There is something about family that makes us behave in strange ways. Something about family that makes us think that it’s okay to betray our own Soul just so that we won’t disappoint them. And that it’s okay to neglect our own path, our own happiness and our own purpose in life for their happiness.
Ever since I came back to Romania to write my book, I gave all of me to my family. Because I assumed that maybe one of the many reasons why life needed me to be back home was so that I would “sprinkle some fairy dust” on them, I immersed myself in this “family world” and I did my best to be a good daughter, a good sister, a good aunt, a good niece, and so on. And before I knew it, I lost my sense of self. I was no longer Luminita, this being who had no interest in labeling herself as a “daughter”, “sister”, “aunt”, “Romanian citizen”, etc., and no interest in placing herself in all kind of “boxes” and then desperately trying to act act according to the instructions that were written on those”boxes”, but rather someone who was more concerned with not disappointing her family than she was with being true to herself.
When you you start doing things that aren’t in alignment with who you truly are, saying “yes” when deep down inside you know you should say “no” just because you don’t want to disappoint those around you, because if you do, you “risk losing their love and affection”, and when you start acting as if other people’s happiness is more important than your own, you can’t help but lose yourself. You can’t help but forget who you are, what you stand for, and what truly matters for your heart and Soul.
This is something that happens to a lot of people. Because of the many things our families, and people in general, expect from us, and because of the many ideas we have in our heads about how we should behave in our families based on the role we play – mother, daughter, father, husband, wife, etc., in a very subtle way we slowly but surely start to lose our sense of self. We forget about what we want, what we need, and who we are underneath it all, and we drift away. Consciously or unconsciously, we start behaving in ways that no longer feel truthful and authentic to us, giving up on ourselves, our dreams, needs and desires, and becoming more of whatever the world expects us to be and less of who we truly are.
“When you give to others to the degree that you sacrifice yourself, you make the other person a thief.” ~ Iyanla Vanzant, paraphrasing A Course in Miracles
We all want to feel that we belong, that we are approved and accepted by our family and everyone around us. And even though it’s beautiful to have all of these things, it’s even more beautiful to be loved for who we truly are. It’s even more beautiful to be loved for always being honest with ourselves and those we love, for standing our ground, and for always living in alignment with who we truly are.
You might think that trying to please your family and constantly making their needs more important then your own is a noble thing to do, but if in this process of you trying to make them happy you forget how to be happy yourself, than there’s nothing noble about that. What’s so noble about betraying your own Soul just so that you can please everyone around you? What’s noble about making other people’s lives and happiness more important than your own? What’s noble about betraying your own Soul just s that you won’t “disappoint” those around you?
“For far too long we have been seduced into walking a path that did not lead us to ourselves. For far too long we have said yes when we wanted to say no. And for far too long we have said no when we desperately wanted to say yes. . . . When we don’t listen to our intuition, we abandon our souls. And we abandon our souls because we are afraid if we don’t, others will abandon us.” ~ Terry Tempest Williams
There is a path each and every one of us needs to walk upon. A journey to full healing and self discovery we all need to take, and even though the happiness of our parents, our brothers and sisters, our partners, our children, uncles and cousins matters a great deal, it shouldn’t matter more than our own happiness. It shouldn’t matter more than our own journey, our own path and our own purpose in life.
“You are the source of all purity and impurity. No one purifies another. Never neglect your path for another’s, however great his need. Your work is to discover your work and then with all your heart to give yourself to it.” ~ Gautama Buddha, The Dhammapada: The Sayings of the Buddha
Shake things a little bit. Have the courage to “disappoint” your family to be true to yourself. Choose short term discomfort over long term resentment. Make the relationship you have with your Soul, your path and your purpose in life the most important relationship in your life. Seek to always live your life from a place of truth and integrity. Because only by taking good care of yourself and by making yourself truly happy, can you make those you love happy as well.
“If you are happy, you can give happiness. If you don’t love yourself and if you are unhappy with yourself, you can’t give anything else but that.” ~ Gisele Bundchen
If you want to be of service to those you love, to help and make their lives a lot more beautiful, happy and meaningful, then choose to honor who you truly are. By making your happiness, health and well-being a priority, by having the courage to stand your ground and to live the kind of life you know deep down inside yourself that you should live, not only do you give your family permission to know the real you and to love you for who you truly are, but you are also inspiring them to be true to themselves and to live their lives from a place of truth and integrity.
Life is too short to be anything but happy. Too short to live a life that is not yours to live and walk on a path that is not yours to walk upon. So dare to be yourself fully. Do the things that feel right in your heart for you. Never betray your Soul just so you can please your family, or anyone else, because if you do, no matter how much love you will receive from these people, you will never feel loved enough. You will never have peace of mind. For how can you be at peace knowing that you aren’t loved for who you truly are, but for something you pretend to be. How can you be at peace knowing that you have gained the world but lost your own Soul?
With all my love,
Source : Luminita (Purpose Fairy)
I am actively taking the risk of being more open, authentic and vulnerable. I started first on this blog and now in my day to day life.
