Recently I had an experience that made me lose my ground. It shut down ALL my chakras.
I felt the air sucked out of me. I felt like I had NO physical self. I was but a swirl of energy. Someone asked, “What are you thinking?” I said, “I am only feeling.” They did not know what else to ask. I felt like the wet towel on the floor. This feeling used to be very familiar. I worked hard to learn new behaviors, and worked harder to cement those behaviors.
Here is what I wished someone had said …. “Indrani, can you hear me? Shake your head if you can.” (I had no language. I only had preverbal behaviors like crying and flailing). I would have shook my head.
Then I wished they would have said … “Can you feel your toes, feet, legs, hips, belly, chest, arms, head?” In other words, I wished they had done the body scan on me since my brain was off line, and I could not have thought of this tool myself.
Then I wished they had said …. “Indrani, breathe with me. Look at me. Hold my hands.” I wished they had grounded me. But they did not. They did not know how.
So I collapsed in a heap on the floor.
My spine crumbled life a crushed egg.
I could not hold my weight.
The sonic boom I was not expecting, happened. The energy demolished me. It took me many days to recover from the daze.
Now I know. Now I understand that old behaviors that were not useful then are still not useful now.
Now I know. I will hold on to this knowledge.
Do you have someone to help you with energy surges? I hope you do. It will save your life.
Welcome to Episode #20 of the Live a Brighter Life Podcast!
In this episode of the Live a Brighter Life Podcast Indrani speaks with Andrea Scher. You will learn:
Andrea’s personal story and experience with “hiding her light” as a child.
How Andrea practices encourage and compassion to live “big.”
What is the difference between joy and happiness?
Are you measuring your “joy factor?” Are you “joyful” enough?
Indrani looks at how she can use this teaching to help women live a brighter, more joyful life.
A little about Andrea Scher
Andrea Scher is the creator of Superhero Life where she believes we all learn together to use our voices, share our superpowers and live life in full color. As an artist, photographer, life coach + mentor, Andrea redefines what it means to be a SUPERHERO — ‘cause in her world, it’s got nothing to do with capes, spandex or sidekicks and everything to do with tenderness, intuition & baby steps of bravery. See more at www.superherolife.com
I am very fortunate to belong to a community of practitioners called the Daring Way™.
I got here the hard way, by doing the classes from Dr. Brene Brown and taking tests and following their rules and guidelines.
It was a lot of work and I loved every step of the way.
I was very happy to participate in a research survey that the community sent out a while ago and decided that I should do my part to further along the research that is the foundation of her amazing books and teachings.
So I logged in a began.
It was long, I was getting a little tired of it and considered not finishing but then something about the answers that I was giving really hit me hard.
A lot of the questions were about my feelings of worth and whether I felt my life was going anywhere and also, did I frequently compare myself to others?
Half way through the survey it occurred to me that my answers to statements like “I do not like myself” or like “when I think of my accomplishments I feel I have done less than others” ( I did not pull these from the survey, they simply reflect the sentiments from the survey), I found myself answering almost never.
What did this mean?
Simply put, it means this:
I liked myself.
I feel accomplished by any ones standards.
This occurred to me about half way through the survey THEN I was pumped to complete it.
I even told myself to BE HONEST, that Brene wanted honesty so I reread the stuff I had answered and carefully answered the rest…
And what do you know?!
I actually like myself and I actually feel good about what I am doing and feel good about being able to laugh at my mistakes and do not allow others to determine what I think of myself.
This is NOT at all reflective of how I felt just 10 years ago.
As recently as 2005, I was still comparing myself to others, beating myself up for not being up to par or not as good as almost everyone else in the my world. I was not a good enough coach, or writer, or business person, or mother or, or or. The list went one forever.
Also I was always catastrophizing. If one thing went wrong, it meant everything else was going to go wrong. If someone disappointed me, it meant I would be doomed to a lifetime of disappointments.
It was quite exhausting to live this way. I knew no way out.
I put on a great show of being outwardly confident but I was always on the look out for evidence that I was not good enough.
The evidence always came.
It came in the form of people’s words about my life choices (I was a bad mom because I was pursuing a new dream) or in the form of a societal or cultural message
(You are traveling too much. Who takes care of your home? One family member even asked who cooked food for my husband.)
The evidence was ALL around me.
I had to really close my ears and eyes to all the messages I was hearing. All the nay saying that was trying to get into my psyche.
