This is one of my favorite times of the year. Not because of the gifts, although I like giving and receiving gifts as much as the next person. But my love for this season, the beginning of a new year, is because it is the perfect time for self-reflecting. And I can self-reflect like nobody's business. Just hand me a journal and a cup of coffee, and I will happily ensconce myself in dreaming, clarifying, and planning until someone yanks me away for food and water. Last year, I picked four feeling words to guide me in the next year. One of those words was "authentic". I was determined to step more deeply into my authentic self. More, I wanted to show my authentic self to the world. I wanted to show up in my relationships more honestly. I was sure that this would lead to deeper relationships. And in most cases, it has. Some relationships have evolved beautifully this past year. But some pain has come from this, too. When I put myself out there more authentically, I had the painful realization that not everyone cares to see the real me. And not everyone deserves to see the real me.
Really wonderful things have happened for me this year. I have learned to own some traumatic experiences that happened to me as a child and teenager. I have learned to simply feel my feelings, without analyzing them to death or trying to prove to myself that I have the right to feel that way. I have learned how to use meditation to return to a calm state, and to harness the feeling I am seeking. I have had to learn to have compassion for my own humanity. I am learning to admit to myself that I messed up, without beating myself up for it. And I have learned to more deeply trust my intuition.
I am naturally a very intuitive person. As an INFJ in the Myers-Briggs personality types, I can pick up on cues that most people miss. As a result, I can sense, sometimes very quickly, if someone is a safe person for me or not. I know when I can share my feelings with someone, or show my true colors, and when I need to put up a wall. Learning to trust that feeling, however, has not come easily. Too often I have opened my heart to someone who didn't deserve it. I have also held myself back in relationships where I could have been more open.
Getting to know your real self is a risk. It's super scary. You will undoubtedly uncover things about yourself that you don't like. Part of becoming your authentic self means embracing the parts of yourself you aren't particularly fond of. It means facing the fact that you aren't perfect. You have to stare down your mistakes, and acknowledge that you screwed up. Once you start doing this work, it's so liberating. While I enjoyed feeling freer, I also felt some pressure to show that acceptance on the outside. If I am so okay with myself, shouldn't I just bare it all? If I accept myself, then it shouldn't matter if anyone else accepts me. Right?
Not exactly. Real self-respect means respecting yourself enough to not subject yourself to bad treatment if you can help it. If self-love involves treating yourself the same way you'd treat your best friend, then why would I put myself in a situation where I strongly suspect I will be disrespected? I wouldn't do that to my best friend, why would I do it to myself? Combine that with my own instinctual knowledge about people, and it means that if I sense someone is going to show me some harsh treatment, it's perfectly okay to hold myself back. I know who I am, and I love who I am. It took a lot of hard work to get to this point, and I am going to honor myself by only showing my awesome self to people who deserve to see it. My heart and soul are precious. I want to protect them, so they can stay open, kind, and loving. I am not going to leave them lying around for people to stomp on carelessly.
The fantastic thing about this approach is that it means my heart and soul are more fully available for people who will be careful with them. I can love my people more deeply, more openly, more honestly, because I have chosen them mindfully. Hurt feelings still happen, of course. You can't avoid those altogether. But the people I've invited into the inner sanctum are people who love and respect who I truly am, so when conflict and misunderstandings happen, we can work them out and become even closer as a result of that turmoil.
My wish for you in 2018 is that you find your people. I pray that you find the people with whom you can show up for, and embrace each other fully. Gather them around you and love them hard. Quietly step back from those who do not treat your heart and soul as the precious gifts that they are, wish them well, and go rock your authentic, amazing self.
I am so glad you are here! Welcome to my blog. Look around and make yourself comfortable, because this is your space, too. My name is Amy, and I am no stranger to the ups and downs of life. Join me as we search for beauty and authenticity, tell our truth, and hold space for each other in the messiness of life.