When we’re in the habit of constantly comparing ourselves to others and making snap judgments about how we measure up in comparison to ‘her’, we can never be in our true power and feel truly at peace.
And we must realise something. This behaviour can sometimes be very subtle. We may not even think we’re doing it. But know this, the more vehemently we deny that we’re competitive, the more underground and insidious it is. Our need to compete even a teensy bit must be owned and integrated in order for us to make peace with it and get it under control. It’s not always bad, it’s just that cultivating an attitude of oneness is a more productive way to function.
We’re at our most creative, loving and joyful when we live from the belief that we’re all equal. How does this play out in your life? Here I am revealing my personal struggle with competition…
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Is it because we’ve been conditioned by society to externalise our thoughts and desires or, is it a natural human urge to look outside ourselves for love?
We look for it in relationships, jobs, awards, fame, money, possessions. Relationships are the biggest hook aren’t they? We live under the illusion that other people’s love will make us feel complete. It’s like a recipe; maybe fifty percent relationship love, twenty percent work achievement and social status love, twenty percent possession love and ten percent self-love? At a pinch?
It doesn’t quite work though does it. Because without a healthy dose of self-love, none of the other plausible sources of love can have an impact. It’s ironic but true.
When we’re unable to feel our own inherent worth and divine perfection, it doesn’t matter how rich we get, how
many times our partner says they love us, or even how high we climb the corporate ladder, it all feels pretty meh. And even more ironically, once we reach a healthy state of good self-regard and we’re backing it up with daily self-care and at least a couple of healthy relationships, well, we usually realise that we don’t need any of the other stuff anyway. And irony with double cream, chocolate sprinkles and a cherry on top….once we don’t care that much about the other stuff, it rolls into our lives that much more easily. Bam! Who’d have thought?
In these modern lives we lead, many of us never figure this out though and the majority of us reach at least mid-life before we begin to see the truth. Until we do, it’s often a case of, “maybe this person, this house, this job, this dress, this haircut will make me feel loved, valued, validated.” Are you ready to move forward on this?
Because I get it, it’s certainly easier to point the finger at someone else for not loving us enough. “My parents were too critical.” “I loved him more than he loved me.” “Maybe if I was thinner, richer, wittier, then they would love me.” But then where does that leave us?
I’ll tell you where. It leaves us in a state of fear, insecurity and addicted to time-consuming and money-draining superficial change. And I don’t want to sound like a conspiracy theorist but here’s my take on this: This is precisely what our society wants us to feel. The whole thrust of modern capitalist democracies is that the people work hard, spend hard, and fear everything. That way the masses become passive enough to be controlled.
The bottom line is, you’re already good enough, smart enough and most probably rich enough to have an enjoyable life. When it comes to feeling loved, what’s missing are often not the external trappings of success but rather an internal awareness that we are already loved simply because we exist. So where do we get this feeling?
Service to others
Do you like how stillness and movement are the bookends here? We definitely need stillness but of course we also need to move our bodies. Preferably gently, enjoyably and without wearing ourselves out completely. When I go for a mindful walk in nature and sit to meditate while I’m outdoors, I’m ticking five of these boxes in an a half hour stroll.
See how easy it can be? Love really is an inside job.
If you want to talk this over with me or you’ve got some pressing questions, feel free to leave a comment below or contact me for a session by going here.
The crone phase of life is drawing closer and to be honest, I’m not ready.
I’m possibly being a bit alarmist. Most texts describe the crone stage as beginning after menopause and I’m not even in peri-menopause yet.
I guess I’m feeling into the aspect of crone that’s always been with me. I believe we carry the archetypes of child, maiden, enchantress, mother and crone (plus many others), within us from birth and all the way through our lives. The stages of life that bring us into the full expression of these roles are quite fluid and overlapping.
It’s been four weeks since I turned 47 and I’m still coming to terms with this ‘late-forties’ status. I colour my hair to cover the greys, I look after my health and my body so I still feel and look youngish, plus I still have school-aged children, so how can I be moving into the wise woman phase already?
