When I was growing up I was always very aware of the tenuous relationship that my father and I held. He was a larger-than-life personality and had a way of charming others with his good looks and deep blue eyes. He was a great salesman and a smooth if manipulative talker. From a very early age, I realized that he was the one that craved most of the attention and I’d do my best to stay out of his way. I have a few good memories of times when we bonded, but mostly we co-existed, and I strived to do my best in hopes of gaining his esteem and attention.
From a very early age, I realized that we had a sort of rivalry, and I knew that I was lacking in his eyes and approval. I was constantly reminded of the disappointment that I was, and it caused me to feel insignificant at times and while I seethed in anger. I knew intuitively that our values clashed but still needed his parental approval and attention.
Well into early adulthood our rivalry continued, and he often make apologies for me and publicly make me feel inadequate. To make it worse I had a slight stutter which he would make fun of and which inspired me to fight hard to conquer. I was always made to feel like I was taking up too much space. I became a loner and spent many hours reading, working on my endurance, building my body, and telling myself that I deserved better. Despite my self-disciplined efforts, the damage was done, and my self-esteem suffered.
By the age of sixteen I suspected that I was gay which further added to my mental anguish and guilt. I was deeply afraid of being discovered and built emotional fortifications to protect and keep me safe from questions that I didn’t want to answer.
This feeling of guilt and shame was often with me throughout my early adult life. I would fail to show up for myself and lived in a state of constant fear of discovery and rejection. I missed opportunities and made poor choices. I lived a fast life with people who weren’t good for me and tried to fit in somewhere in my life. I lived with a feeling of shame for reasons that I didn’t understand or deserve.
My self-esteem and confidence would take many painful years of trial and error, but I knew that I could do better. I vowed that one day I would show up for myself and realize my powers. I began to make steps to change my life and developed new systems for creating the life I dreamed about. True happiness emerged and as I began to realize my intention.
As The Happiness Warrior, I believe that the greatest gifts we can give ourselves are always found within. Life gives us choices and we can choose to be our authentic selves and show the world who we are. Or we can choose to live in fear, conform to the values of others, and live in a shadow life of safety and doubt.
I lived my life in my twenties and thirties with a fast-paced and often reckless drive. I had great adventures, but I also had many times when I felt trapped in a pit of despair. The highs and lows taught me everything are valued for the same ideals. Nothing in life is easy, but if when we learn to believe in ourselves we can create the magic that our lives so badly deserve. I learned to show up for my life and began helping others realize their dreams as well.
For much of my early life I built a series of walls and a careful facade to keep my truths safe. I conformed to what I thought I should be and was never sure who I was supposed to be. I let others keep me aligned with their version of how I should behave with a projection of half-truths and lies. I was afraid to be vulnerable, often stayed in the shadows, was afraid to pursue my dreams and was afraid to be seen enjoying the things that I thought were special and gave my life meaning. I lived my life for others and before I believed in the life changing power that comes when we learn to “show-up!”.
AUTHENTICITY IS OUR REALITY
Our ability as humans to create the reality that we seek through our self-created powers of attitude, mindset, and intention is how we create value and happiness in our lives. When these beliefs are aligned with our truths we can be begun to reveal our authentic being and live the lives we’ve dreamed about. It’s not hard and we can start small, but eventually the gears will come together, and we will find ourselves happier and more fulfilled with our lives than we’ve ever imagined.
Now more than ever in our pandemic infused world we have the power to change our destiny. One step and one action are another step forward to revealing a better life with more fulfillment and happiness. Ask yourself the questions, most of the time the answer is already in our conscious thoughts:
-- Do you live with a need for acceptance and validation from others?
-- Do you need their permission to live your life as you wish?
-- Do you fear the judgment and shame from others?
-- Do you feel you deserve to be judged by people you don’t even respect?
STOP APOLOGIZING BEFORE YOU GET STARTED
Too often in life we’ve stopped believing in ourselves before we even realize our folly. The words we are conditioned to use are often designed to keep us in line with others' needs and expectations. They’re rarely words of personal encouragement and too often we find ourselves sabotaging our happiness and dreams.
Use words that empower your spirit and vision. Instead of saying that something “is not your thing”, think about how much more capable you’d be if you opened your mindset to learning and personal development.
Fear is just an impediment to happiness. Know that we can do anything we set our minds to use words for ourselves that are empowering and uplifting. We can be honest and aware of our weaknesses, but we can also find moments of truth in our strengths as we begin the process of showing up for our lives--the life changing mindset that comes when we stop apologizing for ourselves and live in our authenticity.
STOP APOLOGIZING FOR TAKING UP SPACE
When I was growing up my father always gave me a sense that he was ashamed of me and that I took up too much space. In public he would often shame me for standing in the way, always making me feel out of place and uncomfortable. He favored other boys of our acquaintance and never missed an opportunity to make me feel like I was lacking. Over the years my perception of my father changed and saw him for who he was, and I vowed to be different. I would be proud of myself. I learned to show up, and I learned the folly of believing in my deepest fears. I told myself that nothing could stop me and went about the process of reclaiming my life. I made some mistakes, but I forged straight ahead and began to manifest my dreams and intentions. The painful lessons from my father became my foundation from which my true spirit emerged. I became a warrior for my own life but more importantly for the sake of others.
Know these truths for yourself and feel your spirit show up for your life:
-- We all have gifts to share.
-- We hurt ourselves and deprive others of our wisdom when we are afraid to share our desires and feelings.
-- Never be ashamed of wanting more out of life.
-- Someone will always want to take you down because they’re insecure with themselves.
-- Words have spirit, use words of empowerment and empathy, and feel your vibration rise.
As another year begins it’s natural to think more deeply about our lives and what we have and might become. Too often we hear words of what we should have done, memories that made us happy, and regrets and yearning for the life we dream about, but somehow never happens. We forget that the most important part of life is showing up and being ourselves. That’s what life is all about when happiness comes from within, and our fears are long forgotten. Life is an adventure of our making, we can stay in the shadows, mistakenly thinking that we will be safe and hidden. All too often life gets in the way and we’re unprepared for life and desperate to avoid change and momentum.
There’s another side to living when we choose to live in our authenticity. A place where the only opinion that matters is our own. A state of living in intention and truth which frees our spirit to realize our dreams and aspirations. We can manifest the lives we intend to lead when we believe in ourselves enough to show up and take charge of our lives. We can be our best at anything we do when we live in our truth and know that our actions have value and purpose. When we are living in our authentic state old negative feelings and self-doubts can be conquered. When we learn to show up for our lives we can do anything!