I feel the urge to write, but all I can think about is why I haven’t been writing for the last four months. I was on a roll. It was all going so well. And then a friend gave me some very mild, very nice constructive criticism and I simply stopped. I suddenly had nothing to say. I went quiet.
Why? Well honestly, I hadn’t thought to ask that until very recently. I’ve just finished reading Mark Manson’s “The Subtle Art of Not Giving F*ck” and in the middle where he talks about the values that we’re running that don’t serve us I realized the most destructive pattern I’ve been running more most of my life: The desperate need to be popular.
I still need it. I need to be liked, admired, remembered, acknowledged. I go back in my mind tracking the source of this need, and while I can’t find a specific BIG moment there are definitely moments of feeling not quite “it.”
In primary school, I played second fiddle (or so I felt) to my best friend. She was perfect in every way, and I was not quite her. Later we moved and the group of girls at my new school wrote a letter to me. One of them handed it to during break. I was talking to another friend, but she graciously said, “Read it.” I did and started to cry. The whole group of about 10 girls unanimously broke up with me. In the next period (since I couldn’t stop crying) they all recanted the letter and took me back. I knew it wasn’t real, they did too, but it was easier than being a loser, so I accepted their apologies. I still do not know what I did that was so appalling.
I, mostly unsuccessfully, continued to search for my people again during school. I think I must have been quite guarded after these experiences. In high school, I met another group of girls. They actually did accept me (I think) but by this point, the fear of not fitting in or being enough had taken hold and if another shinier group called, I was there.
At one point I actually betrayed a very close friend in a very demeaning way for the simple reason that I could not face being alone again. I had to be in with the group.
These are just some highlights, but the just is that I’ve never felt like I had that magic, that magnetic essence that is “it.” That one elusive quality that makes you irresistible to anyone who meets you: Instant, powerful, enigmatic popularity.
In Manson’s book, he speaks about Values (I know, shocking for a self-help book.) The interesting part is that he speaks less about creating or choosing values that we want and more about how to recognize the values that are not as great. The ones we’re already running and that are already causing havoc in our lives.
As I gobbled up this book and went about my days, I realized how much of my life I live worrying about what other people expect of me. While I know that I cannot control what others think, I still spend a lot of time trying to maintain a particular image in their minds. An image of a girl who is effortless and easy-going and OMG she is also beautiful. So, I apply the same facade every day. I keep up appearances, as they used to say, all in an effort to be effortless. (Oh, the irony.)
As I write this, I suppose there should be a turning point right about now. A moment where I tell you that I’ve turned it all around and this is how you can too. But the truth is that this realization is new and raw, and I have no advice. What I do have is a plan.
My plan is to stay vigilant about my thoughts. To do my best to notice the difference between doing and acting in a way that is for others versus myself. From there, I aim to choose what serves me rather than my ego’s need to be accepted by other egos.
I hope I can because I believe this core, deep hurt has manifested into a value and metric that has kept me up at night, driven some very destructive behaviour and caused me to stray away from who I am.
I am not popular, and I don’t care… or at least I am trying not to.
Michelle and I talk about the practice of movement. Focusing on Yoga, she shares how her practice has healed and guided her along her journey. We also discuss how movement connects our mind, body and spirit and how it can be a vehicle for deeper connection.
Yin Yoga connects us to our feminine side, our “being” side. It is a deep and passive practice, where yogi’s hold the poses for longer periods to work into the deeper tissue and joints while focusing the mind.
Nadia Engelbrecht talks to Sarah Evans about Yin Yoga and how you can begin your own practice today.
Do you have health goals? To drop some weight, just eat more salad or start running again? Do you take pride in your appearance and consider what you’re wearing, how your hair and make-up is done, and do you actively look for situations that make you feel good?
I’m sure you do. Many of strive for some change in ourselves. Some shift in growth or gain that will improve our lives and be that magic button that makes us feel and look incredible all the time.
Now all of this is great when done in a healthy way, but all too often we overdo it or push too hard and then, no matter what you do, nothing feels good anymore. That brings me to the overall point of this piece: Balance.
