No More Excuses

Last year I made the intention that I was over all this trauma recovery stuff. That I was now healed and confident and back to the fearless nomad I once was. In reality it took a little while before that intention actually manifested into reality and at first there was definitely some ‘fake it ‘til you make it’ going on, but a year later and I can definitely see that the intention of ‘already being there’ definitely gave me the kick up the ass I needed to finally be here and be completely me, unapologetically.

First off, I got myself back on the boats, because it’s the job I love and I no longer want to miss out on a career I enjoy because I’m living in fear of what might (or might not) happen.

Second to that I made a deal with myself that I was putting me and my objectives first this year – get back into full time work, get financially stable and get back to fearless living.

Thirdly, I started honouring my gut feelings over anything else, regardless of what, or who, I’m up against.

What I’ve found is that as soon as I made the intentions, things in my life started shifting. I started thinking about myself in a different perspective and that resulted in different opportunities showing up. To put it bluntly, I stopped giving myself excuses. It’s not that the excuses were with bad, in fact they started out with good intentions – to give myself the time and self-care to recover fully from what had been some earth shattering events. But they’d become crutches that weren’t aiding me anymore and in order to grow it was time to shed what was no longer necessary – that being the BS that held me back from being the fullest version of me.

I remember becoming aware of this very early on in my ptsd recovery journey when I was asked by the twitter group #iamnotshamed to pin up a picture of me and a board stating “#iamnotashamed to have ptsd”. I wrote back telling them no because I didn’t think it was a positive move to encourage people to pin their identity to an experience that they’ll eventually want to move through. At the time I was aware that I had to process what I went through but I also understood the danger of pinning an experience to my identity, and I was worried at the time about becoming ‘the trauma chick’ – not the identity that I dreamed up for my life to be honest. Personally, I want to be known for my positive attributes, the way I live my life, my strong values and how I make people feel. I don’t want to be known as the traumatised ptsd victim who everyone needs to pity. I mean, what good does that bring to the world anyway? It keeps me in victim mentality and it creates further validation for a wider sense of victim mentality for people to use their personal experience as something to hold them back in life. And I won’t contribute to that kind of lack mentality.

I don’t want to be known as a victim. Yes what I went through was tough and there were times when I needed to lick my wounds but life goes on and if this blog demonstrates anything, it’s that we have the potential to overcome the most challenging things. I think the trick is that we need to create a life worth living for ourselves, so that no matter what, we have something to strive for. For me that was living a life of nomadic adventure, for you it might be something completely different. The point is that it’s up to you to find out what that this, and then up to you to hold yourself accountable to making it happen. That might be doing some personal development courses, going to see a therapist, asking your friends for some honest feedback or maybe all of the above.

Whatever it is, you owe it to yourself to figure it out, and start holding yourself accountable and move forward with it.

Photo by Fab Lentz on Unsplash

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Validate Good Behaviour Over Bad Behaviour

Another corner feels like it’s been turned recently, as I find myself working back on the boats, starting to feel like my old self again. For bad or for worse, this person I’m getting back to is cheeky, speaks her truth and acts out her free will with conviction. I’ve always been told that I’m a strong character. ‘Intense’ is a word that’s often used to describe me. Mostly with a negative connotation, as though to be fully expressive is a bad thing. However, as I feel more and more confident becoming the person that I truly am, I realise that these comments say more about another person’s fear than it does about my personality. I remember that I didn’t used to see it this way. I used to feel ashamed for being ‘too much’, for speaking ‘too honestly’ and especially for acting with integrity in a world where it seems so uncommon.

I’m not alone in this, and I find myself constantly reminding my friends, colleagues and good people in my life to embrace their unique differences completely. To be the best, fullest, strongest version of themselves that they can be. No matter what judgements they face. The thing is that in a world full of systems where most of us have been moulded into conformity, it’s difficult to break free from this. To do so creates a fear in others because it highlights the change that they are avoiding in themselves. This fear is what creates the judgements, the negative connotations, the knockdowns and then the shame.

After years of listening to these comments, we can take them on as our own internal voice, and use them to beat our self-worth into a pulp with the stick we were so often handed. As I finally stop doing this myself, I see the effects of this action all around me. I see colleagues who create the most exquisite and dynamic food you’ve ever seen, yet beat themselves down with words of ‘it can be better’. I see friends who continue to hit impossible sales targets, against all odds, yet tell themselves that it wasn’t good enough, and stay in situations where they’re not valued. I see family members who shine out creative talents, yet tell themselves that they’ll never make it because that’s what they’re being led to believe by others who didn’t have the courage to follow their own dreams.

To all of these people, I’ve found myself stopping them in their tracks and asking them to have a look at what they’ve created. To value their effort, their creativity, their grit and determination. To congratulate themselves, and bask in the glory of their achievement. To add credit to a self-worth that is so often starved of this positive feedback in a world where judgements outweigh compliments at a rate of  10 to 1.

I’ve also found myself putting in firm boundaries when I’m called to validate the worst behaviour in those around me. The drink drivers who off load their problems on strangers. The ‘friends’ who act without integrity and consume friendships with drama. The acquaintances in my life who act without accountability and in a way that is disrespectful towards others because they’re not willing to own the pain that they hold within. Firm boundaries because I don’t want to keep quiet and pretend like I’m okay with that kind of destructive behaviour. I’m not. So I won’t validate it with a silent smile while it continues on, spreading out further waves of negativity while a lack of personal responsibility takes place.

It’s not as though there is a group of ‘good’ people beaten down, and a group of ‘bad’ people beating them. There is no ‘them vs us’, and to see it that way only engages you in the internal battle that you keep firing up within yourself. The ‘good’ and the ‘bad’ lies in every one of us, and it’s up to us to decide in every moment which one we choose to fuel our behaviour.

For me, this whole journey has been about that and I haven’t found this easy. It’s been a constant exercise of stop, reflect and question. It’s been exercises of feeling into my body senses and my intuition to feel what feels good and what doesn’t. To reflect and ask myself, do my actions serve my values right now? To create the honesty in my friendships for feedback that isn’t nice to receive but will help me become the best version of myself. To tell people what I value about them, even if it makes me feel vulnerable. To call them out authentically, even if it means that I get caught up in the cross fire.

I wonder how the world would change if all of us tried to do this, or even if we do it just once, today. To ask a friend not to beat themselves up, and instead to tell them the value that you see in them and ask them to see it too? Or to call out a friend when they’re acting in a way which is hurting others? Isn’t it about time we started validating the best of each other and calling out our worst behaviour so we can all get on our way to being the best versions of ourselves?

Photo by MARK ADRIANE on Unsplash