This has been the year of massive emotional progress and self-mastery on a whole new level… And it’s only August. I am a completely different person than I was this time last year, but I still have such a long way to go.
A little backstory for those of you who don’t know everything about me: after battling with depression and an eating disorder in my teens and early twenties, at age 23 I discovered tapping and used it to re-wire my brain. After finding success with that modality, I spent about a year tapping on practically every single negative thought or limiting belief I realised I was having. It completely changed me, and laid a really strong and solid foundation for who I am today. This was the beginning of my radical self love practice.
Cut to the present time. It has been almost ten years since I first reprogrammed my brain, and even though I have been learning about radical self love ever since, the transformation has never been as swift or intense as it was back then. Until recently.
Some events change your life much more than you ever anticipated they would. I had two double-whammies in a very short period of time. I knew that getting a divorce would change my life, and I knew that falling in love with Garnett would change things too. But I drastically underestimated how much these situations would alter my state of being.
Every intimate relationship helps to shape the person you are, but very few of them cause a complete metamorphosis. I am a very independent person: I’m an only child and one of the major pieces of relationship advice I remember from my mother was, “Make your own money so you can escape if you need to.” As you can probably imagine, I have never really allowed a relationship — or a man — to change me. I have allowed the fear that I would lose myself in a relationship to control what happens, which in turn has kept me separate — at least at arm’s length — from those I loved. And I know, deep down, that that isn’t what a relationship is supposed to be.
This time it’s different. G makes me want to be a better person, to explore my fullest potential. He’s not afraid of me standing in my power — in fact, he practically demands it — and so I have been wading into that pool to see what it’s like. Of course, becoming your biggest self is terrifying. It shows you what else in your life isn’t working. It starts to throw all kinds of other shit at you, shit you thought you could outrun or outwork or just ignore forever. Nope.
This has been a very challenging year but I am so proud of the changes I’ve made. There has been a massive list of things I’ve worked through already, but here are five things I’m actively working on right now… In case you’re interested!
“If I were the plaything of every thought, I would be a fool, not a wise man.” — Rumi
1. BEING IN MY BODY, NOT IN MY MIND
A few months ago, I realised that one of my underlying beliefs was that it wasn’t safe to be in my body. I didn’t trust it. I doubted my body, and so I lived mostly in my head. I dissociated often, even when I was working out. My boyfriend would ask me, “What muscles can you feel right now?” and I would say I didn’t know — because I was checked out of my body!
Learning how to be really present in my body, and not just in my mind, is tricky because going into my mind is a defense mechanism that I learned as a child. It works as a child, but as an adult, it stops you from having authentic connection. It also gives you a really crazy lens through which you view your body, hence eating disorders, body dysmorphia, etc. The constant analysis and intellectualisation of how you look — rather than simply FEELING how you FEEL — makes you crazy.
Of course, you can’t just sever the connection to your mind, but using a mantra like, “I’m here” snaps you back into your body, or simply inquiring of yourself, “What sensations do I feel right now?”
I am not perfect at this, but I’m making major strides, and when I find myself being able to just be in the physical plane rather than daydreaming or obsessing or future-tripping, it feels really good.
“Many of us learned that keeping busy kept us at a distance from our feelings. Some of us took the ways we busied ourselves —- becoming overachievers and workaholics —- as self esteem. But whenever our inner feeling did not match our outer surface, we were doing ourselves a disservice. If stopping to rest meant being barraged with this discrepancy, no wonder we were reluctant to cease our obsessive activity.” — Maureen Brady
2. STEPPING AWAY FROM OVERWORKING
It has been a good year for me professionally, which is interesting because I have been putting in less hours this year than ever. This is another side-effect of being with G: he has reminded me that there is a whole world that exists outside of work.
Addictions come in many disguises, and for the past ten years, constantly working has been a big one for me. It’s one thing to be passionate about what you do (and I am), but it’s another to use work as a coping mechanism, and I had certainly been doing that. In my case, being in relationships that weren’t right — and I completely own my part of that — meant that work was a welcome escape.