Well to be real, we’re a bit messed up in our modern lives when it comes to living out the ancient female archetypes. For one thing, we’re having our children later. A couple of hundred years ago I would have been welcoming grandchildren into my life at this age instead of still parenting my own teenagers.
In a tribal scenario I would be winding down, being cared for my my adult children, imparting my wisdom and being revered as an elder.
Instead, I feel like I’m winding up into the most productive era of my life. In my fifties and sixties I see myself writing books, speaking at events, leading women’s retreats and guiding people on their paths in coaching and counselling programs. And there’s certainly some crone-like wisdom emerging as I embark on this phase. I can feel it.
So how do the gifts of the crone archetype fit into this modern era?
The crone is the old wise woman. The hag in the cottage in the deep dark forest. In the traditional Russian tale of Vasalisa, Baba Yaga is the wild and unpredictable keeper of female intuitive power and magic. She’s the observer, holder of energy, subtle healer and sage who has seen much and is ready to turn away from societal expectations to enjoy her life with less burden and pressure.
How we might embody the crone archetype while we’re still actively mothering our children is an interesting dilemma but one worth nutting out.
In her article describing the crone energy, Miranda Gray outlines ways each of the four feminine archetypes correspond with the four phases of the menstrual cycle. The post-menstrual phase is represented by the blossoming maiden, the time of ovulation with the mother, the third phase is for the enchantress and as the menstrual flow begins, the crone.
“The Crone energies are like the winter, quiet and still. Her outward face is hidden, and she is turned completely inward. She lets go of the need to interact with society and to conform to its requirements. The Crone doesn’t have the physical energy to make things happen; instead she watches and, in her stillness and being, allows events to evolve. She is the weaver of Universal Energy, who creates with intention and flow.” Gray, January 2015
So not only is the crone energy within us always, and most especially after menopause, we also might dwell in this energy during menstruation to make the most of its deep and interesting gifts.
To live in a mindset of embracing change feels more useful than resisting it. Sure, there’s a part of me that wants to stay young and fears the advancing years but hey, what choice do we have. I want to be here in twenty years. I want to see my grandchildren arrive in the world and I want to be an active participant in my own long life. I want to own my crone years.
I have beautiful friends in their mid-seventies who embody it all, maiden, mother, enchantress and crone in their lives right now. I see it when they laugh, cry, dance, impart wisdom, sit and listen, paint, write and speak. I also see it all in my 13 year old daughter. She can be wise, funny, silly, wicked, wild, nurturing, intuitive and alluring all in one day.
So perhaps we may turn our attention to embracing many of these archetypes at any stage of life? We need not wait for the years to age us before we claim at least a small portion of crone status and we may retain a little of the younger archetypes in later life as well.
What do you feel? I’d love to know.
To connect with me for a private session click here.
We all have qualities we keep in the shadows, but what if shining light onto these darker aspects could actually make life better?
If we want to feel more peaceful and complete, then we’ll want to know more about these parts we’re not owning.
The way we discover what they are, is to observe what bothers us about other people, particularly the people we love.
The qualities we demonise in others are our shadow qualities.
Allow me a moment to explain:
Might you sometimes be heard whingeing that your partner, child, sibling or dear friend is negative/lazy/ unmotivated/self-centred or any other quality you despise?
Yes? Come on, think about it. Mmhmm – maybe just a little?
Let’s just say we all have ‘issues’ with certain qualities – for me it’s things like anger, martyrdom, competitiveness and ungratefulness.
It’s understandable to dislike these nasty old traits right?
Except for this….
What’s true is that we ALL have the capacity to embody every quality that’s ever existed.
But rather than loving it ALL, what we do with the parts that give us a squeamish feeling is to deny them, project them onto other people and cover them over with niceness and approval seeking.
To examine the qualities we dislike in others is to look directly into a reflection of what we ARE but don’t want to own. The question we must ask when we feel ourselves bristling at the behaviour of another is: “How do I do that?”
And this is where compassion comes in. Compassion for yourself and compassion for everyone else because gosh aren’t we all just muddling along the very best we can?
The shadow aspects we’re most afraid of might actually become super-powers if we learn how to integrate them and shed a decent amount of light on them.
Let’s take the quality of competitive drive and have a closer look.
