Is That a Superwoman Cape or Just Toilet Paper Stuck to My Shoe?

My main intent for this blog is to make sure I’m always looking for the positive side of things and that I’m practicing the art of really living in the moment.  Noticing not just the obvious things, but the small and beautifully awesome things as well.

I feel like a long stretch of my life has been so stressful and seemingly full of one struggle or crisis after another, that I really need to just focus on breathing, experiencing, dreaming a little and learning how to recognize my inner voice again.

Have you ever noticed that the longer you operate in performance or survival mode the less you are able to hear your true inner voice?

I’m not saying I’m yoda material yet, I’m just saying I have good intentions and the desire to improve the quality of my life and I recognize some of the traps I’ve fallen into.

Part of coping with life’s every day challenges comes from the fight we have within us. The determination not to give in, not to lose, not to let our loved ones down. But we can tend to focus too narrowly in a couple of areas; getting through the current situation, doing damage control where ever possible and setting up new preventions and defenses to avoid going through it again.

With that kind of tunnel vision we can lose sight of ourselves or become disconnected from our own feelings, wants and needs.

We can fool ourselves for a very long time about what we are doing, the savior we are trying to be, the fears we may be trying to control or avoid or the ways we become martyrs serving everyone around us and neglecting ourselves. We want to believe we do what we do because we have to and because it’s the right thing and because people depend on us.

Often those things are true to an extent. Sometimes it does fall to us to act and protect and save. Caring for those we love is the right things to do. And…yes sometimes people depend on us. Sometimes too much. Sometimes for the wrong reasons. But the real disconnect comes when we fool ourselves into thinking that managing everything around us gives us more control over the rough spots in life.

Sailing the ship of resolute perseverance straight through an ocean of storms can be courageous, even when the choice wasn’t ours. Maybe even especially when the choice isn’t ours.

It can also carry a heavy price when you realize one day that while you were busy saving the ship and protecting all your loved ones, your spirit had been caught in the storm and pulled overboard. On the plus side of it, you develop fortitude, strength and adaptability when you weather a storm. You may also learn to trust or believe in yourself a bit more when you realize just how much you are really capable of handling. Still, I tend to believe that we thrive and experience joy and happiness or inner peace much more effectively when we are in touch with that inner spirit or inner voice that we often spend years ignoring and neglecting or even sacrificing.

Part of my approach to reconnecting with me the person, rather than me the performer, survivor, mother, daughter, sister, lover, friend, employer etc., is the search for awesome in unexpected places and simple moments .

Why?

Because it confirms for me that it’s all a big beautiful mystery and that there is order even in the chaos and that the picture is so much larger than we are, so much deeper, and so much more vast. Some people feel overwhelmed or insignificant when they think about that. But I just feel awe and for some reason awe is one emotion that has always inspired and motivated me. It propels me forward.

Another part of my approach is making a deliberate decision to try to broaden my focus. Previously I was too focused on getting it right, keeping things in perfect order, managing the risks and anticipating everyone’s needs, to be aware of anything other than whatever challenge or crisis I was determined to eradicate . I think of this as the superwoman complex. The deep often subliminal belief that we must be able to manage all things at once or we somehow fall short. I try harder now to take a break from slaying the dragon and look for the positive or the lesson . I’m also trying to learn how to let go of control and shut off the adrenaline spigot that has flooded my body and brain during so many years of functioning, overcoming and pushing through. Adrenaline can be a good thing. It can also literally poison your body and dis-ease begins to solidify into disease and ailment.

Last but not least, if I’m to hear my inner voice and learn to recognize my true self again, that restless rebel spirit that has been caged behind bars constructed of concepts like;      must,      should,

have to,       supposed to,

                                  survival,                      winning,

approval,            expectations,            necessity,     practicality,

                                    responsibility,             obligation, 

stereotypes,            and             self-esteem ..

then I have to learn how to take off the superhero cape and learn to be vulnerable.              This by far is the hardest thing for me to do.

Being a super hero in a human body is a lonely job. The risk of failure becomes dark and looming when after saving the day or pulling off a miracle yet again, people begin to assume that you’re invincible. A rock. Dependable and indestructible. The perfect person to turn to and rely on. The one who has it all together.

How does a hero refuse a call for help? What kind of hero would he or she be?   And how does a hero admit weakness?  I mean really, who wants to see Superman cry? Who expects Batman to cower in a closet and refuse to face the joker? How many fans does the superstar have at that moment  he bobbles the ball and loses the world series?  Messed up as it may be, we don’t like to think about weakness from the people we rely on or look up to or even the ones we love.   Weakness is uncomfortable when we hear it coming from another person.  Finding the right words is hard, we’d rather look away or offer platitudes.   Empathy can be difficult because it requires that we imagine what the experience or feelings of another person are like and that can be uncomfortable.    Knowing all of this,  how , when we find ourselves trying to be a hero for the people we love, trying to be a beacon of light and hope, do we dare to show our weakness?

There are heroes of all sorts and I’m sure their circumstances vary but for me the hero archetype is the same basic story where ever you go. It starts with an everyday average Joe who finds their self in the middle of a difficult situation or crisis or challenge and is somehow transformed into something that can beat the monster. They rarely ever really planned on it, rarely ever believed it could happen to them, scarcely believed they would win, but they did and each time it got a little easier to do and a little harder to say no and each time they felt a letter stronger and more capable. Eventually they come to believe it’s their purpose, their calling, and their obligation.  Or just their lot in life.   And then with time they begin to also understand the price they’ve paid. The isolation that trying to manage things and never fail brings with it.  And there they are,  caught in the middle.  Wanting to love and protect others, wanting to prevent anything bad from happening, wanting to always come through and feeling the tremendous weight of it all.

It’s a difficult web to untangle.    Sometimes people have become so accustomed to letting you be the manager that they try to find ways to try to keep you there.   Sometimes people are so accustomed to seeing you as strong and competent that they get uncomfortable when they see you vulnerable for the first time.   And sometimes we have disciplined ourselves so well that it feels strange to listen to our hearts or to choose play over responsibility or to allow ourselves to feel and act on child like wonder instead of practical and logical planning.

Between you and me,  I’m stumbling quite a bit as I make my way toward that inner me that has waited so patiently to be set free again.   I’d like to think I’m all about this spontaneous new me!   That I’m an old gypsy in my soul and I’ll travel where ever my passion leads me and dance in the moonlight with abandon!  I am totally digging the path of awe and wonder and freedom from that damn superwoman cape….. and I’m beginning to hear myself again,  starting to feel the stirring of excitement and sense of adventure.   I’m being kinder to myself, giving myself more space and more forgiveness.  But it’s not always easy and sometimes I could swear I am still dragging that cape behind me.     Kind of like exiting the ladies room with a long strip of toilet paper stuck to my shoe……

 

 

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