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Posts tagged self evolution
C U R I O U S
Images by Brooke Richardson Photography

Images by Brooke Richardson Photography


The future belongs to the curious. The ones who are not afraid to try it, explore it, poke at it, question it, and turn it inside out.

Curiosity is a superpower.


More than intelligence or persistence or connections, curiosity has allowed me to live the life I wanted.
— Brian Grazer
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It opens doors, keeps you engaged, keeps you learning, keeps you growing, keeps you evolving…

I personally have an INSATIABLE curiosity. The more I learn, the more I want to learn. And the more I know, the more I realize I don’t know! (It’s a total kick in the pants)


Curiosity about life in all of its aspects, I think, is still the secret of great creative people.
— Leo Burnett

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Curiosity manifests in multiple ways: reading, asking, exploring, experimenting.

I read basically anything I can get my hands on, usually nonfiction (though fiction can be just as insightful!). The topics I read about range from international relations to economics to finance to psychology to history to spiritual enlightenment to personal development to health/fitness to government/politics to leadership to business to…yeah, you get the idea. The more you do it, the more fun it becomes - you start making connections not only in your current reading, but in other areas: past readings, past experiences, current experiences, current situations.

The world starts to come together and make more sense (note I said more sense, not complete sense! There will always be mysteries and unknowns - part of the ride, my friend).

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Wonder is the beginning of wisdom.
— Socrates

Not only do you start to see how things fit together, but you are better equipped to make wiser decisions: with your money, your career, your personal life. Knowledge is P O W E R, baby.

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And if reading isn’t enjoyable/feasible for you, then try podcasts and audiobooks! After you’re all caught up on The Nativist Podcast (shameless plug!), there are countless fantastic and informational podcasts out there in practically every genre/format/vibe imaginable.


I have no special talents. I am just passionately curious.
— Albert Einstein

Need more motivation to become more curious?

In her book Dare to Lead on page 171, Brené Brown notes researchers are finding evidence that curiosity is correlated with creativity, intelligence, improved learning and memory, and problem-solving. A study published in the October 22, 2014 issue of the journal Neuron suggests the brain’s chemistry changes when we become curious, helping us better learn and retain information. H O L L A!

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Curiosity is one of the permanent and certain characteristics of a vigorous intellect.
— Samuel Johnson

My curiosity also manifests in the questions I’m always throwing at people. I want to know DETAILS: background, wants, fears, ambitions, experiences, insights, philosophies, jobs, worldviews. I’m endlessly fascinated by people, social dynamics, psychology, motivations, and just LIFE in general.

Interestingly enough, I’m NOT a pryer - I respect boundaries and privacy, and play off the information the person provides me. I stay on the surface unless I either confirm willingness from the person or I sense their transparency.

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Be curious, not judgmental.

And not only is curiosity better for you, it’s better for EVERYONE. It opens your mind and helps you co-exist more peacefully. Ignorance breeds fear and contempt. Illumination and knowledge punches fear and contempt in the face. We fear what we don’t know, whether it’s the stock market or a religion certain politicians like to tell us promotes terrorism.


Freethinkers are those who are willing to use their minds without prejudice and without fearing to understand things that clash with their own customs, privileges, or beliefs. This state of mind is not common but it is essential for right thinking.
— Leo Tolstoy
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It’s OUR responsibility to educate ourselves. To not rely on hearsay and rumors and news pundits. That’s when it gets dangerous (Nazi Germany, anyone?!). It’s on us to get out and explore and keep an open and curious mind.

Try not to just automatically accept information you receive, even if from an expert/trusted source. Identify possible biases/knowledge gaps; try to separate the facts from the underlying agenda. Let’s think for ourselves. Interact with foreign cultures, foreign ideas, foreign methods - so we can assess them ourselves and reach our own conclusions. It’s our civic duty, our personal duty, our moral duty.

Closed-mindedness is the enemy. Not only does it start wars and cultivate hate crimes, it fuels hatred and just makes life friggin’ MISERABLE for everyone. Everyyyyone. Not just the hated - those low vibing haters ain’t happy, either. Plus, it just limits everyone’s lives! It stunts innovation, rejects bliss, prevents growth. No bueno.

In his book Tribes, Seth Godin distinguishes between fundamentalism and curiosity.

