When We Feel Like Shutting Down Is When We Are Meant To Open Up

Every day, life presents us with opportunities to be free.

A lot of the time, though, we use these opportunities to lock ourselves up tighter.

We all experience signals from our bodies. We know the pain in our stomachs that tell us we need to eat. When we need to drink water, our mouths feel dry and maybe we get a headache. If we’ve stayed awake too long, our body tells us we need to sleep by slowing down, and maybe with nausea and eye twitches.

These signals are not pleasant. Our body gets our attention with discomfort and pain so that we will do what is good for us, what will ensure we maintain our health and carry on living.

But what about other signals?

What about when you feel a tight knot in the pit of your stomach when someone says something that triggers a painful memory?

What about when you feel a grip on your heart when you’re anticipating a difficult conversation with a loved one?

What about the lump in your throat when you have something to say?

What about the wall in your mind that won’t let you accept the validity of someone else’s opinion?

Like hunger, thirst, and exhaustion, these feelings signal a need. Yet we are often unwilling to fulfill these needs.

Instead, we label these feeling our issues or our baggage, and we shut down. To protect ourselves, we crawl inside ourselves and try to hide from the pain.

It never works though. Sooner or later, something triggers our issues and we get that signal again.

Life is constantly giving us opportunities to be free of our suffering. That’s what those signals really are.

We are meant to be healthy and carry on with our lives. When we say “No no no no no” to the lessons our body’s signals have to offer us, we put ourselves in a cage; we get stuck and we will continue spinning our wheels until we fulfill our need and move on.

The real issue isn’t our issues. We all know that everyone has their baggage. There’s only a problem when we believe that we aren’t meant to have our baggage.

Everything we have is ours for a reason. Our relationships and families, our faiths and cultures, our strengths and weaknesses, and even our issues and baggage.

It’s all part of our stories, our unique experiences of being a human. All of it is meant to push us on our individual paths. None of it is meant to shut us down. We do that of our own accord.

If we shut down when we experience that tightness in our gut, heart, throat, or mind, it is because we fear what will happen if we do what we need to do. We fear we will be rejected or abandoned. We fear we will fail. We fear we cannot handle what comes next.

We can’t control life. We can’t control other people’s responses. That’s not the point.


The point is, in life, we can either shut down or we can open up.

We can spin our wheels in a cage of our own making, or we can participate fully in life.

With every moment, life goes on. And we are meant to move on along with it.

No One Will Thank You for Being Who You Think They Want You to Be But Plenty of People Will Love You for Who You Are

We’re almost always wrong about the image of ourselves in other peoples’ heads.

I think that bears reiterating.

We don’t have a stinking clue how the people in our lives see us.

Yet we believe very strongly that we do. We look at the other halves of our relationships–our friends, parents, significant others, siblings, colleagues, etc…–and we form an image of them in our minds based on how they present themselves to us.Thus, we conclude, they must also have an image of us in their mind, which we then feel obliged to live up to in order to maintain the relationship.

This makes absolutely no sense.

If this sounds familiar though, maybe we are ready to drop the facade.

At some point, many of us learned–incorrectly–that we have to earn love. Love is unconditional. If it has conditions, it’s not love. Sometimes, though, it takes many years to learn this. In the meantime, we create false identities, along with a whole lotta trouble.

When we believe we must earn love from other people, we strive to make ourselves lovable to them, presupposing that we aren’t already. We carefully plan our behaviors and appearance to find approval from them.

We do what (we think) they want us to do, say what they want us to say, look the way they want us to look. After all, we’re only being considerate of their feelings, right?

Wrong.

All we’re really doing is lying.

And hurting both of us.

Because, you see, when we aren’t true to who are, we create problems. The more we labor over what to do or say in every situation, the more it will backfire in our faces. We will inevitably say or do the wrong thing, and then we will be hurt because we were trying so hard to make the other person happy.

When we try to be someone else to please others, we get angry. We resent the people for whom we’ve changed, even though they never asked us to change in the first place.

Angry, resentful people are not fun to be around.

Every mask, every facade, every false identity is born out of the fear of rejection. Sadly, what happens is that we reject ourselves before we even give others the chance to do it. We just assume that they will. Then they do, and we feel hurt.

In seeking validation from others, we create our own drama in which we play the victim. This is a nasty, toxic cycle that only ends when we step out of the play and stop acting.

