This morning I read this quote and it has just stuck with me as a message that I wanted to share……”Authentic success is the accomplishment of living powerfully through any circumstance” (Havilah Cunnington – I Do Hard Things).
The quote hit me on a couple of different levels. The first one, which often comes up in conversations with clients, is we so often dismiss our successes. We downplay our strengths and attributes, we shy away from celebrating our accomplishments. Somehow it became ingrained in us that if we do these things we are being braggarts or egotistical. Why not celebrate our successes? We work hard to achieve them, they are not handed to us – so why are we quick to downplay them, why are we afraid to celebrate ourselves?
Being authentic. Wow, do we struggle with that. The dictionary defines authentic as “true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character”. There are people out there who live with true authenticity in all areas of their lives but for a lot of us we are comfortable displaying authenticity in only some areas of our lives, whether it is out of shyness, fear of upsetting someone or fear of the unknown. We hold back from being authentic then we wonder why the stars are not aligning for us and we are not seeing progress, success or total health in our lives.
Living powerfully through any circumstance is something that I struggle with for sure. We all have things that happen in our lives that throw us for a loop – sometimes these things happen to us multiple times in a day. How often do we let these things affect us, hold us down and keep us from moving? And I am not talking about moving forward, I mean moving at all. We get emotionally paralyzed and instead of taking even the smallest action, we take no action. Now living powerfully through any circumstance does not mean we should have some feelings over our circumstances – we absolutely should – cry, get angry, frustrated, sad, anxious, whatever you need to, but the difference is that we don’t live in those emotions. So, take a few hours, or a day (or two) to sit and feel the feels, then regroup, pull yourself up and plow through your “circumstance”. If you get stuck reach out to a trusted friend or family member to be there beside you as your accountability partner – and if you are really stuck, reach out to a therapist for some out of the box thinking and objective advice.
We cannot control the things that happen to us, but we can control how we react and how we move forward – just remember you do not have to do it alone.
Over the years I have accumulated various scars across my body. When I look at myself, at first glance I recoil because of how “damaged” that I feel like that I look. But if I really think about it, they each tell a story. Some are happy memories like the small scar on my right wrist is from making pancakes when my stepdaughter visited for the first time or the small faded scars on my knees are from middle school when my classmates and I used to jump off the roof of my friend’s house into her swimming pool (sorry dad). But there are the other scars, that chronicle a more painful journey, like the round scar on my abdomen from the ileostomy I had and, the small incision scars from my three surgeries over the last year and half, all related to my cancer journeys. They are meaningful to me, but also superficial. For a lot of us, there are scars that are never visible to others – the emotional scars of loss, of abandonment, of abuse, of shame, of guilt, and so on. We all have these internal scars, and they are different for each of us. Mine (well at least some of them) come in the form of loss, guilt, remorse from bad choices, shame from abusing my body. My status as a mental health therapist doesn’t make me exempt from feeling these things and carrying them with me. It doesn’t make me exempt from still feeling the feels associated with them. What I have learned over the years is that these scars shape and mold us. While we are the midst of the storm, we are unable to see the lesson or value in them. We cannot fathom how we are feeling can possibly benefit us or ever be a good thing. We cannot comprehend how things will ever be better or that we will be able to feel something other than the pain/sadness/misery we are feeling now. But one day there is a shift – and we don’t always notice it, but all of a sudden it hits us, and it is “okay, I actually feel pretty good today” or “huh, it has been x many days since I have been feeling ________”. The good days start to outweigh the bad. We heal, we grow, we have hindsight. Our scars aren’t all bad. Just because people cannot see them doesn’t mean we can’t or shouldn’t share them. There is power in our story, there is purpose for our pain. We weren’t meant to go through it and do it all alone. There are other people out there who have been where you are, or are maybe still in the same place as you. Our scars tells a story, and in sharing our story, it keeps these scars from having power over us. In sharing our story, it creates community, it creates healing. Do not fear, do not be ashamed, you are not alone.