job transfer, decluttering project, diet change, etc). Who needs that kind of resistance in their life anyway?
Integrity. What a buzz kill.
Maybe it’s actually the littlest doorway you’ve ever seen in your life, but it happens to lead straight to the honeypot of fulfillment of all the wildest dreams and heart-racing desires you’ve ever had since you could even dream up magic? Maybe that doorway to the “promised land”, the “good life”, the “other side” was so tiny in its simplicity, you almost fucking missed it (but luckily this chick wrote a thing about it on social media and you happened to read it from start to finish and it kind of actually messed with your overtly typical, uninspiring, perfectly mediocre way of life).
Maybe that’s what honesty will do to you. It’ll fuck everything up… all the things that were ruining your dreams and keeping you blinded, quietly content living below your potential.
I will tell you this: it takes a good dose of courage this kind of honesty experiment. And if you are one of the brave ones who accept the challenge, don’t fool yourself. Don’t you dare think this won’t hurt your ego or annihilate your reps and masks and personas and perfect images. If it doesn’t rock you down to the very cell of each foundational structure of your beliefs, attitudes, and habits… well, you’re not really living the honest life yet.
It may take a few turns around the wheel before it clicks–how to let honesty permeate every area of your life–so, just keep recalibrating and commit to the process again. The reward of your persistence will be like reaching the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. You’ll find yourself, your partner, your kids, your family, your friends, your work, your joy, your creativity, your inspiration… your soul.
Don’t take my word for it. Do it and see for yourself.
“I’m my own worst enemy.” We’ve all heard it, maybe we’ve even said it… and meant it.
I don’t know a soul who hasn’t experienced the categorical hollow of feeling unheard, unseen, or unknown. I will never forget the first time I realized how incredibly paralyzing it is to feel unknown… especially for an extended amount of time.
I was a newlywed, living on the front end of what would end up being a decade-long marriage marked by emotional, verbal, and spiritual abuse. They were dark, soul-wrenching days for me and I felt more alone than I ever had in my life (still to date). During one of my frequent sleepless nights, I sat down to type out the wild storm of worries funneling in my mind. And the conclusion was this:
There is no pain quite as fragile as that of an unknown soul, for a single feeling could be it’s last.
Yes, the human soul was meant to be known. Seen. Heard. Experienced. Loved. And when it is not, the suffering is tremendous. This is why suicide becomes a thing of reason and addiction, justifiable. The ache is intolerable and excruciating, at best.
So, hear me when I say, I understand the bone-deep throbbing of loneliness. The kind where you truly feel that if you stopped breathing and sank into the shadows of the earth, it would go unnoticed, not even making a ripple of significance.
Friends, feelings lie. They are blasphemous and rotten, dripping with contempt and falsehood sometimes. And these feelings that tag along with loneliness are just that–liars. The truth? Well, that’s yours for the making.
If you lack, give. If you ache, soothe. If you hurt, heal. If you hide, reveal. If you lie, be honest. If you feign, supply. If you cry, show it.
It’s in providing the deep, true ingredients you crave where you will begin to feel whole again. It’s not in another person or a better situation (although those elements can be a catalyst for healing). But, the beginning and end of your substance, honesty, authenticity, begins with YOU.
If you are unseen by others, where are you hiding from yourself?
If you are voiceless in your world, where are you silencing your own truth?
If you are unknown by any other, what parts of YOU are you ashamed of and keeping secret?
You get to choose who is your worst enemy or your greatest ally. Either way, you hold all the power.
This is not to say you should go around uncovering your heart and revealing your soul to randos and people who have proven to be untrustworthy. Absolutely not. Part of caring for yourself is setting up the proper “garden” boundary to cultivate your soul work in a safe way.
Trust is earned. People show their level of integrity first, then you peel the layers of your soul before them. This is not about emotional promiscuity (word-vomiting your every wound and woe all over whoever will give you ear for 5 minutes). No. This is posturing yourself to receive genuine care and love from other safe humans.
This understanding comes in self-care. When you take time to study yourself and nurture your own well-being, you inevitably discover how valuable you are and worthy of patient, authentic, kind love from others. Anything less will be a closed door.
My dear friends, this is not an easy-breezy topic to discuss, but it is necessary. You are WORTH the truth. Will you commit to becoming your own greatest ally? Will you retire being your own worst enemy–perpetually sabotaging your value and ability to receive love?
When you choose to take responsibility for the state of your soul (not the wrongs, violations, and betrayal imposed upon you by others, but the attention, care, and healing you provide afterwards), then hope will come flooding back in like the sun after a storm.
It’s time to pay attention to all the power you DO have. It’s right there inside of you.
Are you ready?
When was the last time you had an honest conversation?
Was it an hour ago or maybe it’s been a week? Has it been a month or even years?
A lot of people believe having “honest, in-depth” conversations about their thoughts/beliefs, their relationship, or their feelings about themselves/the world/others is fine every once in a while… maybe every few months.
That method of relating is bullshit and here’s why:
When we go months, weeks, or even days without showing up in our relationships HONESTLY, we are in essence hiding ourselves from being known by our people.
