Mental health, Spirituality

Further understanding and integration of my shadow self, getting comfortable with discomfort

When I first started this spiritual journey into healing my mental health and searching for just who I am there were two concepts that honestly terrified me. Those two things were the idea of healing my inner child and meeting my shadow self. The latter being the most intriguing yet completely unacceptable to me way back then. November of 2011 was an extremely dark period of my life yet it also marks an important time in my life because I was given the gift of desperation. Once I hit my bottom the only way to go was up and through. Understand that clearly dear readers, the only way to healing is walking through the pain. There are no quick fixes, magic pills that numb your feelings forever because those feelings are sensations in your body that send your brain important messages of what your body needs.

Our society wants to ignore feelings, seeing them as a weakness not a strength. Swallow or stuff them in order to be strong when in essence it is completely the opposite that grows one’s mental strength. This past weekend’s full moon was a very powerful reminder for me to actively release all that no longer serves me. It also brought up some more darker truths, that being the existence of my shadow self. But what is shadow self?

When we are born we don’t know anything about how our body works and what it needs. As our knowledge about theworld around us grows our personality is forming. Based upon what is socially acceptable, some aspects of ourselves are repressed and denied because they are seen as negative. It is the subconscious part that our egos don’t want to identify with, everything of which is unconscious. Basically the unknown. In order to truly become enlightened one must explore, accept and integrate this side of ourselves to achieve true balance and a sense of wholeness. Again, there is no way around this, one must walk through. There are many ways that we can learn more about this mysterious side of ourselves but my favorite is journaling. The kind of writing that is free flowing, not thought out, in order to access those feelings we deem as ugly, the ones we don’t want to admit to having. We all have parts of ourselves that we deny because we naturally seek love and acceptance. Our egos tell us loads of lies to protect ourselves from rejection, abandonment and pain. What’s amazing is that this other side of ourselves is actually incredibly powerful and necessary to our evolement, by becoming more self aware we grow to accept others too. We can identify and show empathy toward others when we see these sides of their personalities emerge. We become less judgemental of first ourselves, then of others. We can forgive more easily and practice humility. When I consciously made the decision to meet my shadow self my ego was screaming at me to stop, close that door and bolt it forever. Throw away the imaginary key that I had created in childhood. The energy that I have now restored within myself by ceasing to repress this side is so empowering. All that exhaustively wasted energy was my egos attempt to keep my true spirit covered. I thought I was protecting myself and staying safe. The exact opposite is true as I was a prisoner of my own mind. Stuck really, feeling as though I was fighting my own brain. I repeated this pattern for a couple years. Put my self healing on a shelf, not ready to deal with it.

The same patterns emerged around facing my inner child. That wounded little girl that was conditoned to betray herself and her needs in oorder to have the acceptance of others. Over time that progamming made me feel unworthy of love and attention cementing within me that I was unimportant. That is where real suffering begins and lies. I had ignored my childhood pain for long enough because these mixed up messages were creating chaos within my relationships. I was constantly being triggered into a trauma response morphing me into this extremely hypervigilant, nervous and fearful individual who had an over abundance of anxiety.

By following me and reading this blog of mine, you should be able to tell by now that I have made a lot of progress in investigating, facing and accepting both my shadow self and healing my inner child. I believe it is a lifelong conscious decision and isn’t something that happens overnight. I am actively reparenting myself by tending to that part of my wounded self. It demands my patience, requires self compassion and asks for me to allow space for showing myself grace. This concept is especially challenging for me because I want to deny myself, blame myself and hurt myself when I feel certain of my needs aren’t being met. It is up to me and only me to fulfill these needs and tell myself new stories, creating a new tape to play in my mind when I am triggered.

