As a therapist and a mentor, women I’ve had the privilege to work with have asked me: “How is it, with all that you have been through, you are not suffering like so many others are made to suffer?”
“How did you overcome the many traumas in your life and manage to become successful?” The first time being asked these questions forced me to take a deep look inside myself. I had to evaluate where my sense of ‘self’ came from and how I overcame all that occurred in my life. I concluded that no matter what I had gone through, no matter how tough times got, I always knew without any doubt that I had something really important and worth valuing.
Although I did not understand at the time of my experiences what that meant or even how to label it as such, I realize now that I unintentionally trained myself to believe that my “being” is spiritually and physically sacred. What I now understand more clearly is that during the turbulent times, with all of the storms, the dysfunction was serving a purpose. It was preparing me to be the woman I am now. I was being molded early in life to serve the needs of those wounded in similar and not so similar ways than myself. I learned the true art of self-reflection and keeping promises I made to myself.
Often times as therapists, we have the unique opportunity to help various women learn the true essence of self-reflection wherein they create thoughtful awareness which cultivates a deep level of insight and intimacy with oneself. While teaching the art of self-reflection, interesting phenomena tend to surface in reference to how women view their sense of ‘self’. Usually women have learned to identify themselves with what they do for a living, what they have been through in life, and/or how someone else defines them.
But, none of these are accurate! What makes it difficult to identify our true selves is the way our society tends to position women. It is no longer ok to be ordinary! We are overly concerned with weight, fashion/clothes, the latest technology, looking younger and having money. This in turn causes women to avoid their true natural selves. Missing out on the many lessons vulnerability has to teach us, women go through life believing to be ok she has to have more, do more, and be more. In doing so we impede any personal growth opportunities which further oppresses our true identity and what we were created to do. These are the lessons that lead to your ability to embrace who you are and to confidently walk in your purpose:
Ego Vs the Unconditional Self – The main job of our ego is to protect us from perceived dangers. It allows space for us to remain subconsciously committed to the fears derived from childhood or adult traumas. The unconditional self allows us to surrender to all those things we believe make us who we are. I am who I am because I am, and that’s okay.
Fear vs Faith – We have all heard the cliché, faith cannot co-exist with fear. Yes some fears are normal; yet those that debilitate us, cause us excessive worry, or create dependency are not healthy for the ‘self’. Faith (which is not just a religious term) is the idea that even though I do not have access to the outcome, I know things will be okay. Try walking in faith, not fear, for one entire day. Observe how much easier situations are to conquer.
Opposition vs Opportunity – This one is hard, especially if you are used to seeing the world from a distorted lens because of life experiences. In every situation you encounter you are faced with two choices, to view it from an oppositional standpoint or to recognize the opportunity it provides. What allows you to differentiate between the two is perception.
Emotionally Stunted vs Vulnerability – We are emotionally the same age that we were whenever we encountered any type of trauma in our lives. As a result we avoid and are unaware of the lessons our emotions have to teach us. We fear our emotions because of our false perception that being emotional causes you to lose control. When we are unhealthy emotionally it is difficult not to have black and white distorted thinking patterns. The reality is, life’s most important lessons come from our ability to be vulnerable. Vulnerability is a gateway to strength and deeper levels of understanding the true you.
Conditional vs Unconditional Love – Conditional love prevents us from understanding that love is not something we must earn or win. We deserve love no matter who we are or where we are in life. We cannot create self-awareness if we fail to accept and love ourselves without conditions. We must learn to embrace ourselves as sacred and above any conditions in order to understand and live with intention and within our purpose.