Monthly Archives: October 2009

Insides and Outsides – Part 2 of 3

Last week we learned about how comparative thinking took root in our minds and developed into thought patterns and behaviors as children and teenagers – now we learn how it has played out in our decisions as young adults.

The story continues: Even though I was now seeing myself through another’s (more loving) eyes, instead of my own, it allowed me to get enough distance from the self-judgment. I started to realize that I really did have a lot more to offer. I started experimenting with my talents and gifts. I found that I had a gift for being a good friend, and listening to others. However, in order to please others and “be better” (judgment was still there), I carried it so far that I ended up sick. I still wasn’t listening to myself. I was seeing myself as others saw me, and I wanted to be what they saw. I wanted to embody what they needed or wanted. Again, I was living my life based on somebody else. This time, I was living my outsides, based on somebody else’s insides.

I think it’s at this point that we start to realize there’s something not quite right. Even though we can’t really pinpoint it – we know something is amiss. It’s also at this point where we start to experiment with who we are. Am I an actress? A businesswoman? A girlfriend? A friend? A daughter? A writer? A lawyer? Who am I? The identity questioning only gets compounded by the comparative thinking – but remember, this time, the roles have reversed. We are behaving more and more the way we think others want us to behave. So – naturally, our insides and outsides don’t sync up, and we slowly lose touch with our internal compass. Although we may no longer seem to have the low self-esteem we experienced in high school, we have a false self-esteem, generated by others’ perception of us, as we become what we think they want.

We spend much of our young adult life in this dance of becoming, reinventing, and becoming once more. Madonna mastered it. Nobody has reinvented herself more. The difference is, she was getting paid to do it – we’re not (well, most of us aren’t). So, where does that leave us? As young adults, on the heels of everything we’ve learned, we now spend our time walking through the revolving door of comparative thinking. Either we’re stuck in our old patterns of looking at others and comparing what we feel to what we see, or we’re stuck looking at others and comparing what they feel to what they see (or what we present). Did you follow that? Read it again. Now — can someone just stop the revolving door, for a minute?!?

Ahh. And that’s when it happens. We pause. We stop long enough to realize that this isn’t who we are, or what we are – it’s all based on forces beyond our control. It’s either based on somebody else, or something else. Sometimes awareness comes in the shape of illness, or tragedy. Other times it comes in the form of blessings and love. Either one is a gift – because both have given us enough time and space to become aware of the our patterns of behavior and beliefs. And once we’re aware, we now have the ability to make changes. We’ll discuss those changes next week. For now:

THree THings

Body – Have you dressed a certain way, in order to please somebody else? Or kept your hair a certain way, or your body? Is it how YOU want to look? What changes would you make? Would you make any?

Mind – Using the above example, if you’re maintaining an image for someone other than yourself, what is that doing to your mind and your self-esteem? Are you being authentic and honoring who you are, by trying to be somebody you’re not?

Spirit – We can only do our best, every day. There is nothing more, and nothing less. When we are living authentically, we are doing our best – if we can be strong enough to honor that truth within us, we will stop the revolving door, and eventually remove it from our life. Can you imagine what that would be like? Just for a moment?

Insides and Outsides – Part 2 of 3

Last week we learned about how comparative thinking took root in our minds and developed into thought patterns and behaviors as children and teenagers – now we learn how it has played out in our decisions as young adults.

The story continues: Even though I was now seeing myself through another’s (more loving) eyes, instead of my own, it allowed me to get enough distance from the self-judgment. I started to realize that I really did have a lot more to offer. I started experimenting with my talents and gifts. I found that I had a gift for being a good friend, and listening to others. However, in order to please others and “be better” (judgment was still there), I carried it so far that I ended up sick. I still wasn’t listening to myself. I was seeing myself as others saw me, and I wanted to be what they saw. I wanted to embody what they needed or wanted. Again, I was living my life based on somebody else. This time, I was living my outsides, based on somebody else’s insides.

