This year is my year of personal spirituality exploration and I continue to read (recommended) books, listen to on-line meditation series (Chopra Center), read various blogs (such inspiration out there!), and have started listening to podcasts. Last weekend, I even went to a weekend Yoga Wellness Retreat, which included a guided meditation and a Reiki treatment, both new experiences for me. Some recently read books include The Heroine’s Journey by Maureen Murdock, I Thought It Was Just Me by Brene Brown, and Positive Aging by fellow-blogger Kathy Gottberg (my review blog link).
This blog post is a synthesis of my recent personal discoveries in this journey.
Finding my true self?
My spirituality exploration goal is to better understand my true self and in doing so, hopefully understand my purpose in life. Chopra says that the true self is buried under the cultural conditioning, other people’s opinions and expectations, and the inaccurate conclusions (self-limiting beliefs) from childhood. Murdock indicates the true self is an integration of an internal feminine self and masculine self into the whole self. In understanding your true self, Brown encourages you to recognize your “shame triggers”, realize you are not alone, and learn to be resilient in the face of the judgmental comments.
Looking at Childhood
Many of the books I’ve read, including Murdock’s, encourage you to look at how you were raised to understand your internal beliefs. It is NOT about blaming your parents, nor is it about using the past as an excuse. It is to understand and therefore begin to shift self-limiting beliefs.
As a late Baby Boomer, I was raised in the early part of the feminine revolution. I recall in my early 20’s stating I didn’t want to be a trailblazer, and yet I was. I became an engineer and in the early years of working was often the only woman at the table. I was never very “girly” and don’t recall ever feeling a strong maternal instinct. I valued intellect and analytical approaches. Reading Murdock’s book brought to the forefront how my internal Inferiority Complex was most probably started: I was a woman trying to live a traditional man’s role. Internally, I knew I wasn’t ever going to “succeed” because I wasn’t a man.
My family, while supportive and loving, never focused on exercise nor sports participation. Neither of my parents had long-term friendships nor any strong interest in the arts. My mom not only managed the household and finances, she returned to full-time work when we went to school (we were latch-key kids before the term was coined), and she was also the primary disciplinarian. In fact she was the “traditional masculine” element in our home, expressing pride in my achievements, and encouraging me to become an independent woman with a professional career.
Giving my life a “Murdock-assessment”, I did not have a true masculine role model (the male, competition & winning, achievement and success, power role model). I also did not have a true feminine role model (the female, friendships, traditional woman’s activities role model). As an adult, I focused on being the independent, successful, logic-based achiever (the masculine) and struggled at being the good wife, the supportive friend, and the nurturing mentor (the feminine).
In the more recent retirement years, I am definitely feeling compelled to explore the feminine and this exploration feels very challenging at times.
Expectations and Feeling Worthy
Brown recognizes that we all have a need to feel accepted and worthy, to believe we belong, are seen, and have value. When we believe we fail to meet others expectations or when we feel judged, we feel shame and feel like we are not accepted, not worthy, and do not belong.
I’ve spent my whole life trying to meet other’s expectations. I was expected to be the good girl (that was my role in the family) – get good grades, graduate from a good college, and become a self-supporting professional. At work, my yearly performance reviews even stated, “met or exceeded expectations”! Even now, I hear questions, comments, and advice of others as expectations and a judgment implication that what I am doing is wrong – I am failing to meet their expectations and therefore I am not enough, not accepted, and not worthy to belong.
I am working on changing my perception of “hearing” these expectations. I am using affirmations like “ I Am Enough.” I am working to acknowledging I do “belong” – I have a tribe, a supportive spouse, and a good life.
Triggers and Beliefs?
As I explored the ideas presented by various authors, I’m identifying what my self-limiting beliefs, my shame triggers, and my cultural conditionings are. They are my current truths. I am beginning to realize that they are not necessarily based in reality, but are still deeply held beliefs I’ve had for a very long time. Many center around the feeling that I am not good enough/not doing enough – not a good enough friend, not active enough, not competent, not ambitious enough, too egocentric, too materialistic, not humble enough, and even not suffered enough. Some of these directly correlate to shame triggers!
How does one let go of self-limiting beliefs? How do you simply release shame triggers? How do you integrate an internal feminine and masculine self and find a true whole self?
Murdock encourages spending more time in nature and becoming more aware of the seasonal changes. Interestingly, in the past year I’ve been more aware of the moon phases and the equinox/solstice days. Murdock also encourages nurturing of creativity, sexuality, and playfulness. It’s intriguing that the insights I had into chakra blockage (from my recent Reiki treatment) support my need to encourage creativity, sexuality and playfulness. I’ve begun taking more cooking classes and art classes; I enjoy playing in the garden. How might I further these activities?
Brown encourages you to simply recognize (be mindful of) your shame triggers and limiting beliefs. Do some reality checks – look for moments/experiences when they are simply not true. Recognize that you are not alone in the feeling – many people feel the same. Allow yourself to believe you are more than the trigger and you are enough.
Chopra encourages focus on what in life you are grateful for and to regularly practice meditation, which strengthens your mindfulness and living in the moment – not reliving the past, nor worrying about the future.
To let go of my limiting beliefs, I am literally writing them all down and then finding life experience examples of when they were not true. I am continuing to practice gratitude and mindfulness every day, and I am trying to connect to nature more. I want to nurture my creativity and have begun to redefine creativity a bit to allow this to happen.
My personal spirituality exploration is a journey of personal development. I am trying to be the person I want to be – positive, creative, non-judgmental, fully embracing the abundance and joy in my life. Some days it’s two steps forward and one step back. But I think I’ll like that true me when she is fully here.
Have you identified your own self-limiting beliefs? How are you shifting them?
Cairn Picture From Pixabay – A metaphor for simply another moment of the journey.