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Ya F E E L me?

Now on to the second Great Untruth, as outlined in The Coddling of the American Mind (an amazing book I read and first mentioned in an earlier post):

Always trust your feelings.

[Note: This relates to your emotions, not your intuition.]

Don’t get me wrong, emotions are helpful. Emotions are valuable messengers, revealing what’s going on below the surface, in your subconscious. They illuminate unhealed/repressed/insecure/etc parts of your being.

However, it’s imperative you view them through the right mindset: tools to increase your self awareness and heal yourself. Means to make you even more of a BAMF (bad ass motha you know what). Doing so requires willingness and discipline. It can be all too easy to give in to your initial feelings of anger/envy/contempt/fear/etc. But nope - be stronger than that.

If someone says something says something that rubs you the wrong way, or triggers feelings as resentment or rage, ask yourself:

  • Could I possibly have misperceived their words/intent?

    • Maybe I misheard them, or misunderstood them. Maybe they misspoke, thereby concealing their true [pure!] intent. Did they offend you unintentionally? [Have come across the wrong way? I know I have!] Try not to assume!

  • What can you glean from your emotional reaction?

    • Why did it affect you so strongly, in that way? Did it hit a nerve with you based on some past slight, of which the person is unaware? If so, this is a great opportunity to resolve the issue(s) within yourself

Do yourself - and others - a favor by going that extra step to check your automatic emotional reaction. If you operate off pure [initial] emotion, you’re limiting your self/interactions/connections and dooming yourself to a life of victimization, hurt, anxiety, and ostracism - regardless if these emotions are justified.

And so what if they are justified?

What if the person actually was intending offense? By reacting hostilely and lashing out (as tempting as it can be), you only deepen the divide and nurture the status quo.

Again, try to avoid assumption. If something rubs you the wrong way, respectfully acknowledge your possible misperception. This allows them: 1. an opportunity to clarify; 2. an opportunity to learn and see how their words/reasoning could be misconstrued and negatively impact others. (Wouldn’t you appreciate the same opportunity, if roles were reversed?) This likely heightens their awareness, thereby hopefully bridging the gap, lessening those divisive lines, and decreasing the likelihood of it happening again, to you or someone else. And maybe they stand by their assertion and maintain their racist/sexist/homophobic/ etc intent and view. It is what it is.

At least by responding with love and respect you can rest assured you’re not contributing to the problem. You can hold your head high knowing that by choosing to respond with love, you’re doing your part to soften the divide. And don’t get me wrong - sometimes you need to show a little fire to emphasize your point; but if you’re all flame and fury, you’re only exacerbating the situation.

A great principle to live your life by is the principle of charity: interpret others’ statements in their best, most reasonable form, not in the worst or most offensive way possible. The ease with which you do this shows how solid within yourself you are. If it’s still challenging - time for some self reflection, amigo.

And while you’re self assessing, try not to label emotions as negative or positive - they’re just emotions! Like, I said, they’re tools to help you become happier, healthier, and stronger. Means by which to become S O L I D.



Choose not to be harmed - and you won’t feel harmed. Don’t feel harmed - and you haven’t been.
— Marcus Aurelius

I’m a big fan of stoicism and Marcus Aurelius.

Don’t let others control your mind and cortisol levels. There will ALWAYS be offenses and offensive content (especially online!). Good news! It’s not up to you to right every [perceived] wrong, and school those with whom you disagree. (How easy would it be for them to change your mind? It’d likely be just as tough to change theirs.) As we strive to lessen hatred and heal divisions, we must all pick our battles and ignore some of what we see, and just carry on with our day - if only for your own sanity’s sake!

Shine on, babes.

xx,

-w-





Copy of d a r k . 2. L I G H T
Concept and images by me  Model: Byron Hunt

Concept and images by me

Model: Byron Hunt

I don’t live in darkness. Darkness lives in me.

We’ve all faced darkness. Sure, some more than others but we’ve all been there, experiencing it ourselves/encountering it in others.

We’ve also all experienced challenges and struggles; again, to varying degrees.

It doesn’t matter who you are or how much you have in your bank account. It doesn’t matter if your social life is poppin’ or if your abs pop. Darkness is equal opportunity. It affects people of all classes, of all races, of all backgrounds.