  • Fundamentalist: considers whether a concept is acceptable to their worldview before exploring it.

  • Curious person: explores first and then either accepts or rejects the new idea.








This applies not only to religion, but life in general. Which are you? IMPORTANT QUESTION: Do you embrace the tension between your current framework and a new idea, or do you filter for what fits your current outlook?

As Godin states, curiosity has nothing to do with income, education, or organized religion. It has to do with a desire to try, a desire to push boundaries.

As I see it, curiosity is a weapon against mediocrity. It keeps us striving and evolving and innovating and ENGAGING IN LIFE. It helps us maximize our potential. Unlike stress and pressure which can be destructive and counter-productive, curiosity is a positive but powerful force propelling us forward. It illuminates the dark, reveals opportunities, generates ideas, yields solutions, smashes barriers, obliterates hatred, and nurtures self awareness.


Curiosity will conquer fear even more than bravery will.
— James Stephens
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Replace fear of the unknown with curiosity.

When we look at life through a lens of curiosity, the world automatically feels safer, better, cooler. It feels more interesting, more fun, more awe-inspiring. It feels less threatening, less dangerous, less baffling, less negative.


There are those much more rare people who never lose their curiosity, their almost childlike wonder at the world; those people who continue to learn and to grow intellectually until the day they die. And these usually are the people who make contributions, who leave some part of the world a little better off than it was before they entered it.
— William Herbert Sheldon

The mundane suddenly becomes A W E S O M E. Curiosity has a way of reinvigorating your life. I mean, think about it: We live in an incredible world, with all of its intricacies and connections and features: in nature, in societies, in EVERYTHING. Once you start paying attention and WONDERING - the world becomes and infinite wonderland.

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Don’t think about why you question, simply don’t stop questioning. Don’t worry about what you can’t answer, and don’t try to explain what you can’t know. Curiosity is its own reason, aren’t you in awe when you contemplate the mysteries of eternity, of life of the marvelous structure behind reality?

And this is the miracle of the human mind - to use its constructions, concepts, and formulas as tools to explain what man sees, feels and touches. Try to comprehend a little more each day. Have holy curiosity.
— Albert Einstein
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That’s one of the reasons I absolutely love kids: they’re constantly asking why, trying to make sense of the world (you parents constantly bombarded with questions may find them less charming!). Why do some people say yes when they mean no? Why do we do what we do and say what we say? Why is the sky blue and why is steel strong and why can’t we just write checks to pay for everything?

Bottom line: Curiosity rules. Don’t think so?

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xx,

-w-

PERSONAL * E V O L U T I O N
Images by Brooke Richardson Photography

Images by Brooke Richardson Photography

You are being presented with a choice: evolve or remain. If you choose to remain unchanged, you will be presented with the same challenges, the same routine, the same storms, the same situations, until you learn from them, until you love yourself enough to say “no more” until you choose change.
If you choose to evolve, you will connect with the strength within you, you will explore what lies outside the comfort zone, you will awaken to love, you will become, you will be. You have everything you need. Choose to evolve. Choose love.
— Creig Crippen

A friend asked me the other day if I've always been the way I am. (generally speaking). My response was no, I haven't been. Sure, I've always been independent and driven and disciplined. I've always been creative, I've always loved reading, and I've always adored fashion.

But I've definitely evolved. 

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Though I've always had a fire and open mind, I've learned to soften one and strengthen the other. (You should've met me when I was a walking paradox of a kid: extremely polite and sweet, yet a total and complete spitfire!) I learned to tame the fire (not extinguish - gotta have some!!!) but not be so hard on myself and others. I polished the rough edges, so to speak.

I learned to channel that fire more constructively. I learned to allow myself and others more grace, and realized all you can do is your best. In the words of the legendary Tony Horton, "Do your best and forget the rest." I learned to catch my breath every once in awhile, to celebrate victories and high five myself and others. 

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A key element to lasting happiness and success is our capacity to evolve. To not only recognize our areas for growth, but to act on them. It's not enough to just acknowledge where you could use some work. You must actually step up and do something about it. It's seductively easy to just cop out by saying, "That's just the way I am." Don't confuse self indulgence with self acceptance. You're doing yourself - and others - a disservice by robbing the world of your potential. Not only that, you're preventing your level-up and all the bliss and amplified success that brings!