Monday morning I awoke feeling so powerful and confident but by that evening I found myself triggered, acting out and all those parts of my shadow self were alive and well in my behavior. I created chaos within the partnership with my fiance because I was relying too heavily on him to mke everything better. He was so confused and alarmed by my words and actions. In hindsight he had every right to question the woman in front of him. In the past I would deny any of this was even happening because I wasn’t ready to acknowledge the darkness within me and the pain inside me that had been laying dormant for years. That is the old Maria, now I am choosing to heal by accepting this new path. I spent yesterday giving myself permission to show myself some love. I practiced self care, rested my overworked body and mind by spending some extra time practicing meditation. Inner peace is only achieved when I can slow down my thoughts, observe them without judgement and become mindful of my breath.This is where the power of choice comes in. Making the conscious decision to understand mysef more fully AND accept whatever comes up is like a new superpower.

Making friends with the darkest of my emotions has sparked a tremendous surge in my creativity. Realizing my shadow self is a reflection of my power, honesty and passion. I can laugh at myself with ease and rerelinquish the perfectionist in me that tells me to hate myself when I make a mistake. I can take myself less seriously. I use my meditation practice to focus on self compassion when I feel like I want to start beating myself up again. Squashing old patterns and forming new pathways takes mental, emotional and spiritual awareness. The mental strength and courage to be my best and most whole self. It’s like meeting myself for the 1st time. It’s the most gratifying and profoundly powerful experience to date on my self healing journey.

Sending love, compassion and understanding to al the other self healers out there, we got this💪🙏✌💖

Mental health, Spirituality

Choosing love while I remain true to myself

It’s been an amazing six months of personal growth and accomplishments dear readers. I recently posted a poem of mine on my IG profile under the handle @emotionalmusings (I have reposted it here) that revealed a personal truth. I have purposely held myself back from success for the past 40 years. Why you may be wondering? For fear of failure, for fear of not being good enough and finally because I didn’t believe in myself. It has been a long and winding road for me. One that required lots of twists, turns and quiet self reflection. Ultimately it took losing everything, my sanity, my personal safety and my home for me to discover that in the end love for myself is the only superpower that I needed. Something that was inside me all along, I just wasn’t accessing it!

If someone had told me that being involved in an extremely difficult domestic violence relationship eight years ago would be one of the catalysts for my evolution, I would of never believed them. Getting punched in the face is quite jarring yet it showed me over time that I wasn’t as worthless as I believed myself to be. There are no magic pills, absolute directives or a master plan to figure out one’s purpose here on the journey. I’m among one of the people in life who had to learn these important things the hard way. Perhaps you can relate. Please put your own story in the comments below!

Perhaps it’s my hard headed Calabrese roots, my fierce independent nature or my insatiable curiosity for why things are the way they are that has led me down a more difficult path than most. A dear friend of mine recently stated to me that I always seem to have so much on my plate. That is definitely true. Juggling lots of “life balls” is all that I know and something I have had loads of practice with since I was quite young.

I follow my heart always and air on my emotional side most often over my intellectual understanding of any given situation. One may say I through caution to the wind. I pride myself on leading with my human foot when faced with adversity or confrontation. I love that about myself and the more I choose to follow my heart, the more confident and content I become. It has taken years to gain this inner peace and now that I have discovered it I desire more of it!

The self loathing, self doubt, feelings of inferiority, and uselessness seem light years away now. I have survived some dark years. I firmly believe that without those years I wouldn’t have found my path of enlightenment. I give thanks for that time, I don’t regret it. Important life lessons and poor life choices resulted in some truly brighter days.

I write and post a lot about the need for more of us to show empathy to one another. In my opinion we must become love warriors against hate and evil doers. It’s those people among us that are crying out, in a more negative way, for love and acceptance. Humanity’s fate is under attack. It’s ugly and it evokes fear. I feel it is the root cause for people to in turn act in an ugly way towards each other. Bottom line…..ugliness, fear and hate needs to be challenged. The only recipe for change is love. Love is the only answer my friends.

Love hard, whole heartedly and often. Hate is easy. It takes more courage and faith to choose love over hate. In a real and genuine way, I challenge you to try a little more love in your life. Especially with complete strangers. A bit more empathy will open your heart to more understanding of not only that stranger but for yourself.

Trust me. I am living proof. I have survived, now I am striving. This is what winning looks like😁

current events, Spirituality

Planting seeds of empathy and love

I’m not a “green thumb” by any definition despite the fact that my mother is a wonderful gardner. She and my father loved spending weekends in our lush backyard pruning, planting and cleaning our grounds at the house I grew up in. In this post I want to focus on a different kind of planting and that is in cultivating a more loving society.