I think it’s at this point that we start to realize there’s something not quite right. Even though we can’t really pinpoint it – we know something is amiss. It’s also at this point where we start to experiment with who we are. Am I an actress? A businesswoman? A girlfriend? A friend? A daughter? A writer? A lawyer? Who am I? The identity questioning only gets compounded by the comparative thinking – but remember, this time, the roles have reversed. We are behaving more and more the way we think others want us to behave. So – naturally, our insides and outsides don’t sync up, and we slowly lose touch with our internal compass. Although we may no longer seem to have the low self-esteem we experienced in high school, we have a false self-esteem, generated by others’ perception of us, as we become what we think they want.

We spend much of our young adult life in this dance of becoming, reinventing, and becoming once more. Madonna mastered it. Nobody has reinvented herself more. The difference is, she was getting paid to do it – we’re not (well, most of us aren’t). So, where does that leave us? As young adults, on the heels of everything we’ve learned, we now spend our time walking through the revolving door of comparative thinking. Either we’re stuck in our old patterns of looking at others and comparing what we feel to what we see, or we’re stuck looking at others and comparing what they feel to what they see (or what we present). Did you follow that? Read it again. Now — can someone just stop the revolving door, for a minute?!?

Ahh. And that’s when it happens. We pause. We stop long enough to realize that this isn’t who we are, or what we are – it’s all based on forces beyond our control. It’s either based on somebody else, or something else. Sometimes awareness comes in the shape of illness, or tragedy. Other times it comes in the form of blessings and love. Either one is a gift – because both have given us enough time and space to become aware of our patterns of behavior and beliefs. And once we’re aware, we now have the ability to make changes. We’ll discuss those changes next week. For now:

THree THings

Body – Have you dressed a certain way, in order to please somebody else? Or kept your hair a certain way, or your body? Is it how YOU want to look? What changes would you make? Would you make any?

Mind – Using the above example, if you’re maintaining an image for someone other than yourself, what is that doing to your mind and your self-esteem? Are you being authentic and honoring who you are, by trying to be somebody you’re not?

Spirit – We can only do our best, every day. There is nothing more, and nothing less. When we are living authentically, we are doing our best – if we can be strong enough to honor that truth within us, we will stop the revolving door, and eventually remove it from our life. Can you imagine what that would be like? Just for a moment?

In Love and Light,

Martina

Insides and Outsides – Part 1 of 3

Years ago, when I was being especially judgmental toward myself, my husband taught me a phrase:

“Don’t compare your insides, to other people’s outsides.” It was really simple, and yet at the time I didn’t entirely grasp its depth. However, I can’t begin to tell you how much this phrase has influenced me, my decisions and my beliefs as it has stayed with me for almost a decade. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me back up…

As children, for whatever reason (remember: we’re not playing the blame game here), we are taught to “compare” ourselves to what we see around us. So, from a very early age, we start learning the words: better, worse, enough, etc. We learn that everything has significance or value in our lives, and that some things are worth more than others. Unfortunately, we eventually apply this system to people, including ourselves. To be blunt, we learn how to judge. This isn’t something we’ve picked up overnight, mind you – it’s years and years of subliminal and sometimes not-so-subliminal messaging. Either way, in the end, by the time we reach pre-teen years, we are set up for disappointment, angst, frustration and fear. We are also set up for challenges, opportunities, and growth – but the other emotions tend to take over more often than not, as we learn to exert and test our independence little by little.

With that said, our teenage years are then spent fine-tuning this mode of living: comparing what we see to how we feel. For some reason, it’s ok that we do this with ourselves. So, we spend the better part of our childhood and teenage years thinking and feeling that we might not be “enough” and that we possibly aren’t “worthy” – when compared to everything, and everyone else, around us.

I can’t tell you how many times I looked at the more “popular” girls in high school and felt envy or worse: self-disgust. I wanted to look more like them, be more like them, and have what they had. And yet, I now know there were other people who looked at me and probably thought the same things I was thinking. I just didn’t realize it at the time. Why would I? All my energy was being spent thinking about everything that I wasn’t, not thinking about anything that I was. Add the value-system created by comparative thinking, and it’s a recipe for disaster: poor self-esteem and a roller coaster of emotions. It was difficult and challenging, and I think many of us may have experienced it that way.

