Welcome to the new year, where all over the internet you’re seeing slogans proclaiming that a magical turn of the clock sparked dramatic change and now you are new.
New year, new you. Right?
It’s hard for me to see how, at the second the clock snapped to midnight on December 31st, whilst I was happily snoring on the couch since 9:26pm, having enthusiastically drowned my holiday sorrows in a surprisingly strong half bottle of cider (I’m a lightweight), that I would actually be any different at that magical moment. Have to pee? Probably. A little groggy? For sure. Tripped over the space heater on the way to the bathroom? That actually happened.
And when I woke up the next morning, besides the fact that my sleeping socks had mysteriously ended up under my pillow, nothing had very much changed.
Well, nothing except my own desire to make something new happen.
Which is what’s important – the desire for change and the discipline to make it happen. Look, the truth is that we all have just as much an ability to create change on June 26th than on January 1st, but there’s a huge cultural agreement that creates momentum and encourages us to move forward in some way. The energy is catching. Why not ride that wave while it’s big and building?
I’ve got my equation for the year (come on – themes are so 2015). Dollars to donuts it’s also directly applicable for you. You’re invited to try it to. So grab another glass of cabernet and let’s dig in.
What is it that you really want from life right now?
You have to start with the answer in order to know how to get there. Let’s be honest – what do you, a highly sensitive person, really want from life? You want the ability to just be YOU, big emotions, needs and all, and be okay. You want to be exactly who you are in any given moment and be loved. You want your sensitivity, no matter how big it makes you, to be okay. In a word, what you desire is FREEDOM.
You want to be free! Free from the confining ties of other people’s expectations. Free from the fear others have about your emotions. Free to be as big as you need to be in order to feel comfortable. Free to be exactly who you are and live your life from that place.
How do you get to freedom?
It’s simple, really. Just a hop, skip and jump through a math-like equation.
Note that I did not say this is easy. This is not a walk in the park. This is a walk down a dark, twisty hallway that smells weird. Put on your walking boots. What you need is honesty, courage and a big dose of faith. Let’s break it down, shall we?
Honesty is your ability to check in with yourself and be present to exactly what is there for you in any given moment. It’s the ability to say, “What do I feel? What do I need? What do I want?”
Honesty is the first piece of the puzzle, because knowing where we are is the first step to getting where we want to go.
If we make a vow to become honest with ourselves, and start to ask ourselves the scary questions of “What do I feel, what do I need, and what do I want,” we immediately gain ourselves more freedom – freedom to be with what is. Let me give you an example.
You’re sitting in the car with your family, talking about something you’re passionate about. One of your family members criticizes you for being so impassioned. You’re angry, and you want to talk loudly and maybe cry a little. Turning to honesty, you ask, “What do I feel?” Angry. I feel Angry. “What do I need?” I need to be angry, and maybe to cry. “What do I want?” To be angry and passionate cry big snotty tears and let it be okay.
So what do you do?
If you’ve been told that your emotions are an imposition to others, you probably choke down your tears (or cry silently in the back seat – I’m an expert at this, by-the-by) and get quiet, and silently brood and think about all the things you’ll say that one day when you get enough courage. So that little bit of anger gets bigger, and festers, and worst of all, that part of you that learned to be small gets a big dose of validation and says, “See, I told you that you were too much.”
This is where courage comes in. When you’ve done the work to get honest – which can take a while and often comes in layers – it takes an equal amount of courage to allow yourself to give you what you need and what you want. Without the courage, you stay chained.
I’m talking about courage and not bravery. Bravery is diving in without realizing how shallow the water is – it’s not knowing the difficulty and marching forth. Courage, on the other hand, is knowing that something is going to suck balls and deciding to do it anyway.
Following through with what you need and want can be one of those things that will be scale-a-wall difficult, not to mention scary as a dark attic on a stormy night, and you will need to do it anyway if you want freedom.
Courage is the secret ingredient to getting your needs met while simultaneously having the overwhelming sensation that your world might come crashing down while you ask for it. Courage is sobbing out loud in the back seat as you bounce down the freeway while your family looks very closely at the scenery. Courage is letting yourself have your needs met first, no matter how big that makes you and no matter how uncomfortable or awkward others feel because of it.
Courage is asking for a night off from the kids. It’s saying no to your next dreaded social obligation. It’s telling that needy friend to piss off (politely, of course). Courage is saying NO to hiding your needs so that others feel more comfortable and assured.
Faith – The secret ingredient
Faith (here meaning confidence) is what allows for courage to happen. Without faith, courage stays on the tip of your tongue, just out of reach. It is faith – an unwavering belief that good shit can happen in your life – that allows courage to flourish. Faith is like the plus sign of this equation. It’s what ties honesty and courage together so that they work as a team.
Faith is what we need when we try something and it doesn’t work. When we try honesty and courage, and put our best effort out there, and kinda shoot off to the side and miss our target, faith is what allows us to say, “Huh. Well, that didn’t work. But it doesn’t mean it won’t work. Let’s try again.” Honesty and courage without faith is like planting a seed, forgetting to water it, and when it doesn’t come up, declaring that you can’t grow anything.” Without faith, you fail to see the larger picture. Faith is the belief that you can actually have freedom. YOU CAN!
Let’s put it together:
Honesty + Courage = Freedom
With FAITH inherent in that little plus sign.
You can get free from the shackles of a life that feels too small for you. It takes healing work, and this equation is the key to that healing. Want to try it? This is going to be fun.
Let’s start with the practice being honest with yourself. To start, in any challenging situation, ask yourself the three questions – “What do I feel? What do I need? What do I want?” There are no wrong answers, and it’s okay if you don’t know. Just practice asking. Part of working toward freedom is knowing yourself better, including knowing what you don’t know 😉
Next, we’ll move here. Can you envision a life free from the pain of feeling like you’re in a life that’s too small? Can you shift your focus to believe that you can have what you want, and still be loved?
This is where things get interesting. Can you bust out of old patterns by changing the outcome yourself? You can’t change how other people will react to you, you can only change how you allow yourself to respond. You can do this!