As if

Can'tFail

“What’s one thing you would do if you knew you couldn’t fail?” I saw this question posted on another website this week, and it’s been gnawing at me. I had an online conversation with a friend about it today, and she mentioned often feeling paralyzed by fear but didn’t think it was about failing. So, if not failure, of what are we afraid?

Often, behind our fears of putting ourselves out there or trying new things is some type of scarcity message. Brené Brown talks a lot about scarcity in her writings, and basically it’s the “not enough” messages that bombard us from all directions. If I write this book, it won’t be good enough to get published… I’m not smart enough to start my own business… I don’t have enough time to paint, and even if I did no one would like my work…

Maybe we don’t think of our “not enoughs” in terms of failing because we can’t see far enough past them to imagine having the opportunity to fail. And, I use the word ‘opportunity’ for a reason. At least if we fail at something, we know we tried. If we can’t get far enough past the scarcity messages to even try, of course we can’t imagine failing!

We all have those messages that create fear and often prevent us from going after what we really want and who we want to be. So, what do we do?

I was reminded today of a counseling technique developed by psychologist, Alfred Adler, whereby he would encourage his clients to behave as if they were already the person they wanted to be. So, if someone was struggling with lack of confidence, he would urge them to act “as if” they were already confident. I guess in some ways it’s similar to “fake it ’til you make it,” but I think it’s more than that. The technique requires the client in this example to reflect on how her life would be different if she were confident. How would she feel? How would she behave? What would she do differently? How would she carry herself? etc. Then, she’s encouraged to behave as if she is already confident, as if her life is already different.

I think this is fascinating! And brilliant! What if my friend writes her book “as if” it’s already been picked up by a publisher? How will that change her motivation? How will it affect her fear? What if an aspiring artist paints as if her art has been commissioned by the Louvre (or a local gallery if that’s in line with her goal)?  What if we squelch our scarcity messages by acting as if we are just the opposite? I’m not smart enough becomes, I’m going to act as if I’m totally smart enough to run my own business. And, the key to this technique is in the action – acting as if – not thinking as if. Thinking doesn’t cut it. So, how would I behave if I were running a successful business? How would my day be structured if I owned a thriving company/home business, whatever? How would I interact with others? See how it works?!?

Now, I’m not going to pretend that if we act “as if” our lives are exactly how we want them to be that we will never be afraid or that we will never hear another “not enough” message or that we will never fail. But, I, for one, am willing to see if it gets me far enough past those gremlins to give me a chance at becoming who I want to become or building what I want to build or creating what I want to create. What in the world do I have to lose by acting as if I already have the life I want? How might it encourage a different kind of reflection and a different way of being in the world?

How would your life be different if you were an artist, writer, business owner, (insert your dream here)? What have you got to lose by acting as if it’s already true? Try it with me and let me know how it’s going! Think of it as an experiment, which it essentially is. I’m in. Are you?

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Shine like a freaking supernova

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

― Marianne Williamson, Return to Love

I love this quote. I first saw it in a clip from the movie, Akeelah and the Bee. I love it, and I struggle with it. I feel inadequate and less than fabulous much of the time. I often wonder when I’ll be “found out,” that my life will be recognized as a fake it ’til you make it kind of rouse. I think I want to be brave. I wear a necklace now that reminds me every morning when I clasp it around my neck that I’ve declared my intention for my life – Be Brave. I think I want to let my light shine. I certainly want to help others feel permission to do the same. But, then I start overthinking things and my inner critic gets louder and louder, reminding me of my inadequacies and imperfections. Then playing small seems like a good idea, because at least then I’m not drawing attention to those parts that really don’t seem so fabulous.

I’m guessing I’m not the only person who feels this way. I’m guessing inside each of us is both a desire to let our lights shine brightly for the world and a paralyzing fear that if we do, we’ll regret it. We’ve fostered a culture of such judgment and criticism, comparison and shame that it’s no wonder we’re afraid to put ourselves out there. Offering our gifts to the world at the risk of them being rejected is terrifying. AND, I can’t help but wonder at what cost we hide our gifts from the world and play small.

Do you ever have the feeling that you’re meant to do something or say something or write something or create something or change something? Do you ever feel like if you keep your light, your gift, inside a minute longer that you’ll explode?

Here’s the thing, I’ve never given birth to another human being. But, part of my ‘midlife awakening’ has been this incredible urge to birth something – some unique offering that is part of me and of which I am a part – a gift that only I have to give this world. I haven’t quite put my finger on it or defined it completely. But, perhaps what I’m birthing is this new, brave me, this Marjorie who wants to live authentically and wholeheartedly and full of courage. Perhaps my unique contribution is Me… (I honestly haven’t thought of that until this very moment.)