Remember the Yin-Yang symbol (made famous in the 90’s)? A circle, with one-half black, the other white and a dot of the opposite colour present in the respective half. As you probably know, this symbol represents Balance, but not of dark and light or good and bad.
Yang and Yin represent the two sides/ energies in each of us. Yang is masculine, action, drive, momentum, while Yin is feminine, being, compassion, kindness, love and nurturing. Most of us are very familiar with our Yang side. We set goals and put one foot in front of the next until we get there. It may be painful, but we push through nonetheless.
While this is amazing, the constant drive can also be draining and demanding on us and if you are a type-a kinda-girl, you will know that eventually you just can’t go anymore. You push and push yourself, but then you hit a wall and the next step is either too scary, too big or causes anxiety that paralyzes you.
Why is this? Why can we do so well for so long and then suddenly feel like the world is caving in? The answer is simple: we are imbalanced and before we can proceed (in a healthy and conscious way) we must first restore balance within ourselves. How do we do that? By taking time to nourish ourselves, being compassionate and kind to ourselves and through that love for our Being, we restore our balance, enabling us to once again take action and grow further.
You see, your Being is the part of you that receives love and energy and without filling your cup (so to speak) you end up with an empty vessel with nothing left to give. This does not serve you, your loved ones, your career, your health or any other area of your life. For this reason, it is essential to spend time focusing on nourishing your Being to restore your balance.
The good news is that doing so, does not require a 6-week retreat in Bali (I wish!) You can start today with these three easy steps to loving yourself and glowing from within:
Step 1: Acceptance:
This first step is the hardest, but it is also the most powerful shift our can make. Your body is a vehicle through which you experience life and the way you experience it is largely determined by your perception of your place in it. If you see your body, face, thighs, skin, personality, hair or your laugh as a curse, you will struggle to enjoy your experience because you will be hiding a part of yourself. When you do that you tell your mind and body that you’re ugly, shameful, not worthy.
By accepting where you are, and embracing the skin you’re in, you do the opposite. You tell your body and mind that you are worthy, you are lovely, enough, gorgeous and worth more. Acceptance does not mean that you ignore our health goals or stop your plans, it simply means that you love and accept yourself regardless of your current state. If you are working on losing weight, you can love your body before you reach your ultimate goal. There is no rule that says you can only love yourself when you reach it.
That brings me to step 2…
Step 2: Appreciation:
The easiest way to acceptance is appreciation, which (not-so-coincidentally) is step 2. Before I tell you how, I want to share WHY you should love, appreciate and celebrate all of you. When you look in the mirror, it is all too easy to judge and be mean to yourself. “My hips are too wide, my legs are too short, why is my nose so weird…” Rather, have you ever thought how incredibly powerful, yet delicate; intricate, yet strong; free, yet purposeful your body is? This vehicle has developed and grown since your infancy, gaining knowledge, experience and strength along the way. Today it is immensely capable. Your senses allow you to experience the world through sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch. In fact, your sense of smell has the power to propel you to a memory from your childhood in less than a second. AMAZING!
Your body and all its parts serve you in ways you take for granted every day. If you are able bodied that means you can walk. That’s right, your two legs, that you are oh-so cruel to are the things that allow you to freely and effortlessly move about. They are a magnificent miracle that adds priceless value to your life. Your hips form part of your pelvis that connects the bottom and top of your body. Because of this part of your body, you’re able to multitask (drink a coffee, while walking, for example.) This incredible part of your body provides stability and strength enabling you to carry and birth life into this world. Your strong arms protect and comfort at the same time. They lift you up and keep those near you close. Your face is where your soul expresses your inner beauty. It is where you shine your beautiful light, allowing those around you to understand you, share with you, be around you and love you.
The very precise way that you are built gives you a particular perspective, with a unique skill set to empathize with a certain type of person, to understand the world in a way only you can and, therefore, to tell a story of the “same experience” in a way that only you can.
With all of this in mind, I want to you stop all of this hate and negativity and shift to love and appreciation. Next time you look in the mirror and you see something you don’t like, shift your focus to what you love about it, what you can appreciate about it.