Living honestly before others requires that we first live honestly before ourselves. If we’re not doing that, there’s no way on god’s green earth we’ll be showing up honestly in our relationships.
When I say “live honestly” or “show up honestly”, I mean, tap in and reveal the truest, most authentic version of yourself. This means you’ll have to practice self-awareness and introspection, engage in shadow work, and be able to identify and name your feelings. I know, insane, right?
If you’re not living genuinely in your connection to self, there is absolutely NO way you’ll ever be able to live genuinely with your partner, your kids, your friends, etc. Not only that, but you will be a risky relator–meaning your lack of connection to yourself will make you more of a wild card as your relationships ebb and flow through time and trials.
What is your standard for character? Is it an outside source? What is your pattern of integrity? Do you even know? What provokes you, triggers you, or sets you on fire? What do you need to be a peace and in flow?
If you don’t know the answers to these questions, are you consciously or subconsciously asking your partner/friends/parents to know them FOR you? Bullshit.
You know when people are living honestly (in their deepest level of conscious truth) because you leave conversations with them thinking things like, “Damn, that was refreshing. That person is so REAL.” So, think of the last time you had that thought and who provoked it. Let it be an expander for you to grow.
It’s time to level up, friends. If you aren’t showing up DAILY for honest conversations, your authenticity meter is out of whack. The good news is this: you can start right this minute!
Whether you’re talking to the cashier at the gas station or your partner, show up. Find the truest answer to questions about yourself or your day or your life. Commit to doing your own shadow work and not leaving that for the people who love you. Choose to study yourself so you can authentically be present in your life and relationships!
If you don’t feel seen or known by others, it’s because you’re still hiding parts of yourself from YOU and from the world. Get curious about that. Dig deeper. Lean in to self-care and start journaling.
It’s not difficult, it just takes awareness and a decision. No one can do it for you. You have ALL the power… which is freaking exciting!
Get after the honest life, people. There’s no other path more fulfilling!
Life is full of it, so it’s time to get comfortable with discomfort.
The awkward. The silence. The divulgence. The stillness. The heightened emotion. The lack of exchange. The projection. It’s all very uncomfortable–to witness AND to feel.
But what if you became a badass at sitting in awkward moments? What if you were the kind of person who didn’t shrink away when things get weird or unusual? What happens when you’re OK with taboo or outside-the-box expressions of feelings–you know, like when they haven’t been trimmed and tidied and tied up with a pretty bow for a beautiful presentation?
What if you were actually comfortable in uncomfortable situations?
I’ll tell you what would happen. You’d find yourself meeting people at their most raw and true states of being–where they aren’t worried about preserving your idea of them or your ability to “handle” them.
You’d discover new parts of yourself every time you sat with the discomfort while another human struggled–bobbing and diving through the fierceness of the pain crashing over them.
You’d learn there is more to life than Taco Tuesday and beer with your buds. There’s something profound in the dark sides of humanity and you’d get to witness the uncovering of those corridors.
You’d find yourself walking taller, but with more grace; braver, but with more compassion. Life becomes more precious when you stand in the presence of pain.
Love. Honesty. Integrity. Time. These things matter more to you when you choose to wade in the waters of heartache with others.
When you decide it’s more important to lean in than seek comfort, you begin to live differently. You live less afraid of what people will “bring up” or how tense the truth will feel in the room.
When witnessing humanity becomes more important than maintaining the outcome you hoped for, the depth of your connections will become limitless.
We all just want to be seen, heard, known. When you show up when it’s uncomfortable, you offer what every human craves on a biological level. And you can bet your ass that energy will circle back and start seeing, hearing, and knowing YOU.
It’s not that complicated, but you have to be ready to push past the wall of uneasiness. Mentally prepare to hold space for your loved one before you pick up the phone or knock on their door. Set in your mind to be and give whatever THEY need in the moment (you won’t know until you show up).
Let what they are lacking lead you to fill the moment accordingly. I don’t mean enabling, I mean supporting their greater good.
If they lack words, remind them you don’t have any either. If they lack feeling, remind them of how there are no formulas with grief. If they lack calm, remind them that you won’t judge their anger. If they lack confidence, remind them that there is no right or wrong in how they feel pain.
You’re not fixing their problem. You’re not righting the wrongs done to them. You’re not carrying their decisions on your back.
You’re standing with them in the moment without absorbing their experience as your own. This is how you hold space.
You don’t allow your own experience to get involved in their experience. You don’t take over their pain with your pain. And you don’t take on their situation as your own. You can be present and reflective without immersing yourself within their circumstance.
Empathy does not require you taking their pain home with you in the form of worry, anguish, or over-involvement. Empathy only asks you to pay tribute to the magnitude of force pain carries with it. Watch over it. Observe. Recognize. Notice. Witness. These are your requirements as a supporter.
You are to be one human choosing to stand beside another human, making your presences known. This is an astronomically powerful stance in the realm of the soul.
Are you comfortable yet?