Seeing the “grass as always greener” can wreak havoc on your mind. So, “it was the best of times and the worst of times.” Drama played a large role in my life, and why not? When you spend the better part of every day looking around you and judging others, and looking in the mirror and judging yourself – drama is a natural result. So – what happened next? I survived. In retrospect, it wasn’t that bad, even though at the time it was quite challenging. I have some of the best friends in the world – still today – and most all from high school. From there I went on to college, where I started (for the first time) to believe in myself, despite what I saw all around me. This time, however, it was based on others’ perception of me – namely, my boyfriends. I saw through their eyes what and who I was, not my own. Everything was still judgment based, but it was better. Next week, we’ll continue the story. For now, however:

THree THings

Body – What do your outsides really look like? Stop looking at magazines of airbrushed models and actresses wearing $5,000 outfits – just look at yourself. Yes, we live in a society that values appearance, but what do YOU value? Health? Wellness? The ability to have free will and make your own decisions about what you wear? Eat? Do?

Mind – Our mind, if we allow it, will always play a ping-pong game with us. Too much stimulus, especially in light of the comparative value-system we’ve created, will always cause havoc in our judgments and self-esteem. Can you take a break from the things that cause you to sit in judgment of yourself? Can you even identify the causes?

Spirit – Here’s the best one: you already know who you are, and how beautiful/smart/kind/loving/etc. you are. It’s deep down, in your soul. Kept there for always and forever. If you can tap into this knowledge, think of how all the judgment of yourself and others will fall away. What can you do to access this wisdom? Is it enough for someone to simply remind you that you already have it?

In love and light,

Martina

Exploring

In honor of Columbus Day, I decided to look at exploration and its role today. First a definition: “Explore – [ik-splawr, -splohr] 1) to traverse or range over for the purpose of discovery; 2) to look into closely; 3) to investigate into, esp. mechanically, as with a probe; and 4) to search for, search out.” Though the age of the Great Explorers is generally over, I think that it actually continues to this very day – every day. For aren’t we all, in our own way, explorers?

Let me explain. If, in fact, exploring means to look into something closely, or to go over or across something for the purpose of discovery – then I maintain that we are all explorers every day that we wake up. Think about it: at your job and in your relationships, you spend time looking at things quite closely, searching for things: answers, solutions, ideas. We spend most of every day doing our best to improve something. That, in itself, is the essence of exploration. When we try to improve the productivity at our work, or when we attempt to improve our relationships with loved ones, we are exploring new ground with each thought, emotion and feeling we address. We pioneer new ways of thinking, acting and relating to one another. We do things differently than we did the day before, or month before, or year before. And we do this all because we are searching for something more, something better. We know it’s out there – we don’t always know how to get to it, but we keep on exploring and pushing forward.

As someone who has surrendered to a life of active exploration, I know firsthand the challenges and rewards that come with this kind of pioneering. It is one of the most difficult and wonderful things I have ever done. I am a student of the world and everything it has to offer, both the beautiful and the less-than-beautiful. I experience things with new eyes every day, and I can experience the same things with jaded eyes a short while later. I have been hurt, and I have hurt others. I have felt love, joy and peace – and (I hope) I have shared those same gifts with the world. Exploring means not only being open to the many wonders and treasures of the Universe, but also being open to the darker side of things, and accepting its role. For without the darkness, there can be no light. Every good thing needs its opposite to reinforce its existence. Just as day has night, and dark has light – so, too, does exploration include wondrous discovery and seemingly unbearable hardship. Sacrifice seems to be an integral part of exploration.

But what are we sacrificing when we explore better ways of being in a relationship with someone we love? For some, they sacrifice the comfort of being able to choose what to do, whenever they want to do it: total independence. For others, they may be sacrificing having the cap put back on the toothpaste, or the dishes cleaned every night. The size of the sacrifice is entirely subjective. It may not bother me that the towels aren’t hung on the rack properly, but it may bother you. We each sacrifice things in our own way, in order to reap the rewards of something greater. And every day we create new ways to enhance and improve what we already have, we become explorers. That’s what the Great Discoverers knew. They had no idea what was out there – they just “knew” there was something more, perhaps something better, something that would enhance their lives and the lives of their people. It was this kind of knowing that propelled them forward, as it does for us. We may not be aware of what lies ahead for us in our jobs or relationships, but we do know that in exploring growth and change, we become open to the possibility of something better.