In light of the extreme terrorist attack recently at Christchurch in New Zealand, I myself am searching for an answer as to why such violence exists in the world. For centuries we humans have fought over, waged wars even over the concept of beliefs. I recently read an article in The Washington Post, “In the United States, right-wing violence is on the rise” published on November 25, 2018 that discussed the rise of violence from right-wing white supremacists.

Over the past decade, attackers motivated by right-wing political ideologies have committed dozens of shootings, bombings and other acts of violence, far more than any other category of domestic extremist, according to a Washington Post analysis of data on global terrorism.

This violence has been on a steady rise since President Obama but has surged while Trump has been in office. I don’t want this post to become too politically charged however the facts are the facts. People in power do have a lot of influence over our society.

Intellectually I understand that I can only control and manifest change within myself. As an energy reader, healer and communicator, I firmly believe in the laws of attraction. What you put out into this world always comes back to you. Therefore, I choose to love no matter what. Good, bad or indifferent….the one answer is always rooted in love.

I believe our God, however one may choose to define it, intended our purpose here on Earth is to show and practice love with our fellow man. This involves active tolerance and acceptance in the face of adversity and misunderstanding. We don’t have to agree with everybody but we should allow for the differences that exist among each other. I believe if somebody believes in God and then acts in a completely contradictory way, that person has some reckoning to do. God is love. Period.

When my boys were little I used to tell them that they didn’t have to like or be friends with everybody but they must love everybody. It requires courage to love, a vulnerability to allow ourselves to feel for another. Discovering and nurturing our connections is what life is all about. Celebrating what we can relate to and have in common with one another is far more beneficial than what divides us and makes us different. Differences should be celebrated and accepted because uniqueness is what makes each of us an individual. We are a stronger force together than when we are divided into smaller groups.

Today and everyday, I choose to plant the seeds of love, tolerance and acceptance. I choose to stand up and chastise wrongdoings and hate filled violence. Each one of us has to search our souls and decide what we believe is right and what is wrong.

Inclusivity and acceptance must be in the forefront for the future of our society to survive. It is not us vs. them. There is no “invasion ” of any country by immigrants. Rising violence is driving huge numbers of people from their homes to seek asylum in a different place. What if that was your relative or friend? Would you be so quick to chastise that person?

I encourage you dear reader to be a seed planter of love and empathy. Strike up a conversation with a stranger. We must keep the lines of communication open in order to learn from one another. Evolve or die. Learn and grow or wither away. Let’s destroy ignorance by growing more love. The urgency is now and can’t be put off until tomorrow.

Mental health, Spirituality

Keeping love alive

Does anybody have a “love hangover” today, the day after Valentine’s Day? I must admit to feeling some aftershocks from being shown so much love yesterday. From the moment I opened my eyes until the moments before I closed them, love was surrounding me and encompassing me in its warmth and glory. Yesterday was a magical day for giving and receiving love from my friends, family and even my customers at the store. Of course my fiance stepped up his game too by making me feel special, very appreciated and of course loved yesterday as we celebrated Valentine’s Day together. All in all I had awesome day!

I know I have written this before in previous blog posts but I must emphasize it again here. My mission in life is to always spread love and kindness to all I encounter along this journey called life. Especially those who need it the most, the downtrodden, forgotten amongst our society. Those who are homeless are a good example of this. I observe those folks getting treated and judged so poorly on a daily basis, it breaks my heart.

I have a confession to make here. About two years ago, my fiance and I found ourselves without a secure living situation. We were homeless for about three months while we lived in our car. We showered at our local YMCA, ate at food pantries and sometimes slept overnight on the beach. It wasn’t easy and the only positive part of it is that at least we were together. I can’t imagine having to bear that time alone on the streets by myself. Some days were better than others. Some days I was so terribly sad and depressed not knowing where we were going to end up and how we were going to rise out of the terrible spot we felt stuck in. Our cell service was cut off too so we became experts at finding and utilizing free WiFi in order to stay in touch with our loved ones.