I denied this aspect of myself for the longest time but here’s how I know I’m competitive:
I react with strong dislike to other people being competitive
I get quite emotionally involved with my children’s sporting matches and want them to win
I feel slightly envious of friends who are more successful than me
I feel more attached to my children receiving awards than is perhaps healthy
I like being good at stuff and love getting recognition
The funny thing is, now that I’ve began to lovingly embrace this quality and see it as funny and adorable rather than nasty and shameful, it’s softened.
And I can use this competitive drive of mine to get things done! If I didn’t care at all about striving for a better life, I probably wouldn’t have chosen to become self-employed. And that would’ve been a pity because I love my work and I’ve already helped quite a few people.
Do you see where I’m going with this? By shining light on our shadow qualities we get to benefit from their good bits and allow them to partner with our so-called positive qualities for great outcomes.
Hide them away and they become bitter and destructive. Embrace them as vital elements of our humanity and they become another playful and productive part of who we are.
Angry people make great activists and campaigners for social change and martyrs make great community volunteers, even if they do make others miserable with their bitter complaints…
What’s your shadow?
Are you willing to acknowledge it and lead it into the light?
For help with this and other brands of self-exploration contact me for a session. Click here.
Just think about it, when you’re with your family, is the mood one of softness or hardness? Could there be a softening? Would it feel better? Would it allow more love in?
When I’m quick to assert an opinion, make a judgement, defend myself or speak without really listening, I’m not adding a loving presence. I’m certainly not bonding more closely with the people I love. If anything, I’m holding them at a distance.
If I could just soften a little, slow things down, be more gentle and open:
Would people walk all over me?
Would I lose my way?
Would I be diminished in my effectiveness, my productivity?
Would I count for less?
The archetype of the soft and loving mother has become an anachronism. She disappeared out of fear and shame in the face of a masculine-oriented world. The gentler feminine qualities were subjected to ridicule and derision. It became an insult to be soft. Toughness and boldness became the goal.
The harshness of the world has taken this quality away from us, men and women both.
We’re hard on ourselves. We’re taught to compare and compete against others from a young age. We’re taught it’s a dog eat dog world – you’d better get the prize before your neighbour does.
Try harder, do better next time, don’t let yourself down, toughen up, keep going, don’t give up, don’t be so soft.
You got this!
I want to break it all down and let it go and not just because it doesn’t feel good….also because it doesn’t work.
I don’t do better when I strive harder, are more critical of myself or more uncompromising. It just makes me freeze up and feel panicked. I’ve always been sensitive to stress. When I was a student I had performance-stunting anxiety in exams, became mentally scattered and unfocused under deadline pressure and would end up ill after prolonged periods of emotional strain and busyness.
I do not thrive under pressure.
Does anyone really? I suspect we get addicted to the adrenaline rush and the ego-trip of being so busy we haven’t got time to scratch ourselves. I’m busy and stressed, therefore, I’m important.
Of course having some degree of structure and discipline is essential for getting things done but do we really need to harangue ourselves into feeling a slave to every task, overwhelmed and a failure?
The roles we’re here to fulfill are usually hard won. And hey, if you’ve always found life easy (that includes nobody I know), then you’re probably bored with where you’re at and not on your true path. Yes?
Your true path is a job or creative vocation that challenges you, pushes you right to the edge of your comfort and then over it and makes you feel excited and energised when you imagine doing it.
So, do we play it safe and avoid the bigger game, or do we risk it all for love? You know. love for yourself and the entire planet – no big deal.
And let me tell you, this is quite a tough decision – because from what I’ve experienced and helped many clients with – life doesn’t really allow us to sit in fear as the lesser of two evils.
Oh no, if you’re thinking you can just keep it low key – cower to the fears and let them call the shots – then I’m sorry, I don’t think you’ll find it that simple.
Oh and by the way – If you’re over 40 and still not on your path, then pay close attention…
Well because life will eventually find other ways to get you moving….
You may be criticised by family, rejected and abandoned by your friends or partner, bullied by workmates or made redundant from your job.
You may also feel untold discomfort in the form of envy, dissatisfaction, frustration, compulsive complaining, judgement of others and self-criticism.