It is an understatement to say that many in today’s world are searching for answers to tough questions. As an example, many people want or wonder about “enlightenment” and “inner peace.” Collectively, we are beginning to become a society of explorers once more. This exploration is an inner journey – far more profound than trips around a once flat world, though equally as important in setting aside old belief systems and thought patterns. As you go about your day, what beliefs or habits are you willing to challenge and explore? Are there alternatives to your established mode of doing things? Just as the Great Explorers helped to discover an alternative route to the Orient what new routes to peace, love, happiness and wellness in your relationships are you willing to create? What new paths of productivity are you willing to pave at work? Something to think about.

THree THings

Body – If you’ve always done the same exercise; what would happen if you changed it up once or twice a week? If you’re a runner, what would tai chi do for you? If you practice yoga, how about trying spinning?

Mind – There are so many wonderful opportunities to learn on our planet. If you have always been a sports fan – have you ever tried opera? Or if you love classical music, have you also been open-minded enough to hear the artistry in the rhyme of rap? Other cultures, languages, food, art, history, religion – there’s so much out there waiting for you. What would you do, if you had three extra hours today to learn something new?

Spirit – As always, the Spirit is the door through which all internal exploration begins. What have you always wondered about, deep inside? If you have a burning question that has slowly fizzled into a glowing ember, but remains lit inside your core – perhaps it’s time to pick up a book, or find a lecture, or talk to a teacher. Perhaps it’s time to fan that flame a little and awaken your Spirit on this path of exploration. What do you think? Aren’t you just a little curious?

In love and light,

Martina

Love to You

“Love to you.” My Teacher taught me this phrase. Initially, it kind of hurt me when he said it (seriously). I felt lesser-than, as if I wasn’t worthy of the “real” phrase, or, indeed, love itself. He has said, “I love you,” before, but most of the time, instead of saying that, he would say, “Love to you.” Now, I know he loves me, because he embodies Love; but I’ve been so conditioned to expect love in a specific package that I was unable to receive it wrapped in a different presentation. I couldn’t see the gift staring me in the face!

I now know, however, that “Love to you” says so much more than I originally thought. When we say, “I love you,” it is an “I” statement – it’s about me loving you. It’s not necessarily about the other person. For much of my life I rarely said, “I love you” to anyone, including my family. Sure, I signed my emails and letters: “with love,” or “xoxo,” or “love,” – because I genuinely cared for and loved the people to whom I was writing. But verbally I withheld the phrase, “I love you,” so many more times than not. It felt somehow “wrong” to me to say so easily. I used to think that it was because it was such a serious thing to say – but I realize it’s because it simply was wrong, for me.

Telling somebody that I love him or her isn’t necessarily giving them my love – it’s simply telling them that I feel a certain way towards them in that specific moment in time, which is fine. It’s great actually to be able to share your feelings with another person. But saying “Love to you” – now that’s different. It’s an offering of Love; love from me, from the earth, from the Universe — to you. The all-encompassing Love that is in everything all around us is offered to someone when we say, “Love to you.” (It’s almost like placing an order with the Universe – “Umm, yes, I’ll have one order of Love for this person, please. Hold the fries.”) No longer do I see it as a “lesser-than” expression. Instead it’s a blessing. A gift. I receive the love with open arms, open eyes and an open heart. I feel the love expressed in those three simple words, and I more easily can offer love to those around me using the same three words.

Do I still say, “I love you?” Of course! I do love people, and I’m happy to let them know how I am feeling towards them. But when I truly want to offer my love to someone, and the Love of the Universe, I choose, instead, to say. “Love to you.” Because after all – offering Love as a gift is the most precious thing we can share. Wouldn’t we all say, “Love to you,” more often if we could? Can we?

THree Things

Body – Love to your Body
Mind – