I had an uncomfortably amazing experience this weekend at a course called the Gift through Integrity Seminars designed to help me (and others) identify and break down barriers that prevent change and keep me from leading my best life both personally and professionally. I was interested in learning how to establish and support inspiring relationships at home, at work and in my community. Though I could personally identify areas like ego, vulnerability and trust as some of the limiting dynamics that create obstacles in my relationships, I actually went in very unaware of some of the automatic boundaries I put in place to discourage new connections.
For those of you who know me, you probably would never describe me as shy or introverted and you might possibly be surprised to learn that I have discovered that I have developed some habits that may say otherwise. I walked into a room of thirty strangers and I felt small and more than a little bit scared. Those old beliefs of “am I enough?” ran through my mind at lightning speed. When I am communicating with my tribe I often feel like a bit of a badass, completely at one with myself and confident in who I am and also wide open to learn from the empowering and resilient people I have called into my life. In a room full of strangers I felt none of that, however, what I recognized immediately in the discomfort is that I was being gifted the amazing opportunity to grow and expand and free myself of the restraints of my outdated belief system.
My late husband Kirk was a huge presence in every life he touched. He was not a large man physically but he took up a great deal of space in the world. He was loud and loved to be the center of attention. His sister made a comment to me a short time after his death that I was funny but she had never noticed, it was attributed to me being around Kirk for several years and he was very funny. I always knew it was more than that. I was always funny and I became accustomed to standing stage side and being my husbands support. I shrunk to fit into the spaces that were left over. I was shocked to learn about a year before I lost Kirk to the devastating affects of depression, trauma and anxiety that he always felt alone in a room full of people. The person who myself and many others came to know and love as the “life of the party” struggled immensely in a room full of people, feeling completely alone and even talking about it made him cringe. His need to be loud and seen and heard stemmed from a great deal of fear and anxiety. I allowed myself to adapt to being in the background and after his death it was challenging to step into my own, expand and fill my space in the world.
“Change is inevitable.
Growth is optional.”
Standing in a room full of thirty strangers I could feel myself shrinking into the space and attempting to become invisible. So many times I have declared my need to be seen and heard and I found myself in the opposite position and though I didn’t like it, it gave me a tangible place to launch from.
I was enamored with our facilitator Rae-ann, she is sharp as a tack, a powerful influence(r), and has the ability to cut through bullshit in seconds. I always say that the words we use matter so I was captivated by her ability to quickly point out how often myself and my course mates were using words like but and talking in the third person to diminish the impact of our words. She became our anchor in a storm of emotions that if left unattended may have had the ability to sink us. Her sharp intuition and commitment to redirecting us when we faltered encouraged us on a path of progression and expansion.
There were times that I deliberately chose to sit back and listen, I feel that we don’t always learn a lot from talking but we can benefit a great deal from listening to the experiences of others. Listening is progress for me as I spent a great deal of my life listening only with the intent to reply. Listening to learn is a bit of a super power.
I tasked myself this past weekend to notice the areas where I was experiencing discomfort. I was in a state of discovery and better yet rediscovery and that disquiet was an advantage that would quickly lead me to my areas of resistance so that I could make the conscious choice to make space for new possibilities.
“We cannot become what we want to by remaining what we are.”
I have chosen to recommit to standing in my integrity and to set clear intentions about the types of experiences that I want to create in my life.
The thirty strangers that joined me in that room were and will continue to be an integral part of my healing, ascension and growth. Their inspiring stories, wisdom, fearlessness and energy have given me new purpose.
I have made mistakes. I have not gotten that thing I really wanted. I have pushed when I should have pulled and pulled when I should have pushed. I have sabotaged myself and my happiness on more than one occasion. I have under valued myself. I have chosen comfort over connection. I have limited myself with beliefs I didn’t even know I had.
I’m still a Rockstar.
In the words of Rae-Ann Wood Shchatz “Now what?”
It is what I do now that matters.