Not to mention the de-railing of your health and peace of mind by the behaviours you adopted to avoid getting on your path such as addictions to alcohol, other drugs, food, shopping, television, social media…the list goes on.
Phew! It all sounds exhausting right?
Well yes, because you’re not here to play it small and deny your gifts.
Once you get moving in the direction of your gifts and passions though, that’s where the magic happens and things slowly begin to fall into place. You get a sparkle back in your eye and a spring in your step.
Although I’m sorry to say, the nudges and prods won’t necessarily end there. Once you begin the work of getting on your path, you’ll most likely experience a whole lot of resistance emerge from within you and sometimes from outside of you.
Don’t worry though, this is just your ego trying to protect you from changing too fast. The ego believes we need to stay the same in order to stay safe.
Where I see many clients delay their progress is right here, when the first round of resistance shows up. It’s very understandable. Some very intense emotions can come to the surface and a big steaming pile of FEAR is at the front of the assault.
Sometimes we need a few run ups before we sail over the ditch between us and our brighter future. That’s okay, there’s no hurry.
Here’s what I suggest:
Start something – read a book, do a short course, talk about your dreams and aspirations with someone you trust. Just make a small start.
Notice the feelings as they emerge and allow yourself to feel them. Once felt, they naturally dissipate.
Tell yourself it’s natural to experience anxiety or dread, or heart-stopping fear when you’re stretching out of your comfort zone.
Find your tribe of people who love the stuff that you love and who speak your language, seek out local groups, Facebook groups, workshops and classes.
Allow yourself to stumble, trip or completely fall. Failure is a wonderful way to build resilience and lighten everything up.
Realise that even though it’s hard, it’s better to be living full out than hiding from your truth and walking through life at half-pace with a fake smile plastered on.
Keep on going – this is a wonderful adventure, it’s not supposed to be straightforward, easy or fast. Keep following your heart to the activities that make you feel more YOU.
Book a session with me and I’ll help you get on track. Especially if you don’t even know what you want to do, one of my super-powers is career guidance. Just click here
Competition is neither the sole domain of the feminine nor the masculine.
We all possess the drive to compete and sometimes it serves us. An urge to be the best, the winner or at least in the running stimulates creativity, commitment, hard work and can bring out our best.
We all love watching others excel, particularly in the sporting arena.
What I’m talking about here is more subtle. I’m thinking of the insidious ways suppressed competitive impulses can erode friendships, workplace harmony and our own self-esteem.
It all begins when we draw comparisons between ourselves and others, thereby reducing our worth to a very narrow and often superficial checklist…
Little girls start comparing themselves to others at a very young age. At around six or seven they begin comparing their appearance, their skills and their possessions:
“She’s got prettier hair than me.”
“She’s better at drawing dogs than me.”
“She’s got nicer shoes than me.”
With my daughter it wasn’t like this though, it was more like:
“I’m better at climbing than her.”
“I was the best runner today.”
“I’m good at drawing.”
Which is better?
And why am I speaking of girls and not boys, because surely boys are competitive too?
It’s because the older we girls get, the more our feminine competitiveness goes underground and shifts into more subtle behaviours, whereas it seems that boys are given permission to compete openly.
This happens because girls are often judged harshly when they’re openly competitive. Have you ever heard a little boy being criticised for being too feisty or “full-throttle” on the playing field?
Anyone else have a daughter who’s been labelled ‘bossy’?
Our competitive urge gets subverted:
We pump ourselves up or shrink ourselves down in the workplace depending on who’s listening and many women withdraw from the corporate climb all together rather than be seen as ambitious
In social settings we cultivate the chameleon, acting (and dressing), confidently and assuredly with one crowd but passive and downplayed with another
At the extreme, we undermine other womens’ confidence with sneaky comments or ‘jokes’ or manipulate how others are perceived by carefully launched verbal missiles dressed up as gossip.
It’s this subterranean style of competition that’s more difficult to tackle and it can stay with us throughout life if we don’t acknowledge its presence.
