Self-Empowerment is super messy. For a while.
If someone’s been living in a largely dis-empowered state for quite a while and their inner power is waking up - there is an adjustment phase. There will be mistakes and finer areas of learning and growth. Just like with anything new that we do or step into.
I was this person and when an exhilarating freedom emerged from within - I would sometimes bring more fierceness than a situation called for. Sometimes WAY more.
Imagine a situation where a soft simple expression would have gotten the job done but I’m yelling at the top of my lungs. (I can laugh now)
I had to go back and apologize a few times… hey, I’m sorry. I was being a jerk. You didn’t deserve that.
But I was like a child learning to ride a bike that felt a little big for me. Wobbly and crashing into things.
It’s different for everyone, for me it came in waves and lasted several years.
If the pendulum has been mostly at living life in a very small watered-down way, or just feeling small. Then naturally it needs to swing the opposite way for a while.
It takes time before things become more centered and stable. If we try to push or force stability, we interfere with the transformation that’s moving in and through us and our lives.
It eventually comes closer to center on its own.
So if you know someone that’s been recently difficult for you and they are sincerely working on themselves, hope this helps bring understanding. If this person is you, have compassion for yourself and trust the process.
Thank you for all your strength. For all the times you had to go into battle and face harm and even death. For all the hard work you have done under the pressure to provide and to protect.
For thousands of lifetimes, you have had to be the strong one. The one who knew all the answers. The one who took charge. Who fixed it all. Who could never show weakness. You have had to stay on guard for so long.
I know it takes time for the armor to come off. It’s not fair to expect you to suddenly rip it all off at once. It will come off when you are ready. You decide.
I know these are confusing times for you. First, you had to carry the job of being the bigger sex. Now there are messages out there telling you to make yourself small and be obedient. That it's wrong to be powerful.
You are seen as both, God and the Devil.
It's not just women. You too have also been manipulated and used. Projected upon. You experience deep pain and fear too.
Personally, I disagree that it’s your job to fix “patriarchy”.
I also know you have been shamed for your sexual desire and yet told it makes you a "real man”.
You feel pressure to perform and know what to do, without any guidance. Unrealistic expectations that no human could satisfy, much less experience love.
Vulnerability is a challenge for me. For you, that challenge is multiplied, many times over.
I think it’s so perfect and beautiful to be a woman. And it's so perfect and beautiful that you are a man.
I don't want us to be the same or to always agree or see life the same way. How boring would that be?
Thank you men. For teaching me to be compassionate and understanding. Thank you men for pushing me to find my strength and independence. To take responsibility for my own thoughts and feelings. And my boundaries. Most of all thank you for teaching me that my choices are my own.
I know the moments of power struggles and those little battles will still happen. But even when it's chaotic and messy, deep down I still remain so grateful for all of it. So grateful for you being you.
I have seen so clearly that we were never meant to save each other and satisfy each other's expectations. But instead to help know and love ourselves. And share our self-knowledge, presence, and love with each other.
I love our dance of interdependence.
Dear Men, you are essential. Essential to everything.
You are one half of this earthly experience. You are one half of me. I'm so glad you exist!
To all men, I just simply love you.
**This one felt too personal to use a stock image for. So I dug out some old photographs that I took and processed a long time ago in a college photography class. The model is my then-boyfriend. Back then I thought being naked was all it took to be intimate.
Dating is totally different for me since doing inner work. It has gone from painful drama to Adventure!
A story to illustrate this.
Several years ago I met a man online. At first it was just a few friendly messages. The conversations quickly became more frequent and we seemed to have a lot in common. I found him easy to talk to. We started chatting on video too (we live in different states).
In our conversations I would have these moments thinking “wow, he says all the right things!”. I felt such a strong connection and trust with him. And this is all happening in the space of 3 weeks or so. I felt like I could really be myself and not worry about anything.
I don’t remember most of the details of our conversations except this one thing he told me: “No matter what, I never stop being someone’s friend. I never cut someone out of my life.” This gave me such a feeling of safety.