I even had to listen to close friends and family tell me how silly and unrealistic my dream of doing something about ending violence in the world was.
After all, I did not have a degree in psychology, or any experience in the real world. I never worked at a not-for-profit nor had I had a job in the last 25 years!
Yes, they were lined up to tell me the way I was living was not acceptable to them, not at all.
I had to be deaf and blind to those voices all around me and to try to tune into the voices within my own heart.
The inner KNOWINGS that I wanted to do more, be more than a housewife (I had done that for 20 years) and I wanted to create change in my world.
I saw that survey as a way to go back into my past and to tell the younger me that she would be fine!
I gave her examples of the questions that would have brought her to tears just a few years before, those same questions that now brought a huge smile to her face, warmth to her heart and ONE single sweet tear to her eye.
The tear of clarity.
The tear that acted like a magnifying glass through which she saw herself in all of the accomplishments and all the experiences and all the loving people surrounding her.
I sent my younger self blessings and thanks for not ever giving up and always finding ways to burn off the fog of unworthiness and shame.
Thank you Dr. Brene Brown. You may still be collecting your data, but you have already shown me my results.
Self-respect is defined by Nathaniel Branden as “the conviction of our own value. It is not a delusion that we are perfect or superior to everyone else. It is not comparative or competitive at all it is the conviction that our life and well being are worth acting to support, protect and nurture, that we are good and worthwhile and deserving of the respect of others; and that our happiness and personal fulfillment are important enough to work for.”
When a woman is forced into a marriage that she does not want, when she is forced to birth more children than she desires or is forced into aborting fetuses that are the “wrong” gender, that is not respecting a woman.
Some of these issues are couched in cultural language that makes it seem iron clad for women to “behave certain ways and accept traditional roles.”
I would like to float the idea that NOTHING is iron clad and traditions had to start somewhere, so we can be brave enough to make new ones.
This kind of bravery can only sprout from deep and abiding self-respect, nothing short of consistent self awareness.
We cannot fall asleep to how we live our daily lives, make daily choices and then wonder why our self-respect is in shambles.
“To appreciate why our need for self-respect is so urgent, consider the following : To live successfully, we need to pursue and achieve values. To act appropriately, we need to value the beneficiary of our actions. Absent this conviction, we will not know how to take care of ourselves, protect our legitimate interests, satisfy our needs, or enjoy our own achievements.” Nathaniel Branden
I urge you to read, no, to devour, Six Pillars of Self Esteem. It is by far one of the best books that anyone who has received abuse or is presently receiving abuse can read. It will give you the language to demand the respect you need for yourself, the respect you will expect from others and the strength to say NO, I will not accept disrespect anymore.
Self Responsibility… The “Philosophical Principle (that) entails ones acceptance of a profoundly moral idea. In taking responsibility for our own existence we implicitly recognize that other human beings are not our servants and do not exist for the satisfaction of our needs.”
The above quote is from the book Six Pillars of Self – Esteem by Nathaniel Branden.
Can you take some time to read the above sentence out loud, maybe more than once.
When I first came across this sentence in the book, I was stopped in my tracks.
If the above is true, and it is, then all of us who have been abused in one form or another would KNOW without the shadow of a doubt that we were wronged.
We would not have to ask others for their opinion of whether we were enough wronged as to take swift action and demand justice.
The married woman who is forced to be a servant to her husband and in-laws would know that she is not there for their implicit or explicit exploitation. She would know that she had the right to say an empowered NO.
If she could accept that she will not be made into an unpaid servant, how might she approach marriage differently? Might she ask the intended in-laws how they expect to treat her? Might she tell her future husband that she will not be forced into a life of servitude and sexual slavery?
I really have no answers to these broad issues but I do know that we must empower women BEFORE marriage to ask harder questions than “do you have a job and where will we live?”
The college woman who is gang raped would know that she needs to report the crime as often as she needs to until something is done. She would have to find the courage to stand against the friend circle who will most likely accuse her of being disloyal and being short sighted about her reputation.
Where did I get these examples of what the friend circle might say? It comes directly from the report of the gang rape at a frat house on the UVA campus.
The 18 year old woman was made to question her loyalties. She was made to stay silent about the horror that was done to her body and her mind by silently suffering.
If we could get women, especially High School and college women, to respect themselves as much as they respect what their friends say, we might be able to bring more rapists to face the music.