So, I’ve made a commitment to myself and have set my intention to be brave with my life. More than that, I’ve made a commitment to help others do the same. Life is too short to hide. Life is too fleeting to live in fear of how we’ll be received, of what others think, of whether or not we’re meeting certain expectations. We all have gifts. Of that I am sure. We all have something unique to offer this world, and the world will miss out if we allow our fear to hold us back. Perhaps our most unique offering, our best gift to the world is ourselves: our imperfect, sometimes messy, brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous selves.

There’s so much talk in our culture about what we’re producing. What if the conversation were about who we’re creating? What if we all got in touch with who we are meant to be and who it is we can offer this world instead of what? I don’t know, but it’s worth considering, don’t you think?

Who we are is gift, and whatever we manifest in life is a direct reflection of who we are choosing to be at any given moment. When we allow our authentic selves to shine we gift others with the courage and permission to shine as well. Imagine a world in which we all owned our sparkle. Oh what a world it would be.

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#wordporn

To all the Single Ladies

Valentine’s Day. It’s the most dreaded day for so many singles. I can remember in grade school hating to walk by the school office on Valentine’s Day, knowing that many of my friends would have balloons and stuffed animals, flowers and candy waiting on them, expressions of adoration from their beloveds. *Sigh.* I was never one of the ones getting called to the office for a special delivery. It was torture.

The torture continued into my 20s and 30s. I was a perpetual “separate check,” never seeming to maintain any dating relationship through Valentine’s Day. Wait. Once, I did. I had a boyfriend one year for Valentine’s Day. He took me to Kentucky Fried Chicken for dinner. I planned a trip to the zoo. It was epic. Trust me. There are worse things than being single on Valentine’s Day.

Here’s the thing. Our culture is obsessed with coupling. From early on we are taught through movies and tv, family traditions and societal “norms” that humans are destined to be paired with other humans, that somehow we are only half a person until we are joined to another. Well, I’m going to call BS on that one. In about a month and a half, I will turn 41. I am single and have been my entire life. I’ve never had a long term dating relationship, and I have no sense of certainty that I ever will. This used to bother me immensely. It was as if I was irreparably flawed, incapable of having a real life until I could say that some other human called me his love. Please, before you are tempted to “bless my heart” or feel sorry for me, let me stop you. I have a wonderful life. I am single, and I am whole. And, I love my life and the me – the complete, whole me – I am always in the process of creating.

Oh, the wasted time and energy on trying to understand, trying to figure out how I could attract love into my life… It took me a while, but I finally realized two very important things:

1. I have a LOT of love in my life. Right now I’m looking at a beautiful vase of white hydrangeas (my favorite) given to me by sweet friends. I have people who shower me with love and grace and so much goodness that I get overwhelmed when I think about it. I give and receive love by the buckets load on a regular basis, and it has nothing to do with being coupled. It is about family and friends and my people, and it is gift.

2. I must give love to myself first. I know this is a hard one for many of us, and it was difficult for me too. But, if I’ve learned anything in my almost 41 years it’s that self-loathing and criticism will destroy the human spirit. Learning to love ourselves – all of ourselves – is necessary and courageous. Accepting all of who we are and loving ourselves for all our quirks and messiness and imperfections is step number one to inviting more love into our lives. When we embrace ourselves as whole, complete persons and begin to live our lives as if we are whole and complete and worthy of love and belonging, we open ourselves to incredible beauty and opportunity.

Single friends (ladies and gents), YOU ARE NOT FLAWED because you are single, and you are not single because you are flawed. You are not broken or less than a whole person. You are, in fact, complete and worthy of love. So, on this Valentine’s Day, love yourself. Remind yourself of how beautiful and handsome and talented and fun and wonderful you are – just because you’re you. Do something nice for yourself, and for heaven’s sake, stop waiting for your life to start when… Your life is happening right now, and it will pass you by if you aren’t careful to wake up to its beauty and opportunity. Take it from somebody who wasted more time than I care to admit searching for the secret to true love and the key to happiness. Happiness is ours for the taking, but we have to choose it.

I don’t know if I’ll ever find my “Prince Charming” or wear the white gown or be anybody’s Valentine. But, I know that loving myself and embracing my life as it is today and choosing to live with courage and authenticity has invited love into my life in ways I never imagined. And, I’m happy. Just me and my dog, and my people.

So, toss the black roses; stop watching sappy romantic comedies, and put down the pint of ice cream. Your life is better than you think. And, so are you.

Happy February 14th! … and 15th… and 16th… and… heart-762564_640