Some people have enough inner light to repel it. Yeah, they might feel down and out for a bit, but ultimately, the light triumphs. Glow baby glow.

For some people, the darkness permeates, and sometimes it’s harder to shake.

It doesn’t matter what your experiences are - being a human can be tough stuff! Just as we’re advised not to compare our highlight reels - we also should avoid comparing our “lowlight reels” so to speak. Our behind the scenes. Our challenges and obstacles. Our sucker punches life throws us.

We’re all on different journeys, with different psyches and pasts and mindsets and cumulative experiences. Maybe you’re a single parent eking out a life for yourself and your young. Maybe you’re a cancer patient fighting to keep a smile on your face and a resolve in your heart. Maybe you’re a teenager navigating your way in a world of bullies and heartbreaks. Or maybe you have a fantastic life by all general standards yet still feel empty.

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How beautiful is the relationship between the moon and the dark night sky. So contrasting, yet so incomplete without each other.

It’s all hard!! Try not to compare your “hard” and try not to feel guilty for feeling knocked down by life sometimes.

Just accept! Accept your emotions. The more you deny yourself feeling them, the stronger they become. As they say, what you resist, persists.

Life offers ebbs and flows. Peaks and valleys. No two experiences are the same - even within your own life! It depends on your current mental/emotional state.

Think about it - sometimes an issue that would normally knock you on your face barely fazes you, while other times, merely dropping a pen can elicit instant rage and a “F M L!!!!!!!!!!”

And the comparison can flow the other way too! Try not to diminish/discredit others’ experiences. Just because someone hasn’t confronted the same quantity/quality of challenges as you doesn’t mean their life is easier. Like I said, it depends on their current mental/emotional state, which depends on multiple factors: their upbringing, their relationships, their health, etc. Shoot, even their current spot on the hanger scale! We truly have NO idea what people are working with and feeling. So let’s all hug - or at least high five - one another - and show kindness and empathy.

It fascinates me how we all have inner worlds to which no one else is privy. Every time I pass someone on the street, I want to know their story: challenges they’ve overcome, accomplishments they’ve achieved, etc. WE ALL HAVE STORIES.

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I myself have experienced my own share of darkness. I’m definitely an empath, so when i feel, I friggin’ F E E L. And I take on other people’s energies/emotions. This sensitivity is both a benefit and a drawback. I appreciate it because it allows me to relate to and care for people on a whole other level (you fellow empaths can relate!), but it also gets me down and stresses me out. I feel the injustices of the world so acutely, particularly as they apply to others. Almost always, when I’m bumming/stressing, it’s on another’s behalf.

I’m still working on setting the boundaries for worrying about others, but as far as my personal darkness - my tried and true method for banishing the blues and maintaining a lasting zest for life - no matter my current situation - is facing it. Not denying it, or fleeing it, or resisting it. Leaning into it. Analyzing it. Letting others in. I’m a big advocate for therapy (and if you’ve tried therapy but didn’t connect with your therapist - keep looking! Vibing with your therapist is key).

And finally, be G R A T E F U L. Gratitude is deceptively powerful. So simple, so cliche…yet SO TRANSFORMATIVE. It truly makes all the difference. It may take significant effort initially to adopt an appreciative mindset. It’s a muscle you must strengthen, but the more you do it, the easier it gets.

My trick is whenever I encounter a sucky situation or draining emotion, I think of three things for which I’m thankful. It’s straight MAGIC. It kicks those good vibes into gear and lights you right up.

No, really. Try it.

I also think of three ways the situation could be worse - and THAT also is profoundly effective. Suddenly, you’re feeling pretty dang good about your current status.

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To deny your broken bits is doing yourself a great deal of injustice. It is the broken parts of you that grew you the most.

You’ve heard it before but that’s because it’s da TRUTH: Every challenge/obstacle/hardship you face is a b l e s s i n g. It’s an opportunity to grow and evolve. To get smarter, stronger, and better. To relate to others and inform your future experiences.

Acknowledge, accept, and honor your challenges. Be grateful for them, for they’re specifically what you need to evolve. Customized launch pads to strength, success, and wisdom.

xx,

-w-

*This post is not meant to discredit the use of psychotropics. Take control of your own health and please also consider consulting a psychiatrist/other mental health professional if necessary!