I have seen life from different angles and perspectives. My experiences have shaped me into the woman I am today. I take nothing for granted and try to be as grateful for everything I have today as I possibly can be on a daily basis. Anything can happen at anytime that can shift one’s world, turning everything upside down. Believe me dear readers, I am living proof of it!

I like to tell others when describing my life that I have lived a few different lives during my lifetime so far these 41 years. My family owned a car dealership while I was growing up and we enjoyed an upper middle class lifestyle. Then while I was married, my ex-husband was a hardworking blue collar type of guy who usually worked more than one job which afforded me the ability to be a stay at home mother for ten years while my boys were little. Then I went through my divorce and found myself working three jobs to try and survive. As I began having nervous breakdowns that required me to be hospitalized so many times I found myself homeless for the 1st time. I couldn’t afford my rental house because I had lost all of my jobs one by one so I was offered a friend’s couch to sleep on. That experience was extremely humbling, complicated and difficult.

It took me years to rebuild my life after going through so much loss. I have a keen awareness of how much grief and loss can affect a person’s outlook in life. I was basically just trying to survive everyday, I was definitely not thriving. It has taken years of intensive treatment, therapy, healing and rivers of tears to get me to where I am today.

There is not one day that goes by that I don’t pause, allow myself some quiet time to sit and reflect on my past. I whisper Thank you God for keeping me going forward, pushing me even a millimeter more when I wanted to give up. For allowing some wonderful people to come into my life and inspire me to want to do better. For guiding me through the darkness until I could see just a small speck of light. For keeping my faith, hope and belief alive enough so I never quit. There were a few times I did consider ending it all. I thought those who loved me would be better off without the burden of worrying about me, the pain of the disappointment I felt I had become.

Yes dear readers, I have expierienced some very dark days. I have also had the pleasure of feeling some truly amazing moments too. I am grateful for all of it. Without the dark one cannot appreciate the light. Hold on tight to those you love and tell them how you feel. Don’t judge others for there but the grace of God go any of us. Be kind always and act as if God himself is always watching you (because he is) In the end life is short. Love is all that matters. Spread it generously to all everyday and keep love ALIVE💖

Mental health, Spirituality

Attempting to define patience

I usually feel this way every year at this time. I must admit this year, the feelings are all a little extra. Early January’s weather is partly to blame for this unease. So many truly amazing events are closely on the horizon to take place for me. My heart is beating a little faster and many thoughts are racing quickly through my mind. All of this definitely affects my creative juices as well and I feel I’ve been neglecting my writing. This is the perfect time to try and process it all…. so here it goes.

Early next month I will finally get to see and hug my oldest son! This is a major event over two and a half years in the making. So many intense emotions weigh on my heart. Mostly excitement but also a bit of anxiety which is an emotion I must constantly address daily. I have been so preoccupied with my new position at work that I have had to keep everything going on inside me at bay by doing some extra meditation and light therapy sessions. I have this reoccurring daydream of me running down that long airport gate hallway towards my boy and him picking me up in a tight embrace while tears of joy run down my cheeks. This vision keeps me moving forward yet does little in maintaining my patience for that day to arrive!

I looked up the meaning of patience. The word is defined as “the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset“. Over these last two and a half years, I can admit to mastering the acceptance part. The not allowing anger or frustration part has proven more challenging. Anger is not something I have ever felt comfortable expressing and I still struggle with how to release it in a healthy way. I usually stuff it down deep and it will eventually come out indirectly at inopportune times. Mostly hurting only me but sometimes those closest to me, as is natural for everybody. I have always taken this emotion out on myself and blame myself for my role in creating the anger in the first place.

In the circumstances dealing with my boys absence from my life, I view it very differently. I know in my heart I have done everything I could to maintain our relationship. The blame falls squarely on my ex-husband’s shoulders and at some point in life he will reap what he has sown. Intellectually I understand that I have no control over him or what he does. My heart still breaks because I still haven’t been able to speak to my youngest son. All I have control over is how I respond to all of this. I must employ patience and also hope in order to survive this heart ache.