Please do not think that I am putting the burden of this whole thing on the shoulders of the survivor of the rape, I am not. I am, however, sure that taking responsibility for extracting justice for a crime that was done is one of the most powerful ways to begin the long and arduous process of healing.
We cannot expect society to change without each individual taking a stand for what is no longer acceptable.
This is how we got rid of slavery.
This is how women got the vote.
This is how dictators fall.
It is only speaking up, as often as we can, and as loudly as we can, that will bring change. It will still be slow, but we can never. ever give up.
Let me explain to the best of my ability what the phrase “par for the course” means.
A golf course is comprised of 18 different “holes” and each hole has a number.
Golfers will always know which hole they hate the most. That would mean it’s the most difficult.
Levels of difficulty can vary from length from where the golfer begins each hole, called the TEE, to where the golfer needs to sink the putt, the green.
Often a golfer cannot even see the green from the tee. The configuration of the hole can include a huge hill, over which the golfer cannot see the green. The layout can even include an angle and will completely obscure a certain portion of that green.
Each hole must be played according to the integrity of the hole and each golfer approaches their game in his or her own unique way.
The biggest thing I learned while watching the Masters was that the length of a hole was represented by the number that came after the word PAR.
So a Par 3 hole would be shorter in length, but still have as many challenges as a Par 5.
The number ideally means that a golfer can get from start to finish in the prescribed number of holes.
I say ideally because even on a Par 3 a golfer can have a heck of a time sinking his ball in 3 strokes.
The biggest eye opener for me was that a stroke of, let’s say 350 yards, was AS important and significant as the short stroke, called a putt, of 2 or 3 feet.
Anything can happen, and as I saw at the Masters a “sure thing” was often not so sure.
How does this game of golf and the distance of the strokes apply to women who are trying to escape from abuse or women who are simple trying to set a boundary?
The significance is this….
It DOES NOT matter if you take a small, seemingly insignificant action with an abuser like staying out of his way when he is gearing up to strike, or whether you take a huge step of calling the police and getting you and your family out of danger permanently. The most important thing to do is to take ONE step towards the life you want for yourself.
The golfer must have faith in their ability to take the breath and swing his arm with the club attached and then begin to walk to wherever the ball landed and do the same action all over again. Over and over and over. And always with a calm and peaceful demeanor.
What is par for the course of a life without violence?
This is a question that is unanswerable.
We do not know HOW MANY challenges life will throw our way. We do not know how many times we will have the take the same action, the same step with the same person until we can get it thru to them. That we will NOT under ANY circumstances accept any more acts of violence.
We are not in control of whether we contract a serious illness or if a loved one will meet with an accident. As I’m writing this, a dear friends nephew was just shot.
We ARE, however, in control of whether we will accept abuse.
If we all had a ZERO tolerance for accepting abuse, the first time a person did an abusive act would be the last, because we would say “Oh no, not with me, not ever.”
Take a breath.
Take your best stroke/step.
Repeat until you have the culture of peace you require for yourself.
I have never had an altar and I found the instructions of building one for myself just not me, not something I would do.
I looked around and found that, really, my home is my altar and I made that comment to my dear friend.
I felt it was egotistical to say my home was my altar, that it placed attachment to my things. And perhaps there is some attachment to a few of the items.
My friend reminded me that my house used to be my prison and that transforming it into my altar was a major accomplishement. I sat with that thought….
My house was not a home for so many years, it was a place to hang my hat. Home is where the heart is and there was no love amongst the walls, no trinkets of adornment, no comforts with its furnishings or the people who resided there.
As my divorce came and went, the house had become mine to do with it what I wanted. No compromise with others, no decisions made just to please another. I was and am free to do what I want. Awareness for what I needed became apparent as the cast of characters in my life stepped off the stage. As I had looked to others in my house of life for the love and acceptance, I had to turn to self-love and self-acceptance.
The walls that held secrets of the arguments, the abuse, the anger and resentment, I had them plastered over. Part of my history that were painful building blocks of who I am today, I’m stronger for it. Plaster and paint gave a fresh page to a new chapter. The house is an eccentric museum of my life and the things I hold dear, the memories and experiences which have shaped me in this lifetime. The books I loved reading and those I would love to read. Treasures and antiquities from my adventures. Colors and fabrics that bring me comfort.