To clarify: You should absolutely accept yourself where you are. You must love - not hate - yourself to improvement and happiness. It's much easier and more enduring and effective this way, TRUST ME. 

But please don't just fall back on a mistaken "self acceptance" crutch. "I have a bad temper - that's just the way I am." "I'm a jealous person because of XYZ." "I lash out when I'm stressed." "I'm pessimistic - I've always been that way." First of all, snaps for acknowledging that. Second of all...whatchu gonna do about it??? In the nicest way possible, so what?! Why are you not doing something about it? What's keeping you from working on it? It's not about the hand you're dealt (we all have crappy cards in our stack - some more than others) it's how you play it.

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As I discussed in an earlier post, we all have shadow sides. All of us have aspects about ourselves we and others may find less than desirable. What sets the truly happy and successful people apart from the unhappy and struggling people is simply the shadow work. Being willing and able to be honest with yourself and not let yourself off the hook. Being gentle and honest with yourself is a fantastic start, but it doesn't stop there. Why not take yourself as far as you can go?!

One of the attributes I like most about myself is my inclination to not only recognize my flaws, but to strive to eliminate/strengthen them. Very rarely do I have bad days or lasting bad moods, and I attribute this to my commitment to my personal evolution. I dig deeply to uncover why I have the struggles I do. I determine cause and effect, and reflect on ways I can mitigate/improve/eliminate these struggles.

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In every moment ask yourself: ‘What is the lesson being offered to me?’

In the past, I was less than nice to myself during this process. My inner voice could be pretty scathing. What helped me transform it into an enjoyable (no, really!) process was to re-frame it! I simply accepted I'm a perpetual work in progress, so I might as well have fun on the ride. I praise my commitment to be my best self, and express gratitude for opportunities (disguised as frustrations/"failures"/annoyances) which highlight areas needing attention and allow me to become better. It's not always fun - there are discouraging moments, sure - but overall, knowing that I've come a long way excites, reassures, and invigorates me. I get pumped knowing my efforts are helping me become even better, happier, and more successful. They're allowing me to become my best me. 

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Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.
— [Possibly] Plato

This doesn't mean I totally condemn the Whitney of the past. I know she was doing her best with what she had. We all have to start somewhere, and we don't all have the same struggles. What's easy for you may challenge me, and vice versa, so don't get all judgy with yourself or others. All that matters is you're moving forward. 

Happy evolving!

xx,

-w-

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I N T O the S H A D O W S
Images by Whitney Richardson Photography  Modeled by Nicole Spinnler  Assisted by Cari Spinnler

Images by Whitney Richardson Photography

Modeled by Nicole Spinnler

Assisted by Cari Spinnler

How can I be substantial if I do not cast a shadow? I must have a dark side also if I am to be whole.
— Carl Jung

 

Where there is lightness, there is darkness. Yin and yang. The blazing sun casts a deep shadow. Put simply, it is N A T U R A L. Therefore, it is natural for even the lightest souls to also contain shades of darkness. It is within every single one of us. We all have a shadow. 

When it becomes problematic is when we deny this shadow. We pretend it's not there, or even actively reject it. Why is this problematic? The shadow doesn't easily take a hint, then take a hike. No, it lingers. It lingers and it gets its due by seeping into our thoughts, our actions, and our words, whether we're aware of it or not. Ultimately, it blocks true happiness, authenticity, and evolution. 

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So what is the shadow? The shadow is a concept discovered by the Swiss psychologist Carl Jung. The shadow is the “dark side” of our personality because it consists mainly of primitive, negative human emotions and impulses like rage, envy, greed, selfishness, desire, and the desire for power. 

Until we have met the monsters in ourselves, we will keep trying to slay them in the outer world. For all darkness in the world stems from darkness in the heart. And it is there we must do our work.
— Marianne Willamson

The personal shadow is the disowned self. This shadow self represents the parts of us we no longer claim to be our own, including inherent positive qualities.

As I mentioned, these unexamined or disowned parts of our personality don’t go anywhere. As if. Although we deny them in our attempt to cast them out, we don’t eliminate them. They're stillll there.

We repress them; they are part of our unconscious. Put simply, the unconscious is everything of which we are not conscious. 

These emotions are part of our shared humanity. We're all in this together. But as we grow up, something happens.