If we were meant to be something other than ourselves, we would have been born into a different life.

Every relationship we have is ours for a reason.

Our task is not to earn others’ love. It’s not even our task to make others happy. That includes our parents, our spouses, and our best friends.

Our task is to relate to each other. That’s it. Everything we say and do is meant to come from our real selves. We will still inevitably do and say things that upset each other, but that’s no reason to fear.

Relationships are meant to make everyone in them grow. Growth hurts (a lot) sometimes, but it’s always a good thing. As living things, we are meant to grow, and we are meant to grow together.

That’s why it’s so important for each of us to be true. When we lie to each other about who we are, we inhibit the other people in our relationships. Our growth is tied to theirs. When we do not share ourselves with others, we deny them the good we could be bringing to their lives and we prevent them from blessing us as well.

Not all relationships are meant to last, but some are. If we are going to have real relationships, we have to be brave enough to invest ourselves in them.

Real relationships are built on love, and love is unconditional. Love encompasses everything, and that’s why, in real relationships, there is room for both people to be themselves completely. When we love and accept ourselves without conditions, then we can know and relate with others as they really are. No filters, no masks. Just us.

No one will ever thank you for being who you think they want you to be, but plenty of people will love you for who you are.

And that’s who you really want to be anyway.

 

Waste Not, Want Not Applies to Your Soul Too

So many of us cannot give of ourselves authentically because we are wasting our energy on activities that aren’t good for us.

“Soul-sucking job” is now a cliche, as is “toxic relationship.” We’re spendings millions of dollars on degrees we never use. Addiction statistics have reached absurd levels, and doctors in the US look at us funny if we say we aren’t taking any prescription meds. Netflix binging is the latest family value, and “healthy” can be used as an insult.

There are so many unnecessary demands and distractions in our lives, it’s a wonder any of us ever discover and cultivate our talents. It’s such a shame, because we all have them.

No matter who we are, we all have talents. And the truth is, it doesn’t really matter what they are. We don’t have be naturally inclined to music or sports or art or computers or sales…even though that’s what society seems to be telling us.

Whatever our talents are, they are meant to be used to help the world.

Whatever makes us feel good about ourselves is what we are meant to do.

A common misunderstanding of this is the difference between pride and superiority. We are supposed to be proud of who we are. Healthy pride is the result of doing something that reflects our soul’s desires. Hubris or superiority is the result of defining our value against the devaluation of others. We may gain something from superiority, but we are guaranteed to lose much more.

Most of us do not use our energy wisely. Like everything else, energy has become commoditized, something that can be bought and sold and squandered or used to distract us for a few minutes. It comes in a can, after all, or a paper cup with a logo on it.

We’ve lost sight of the fact that our energy is the expression of who we are. We cannot give authentically or expect to receive the blessings meant for us if we are wasting ourselves on jobs, relationships, or activities that do not feed our spirits.

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We want more because we are capable of so much more that we are doing.

The more we suppress our spirits, the more they push back against our skin, trying to get out. Each of us has a perfect design, composed of inclinations and abilities–ways of being, doing, creating, and loving–that do not go gentle into that good night. Our truest desires can become our greatest fears, our most crippling anxieties if we deny them.

That’s how we build our own cages. Then once we’re in our own cages, we’re easy prey for others to put into theirs.

Wasting our desires and talents, we find ourselves wanting more out of life. So we consume more of the things we’re “supposed” to want, what they say we want. But we don’t really want them. What we want is for our lives to have meaning.

The meaning of life is not measured in materials or public opinion.

A job may appear prestigious, but if it is not right for us, we will be wasted in it. The right job may appear unstable and risky, but when we do what we are meant to do, we find we are supported exactly how we need to be.

A couple may look poster-perfect, but if we don’t make each other happy, then we’re hurting ourselves and the people we are actually meant to be with. When we are truly in love, every minute is meaningful.

The thing is, when we are wasting ourselves, what we want seems impossible.
When we aren’t, we know what we want is possible.

There never has been, and never will be again, anyone quite like us. We are not meant to deny parts of ourselves or be anything we’re not. We are not here to waste our energy, to waste our lives.

We are here to learn, to grow, to live, love, and give…

 

As exactly who we are.

 

Why We’ve Got It So Wrong About Giving and Receiving

Give to receive.