However, if you’re finding it difficult to suddenly be all sunshine and rainbows about something you’ve been negative about for so long, that’s completely okay. I am not expecting an immediate 180. But girl, there has to be something you can appreciate. It doesn’t have to be something you can see. It can be that you are grateful for the strength in your legs or the fact that you can hear your baby laugh.
Make this a habit. Every time you look in a mirror, choose one thing to love, appreciate and celebrate about your body, face, hair, outfit. I mean every time. In the morning there are a number of moments as you are getting ready for the day, each time you use the restroom throughout the day and as you are getting ready for bed and your make up is off, repeat the following to yourself in the mirror, “Thank you for your beauty and your strength. You are worthy, and I love you.”
Develop mad love for yourself, because you are SOOOOO worth it!
Step 3: Softness:
The last step is to cultivate a sense of softness into the way you interact with yourself. Nobody is perfect. We all have flaws and we all fall down from time-to-time. For some reason, we understand this for other people but can be very harsh with ourselves when we make a mistake or slip on our health goals. Think about it. If your best friend makes a mistake, no matter how big or ridiculous, you are there to console her. You tell her it’s okay and that one mistake is nothing to get upset about. You tell her that she is beautiful and powerful and that she will do better tomorrow. This is compassion and kindness and how you should talk to yourself if something doesn’t go perfectly; if you fall down or make a mistake. Forgive yourself and take care of yourself. Be your own bestie.
Following these three steps helps you cultivate mad love for yourself and then even more incredible and unexpected things start happening. When you love and respect yourself, you naturally start making choices aligned with this new reality, because you’ve had a taste of this good feeling and you want more. You eat better food that not only tastes great but makes you feel nourished and energized and you will avoid people and activities that no longer support your new way of being. In turn, you will find yourself with a life filled with more of what you love, more respect and more abundance, purely because you chose to see yourself as a precious, irreplaceable gift to the world.
Listen to your body. Hear the call of your Being and spend time taking caring of yourself: nourishing your soul and your body with love and appreciation. Every time you choose to fill your energy cup with love, you restore your inner balance and you are able to give and do more. You are worth it, not only for you but for everyone your life touches. Love yourself.
For the longest time, I feel like the world (and therefore, me) has been in-flux. We are (and have been) chasing massive material and status-driven goals, pushing to win, outrun competitors, see others as advisories and generally push everyone out of the way in order to get to the top.
While there is nothing wrong with chasing big dreams and wealth (please dream BIG!!) the way most of the world goes about it feels very aggressive and cutthroat and if you want to play, you have to be the same.
Why do we deem it acceptable to push others aside, let them fail and fall with the simple justification that we are chasing our goals? Almost as if their falling is collateral damage of our success – regrettable, but necessary loss.
I believe it is because of one reason: An imbalance between Being and Action. You could also see these two sides as Yin and Yang, or Feminine and Masculine. It is the energy that we call on as we move through life.
Human beings have mastered the Action (Masculine). Chasing, pushing, forging ahead. This is a powerful energy that gathers intense momentum and can create massive change when harnessed towards a goal. It isn’t too difficult to understand why we’re so good at it. Men have led the narrative, discovery, and evolution of the human story for centuries. It is through the masculine, the yang, that many incredible discoveries of new land, inventions and more are known to us. It is through this relentless perseverance that humans have intelligent infrastructure and constantly innovate to improve.
That said, it is, I believe, due to a lack on the Being (Feminine), that we also see centuries of hate, destruction, conquering and pushing out of the way for the status and success of leaders. The suppression of the Feminine Voice has, with it, suppressed acceptance, trust, curiosity, openness, and kindness. And while there are glimpses of it throughout our history, it is largely overshadowed.
Now, before we get into a gender debate. I am not blaming anyone living today for the actions of generations past, nor am I (and this is a biggie) saying the men are bad. Not at all. We are all (men and women) a beautiful mix of Being and Action. Allow me to elaborate
I’m sure you’re familiar with the famous symbol of yin and yang (a circle of black and white halves, each half containing a dot of the opposite colour.) The meaning is simple: In every part of Yang, there is always Yin and in every part of Yin, there is always Yang. Men and women are not exclusively Yang or Yin. We all have feminine and masculine qualities. We are all capable of perseverance, taking action and leading; AND we are all capable of kindness, acceptance, generosity, and love.