So my mind was saying yes to this man. But my body was apparently saying something else entirely. I just wasn’t really listening to my body at first. During one video chat he looked at me curiously and asked me if I was cold. I looked down and I was wearing a sweater with two jackets over it (pretty hilarious actually, it was summer). We were talking about sex during that conversation and as we talked I kept getting up to grab more clothes to wear.
I wasn’t cold. I was uncomfortable.
But I dismissed my discomfort as my own woundedness because I was working through a lot of trauma during that time. I told myself “Keep an open mind. It’s good to discuss these things openly”.
I happened to have a retreat trip planned in California a few hours from where he lived coming up and I was considering adding extra days to my trip so I can visit him. But it was all happening really fast and I started to have mixed feelings. The mixed feelings were the conflict of what was coming from what my mind wanted and what my body & intuition were saying.
So I decided to dedicate some time to focus and go inward and go deeper into my intuition. When I let go of my mind and I did this I got very clear very fast: It didn’t feel right to visit him on my trip. Not only that, it didn’t feel right to even pursue a relationship with this man.
I decided to trust this and act on this. Even though I didn’t really know why, I mean he still seemed like a great guy to me.
I emailed him to let him know that I would like to just remain friends. I explained it so he would know I wasn’t angry or had a problem about anything. I also figured if it’s meant to be more than friendship then it can happen with time. I also understood that it might trigger some insecurity in him but that it wouldn’t be that big of a deal for such an emotionally mature man as him.
He replied and expressed shock at my sudden change of heart. But he said he understood and honored my decision.
Then the next day he blocked me from all social media and completely disconnected from me.
Now I was the one shocked. But just at first. I was also actually so glad to see how right my intuition was!
I realized most of the conversations coming from him were lies. He was telling me what I wanted to hear.
I wasn’t angry though. I saw why it worked on me. He made me feel special. He made me feel understood. He made me feel safe. He made me feel important and significant.
He gave me what I was starving for and unconsciously looking outside of myself for. He showed me where my insecurities were.
Experiences like this have helped me transform those starving parts of myself. Each experience, whether positive or negative, brings me a step closer to being whole within myself. I’m also much more self-aware. I can feel when a situation or person makes me feel “special” or “important”. If something feels good, great I enjoy it. But I’m much more alert to the difference of feeling good that is coming from my ego-mind (self-importance) and those of my body (it feels more organic and less like a story of my identity getting fed).
Am I completely done with insecurity, with any attachment to being special or important? No. But I am celebrating the distance I have traveled to this place of being on an adventure. Does the adventure mean no pain? No. But the pain, when it does happen, is VERY useful.
Before doing this inner work there was so much anxiety and pain in dating and relationships. I was at times living out a longing and fantasy and there was no genuine intimacy. It was total bullshit actually (sorry to any exes reading this).
Then I would feel betrayed if I felt the person wasn’t genuine. But I wasn’t even genuine with myself. There was no possibility in those situations for any sincere intimacy.
Our socialized ideas of romance are fantasies that come from our unfulfilled needs and longings. To stay in this is to ride the roller coaster ride of pain and heartbreak. It’s actually insane, if you really see if for what it is. So much drama, and we actually create the whole thing ourselves much of the time.
But coming out of this game has been liberating. Instead of feeling resentful and blame towards anyone I’m glad to have the experience because each person teaches me so much about myself.
Instead of shutting down my trust and becoming bitter or fearful from these learning experiences, I grow MORE trusting. MORE trusting of myself. MORE trusting of whatever life brings me. I don’t need to carry the hurt memories. I don’t need to guard against or worry about other people and their intentions.
I also don’t get too offended when someone lies to me. It’s not personal. It’s their own issue and not for me to figure out. My only responsibility is to see through my own delusions.
I don’t trust because people are trustworthy.
I trust because I am trustworthy.
Over the years I've had healers and intuitives approach me to inform me that I'm way too open and that I need boundaries. I’ve been advised to put a protective bubble around myself. I’ve been told to carry certain stones or crystals with me.