This is a beatitude, some would say a platitude. It is a Universal Law. It is common sense.

Reciprocity. The Circle of Life. I scratch your back, you scratch mine. Water a plant and watch it grow.

We may say we believe this, that we know it to be true; yet, as we go through our lives, we often see the opposite in practice. Some willfully choose not to practice reciprocity, but I believe most of us don’t understand it in the first place.

Discussions on this wisdom tend to focus on the giving aspect. Don’t be selfish–give. If you want to be blessed in your life, give. Give give give give give.

What about receiving?

Well, giving is the active principle here, right? Receiving is passive, right? So if we give, the receiving will just happen…? Nope.

The way in which we discuss this simple truth reveals the reason why we aren’t experiencing it in our lives.

We don’t know how to receive.

And honestly, we don’t know how to give either.

Looking at human history from the perspective of spiritual development, we can see that, as a species, we were moving through the third chakra–the personal power chakra. In other words, we have been concerned with understanding our power and learning how to use it on our environment. The monotheistic revolution, the scientific revolution, the industrial revolution, the technological revolution…

During this stage, we have prioritized our masculine energies and suppressed our feminine energies. We wanted to see how much power we can have, how much we can achieve. We’ve achieved a lot, to be sure, but at the same time, we’ve caused a lot of damage because we ignored the universal law of reciprocity.

In the pursuit of power, we have given. We have given our bodies, our time, our minds. But how many of us have given authentically? How many of us have given our true gifts?

The saying goes, “As you give, so shall you receive.”

If we give who we truly are, we will receive the blessings that are meant for us.

If, however, we give from a place of inauthenticity, we will receive likewise.

Also, because we have collectively devalued our feminine energies, we have forgotten how to receive. Actually, we have closed ourselves off from receiving.

What we have done on the collective level, we have also done on the individual level. We have divided our whole selves into superior and inferior aspects. Because we are so interested in exercising our personal power, we fabricate identities and lives that match a preferred image.

Yet we’ve found that this doesn’t really work. We try to control what cannot be controlled. We have broken from our true selves, and the result is illness–physical, mental, spiritual.

When we mistake this broken fabrication for our true selves, we give from this state of falseness and thus cannot receive the gifts that are meant for our true selves.

If we are living a lie, we push away what we are meant to receive because it scares this false self. If we are open to receive our truth, then the false self will be destroyed. We will necessarily see that we’ve been living wrongly and hurting ourselves–and by extension, the world.

They say, “It’s better to give than to receive,” but the truth is that both happen at the same time.

Receiving is a lot scarier than giving, because receiving requires us to acknowledge that our power isn’t everything. Receiving is surrendering control, which is also exactly how we need to give.

We give and receive by being our true selves.

When we give of ourselves, what it is in us to give, by doing what we are naturally designed to do…then we receive what we need to continue giving and doing.

This is the basis of faith and trust.

It’s not a promise of a comfortable life in which we always have the answers, but it is the path of a meaningful life.

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In the last several decades, we have begun moving collectively into a new developmental stage–the heart chakra. We are seeing a return of value to feminine energies. The desire for wholeness and health are pulling us up.

The time is ripe for stepping into our authentic paths. As each of us does so, we make the world a better place for all of us.

It’s time to stop trying to control everything. We only end up making messes we can’t clean up.

It’s time to be ourselves authentically, give ourselves completely, and receive ourselves gratefully.

It’s time to live from the heart. It’s time to love.

Dreams Come True When We Show That We Want Them To

Our dreams really can come true.

They are meant to. That’s why we have them in the first place.

The idea is so huge, so grandiose; it sounds like an impossible feat. But everything can be accomplished one step at a time.

When our hearts reveal their desires to us, we are tasked with manifesting those desires. The things we truly want, the Universe wants us to have. As we set out to make our dreams come true, we work with the natural energies of the world, or Divine will. We are responsible for our destinies, but we’re not alone in making them happen.

Sometimes we feel cut off and alone because we aren’t doing what we truly want. Of course, we’re not meant to do exactly our favorite thing every minute, but we are meant to do the work that fulfills us. That’s what the Divine wants for us. That’s what the world requires from us.

The work we are meant to do isn’t always our job, so we needn’t get caught up on that idea. For some, their lives’ work is what they do in their “spare time.”