Even a toy from my childhood with a hole and a torn eye sits on a shelf, a reminder of family vacations when they were still fun, and I was innocent.
Like an onion, each item is a layer of my life and peeling away one layer only brings about another.
The structure that, in the past, held no charm and had no atmosphere, now welcomes everyone once they cross the threshold. The energy of my altar is one of peace. It’s a place where every room invites you to stop and sit a spell. Blow the dust off almost any item on the shelves and there is a story of wonder and discovery to be told.
On the floor are framed photos of people and places I love and one day they will finally find their place on a wall. My tribute to them.
My home is not finished. It’s a work in progress as is my life.
I started out the week with some disappointments, then got some great news and then some greater news, then was able to witness the pain of another while holding space for them.
And all of a sudden I realized that through all the ups and downs I had lost my roots.
I allowed myself to get SWEPT away by whatever news was floating around me.
I forgot that I was in charge of MY emotional health.
It was quite a shock to me, because I have been more rooted than not these past few years. Took my rooting for granted. I forgot that I had to continuously strengthen the roots for them to stay strong.
It is like lifting weights and when you stop, the muscles get lazy and you have to start all over again.
I forgot to devote more time to meditation and to yoga and to silence.
I have been ON for weeks in a row and forgot that I needed time away from everything.
I became intoxicated with the numbers on my pedometer and started to believe that the numbers mean more than numbers.
The result was that in a matter of a few weeks I was thrown from emotional pillar to crushing post and I have the bruises to show.
I realized that I was out of alignment.
This misalignment was not a spinal condition, it was a spiritual condition.
The only course of action was to STOP and BE in the moment.
I dug out one of my favorite spiritual reads, The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.
I began to devote time to inner inquiry and intuitive push-ups.
I began to ALIGN myself with my values again.
I offer you the simple formula below to help you to remember how to regain Alignment.
ALIGN A… Always L…lean into your I…intuitive G…growth N…NO to giving your power away.
You can begin to ask yourself what it means to give your power away.
You can give it away in many ways.
You can believe that other people must do certain things to make you happy.
They must have lunch or dinner with you.
They must call you every other day or ask you certain questions that show they really care.
If you can come up with a list of people who have affronted you and it brings up a lot of hurt then there is a good chance you have given some power away. They are still controlling your feelings. You must de tangle from their grasp.
When you are in alignment, you can feel hurt without having the hurt bring you to your emotional knees. You can separate from the event in question and begin to recapture all of you.
The pieces that felt hurt and wounded will begin to heal and bloom.
It may take a few moments to begin the process of healing, it is worth the time you will invest.
If you do not choose to heal, you choose to keep hurting.
Self assertion is not aggression. It is not banging people over their heads and claiming that you are better than them.
It is also NOT accepting others views of you.
“Self -assertiveness means the willingness to stand up for myself to be who I am openly, to treat myself with respect in all human encounters.” Nathaniel Branden.
Let me tell you a story.
A few years ago a very dear friend of mine asked me to speak to his religious women’s group.
I knew that his faith did not allow women to see their priests for reasons I cannot fathom.
He knew what a strong and upfront woman I am and that I speak my truth.
I told him that I would gladly speak on any variety of topics BUT if it came up about their treatment of women with seeing priests that I would absolutely be truthful about how I felt.
He seemed to accept what I said and we agreed that he should get a different speaker.
However, his friend who had accompanied him to my home, did not agree with me at all. In MY home he dared to challenge my point of view and was forcefully trying to make me agree with their views on women. I remained quite calm for about 15 minutes and then something happened.
I stood up and told him that this was my house and I was allowed my views in my house and he could not get me to change my mind.
I said we would have to agree to disagree.
He was shocked.
He was shocked because I DARED to stand and face him with conviction and clarity.
I am willing to bet money that NO woman had ever confronted him in his whole life and certainly no one had ever questioned his views on women in his faith.
He had never met a women who knew and understood her right to be assertive.
Nathaniel Branden tells us, “To practice self-assertiveness is to live authentically, to speak and act from my innermost convictions and feelings as a way of life – as a rule.”
Yes, this is what I did quite instinctively and with clarity of head and heart.
I am asking you, dear reader, to identify the areas of your life where conviction and clarity are lacking and to begin to take small steps to embolden your walk in your own life.
First you must talk the talk. Then you must walk the walk. Then you must encourage others to do the same.
Love and light,
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