I sensed some truth in what they told me. I didn't have boundaries. I wasn’t sure what it even meant to have boundaries. But something about their approach didn't feel quite right. So I didn't take their advice.
But there were moments I was so tempted! Times I was so overwhelmed that I felt suicidal: “How can I ever live like this!?”. I’m grateful the suicidal thoughts and feelings were usually brief and most days weren’t quite THAT hard.
But it was challenging as I navigated daily overwhelm and confusion. I would shut down or erupt in anger as a desperate way to create space. As I’ve done inner work on myself I felt my sensitivity grow stronger and would at times have so much animosity towards it. More sensitivity? Are you kidding me? F*ck off with this empathic crap!
These situations though, ultimately became opportunities for me to transform past wounds and self-limitations.
For example, a few times I felt traumatized by a person’s aggressive and violent sexual desires being projected onto me (not just regular sexual desire). Sorry to be graphic here, but it felt like I was being raped. (energetically). It was awful. But I had to face the fact that, yes although they did have an unconscious sexual aggressiveness in them, there was a lesson in that for me. It brought up deeper layers of my own past sexual trauma that I needed to heal.
Now I am more centered and don't feel as affected by another’s sexual desire. I also don't need to hold back or shrink who I am or my energy out of fear of what it triggers in another.
And if someone is crossing a boundary with me now, if required, I can unleash a primal protective fire so enormous it can shake the entire block and singe your eyebrows off. This isn’t a reactive anger (like I had before), but a natural and healthy instinct.
It doesn't matter how big the person is or how intimidating they behave, I have access to power inside me that doesn't depend on my size or physical strength. I no longer fall easily for intellectual game-playing or passive-aggressive bullying either.
Although getting to this place has taken time, I'm glad the approaches I took part in were about self-awareness, and healing, rather than fuelling, any fear and mistrust. I'm glad I didn't have to shut down my openness to the world and people. That would have been sad. It's part of my joy to be so trusting. To share myself so freely and openly.
I now experience my sensitivity more as the gift it is, and navigate the world with this vibrant inner compass. This gives me a sense of self-reliance and independence.
Many situations I used to drown in I can now confidently swim through.
The feeling of it being a curse had nothing to do with the true essence of being sensitive and empathic, which is actually beautiful and just part of being human. Being a ‘curse’ was a projection of my own unresolved issues. The ‘curse’ moments pushed me to uncover my strength and to use it.
I can't tell you how good it feels to not need to protect my heart or myself. To not need to see myself as so separate from others. To not have to hide and live in fear. I can be free in my innocence and explore and play on this planet. I can use my gifts and power with integrity, all the while still being dedicated to my inner work and the lessons I’m learning.
*Trauma can open us to potent insight and abilities. But we don’t have to stay traumatized or to suffer to have these gifts and abilities. (I'll try to write another piece about why we get attached to pain, I want to give it it's proper nuance).
If you live in Kansas City check out my events to support you to heal your past, release limitations, and connect to your inner compass.
So what is the difference between self-love and narcissism?
I see them as existing in different universes, that's how different they are.
Narcissism is superiority. Superiority is based on comparison, competition, and insecurity. It is looking outward for who we are. It is needing to prove something.
It is a temporary compensation for the painful feeling of smallness deep down.
Superiority is there only because somewhere inside there is inferiority. Two sides to the same coin.
We come out of this painful game when we change direction and start looking within to transform the root of what is making us feel small or needing to prove anything.
This is not a “fake it till you make it” kinda thing. Not at all. Do we need yet another facade to hide behind? No, I don’t think so.
The first step is to be honest with ourselves about how we really feel.
It’s tricky because we don’t actually need to be taught how to LOVE ourselves. How to TRUST ourselves. How GOOD we are. How POWERFUL we are. How BIG we are. How MAGICAL we are. (but role models and facilitators are a huge help).
We were born already knowing this.
We just have to UNLEARN what we were taught. We need to see through and undo all the lies. All that we took on during our time here on this planet.
A technique to transform the root of insecurities:
Dalian Method sessions by Lila
Do your own Dalian Method sessions
One day last year I had something come up. Deep Sadness. Lots of tears.