I’m not going to lie… being open and vulnerable has been painful, very painful. I’ve learnt and I am still learning some really hard lessons. And many times I have just wanted to isolate again purely because it’s safer (less terrifying) and easier :o(
We know it’s a risk to be vulnerable. You risk being misunderstood, labelled and rejected and I’ve experienced all of that, but I also experienced being embraced, accepted and loved for what I once denied and hid about myself.. and that feels good, really good.. and that is my motivator to keep putting myself out there :o)
I have experienced people that ‘get me’ and have encouraged me, as a result I am learning more about myself and I am accepting of sides of me that I didn’t like or want, but if it don’t embrace those parts of me I realize I am rejecting myself.. I am not loving all of me..
To be vulnerable you have to love and accept yourself … all of yourself.
Enjoy this great post on vulnerability by WENDY MIYAKE
Love and baby steps,
“What makes you vulnerable makes you beautiful.” ~Brene Brown
Vulnerability has never been my strong suit. It’s no wonder. In order to be vulnerable, you have to be okay with all of you. That’s the thing about vulnerability that no one tells you about.
Being vulnerable is not just about showing the parts of you that are shiny and pretty and fun. It’s about revealing what you deny or keep hidden from other people. We all do this to some extent. I bet you’ve never said to a friend, “Oh my god, I just love that I’m insecure.”
But that’s the point, isn’t it? You’ve got to love everything, if you want to be vulnerable by choice.
Most of us have probably experienced vulnerability through default. More often than not, we are either forced into that state through conflict, or we are surprised by it after our circumstances feel more comfortable.
Few of us consciously choose vulnerability. Why? The stakes are too high.
If we reveal our authentic selves, there is the great possibility that we will be misunderstood, labeled, or worst of all, rejected. The fear of rejection can be so powerful that some wear it like armor.
My first real experience with vulnerability came when I was twenty-five.
I had just accepted a position as a literature teacher of juniors and seniors at a local high school. This was quite possibly the most intimidating situation I had ever gotten myself into thus far. We’re talking teenagers here, the most extraterrestrial of all age groups!
To make matters worse, I asked my parents for advice. Being longtime elementary school teachers, my parents had a plethora of horror stories to share about unruly students, unreasonable parents, and teachers who could not control their classrooms.
Each story ended with, “And that’s why she quit and ended up going into retail.”
I didn’t want to be a quitter, so I listened well when they told me that I needed to be strong from the get-go, that I needed to show my students who was boss.
In the words of my father, “You can be a bitch and work your way down to nice, but you can’t be nice and work your way up to being strong.”
I took my parents’ advice to heart. In the first week, I flunked seventy-five percent of my students on the summer reading exam. I yelled a lot to control the classroom environment.
And when my students would complain about an assignment, I would say to them, “Remember, this class is not a democracy, it’s a monarchy and guess who’s queen?”
When I read those words now, I can’t help but cringe.
But at the time, I believed vulnerability was a liability. I was okay with being the dragon lady. It was safe.
And under that façade, no one knew how terrified I actually was. So I wore that armor as if my life depended on it.
If I had my way, I would have kept my guard up for the rest of that year. But my students were much smarter than me. They must have known on some level that, in the presence of true vulnerability, no one could remain closed off.
Perhaps no event demonstrated this better than when the senior honors project was in jeopardy.
It was not traditional curriculum, and thus it came under scrutiny. My seniors were visibly upset because they had worked so hard on their group papers, and they were looking forward to their presentations in which faculty from the school as well as from the university would be present.
When they expressed their feelings so honestly and openly, I could not turn away. Now, I wanted to fight not only for the project but for the students themselves.
When I thought we would have no choice but to abandon the whole thing, I remember telling my students that I wanted to quit. For the first time, I was very honest with them about how I was feeling and what I wanted for them.
I was, perhaps, the most vulnerable I had been all year. And that moment of vulnerability paid off big time.
When I left the school at the end of the year, I received many letters from my students. In them, I discovered that they were touched by the fact that I had fought so hard for them, that I was honest with them, and that I believed in them so passionately.
At the time, I probably said to the universe something like, “Ah! You tricked me! This was supposed to be just a temporary job until my real life began. I wasn’t supposed to invest in anyone or be committed to anything or care about anyone.”
But I was very connected to these students long before I even knew I was. Needless to say, they got their senior project. But I received something so much greater. I learned what vulnerability looked like and felt like. And I was the recipient of all its rewards.
Over the years, I have continued to experience that place of vulnerability. I cannot say that all my experiences have come through choice, but I do try to enter that state as much as I can.
While I am far from being an expert on this subject, I have come to some conclusions that I hope will be meaningful to those who want to choose vulnerability:
1. VULNERABILITY IS SO MUCH EASIER WHEN YOU LOVE YOURSELF.
Think about it. When you don’t love all of you and are afraid to show people the less than stellar parts, the space between you and vulnerability is like the Grand Canyon. You will need all the courage you can get to make the leap across.
But when you love yourself, and I mean all of you, you don’t worry so much if someone else doesn’t. And when you’re less afraid of rejection, you step right into that place of openness.