The feminine side in all of us is where our “Being” resides. It is where our soul/ spirit/ intuition/ whatever you call it lives to guide us along our path. It serves us by keeping us connected and open to ourselves and to others.
While the masculine is an incredible driver, our feminine being is what keeps us on purpose, compassionate and for everyone. We need both.
Today, many of us (men and women) are feeling a call to get closer to Being. We are moving into a space where we answer the call of our soul for experience and connection. At the same time, there is less emphasis on the ego’s need for excess. We seek abundance with joy and for all. We seek connection with new experiences and cultures and the freedom to find purpose in how we contribute to society.
Writing this piece, I could not avoid the current political climate and the feminist movement. In every avenue the movement has taken, #metoo, #timesup etc, you will notice the language of the masculine: aggressive, in-your-face and unapologetic. This is the language of today. It is the language we know and understand. On the flip side of that, you will notice the message is 100% feminine. It is not about taking over, conquering or exclusivity. It is not about eliminating men. It is simply about acceptance, fairness, a call to kindness and openness; a call to love. It is a call to humanity to connect to Soul and see that in order to have a lot, you don’t need to have it all. There is enough for everyone, there is space, love, and abundance for all.
This message runs through me and hits every cord I have. It is something I know I have felt very deeply for a very long time. It is something I did not always understand, connect to or know how to articulate, but I felt it.
Even before my rediscovery of me, when I was deeply insecure and would be judgmental, it always felt misaligned to my core. It felt off and wrong, but I had no idea how to fix it.
Can you relate? That sense that something feels a little misaligned, as if you are being pulled somewhere, but you’re not sure why or how to get there? I think this is a call to reconnect with Being. To let the Action in us relax a little, giving space to the Feminine voice to guide us home. Again, this is not about exclusivity. Men are invited to the party so there is no need to worry about hurting or disappointing the men that are in your life. Being is a part of all of us. This is not a war, but about restoring an internal balance. The female voice must rise up, it must stand strong in order to penetrate and connect with our overly masculine minds. We need to allow our bodies, minds, and souls to reconnect to Being so that we may reconnect with beauty, abundance, and love. It is not about taking over or kicking anyone out, it is about finding an equal and opposite push and pull, that guides us towards love.
How do you raise the Female Voice in you?
The best, most profound thing you can do to join the rise of the Female Voice is to connect to and accept your Being. Allow a sense of softness and femininity to pour into every part of your life. Invite kindness, openness, and compassion where you once responded with aggression, exclusivity, and judgment.
These qualities are powerful and can be deafening in contrast to the ever-present voice of action. Simple daily shifts towards acceptance will change your personal experience and simultaneously allow others to follow your light.
It starts with you. Choose to be the light wherever you find yourself. Do this by staying present in your truth and as your light shines, others will feel it and do the same. Embrace your feminine energy, your acceptance, your truth, your deep, loving Being.
In any situation, commit to responding with love Connect to love to embrace your feminine energy, your acceptance, your truth, your deep, loving Being.
Develop your own practice:
A Being practice can take many forms. You can cultivate it through meditation or yoga practice, allowing you to become increasingly connected to self. You can also simply see your practice as simple shifts in your approach and response to the world, choosing to respond with kindness, openness, and softness. It can be spiritual and/or practical, find the balance that works for you.
If you are hearing this call and in surrendering to Being, then I’m sure you are experiencing a deep sense of calm and, at the same time, a feeling of excitement to share and proclaim. As you do share your experience and newly discovered wisdom, please remember the Female Voice does not push or persist, it simply is. It invites light and love and embraces that light towards deeper connection, a softer sensibility and an open heart and mind.
Be patient, allow others to discover their own truth, their own path along this collective journey. Resistance is cultivated from fear and fear is easily fostered by a dominant voice. It is not for any of us to preach or proclaim, it is for us to share our light and be the example for those seeking the shift.