I ACCEPT YOU
Images by Whitney Richardson Photography  Model: Jennifer Servais

Images by Whitney Richardson Photography

Model: Jennifer Servais

Watch carefully, the magic that occurs when you give a person just enough comfort to be themselves.
— Atticus
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Let's start this post with an informal poll: Have you ever been irritated by someone? How about intimidated by someone? Angered by someone?

Call me presumptuous, but I'm going to go ahead and say we've all been there. Just hazarding a guess here.

If you are willing to look at another person’s behavior toward you as a reflection of the state of their relationship with themselves rather than a statement about your value as a person, then you will, over a period of time, cease to react at all.
— Yogi Bhajan

Feeling those feelings is part of the human experience. It's natural. It's what we do with them that matters. And I don't know about you, but I'd like to keep riding my high vibes. Don't get me wrong, those "negative" emotions - while not fun to feel -  really are absolutely necessary. Here's why: 

  • They balance us out
  • They enhance the "positive" feelings, making them that much sweeter
  • They reveal areas of potential growth and self-evolution
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Love people for who they are and not for who you want them to be. That’s where the disconnection starts.

However, we never want those feelings to control us. So how do we handle those feelings and still feel good, without crossing over into the land of denial, delusion, and insincerity? How do we reclaim our power from those power-leaching feelings when they arise? It can be really friggin' aggravating when an acquaintance keeps the conversation focused on them, or the guy in line behind you keeps hawking a loogie, or a family member keeps leaving a mess for you to clean up, or someone does something SO NOT COOL. Right?! And this isn't limited to feelings of ire: It can be unnerving to be intimated by someone. That's not fun to feel, either.

Remember, people are the least lovable when they need love the most.

So here's what you do: think "I accept you." Really mentally and emotionally commit to that sentiment. Accept that person, despite their annoying habits, or selfish ways. Connect to their humanity. Embrace them in all their flawed glory, just as you'd hope others would do for you. We all screw up. It's not a question of if, it's a question of how. We're still all diamonds, baby.

People do not need to be fixed, they need to be loved.
— Robert Tew

This doesn't mean you should become a pushover and toss all boundaries. If someone does something truly unacceptable, or at least something you feeling strongly enough about to address, then communicate this to the person tactfully. Do it early and do it kindly. However, ideally you'd do it from a place of acceptance and love, not fire and vexation. At the very least, it allows you peace of mind and freedom from those gnarly emotions.

Inner peace begins the moment you choose not to allow another person or event to control your emotions.
— Pema Chodron
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Go and love someone exactly as they are. And then watch how quickly they transform into the greatest, truest version of themselves. When one feels seen and appreciated in their own essence, one is instantly empowered.
— Wes Angelozzi

This tactic also works brilliantly in times when you're feeling insecure in someone's presence. Simply thinking, "I accept you" shifts the focus from your insecurity to your capacity. From passivity to activity. It allows you to reclaim your power by stripping the other person of their control over you [whether intentional on their end or not]. Moreover, it does so in a way that is loving and good-vibe inducing [told you, all 'bout dem good vibes]. "I accept you." So the next time you find yourself in the same room as Gigi Hadid [seriously, am I the only one this keeps happening to?], you can tell her how to stop being intimidated by you. Poor girl. But seriously, it's a useful tool for when you're interviewing for a job, or meeting new people, or delivering a speech. Try it!

xx,

-w-

Be the type of person who makes everyone they encounter feel perfectly okay with being exactly who they are.
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F O R G I V E N E S S
Images taken by Abbey Armstrong Photography  Images edited by Brooke Richardson Photography

Images taken by Abbey Armstrong Photography

Images edited by Brooke Richardson Photography

Forgiveness means giving up all hope for a better past.
— Lily Tomlin

Think about the last time you were physically hurt. You likely did something to address the pain, right? Popped an aspirin, threw on a rad Power Rangers Band-Aid (because everyone knows cool BandAids are more effective than regular, boring Band-Aids). Even if you try to avoid medicine, you probably took some measure to ease the discomfort (cold washcloth/rest/essential oils/etc). How long did you wait to do something about it?

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In her book You Are A Badass, author Jen Sincero brilliantly articulates the power of forgiveness. She highlights the distinction between how we typically treat physical pain as opposed to emotional pain. As she notes, we're typically very proactive and quick on the draw to banish our physical pain...even if this involves the initial discomfort of pouring stinging disinfectant on an open wound or powering through getting stitches. We're motivated to do it right away, because we're intent on our ultimate goal of R E L I E F.