2. VULNERABILITY TAKES PRACTICE.
You don’t just learn it once and then—ta-dah!—you’re easily open to everything and everyone. My experience at the high school was very profound, but even now, many years later, I still have moments where I’m more guarded and less willing to share the real me.
Thank goodness life continues to give me opportunities to consciously choose openness. And most times, I do.
3. THE REWARDS OF VULNERABILITY ARE IMMEASURABLE.
When I have chosen to be open, to show my authentic self, my students have met me there. And when they’ve met me there and formed that connection, there’s nothing they can’t accomplish.
With vulnerability, you experience true connection—true love for yourself—and you begin to attract people to you who are inspired by your openness.
While it’s not easy to be vulnerable, you’d be surprised how loving all of you and then sharing it with another can help you to connect with anyone. In my own life, I’m continuing to open up to my students.
I’ve been showing them a little more of the complexity that is me. They now know the ugly truth that I don’t do math. They know that whenever I need to half a recipe, my twelve-year-old nephew does the fractions for me.
Shameful? Perhaps. But you know what? I like that girl and in the end, so do my students.
By Christine White
That’s the question I asked.
It’s the mold that grew on my moist heart and kept me from opening myself up. It’s what I worried about in my early 20s and why I avoided dating.
I didn’t believe I could be me, who required a flow chart and three hours to explain my family or origin “situation” and who also had anxiety at times. I couldn’t think of me and the words catch, find, desirable or chosen in the same lifetime, never mind the same sentence.
Honest and alone, or fake with a companion? I didn’t like either choice but they were the only choices I thought existed.
I’m not telling people I have mentally ill, alcoholic father, complex relationships with some of my family, difficulty with some sexual positions and am a little sensitive to too much drinking. No way.
This may not be a surprise but my beliefs weren’t all that great for my relationships.
I wish someone had said to me: “The question isn’t if anyone can love your damaged self, it’s whether you can accept and love yourself unconditionally.”
The truth was I didn’t like, love or believe in me.
I didn’t accept my history. I wasn’t loving with myself. I had no compassion for my anxiety. If didn’t like or love myself, how could others love me?
I was hoping to find someone who could love me better than I did.
I saw my complications as only baggage, terrible and negative. I saw what I came with as debris, burdens and contagious toxins and that it would be dangerous for others to get close to me. What, that’s not sexy? That’s not attractive, compelling or appealing?
I get it now, but I didn’t when I was younger.
Now I see that I am a warrior, resilient and sort of spellbinding at times. I navigated obstacle courses that required getting on all fours, muddy, messy and fighting like hell. And I did—while going to school, working and helping take care of others too.
Those are some worthwhile traits and experiences—assets even—not something I needed to apologize for.
But there was one person who didn’t know or trust or believe that: me.
Without me as an ally I didn’t have a chance, and I didn’t clue into this for a long time. Instead, I compared myself to others who were living different lives, who had different paths and histories. Of course we weren’t the same.
I could only see where I fell short, and how I didn’t compare. I judged myself for failing to have as much as joy or spontaneity without seeing that I also had more depth and responsibility.
I was taking care of my Nana who was sick with ovarian cancer. I was battling post-traumatic stress and learning way too much about loss, going to too many funerals in my early 20s. Then, my sister bumped into the biological father we hadn’t seen since we were toddlers.
It was a lot. It wasn’t odd that I had anxiety, it was pretty remarkable that I kept it together as well as I did.
My early 20s weren’t spent happy, carefree or wild. But they weren’t wasted. They were meaningful, deep and important.
I spent more time with grandmother than many get to in a lifetime. I got to do fingerpaints with my cousin and drink iced coffee and plant flowers with my aunt. I learned about loss and grief and how to prioritize, juggle jobs, school and my budget.
I learned to practice resilience, self-reliance, and learned how much I needed friends, creativity, and a healing tribe. I’ve never run out of material to write about and doubt I ever will. My experiences from childhood on shaped my life and still do.
I was able to create a life with animals, flowers, loved ones, writing, family and a small cottage near the ocean that is more often than not charming, loving and inspiring. I learned to be a parent that I am proud of—not perfect, but good enough and that’s a victory. I got to experience the joy of mothering and I’m grateful.
I’m able to take care of my own child, self, house and budget. I can drive myself to the airport and light my pilot when it goes out. I feel sexually, professionally and financially free, creative and empowered at midlife. And I eat pretty well and do yoga.
Actually I’m sort of amazing.
The question never was how can anyone love me and all my baggage?
The question is: why did I doubt myself? The question is: how come I failed to be my own ally?
Wondering how someone can love a pathetic me with too many bags and issues isn’t helpful. With the exact same life I might have asked, who is better than me at packing, dreaming, traveling and helping others do the same?
Really, the question never was, how can someone love me, but why did I expect them to love me when I did not?
I hope you learn to love yourself faster than I did. You don’t have to do anything to be lovable and no matter the past, you need not prove yourself worthy. You are already lovable.
If you aren’t sure, just practice knowing how someone could love you by loving yourself. Or, as my daughter says, find a way to “deal with your awesomeness…. bam!”
How will anyone you love ever be able to get over you?
That’s the question.