Good things do definitely come to those that can wait. Like Nietzsche said, “That which does not kill us, makes us stronger.” My life is a living testimonial to this truth. All I have endured has most definitely made me a much stronger person. This too shall pass and the rewards on the flip side will be magnificent I am sure.

I also have another major project in the works that should by the end of this month come to fruition. The hard work, energy expelled and time I have given to this endeavor is about to pay off quite handsomely. My fiance and I are on the brink of some major life changes in a super positive way financially if all goes according to plan. All the sacrifices and struggles these past three years will have been worth it when we get to finally taste success.

In the meantime, these next three weeks are crucially important. I must maintain my patience, hope and faith. My first step in achieving this is to focus on my gratitude by waking up each day and saying thank you to God. At the end of each day I allow myself some quiet time to again say thank you God. My understanding of spirituality has grown tremendously during these past seven years and I will never forget what got me to this point. My belief and faith in a higher power that governs us all. The lessons that God put in front of me to learn from are priceless. By walking this path, guided by hope, I have almost reached the other side and I finally see that light at the end of this dark tunnel.

Events and circumstances such as mine have the potential to harden a person, making them bitter. As for me it has produced only a stronger resolve in my faith and gratitude. I lead by kindness and love because I know what hate does. I refuse to let anything that happens to me change who I am in my core. I am a healer, a lover and a friend to all. Learning to have patience has been and will continue to be a wonderful gift from our creator. Namaste my dear readers ✌

Spirituality

All about energy

Many of my posts on this blog are about my interpretations of spirituality and energy. I recently wrote a poem entitled, “Energy flows” describing exactly how this phenomenon works. I’m always amazed by how karma occurs and plays out in real life. Recently I have been feeling on top of the world in most areas of my life but yesterday life threw me a curve ball and I’ve been scratching my head about what it means. I bet my dear readers can relate.

I overheard a conversation that I don’t believe I was intended to hear. It caught me off guard because it was very cruel and about me. I’d like to believe this person didn’t know I was there and was talking freely behind my back. The problem is I heard it all, now I know this person’s true feelings about me and I feel awful. I’m unsure what caused this person to say such hateful things about me and in order to avoid a confrontation, I now have to change my routine to stay away from this person. I’m so uncomfortable and upset over this. I know that when somebody reveals their true colors I should believe them but I’m very perplexed over it. It doesn’t make sense and all I have been doing is replaying the hatefulness over and over again in my mind. I know that it changes nothing and keeps me feeling badly.

Hate and cruelty towards people sometimes has its roots in jealousy which is what I suspect in this instance. Women can be so overly competitive with each other and so petty. I have been through too much over these last several years to act in a fake and phony way. Wearing masks was something I did in the past to cope. I can no longer employ that tactic in life because it doesn’t work for me any longer. I believe in myself now and I honor that by always being genuine. Yet this situation is pulling me into a gray area. I live by some standards now in life that I feel very strongly about. In regards to this situation I refuse to treat this person as they have treated me. Hence why I am so uncomfortable today.

Instead I am choosing to be quiet about it, pray and reflect. I don’t wish anybody any harm and I live by my ability to show kindness, ALWAYS. I’m admitting here that however I feel about my previous statement, I am struggling with how to correctly handle this in order to move forward. I want to get to a place of forgiveness but unfortunately, I’m not there yet. Not even a little bit.

One of my favorite books on life is by Don Miguel Ruiz entitled, “The Four Agreements”. In it Mr. Ruiz outlines the four principles to live by in order to have peace within oneself:

  1. Be impeccable with your word.
  2. Don’t take anything personally.
  3. Don’t make assumptions.
  4. Always do your best.

By adhering to these principles, I know I shouldn’t be taking any of what was said about me personally. In this case it is truly challenging because it IS about me. Intellectually, I also understand that this person is probably projecting their own feelings upon me. It is something I used to deal with regularly from my own mother. She was so uncomfortable in her own skin that she would project those unsettling feelings about herself onto myself, my siblings and our father. When I was younger, I would soak it all up and internalize those feelings about myself in a destructive way. I would beat myself up, doubt myself, employing self hatred etc. It was ugly and left me feeling worthless and empty.