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They caused the first wound, but you are causing the rest; this is what not forgiving does. They got it started, but you keep it going. Forgive and let it go, or it will eat you alive. You think they made you feel this way, but when you won’t forgive, you are the one inflicting the pain on yourself.
— Bryant McGill

However, when it comes to emotional pain, we're apparently down to see just how much torture we can endure, wallowing in our "guilt, shame, resentment, and self-loathing, sometimes for entire lifetimes." Ring any bells?

Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.
— Buddha

We prolong our misery by clinging to our ill feelings. We do this by badmouthing our boss/fantasizing about telling our overbearing mother-in-law where to stick it/pondering the many reasons our enemies are wrong and the many reasons we're right. As Sincero points out, we relive our worst moments over and over and over instead of letting them go. Doing so, we pick at the emotional scabs, thereby refusing healing and preventing the pain from subsiding. 

Reminder: Forgiveness is a process. A choice you have to make over and over, until you’re free from the negative feelings.

I'm sure this isn't the first time you've heard this. We all know we should release our resentments and let that shiz go. It's one thing to know it - it's another to do it. And I can completely relate. I'm definitely not immune to the self-inflicted pain by clinging to past wrongs others have done me, particularly the big whammies. Through effort and mindfulness it's become much easier, but I still have my moments. Rarely do the negative feelings immediately dissolve upon deciding to forgive. They can linger, sometimes re-surfacing after you thought you'd fully released them. Depending on the severity of the wrongdoing, forgiveness is usually a process. A decision you have to make repeatedly. Be patient with yourself and know it's okay if you occasionally get sucked back into the angry/hurt vortex - all that matters is that you find your way back out. 

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When someone does something wrong, don’t forget all the things they did right.

We all have our own stories of people royally screwing us over. It's life. We've (unintentionally or otherwise) done wrong by others. Here's what I remind myself to make the process easier:

  • Being a human is hard sometimes, and a little grace toward someone goes a long way. Hurt people hurt people.
  • I'm so grateful for the forgiveness others have extended to me. Who am I to withhold it from others?
  • it's friggin' EXHAUSTING to hang onto hurt/anger/resentment. 
  • Empathy, understanding, and compassion dissolve anger/guilt/resentment. I always try to understand why the person did what they did - every time, I'm able to trace it to fear/insecurity/hurt the other person is feeling. This immediately reminds me of our collective humanity, and effectively softens my heart toward them. This doesn't mean you condone their actions, but it allows you to empathize, accept the situation, and move onnnn.
  • People fight battles we know nothing about.
  • Jumping to conclusions and automatically assuming ill intent often proves wrong. Allowing the person the benefit of the doubt is usually the best tactic. If possible, communicate with the other person to express your concern and provide them with a chance to explain themselves. 
  • It's often not about you. Step back and be honest with yourself: Are you allowing your insecurities to color your judgment? 

IMPORTANT NOTE: This also applies to self-forgiveness!! Be kind to yourself! Forgive yourself for your own indiscretions and slip ups, and be patient with yourself as you work to forgive others. 