I spoke to a friend who is healing some (very old) trauma recently, and she told me the same thing — she wasn’t working as hard, and she had hired more people and stepped back, because she had realised that her need to work was actually her way of running from her problems. If you work hard, there’s no room for emotional processing. There’s no space to simply be with your thoughts. And it’s so compelling, because when we work a lot, we’re rewarded. Society loves a woman who “hustles”.
I used to work every weekend. Now I leave the house, see friends, and go out at night. I’m still not great at this, and I feel less “weekend urgency” because my work schedule is so flexible, but I am much more social than I used to be, and it brings so much positivity, adventure, and fun into my life.
“Our anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows, but only empties today of its strengths.” — Charles Haddon Spurgeon
3. DOING SOMETHING WHEN I FEEL ANXIOUS
When panic and fear rose up inside me, I used to go with it. I’d allow the movies in my head to get the better of me, and I would sit, gripped by them, for what seemed like hours. Not anymore. Now I am proactive. As soon as those movies start to play, or as soon as I feel the waves of anxiety licking at my toes, I do something about it. I tap, I dance, I meditate, I recite a mantra. It almost doesn’t matter what I do, as long as I do something. See 1) on being in my BODY rather than my mind.
I went through a phase of reaching out when I felt panicky — not asking for help, but more like sending out texts to friends to say hello — and that’s okay, and is a good first step, but ultimately I want to be able to resolve my anxiety on my own and not need to rely on others to throw me a life-preserver.
Having a little toolkit of things that help me out when I feel anxiety is so useful. It’s so easy to get frozen and stuck, but learning how to break your own patterns is unbelievably important.
“One reason so few of us achieve what we truly want is that we never direct our focus; we never concentrate our power. Most people dabble their way through life, never deciding to master anything in particular.” — Tony Robbins
4. CREATING MY OWN MANTRAS
I don’t have a super-strict morning routine, but I have a few things that I rotate between. One of them is new to me but it’s really helpful. I write down the top 3 things I want to achieve for the day (these are mostly work-related), and then I write down any mantras I want to keep in mind. I just keep them in the Notes app on my desktop.
They are simple ideas to keep me on track emotionally, and help me to process or work through whatever is going on in my mind at the time. These mantras are not fancy. They mostly read like practical reminders, for example, “Use your time wisely” or “Do what feels good”, but they’re different every day and they are massively useful.
I am really into emotional mastery lately, and having these simple prompts truly helps me out.
“I’m finally ready to own my own power, to say, “This is who I am.” If you like it, you like it. And if you don’t like it, you don’t. So watch out; I’m gonna fly.” — Oprah Winfrey
5. OWNING MY POWER
Holy shit. This is a really big one. This might blow your mind slightly (it definitely blows mine), but I didn’t really have any concept of my own power until I was in Las Vegas a couple of weeks ago. I approached my week there as one big social experiment and I was completely astounded by what I discovered.
There are a lot of little thing which go into owning your power, and they’re probably different for everyone. For me, some of the major components include having good posture (so simple but HOLY SHIT so transformative), and making an effort to be charismatic and outgoing. I swear, just doing those two things changes everything: the way you feel, the way people respond to you, and the experiences you have.
I have known these things for years, intellectually at least. But actually applying them, consistently and with effort, is a game-changer. I astounded myself. It was fantastic.
Las Vegas was also a great testing ground for me, because I was on vacation and no one knew me, so I was free to be as “big” as I wanted. And it felt amazing. It comes with its own challenges, of course, like, “Am I going to be ‘too much’ for people now?”, but ultimately, anyone who thinks I am too much is not someone I want to be around anyway. So I just have to take a deep breath and do my damn thing!
This shit is liberating, I tell you.
Like I have always said, radical self love is an ongoing process and it is never “finished”. I am delighted with the changes I’ve made this year, even though making them hasn’t always been fun (and has included many tears, internal tantrums, feelings of hopelessness, despair and deep sadness). It’s bittersweet. I can see how far I’ve come, but I can also see how far I have to go… And damn, it is a long, long way.
But I wouldn’t want to exist in a world where I am not being challenged, not growing, not becoming stronger and more self-aware. I know that every ugly moment I push myself through is making me a better person, and giving me the ability and self-belief to traverse other, more difficult situations in the future. I believe that if we can gain self-mastery, while treating ourselves with love, compassion, and forgiveness, there is nothing we cannot achieve.