As I wondered what this was about, a thought came,
“The planet is sick and dying and needs our help”
I was surprised. I had no idea I believed this. It was an awful feeling. An awful thought. It brought such a heavy feeling of sadness and dread. I continued to feel all of it and then after a few minutes suddenly the sadness lifted and the tears stopped. I felt calm and still.
Then out of that stillness I felt HER. Our earth. I realized the truth.
That she is not sick and not dying.
Not. at. all.
I felt the true planet, what Earth really is.
That she chooses to allow us to be here, to learn, to evolve. Through all the light and all the dark.
I saw that our planet is not really a victim of us. Not helpless. Not even suffering. If she ever needs saving she knows how to save herself.
I realized that me thinking I needed to help her was like a flea trying to save an elephant. I laughed and I felt the planet laughing at me too, as if to say “See. I don’t need you to save me”
This realization lifted a big weight from me that I didn’t know I was carrying. A sense of peace and trust arose along with so much playfulness and joy.
I still wondered though "Where did that belief came from?".
The next day on my Facebook feed I see a video. I felt immediately compelled to watch it. It was a Native Elder saying that the earth is sick and dying and she needs our help. I didn't save the video, but I remember that his words were either exact or uncannily similar to the belief I had uncovered. That answered my question of where it came from. I have always felt a connection in my heart to the Native American traditions and wisdom.
I must have taken that on and it was circulating in my unconscious.
I hope this lightens you up and shows how important it is to question everything and open to your own direct experience. To touch that place beyond thoughts and emotions (by honoring and feeling them).
Don't even take on what I say. Explore and experience for yourself. Connect with the planet. Or maybe it's more important that you connect with yourself.
So now if I’m ever tired or overwhelmed, I can get barefoot and feel the ground under my feet.
All that energy
All that compassion
All that support.
flows through my body.
I’ve been exploring what ‘life purpose’ really means.
When I was younger and not happy with my life, I wanted to find the work that would fulfill me. If I’m going to spend so much of my life in a job or career I want it to be joyful and fun.
I didn’t know what I wanted to do and had very little I felt passionate about. And all the questionnaires and books on choosing a career or finding my purpose didn’t help me.
I eventually came to the idea to travel the world. When I was traveling I felt so free and spontaneous and excited about life. I lived in the moment. I felt alive. I wanted to feel that all the time. Not just on the occasional trip.
But world travel didn’t work out for me.
So then I had an idea to live off the grid and not be dependent on a system that I felt was unhealthy, repressive, and corrupt. I wanted to learn to grow my own food and be liberated from doing pointless unsustainable things, like mowing the lawn or consuming in a way that was destructive to our planet.
Never did that either.
I’m glad I didn’t. While these things may be right for another person, they weren’t right for me. They were actually my attempts to escape my problems. I didn’t see that the way my life has unfolded was a result of my past experiences and unconscious limiting beliefs.
I didn’t know that in order to create something new, I have to see how I've created my problems. That’s where true creative power is. I can’t create the good stuff while pretending that I have no responsibility in creating my struggles and pain. The two aspects are deeply connected.
I ended up living the very life I was set on avoiding. Living in the midwest working an office job.
But it has been exactly what I needed. In so many amazing and unexpected ways.
Of course we want to live a meaningful joyful life. But we often don’t know what that truly looks like and when our grand plans aren’t supported by Existence, no matter how badly we want it, there is usually a very good reason.
As stubborn as I am at times, I’m learning to trust my Soul and Existence. The big picture is so much more intelligent than my own limited ego.
I don’t think life purpose means to do something that compensates for what we believe is lacking. I think it means a step by step journey into the unknown that takes us into the direction of our greatest growth. Which often is in the direction of our greatest fears and challenges.
It may even go against everything we thought we knew about ourselves.
What I'm doing now in my life is more fulfilling and rewarding than my plans and expectations could ever have been. It is also a bigger and deeper joy than the "happy" I was pursuing when I was younger.
Leela Haris ~ Expanding Consciousness