Traits associated with “being good” are accepted, while others associated with “being bad” are rejected. We all have basic human needs. These needs include physiological needs, safety and security needs, and needs for belonging. These needs are biological and instinctual.

As humans, we are motivated by our needs. So when we perceive an aspect of ourselves as threatening one of our needs (typically the needs for safety, love, and belonging) we shove those aspects into the shadows. We pick up cues from our environment, so if we experience/witness a trait being condemned by others (especially our caretakers), we repress and deny, baby. Repress and deny.

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I mean, think about it. If you go deep and consider this from an evolutionary standpoint, our very safety and existence depends on our caretakers' (parents - biological or otherwise) acceptance and approval. We ain't tryna repel them, leaving us to fend for ourselves. We need them to feed and protect us. And even socially speaking - generally, to be "successful" (personally and professionally) and happy and fulfilled in life, we need social connection. So we will do our damndest to hide any trait we've perceived as socially unacceptable. We want to be liked and accepted by our friends/colleagues/bosses.

Let’s say you realize your need to take better care of yourself (especially you moms and dads!). You create a self-care routine and are feeling psyched about it.

A few days in, though, you start receiving blowback from the people in your life. Maybe your kids are banging on the door while you're working out/meditating, or your boss guilt trips you when you ask to leave work early (or on time!).

Your doubts and fears creep in about this whole self-care thing. You worry you are being regarded as "selfish" and decide to bail on the self care. Before you know it, you’ve taken yourself off your priority list and might even secretly take pride in your selflessness. That’s what “good” people do, after all. Right?

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In your quest to be good (likable, lovable, worthy, enough), your ability to focus on yourself has been pushed into the shadows.

In the above example, the shadow is the desire (or need) for self-care. But, somewhere along the way, you were convinced that focusing on your own needs was wrong or bad (aka selfish) so you rejected those desires by denying their existence. You designed your life so it would always appear you were doing “right” by others.

Our egos use this mechanism to defend itself—to defend how it perceives itself. Our false identities of being “good” keep us from connecting to our shadow, which then keeps us from freedom and true acceptance (internal and external).

All we deny in ourselves—whatever we perceive as inferior, evil, or unacceptable—become part of the shadow. Anything incompatible with our chosen conscious attitude about ourselves moves to this dark side.

Trouble pops up when we fail to see it. 

Get this: The shadow can operate on its own without our full awareness. It’s as if our conscious self goes on autopilot while the unconscious takes the wheel. Remaining unaware of the shadow harms our relationships with our spouses, family, and friends. It will also impact our professional relationships, as well as our leadership abilities.

When we deny ourselves a safe outlet to express our dark side - or refuse to even acknowledge its existence - it builds up and becomes a powerful force capable of destroying our life as well as the lives of those around us.
— Debbie Ford

And those parts of ourselves we slide out of view? We then see them in others.

Whatever qualities we deny in ourselves, we see in others.

In psychology, this is called projection. We project onto others anything we conceal within us.

If you hate a person, you hate something in him that is part of yourself. What isn’t part of ourselves doesn’t disturb us.
— Hermann Hesse

For example: Let's say you're pissed at someone for selfishly taking two cookies instead of one, or for interrupting you. This doesn't mean those actions aren't rude. It just means deep down, you recognize those in your shadow self. It should be noted we usually aren't aware of these projections (hopefully you will be after reading this).

These projections distort reality, creating a solid boundary between how we view ourselves and how we behave in reality. 

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Your willingness to look at your darkness is what empowers you to change.

This is something I'm constantly working on. And you know what? It's not a process from which one ever fully graduates. Sure, it can become easier and more rewarding and enlightening, depending on how you frame it. I've trained myself to appreciate and be grateful for glimpses of my shadow; I now view it as an opportunity to progress and improve myself. But as I indicated with the yin and yang: it's the natural balance of things. Lightness and darkness go hand in hand. It's natural. That darkness has a purpose. Don't let it control you. Accept yourself and accept others. View it with love. Own your darkness and liberate yourself! That will help your light shine even BRIGHTER. 

xx,

-w-

Sometimes someone isn’t ready to see the bright side. Sometimes they need to sit with the shadow first. So be a friend and sit with them. Make the darkness beautiful.
— Victoria Erickson.
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