We’re entering a new era of the feminine rising to meet the masculine in a symbiotic union. The time is drawing nearer for us to welcome the end of the patriarchal rule that has well and truly run its course on our planet.
We’re at the top of the pendulum’s swing….it’s about to swing back.
So get ready and own your place in the coming change. We all hold some responsibility for this new landscape as it takes shape.
When we compare ourselves with someone else or feel the need to match their achievements we’re sitting in the energy of lack and competition.
We’re also denying our own truth.
We never win when we drag someone else or ourselves down a few notches.
So what’s the solution? Just sit in your divine perfection (it’s in your heart centre), learn how to love yourself fully and connect with your unique gifts and talents.
Then start living your life with this as your foundation. Simple!
Shame that’s hidden from view is still shame that holds us back.
Mainly from love – giving and receiving.
We’ve all done things we’re ashamed of right?
Cast your mind back to childhood and I’m sure you’ll find something – a lie, a theft, a blurted nasty comment, classroom cheating, betrayal of a friend….
Ringing any bells?
More than twenty years ago I betrayed the man I had made marriage vows with not much more than a year earlier.
I left him for someone else.
I knew then as I know now, it was for the best.
I still hated myself for the pain I caused. I wished it could have been different – sort of.
It was exactly what it was and maybe the only way it could have been after nine years of familiarity and habit.
It did it because I’d been thrown a lifeline and I wanted to live – gawd that sounds dramatic. I wasn’t in any physical danger. It was just that I felt like I was sinking.
It wasn’t his fault. We’d just created something that wasn’t very happy. The dynamic was all wrong and I suddenly saw it for what it had become; we were like brother and sister.
I wanted more and I felt trapped with what we were capable of. I began to harden up, toughen my outlook. I set my jaw and steeled my gaze.
I guess I thought I could manage it okay if I changed myself enough. I held my breath.
And then I saw him at the party. My husband was outside chatting with someone. I walked inside and there sitting with an empty chair beside him, was a person I’d always wondered about.
I sat down and before I knew it I’d said, “I still have feelings for you.”
“But you’re married”, he said. “I was at your wedding”, he said.
We both leaned forward, heads in our hands and smiled silly, hopeless sort of smiles.
Weeks went by and I told myself that was that. Nothing could happen.
Coincidentally, he worked at the university where I was studying. We met up a few times in the campus grounds after my lectures. Sat on hard benches and talked as the sun went down.
I persisted that it was pointless as I wasn’t about to leave my marriage. I said, I couldn’t bear to go through that.
He gently said, “You wouldn’t be sitting here talking to me if you were happy.”
Then a few weeks later he flew to England for a planned six month stay.
Just before he left, my husband worked out something was up.
One week later I moved out.
Life went on. I kept studying and working, friends chose camps, my parents were very supportive, I never saw my in-laws again.
It wasn’t easy but I had this little voice inside that I’d ignored years earlier when I was confused about love. It whispered; stay strong, keep going, this is temporary, you’re doing fine.
My new flame came home and we moved in together. Four years later we got married. You know the rest….kids, jobs, studies, homes, holidays, change, challenges, a move to the country and suddenly we’re middle-aged.
Up until last week I thought I was over this part of my story. I’d done the counselling, read the books, been healed by experts, become a healer myself, gotten it all straight in my mind and reached a level of peace about it.
But in truth I’m still holding it against myself. I’m still ashamed of what I did and only I can resolve that. And resolve it I will because what I’ve realised is that this shame is stopping me from having the quality and depth of love I want in my relationship with not only my husband but with all the important people in my life.
So how? This is what I feel:
Put my hands on my heart and love myself a little more
Feel into my soul, trust in the wisdom I followed and know that it was my best choice at the time
Grow into stronger compassion for the 24 year-old me who was simply saving herself
Give thanks to the universe for giving me the courage to step forward onto that new path and risk losing everyone’s love in the process.
All these old fragmented, hidden parts of ourselves don’t really need to be released or healed….they need to be integrated into the wondrous, complex and multi-faceted beings that we are.
We don’t need to continually make ourselves wrong or flawed or broken. We’re all the villain and the victim. We’re all innocent and all guilty. We are all deserving of love no matter what.