xx,

-w-

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CHOOSE HAPPY
It A L L begins and ends in your mind. Your thoughts, your motivations, your concerns. Your goals and stressors. Your world. Your e n t i r e reality. Your mind serves as that brief disconnect from what happened - and what you perceived happened. From what your friend said to what you perceived your friend said. To what you're seeing, to what you perceive you're seeing. Essentially, you filter your world through your mind. If your mind, or filter, is cloudy and troubled, your perceived "reality" will be cloudy and troubled. Things will seem complicated/hard/gloomy. If your mind is happy and bright, so will your reality be. If your mind is calm and clear, your reality will be so as well.    Your reality reflects the state of your mind. Do you see   just how powerful   your mind truly is?  But you know this, right?  Next question: Do you R E A L L Y know this? Know it enough to prioritize your mind health? To do right by you and practice self-care, through meditation/yoga/personal development books/exercise/delicious bubble baths? I mean, think about it for a minute. No really. We have the power to make our lives pretty dang fantastic. It's as if a cute little fairy tapped you on the head with a sparkly wand, granting you the gift of perfect hair days every day for the rest of your life, and you replied, "Eh, I like bad hair days. They build character." In the words of my favorite meme, "Y tho?" Whyyyy would you do that? Why would you waste your power? I don't know about you, but i want to be happy.  If you're thinking, "Well, yeah, it seems like a great theory at all, but it's incredibly tough to stay zen when life throws you curveballs, like a job loss/divorce/sickness/etc. Or you just feel down and out for no reason. Or your significant other is working your last nerve. Here are some important aspects to remember:        1. Negative emotions are inevitable. Accept this, acknowledge and honor them as they arise, and do your best to let those bad boys go. You have the power to override negative motions by choosing what you want to feel. As Brendon Burchard points out in his new (and excellent!) book, High Performance Habits, emotions are instinctive and happen mostly without our conscious will; we just suddenly feel the emotion because our brain interpreted something happening and attached a meaning and emotion to it, mostly based on past experience.   But we don't have to be slaves to our emotions - we can work around them! Let's say you have to deliver a speech and you feel fearful and anxious. Re-frame them in a positive light: Those emotions are simply reminding you to be alert, speak up, and focus on how you can serve your audience  and effectively deliver your message.  2.  It's not about not feeling/having negative emotions. It's about how quickly you can get back to good. In a later post, we will discuss some tips.              3.   It's a muscle you have to strengthen. It may seem daunting at first, but the more you do it, the easier and more rewarding it is. A little self- discipline up front will carry you a long way. it's a worthy initial investment that will pay off exponentially.   So let's choose happiness. Say yes to happiness.  xx,  -w-      

It A L L begins and ends in your mind. Your thoughts, your motivations, your concerns. Your goals and stressors. Your world. Your e n t i r e reality. Your mind serves as that brief disconnect from what happened - and what you perceived happened. From what your friend said to what you perceived your friend said. To what you're seeing, to what you perceive you're seeing. Essentially, you filter your world through your mind. If your mind, or filter, is cloudy and troubled, your perceived "reality" will be cloudy and troubled. Things will seem complicated/hard/gloomy. If your mind is happy and bright, so will your reality be. If your mind is calm and clear, your reality will be so as well.  

Your reality reflects the state of your mind. Do you see just how powerful your mind truly is?

But you know this, right?  Next question: Do you R E A L L Y know this? Know it enough to prioritize your mind health? To do right by you and practice self-care, through meditation/yoga/personal development books/exercise/delicious bubble baths? I mean, think about it for a minute. No really. We have the power to make our lives pretty dang fantastic. It's as if a cute little fairy tapped you on the head with a sparkly wand, granting you the gift of perfect hair days every day for the rest of your life, and you replied, "Eh, I like bad hair days. They build character." In the words of my favorite meme, "Y tho?" Whyyyy would you do that? Why would you waste your power? I don't know about you, but i want to be happy.

If you're thinking, "Well, yeah, it seems like a great theory at all, but it's incredibly tough to stay zen when life throws you curveballs, like a job loss/divorce/sickness/etc. Or you just feel down and out for no reason. Or your significant other is working your last nerve. Here are some important aspects to remember:

 

 

1. Negative emotions are inevitable. Accept this, acknowledge and honor them as they arise, and do your best to let those bad boys go. You have the power to override negative motions by choosing what you want to feel. As Brendon Burchard points out in his new (and excellent!) book, High Performance Habits, emotions are instinctive and happen mostly without our conscious will; we just suddenly feel the emotion because our brain interpreted something happening and attached a meaning and emotion to it, mostly based on past experience. 

But we don't have to be slaves to our emotions - we can work around them! Let's say you have to deliver a speech and you feel fearful and anxious. Re-frame them in a positive light: Those emotions are simply reminding you to be alert, speak up, and focus on how you can serve your audience  and effectively deliver your message.

2.  It's not about not feeling/having negative emotions. It's about how quickly you can get back to good. In a later post, we will discuss some tips.            

3.   It's a muscle you have to strengthen. It may seem daunting at first, but the more you do it, the easier and more rewarding it is. A little self- discipline up front will carry you a long way. it's a worthy initial investment that will pay off exponentially. 

So let's choose happiness. Say yes to happiness.

xx,

-w-

 

 

The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts
— Marcus Aurelius
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photos by brooke richardson photography

photos by brooke richardson photography