Current Progress

Monday, July 29, 2013

Project 2: Dating Myself

In the past few months, I've tried hard to look inwards and get to know myself. This was not so easy or pleasant at times but at other times, it was priceless. And don't get me wrong...I'm still scared I might end up with 9 cats and living by myself for the rest of my life. But I wanted to share some of my learnings.

1) It's scary to become an outcast and not be accepted.
A change in beliefs or diving into self help or spirituality or alternative healing (choosing to take the red pill over the blue pill) is scary is because you may not fit in with your previous social circle and support network. (Read: people might think you've jumped off the deep end of crazy) Usually this fear is just in your mind and it is highly unlikely that people will disown you for having opinions as you learn with curiosity and an open mind. Maybe you have superficial friends who are only there to judge and make themselves feel better. Let's be real now, anybody that likes me because I was "normal" might not really know anything about the real me :) When you change from being available 24/7, ready to jump in to any situation to offer help, and thrive from being an extrovert and crave other people's attention to mostly spending time by yourself and enjoying introvert's a drastic change.  (FYI: this is how to interact with introverts) You may sometimes feel guilty about being so selfish or disappointing people. Take note, anybody that expects you to behave a certain way or demands that you need to change (back) before accepting you, doesn't really deserve a second of your time.

I've learned to do what's important for myself - you're never an outcast if you accept yourself. And it's fine when people feel offended or disappointed at the shift in priority - It gives you more time to spend by yourself or meet new people that have the same interests, awareness and passion as you. It's never a waste of time if you're doing something important to you.

"How you treat yourself sets the standard for how others will treat you" 

2) Someone loves you.
Maybe more than one. Maybe hundreds. But the most important person that needs to love you is yourself. Yes okay laugh :) But I seriously lived for 31 years not knowing this.

I read Dr Eben Alexander's book: Proof of Heaven this month and the thing that resonated with me in it was when he described his near death experience,  he was filled with this knowing that he was loved unconditionally - that there was nothing he has to fear because there was nothing he could do wrong. That was really powerful for me because I feel like not knowing this was the cause of my suffering from a young age :)

I've always struggled with the polar opposites of low self esteem and an inflated ego (that was easily bruised) because I never thought I was good enough. I always tried to do things with an extra bit of over the top effort to prove get feel be accepted. Brene Brown calls this behaviour: Shame. Anyway, it's a big relief to just simply start with the understanding that I'm pretty awesome and unconditionally loved, just the way I am.  I'm not gonna lie; my experiences, my friendships, my career, my travels, my learnings and my stories are awesome and unique and memorable. And once I accepted myself for all my strengths and weaknesses and not just the moments I can show off on Instagram, but the everyday mundane quirks, it's like a big weight was lifted!

When I took this step to essentially date myself, I thought that I was going on this path alone...forever.  Why wouldn't I be? I was: prioritizing myself and my needs before anything else. Doing stuff I wanted to do. Sitting still meditating and getting to know myself. Not making any plans to go out on the weekend. Opting to read rather than chat in the evening. I would take walks by myself on lunch breaks. I even signed up to run, bike and train to walk 60km (which means more time alone!).   Maybe I'm doomed to spend the rest of my years alone. But thank goodness...It seems that the more I prioritize myself, the more pleasant, positive, present and supportive I am around other people. So you can insert your favourite cliche here. Here's a few:
"You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe deserve your love and affection." – Buddha 
"You cannot be lonely if you like the person you`re alone with." – Wayne Dyer

3) Authenticity earns credibility.
I think that the deeper you know yourself, your limits, your buttons, your wishes, what you prefer, what you dislike, what is in or out of your comfort zone - the easier it is for you to communicate authentically (which is Sheryls Sandberg's message to the Harvard graduating class) I had recently attended a career development workshop on Strengths Finder and figuring out how your strengths fit in with your situations in: current job, career ambitions and relationships. Someone asked, "What if I'm a completely different person outside work and I use completely different strengths in my own projects, volunteer work and personal life? What if I can't be myself at work?" The instructor answered that perhaps, you don't get to use any of your core strengths at work and make up for it in other outlets. But that you may be happier when you find that you can use your strengths in all aspects of your life, including work.

I also used to make the mistake of thinking that what you do personally has nothing to do with how you are at work. Realistcally, we all have just one body/mind and how in the world can you be two different people by day and by night? It's kind of like thinking that something that's happening in your heart is not related to your stomach or your feet or your can you isolate and treat just one specific ailment without any regard for the rest of the body?

Anyway, I digress. I'm just saying that once you know yourself, and are comfortable being yourself, the rest happens automagically. People can see right through any facades of yours anyway. Authenticity earns credibility and trust. And also, I think the younger and younger generations have a better BS filter and won't accept anything but authenticity.

Communicating authentically at work as well as outside of work is definitely my work in progress with lots of positive results so far.

To summarize my learnings, I think what I'm trying to share is my new definition of beauty. When I see it, I'm in awe...move over hunks with six packs, cut arms, chiseled jaws, and dimples.  True beauty is being comfortable in your own skin. I went to a hippie music festival this past weekend and realized one thing everyone there had in common. They were comfortable and happy in their own skin - dressing the way they wanted, dancing however their body wanted to move and speaking their mind. It was really amazing to be immersed in true beauty, if only for a few days.

Through my new lens, everybody has the potential to be beautiful. Do you know how easy on the eyes and mind this is? An added bonus is when you get jealous of someone because of their beauty, you can actually do something about it that doesn't require plastic surgery - start getting to know yourself and start loving yourself. Yeah, I know it's easier said than done. I can't even offer any advice on how you start this journey except maybe take on the challenge to date yourself. I can just say for myself, these are the lessons I needed to learn to not only survive but improve the quality of my life.

PS. Oh wow...when did I become a hippie!?!?!?!? 
PPS. Yes, I'm still dating myself but don't currently own any cats.