On Authenticity, Rejection and Rising from Within

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RejectTwo months shy of a milestone birthday, it’s also exactly seven months since I launched my new book into the Universe, a collection of personal insights and inspiration on living and leading an authentic, purpose-driven and heart-aligned life. Embracing the theme of ‘if not now, then when’, I went into the new year full steam ahead (thank you, Jesse Stoner!), putting forth my vision into the world and fully opening my heart to new experiences, people, opportunities, and relationships along the way.

Thanks in part to the steadfast support of those who believe in my work, I took risks, challenged norms and stepped up, risking an ever-increasing degree of vulnerability in the process. I even stepped back when I felt timing and circumstances called for it, without reservation or apology. I was authentic, empowered, and determined, despite the inevitable fears that cropped up along the way.

But things didn’t exactly go as planned….

They never do.

Within 48 hours of celebrating the launch of my book, I experienced a painful heart-rejection. Not for something I had done, but more fundamentally because of who I am. It was real, raw, and caused me to retreat for a time, pulling back on putting my work out into the Universe in a bigger way. As I have done far too many times in the past, I gave my personal magic and power away, allowing another’s experience of me to invalidate my sense of self. In the wake of that heartache, the dreaded ‘imposter syndrome’ set in and I questioned my ability to walk in the integrity of my own message.

Over the course of the seven months since, I experienced more of the same, both professionally and personally, and in ways and for reasons I could never have imagined (though admittedly all sandwiched between layers of goodness and meaningful opportunity that I also could not have foreseen, but which has nonetheless made all of the difference).

It was rejection at its finest and in all of its glory.

 

19989261_10155489001209655_926008012703530663_n-2To make matters worse, just as I was starting to regain my personal mojo, I went down on a high-velocity twirl while salsa dancing in Mexico during a pre-birthday celebration with my favorite group of gal pals. With no tequila in my system to dull the physical pain or news that followed, I learned that I completely shattered my left wrist and was told that if I did not have surgery or if my body rejected the hardware (one rejection I’m thankful I did not experience!), I would permanently lose all functionality of my left hand. For someone who writes for part of my living and personal pleasure, it was one of the most sobering moments of my life. One plate, ten pins, and $9k out-of-pocket later, I was forced to embrace the reality that it would be months of physical therapy before I could write again, potentially losing the expressed interest from the powers-that-be in the world of publishing and book sales. But I digress… 

However flawed my thinking, I will be the first to tell you that when you build a platform (and life) on authenticity and heart-aligned living and the very essence of who you are is met with outright rejection, it stings. Big time. But pain can be a great teacher if we’ll open ourselves up to the lessons.

Beyond the pain itself, rejection challenges you to not only become more situationally aware, but to self-reflect and take an honest accounting of where there might be misalignment of core values and/or blind spots. For women in particular, the sting of rejection can also invite deeper reflection on why we are often far too quick and willing to give our power and sense of self-worth away to others. It’s also an important reminder that someone else’s experience of us is a reflection of their own lens, values, and experience in the world and does not mean we’re fundamentally flawed or that we should stop showing up as we authentically are.

The truth is that just as none of us are perfect, we each have unique gifts and talents that have a place in the world if we’ll allow ourselves to embrace and fully own them, imperfections and all. While we may indeed be a poor fit for a particular person or opportunity, it does not need to become our undoing. Rather, it’s perhaps an invitation from the Universe to step up in a bigger way than before instead of shrinking into the smallness of our (or others’) fear and insecurity.

The year is still unfolding, but as I pause to reflect on the lessons of the season, I am grateful. Grateful for misaligned moments that have given me greater insight into who I am, what matters to me most, and all that I have to offer. Grateful for the inevitable strength that emerges when we stumble, fail, and/or fall short of the mark, yet commit to getting back up instead of staying stuck in our story. Grateful for the gift of time and perspective that remind me of all that life holds in store for each of us, if we’re willing to courageously walk with an open heart and stay open to her teachings.

I’m curious to know and ask…

How has rejection shaped who you fundamentally are? What role can adversity play in teaching you more about yourself and how you choose to show up in the world? How might rejection, when approached from a place of curiosity, enable you to grow stronger and wiser in the process? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Courage

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I’m curious…

What does courage look like to you?

Falling into Fear or Leaning into Strength?

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In any given situation, we are presented with a choice: we can either fall into our fear or lean into our strength.

When we fall, it is rarely of the controlled sort.  After all, we don’t seek out and intend to fall, unless we’re skydiving, of course. And though we may welcome the feeling of ‘falling’ in love, for example, we can never anticipate the fall itself. It catches us off guard, and is often an unintended consequence of losing our footing, our balance and our center, whether literally or figuratively.

By contrast, when we lean in, it is with deliberation; an intentional choice to put the full force of ourselves in to something or to draw from something, whether strength, love or something else altogether.

Recently I was confronted with a situation that was as uncomfortable and unsettling as it was familiar. As I contemplated my course of action, I couldn’t help but reflect on similar encounters in the past, and how I use to fall into my fear, as if helpless to choose another course of action. When people crossed a personal boundary, whether of my own accidental making or not, I would either ignore it, bury it, or run away from it altogether, focused more on protection from than prevention of. I might also cry, worry or vent, and in the process, inadvertently create a new layer of ‘stuck-ness’ that was every bit as damaging and dis-empowering as the circumstance itself. In simple terms, I enabled the unwelcome, and then wondered why things didn’t turn out as I planned.

When we cease to view ourselves as victims of our circumstance, we empower ourselves beyond measure.

But in every situation, we have the power of choice: we can mindfully act from a place of self-love or recklessly react from a place of fear. We can practice learned helplessness or exercise self-assertiveness. Though we cannot always prevent and anticipate the unwelcome in our life, the mindset of victim or victor is still within our control.

This time I chose a different course of action. Instead of running away from the discomfort, I sat with it. Instead of masking my pain, I confronted it. Instead of focusing on what was being ‘done to’, I focused on personal accountability — choosing to act from a self-empowered place, instead of giving my power away to another. Most significantly, instead of falling into fear, I chose to lean into my strength. 

Addendum: Leaning into our strength begs the question of where strength itself comes from. Moreover, it raises another important question: If we lack inner strength, what alternative is there to falling into our fear? On my own journey, when (I feared) I lacked the strength to navigate a difficult situation, I leaned into my Faith. For me, they are interrelated, for as my Faith deepens, so does my courage, self-love and respect, from which strength and resiliency are born.

I’m curious to know…

As you reflect on your own life and leadership, do you tend to feel powerful or powerless? Are there specific triggers that cause you to fall into fear? How have you leveraged leaning into your inner strength to overcome these fears and build resiliency in your life?