Our destinies aren’t something to get anxious about. Too often, we keep ourselves stuck by trying to look too far in the future.

Living our authentic lives starts exactly where we are right now. What does your heart want right now?

Stepping into your authentic path is just that: a step. Often, what life asks you to do at first looks pretty small. Because it’s so small, we often dismiss its tug on our hearts. On the other hand, it may be something big, so big it would turn your world upside down.

It could be anything. The thought of it might excite or terrify you. You know what it is, though.

Maybe it’s a religion or spirituality you’re curious about. Maybe it’s a hobby that appeals to you. Maybe it’s a place that holds wonder for you. Maybe it’s a social cause that breaks your heart. Maybe it’s a person who intrigues you.

If it’s something you’ve denied yourself, it will poke at you. The mention of it will elicit a reaction from you.

One thing is for sure: Your life will be better if you step toward your heart’s calling.

It might mean buying a book or a plane ticket. It might require taking a class or joining a group.

You can’t plan for how it will change your life, but you can trust that your true self knows what’s best.

So what are you waiting for?

The next time you feel a poke from your heart’s desire, don’t tell it to be quiet. Say yes to it. Whether you take a small step or a giant leap of faith, just say yes.

Say yes and show that you’re ready for your dreams to come true. Dreams don’t respond well to no. Dreams come true for those who have faith and trust–and who live by them.

Do you have faith? Do you know that your dreams can come true?

What’s the very next thing you would do if you did?

The Reason We Can’t Skip Meditation

This is all well and good about transforming our energy and following God’s will but…how to do it?

The most effective, tried-and-true starting point is meditation.

As with many things spiritual, some people hear or read this word and roll their eyes. Why meditation though? Who wants or has time to sit cross-legged and struggle fruitlessly to clear their minds? It’s frustrating and boring and painful. These were my thoughts when I was first introduced to the practice.

I’ve tried many different types of meditation: Zen, guided, Shambala, visualization, even eating meditation, and I’ve discovered that the reason it is so important is that meditation teaches us how to be comfortable just being.

We do it naturally as babies, but over the years we lose the ability to simply be. Being is the starting point for living our best lives. Meditation takes us back to that starting point.

From meditation, we can move into manifestation. Once we can be, then we can make.

What happens, though, is we get caught up in the making, to the point that we lose sight of who we really are. Only by being our authentic selves can we do what we truly want and manifest the life we are meant to live.

Okay, so meditation. Different ways of meditating work for different people. If you have a negative idea of what meditation is, it doesn’t have to be that for you.

Meditation can be drinking a cup of tea. Meditation can be a walk along the creek. Meditation can be lying in the sun.


What matters most when we meditate is that we allow ourselves to be, just as we are in the present moment.

That’s what repels a lot of people about meditation, and it’s precisely the benefit. Many people are repulsed by the thought of meditating because they don’t like themselves. They know meditation brings us face-to-face with ourselves, and they don’t want to look.

Here’s the thing though: If you don’t like yourself, you’re not living your real life.

When we are true to our designs, being who we are meant to be, there is absolutely no reason not to love ourselves. When we allow ourselves to be and to express who we are, we are happy and we radiate positivity.

Meditation is the necessary starting point of positive living because when we are simply being, our hearts speak our desires and we are open to listening.

Meditation is nerve-wracking to us when we aren’t living our true lives, because we know we need to make changes. We don’t have to be terrified of change. If we know we need to change, we will be happier for it.

So pick a way of meditating that appeals to you and start small.

If you want to sit and breathe, do it for 2 minutes, then 5, then 7, then 10. There’s no rush or pressure at all in meditating.

If you want to meditate over tea, give your full attention to the process. Pouring the water, steeping the tea, watching the steam rise, sipping the tea, feeling it warm you all the way down. Savor each moment.

Meditation is a joyful practice, and it offers endless gifts. When we meditate, we receive insights into life, solutions to our problems, ideas for work and creative projects–all of which lead us where we want to go because they come from within our hearts.

Meditation is our direct line to the still, small voice of God within us. Meditation reveals what we are meant to do and what will make us happy.

That’s why meditation. It’s the first step, and it cannot be skipped over.

First we meditate, then we make our dreams come true.