The quote that next springs to my mind is by Maya Angelou.
Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” “The question is not how to survive, but how to thrive with passion, compassion, humor and style.” “When people show you who they are, believe them.”

She really hit the nail on the head with those words! I’m also reminded of this quote by Ms. Angelou,
If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude“.

In regards to my situation I know my only choice is to forgive and change my own attitude about dealing with this person.

Upon reflecting about all of this I must admit I’m beginning to feel a bit better. That’s what writing provides me. It allows me a positive way to process and heal emotionally. I’m so grateful for this outlet and I thank you my dear readers for coming along with me on this journey.

Tell me, how do you handle stress caused by other’s opinions about you? Please comment below or send me an email privately at mariaswan1209@yahoo.com

Here is my poem…..

Peace, love and light to you all✌💖

P.S.

I highly recommend reading “The Four Agreements.” I received it as a gift about fifteen years ago and I reread it often to remind myself of its message. It gave me such a great perspective on life’s struggles in relationships and I gained so much insight.

Spirituality

Here to heal

Last evening I had an ephiany and I woke up determined to write this post about it. I came to the conclusion years ago of what my purpose is in this life. It’s extremely important, vital really to understand your purpose in this world. In the midst of my struggles, woes and wanting to give up I searched my soul asking God for an answer. It was then that I realized I am here to heal others. Last evening I turned to my fiance and said simply HTH baby, HTH.

For may years I felt being an empath,caring so much for others to the point where I hurt, was a curse. I wasn’t ready to receive my purpose and view it as a gift. I resisted and dug my heels into not accepting this fact. All that did was bring me further pain and suffering. It was then that I realized I had an important choice to make. I could keep kicking myself down into a deeper hole of despair or I could accept and embrace my role. Since making the conscious choice to do the latter, I have never felt more liberated. Set free from my old and useless patterns of thinking, I reimerged into a much more grateful woman. I know and understand God’s plan for me and that is to be a conduit of love so that others may find peace within their own struggles. I am now able to see that I posses certain keen insights and skills that others along my journey here seek out. Strangers tell me their life stories in the grocery store. Afterwards, almost every single person admits to not knowing why they have shared their feelings with a total stranger. I reassure their insecurity by admitting to being an empath. I always thank them for being vulnerable and sharing with me. Something I once tried so hard to avoid has turned into a beautiful experience for both of us.

Most who know me will say I’m an extremely outgoing person who loves to talk. My coworkers joke and tell me I could talk to the wall and be happy! Thankfully for me it’s part of my job to engage with customers and it’s the part of my job I value the most. Despite my propensity for chattiness, I am also a great listener. Many of my friends have told me so over the years that I am so easy to talk to. I’m grateful to be that shoulder to lean on, the confidant and a person someone else can trust.

I take my role very seriously and I understand how special it is. It’s not always easy to just listen and not give advice. That is NOT my purpose. When somebody seeks me out it is because they need to get something off their chest without looking for answers. I can’t fix their problem but I can be someone who shows compassion and understanding. I see too little of this in our world today which is why I feel humbled and honored to fulfill that need for someone. I like to say I am like a vault with others inner thoughts. I take it all in yet it never comes back out. Retaining other people’s trust is very important to me because it’s so crucial for them.

Since my revelation, I make it a daily goal to show kindness. Being able to make someone smile is hugely rewarding for me. It’s a priceless gift that can change somebody’s day for the better. We never know where others are coming from or what has gone on in their lives. I believe we must view each person we encounter as our own brother or sister because that is what God intended. I genuinely care for others in a non judgemental way until that person gives me a reason not to. If more people could adopt this habit what a more empathetic world this would be!! It starts with loving yourself and understanding that we are all connected. We all hurt the same.

I composed the following poem “Baby steps”to describe the time in my life when I doubted myself, viewed my gift as a curse and my decision to turn that all around. It is a choice my dear readers. I hope this post provokes that idea in you today. Give a bit more, show more love and embrace your true gifts. Peace✌