Adding to Our Lives, Adding to the World

“Energy cannot be created or destroyed; rather it transforms from one form to another.”
-The Law of Conservation of Energy

When some people here the word “energy” used in a spiritual sense, their eyes automatically roll or glaze over. They dismiss talk of vibes as ludicrous. They want nothing to do with that New Age-y woo woo nonsense.

Yet these same people readily accept the concept of energy in terms of science and nutrition. We’re all taught about energy in our early school years.

Some energy has a positive charge, some a negative charge, and some is neutral. Our bodies convert food into energy that we use to move, think, and feel.

It’s the same stuff!

Why is it so hard to believe that we, as human beings, give off positive, negative, and neutral energy that draws and repels the energy of other people? We know how magnets work. It’s not that complicated.

We know how music works too. Notes and tones vibrate at certain frequencies. When they interact with other frequencies they create harmony or discord. Likewise, our ways of being and moving (i.e. the “notes” we play) are vibrations that jive with some and clash with others.

I think the issue is that we’ve convinced ourselves that our thoughts and feelings aren’t real things. The scientific method doesn’t account for these, because they are “subjective” rather than “objective” and thus dismissed from evidentiary consideration.

The wave of my hand is a real thing because I can see it and someone else can see it. We can both feel and hear the movement it creates. We could both touch and taste my hand, if we were so inclined.

But no one can think my thoughts or feel my feelings. They are not observable.

This is a huge oversight.

Our thoughts are things. Our feelings are things. Should all of them be taken seriously? No. But they have consequences as much as our actions do. After all, our thoughts and feelings lead to our actions. They are the reasons behind our actions. And they definitely give charge to our actions–positive, negative, neutral.

Thoughts and feelings are energy, just like movement. Our bodies are drained after a time of intense study or emotion or rejuvenated after meditation or laughter.

If we hold onto grudges, over time, our bodies will show it as much so as if we’ve been consuming harmful substances. In fact, they often go hand in hand. However, if we hold onto love, joy, happiness, and gratitude…well, our bodies will show that too.

Of course this is not a black and white situation. No one is only positive energy or negative energy; nor are we meant to be. Our energies fluctuate with time and circumstance, and a lot of the time we’re giving off neutral vibes or a combination.

But what’s really interesting here is that we can transform our energy.

We have the ability to shift our energy from positive to negative or negative to positive through the power of our will and desire.

I know this from experience. I used to live a very negative life. I was a negative person. Yet I always knew somehow that that was not who I was meant to be.

As it always goes, I looked in all the wrong places for an answer until I looked in the right one: within myself. I’d known all along what my hearts’ desires are, and I finally willed myself to pursue them.


When we allow ourselves to do what it is in us to do, our lives are filled with possibility and positivity. It’s no coincidence that the sign for positive charge and addition are the same (+).

When we are true to our individual design, we add to the world; we make our unique positive contribution to the Universe/God’s plan. And we feel the addition too! Not only do we feel happier, healthier, and more fulfilled; we draw into our lives more blessings, opportunities, and people who help us on our path!

It works the other way around, too. If you are not pursuing your true heart’s desire, you are subtracting. You are actually robbing the world of your gifts.

Each of us is equally as much a part of the grand design as everyone and everything else. We’ve each been given gifts from the Universe/God to give right back. If we don’t share of ourselves, our energy turns negative.

When we feel as though the life is being sucked out of us, it is. That’s the biggest sign that something is very wrong and we need to live our lives differently. We need to make positive change.

Becoming a negatively-charged person happens unconsciously over years. I don’t think anyone ever sets out with the decision to become miserable.

Becoming a positively-charged person, however, happens intentionally. That’s great news! We become happier, more blessed people by doing what we really, truly want to do!

Of course, it’s not that simple. But at the same time, it is.

When we see those people who appear to live charmed lives, always on cloud nine and beloved by all, we needn’t feel jealous. That kind of positivity is accessible to us. Our lives will never look just like theirs though, of course. Even better, we all can get our own versions of it.

When we really want to be positive, we believe we can and we make it happen. We choose positive thoughts and feelings instead of negative ones. Instead of being down on ourselves, we visualize the best possible versions of ourselves, and then we start becoming them.

Our energy cannot be created or destroyed, but it can be transformed. We can transform ourselves.

What is your heart of hearts telling you that you want? It might be as grand as a seemingly impossible career or as small as an herb garden. Whatever it is, allow yourself to add to your life and thus add to the world.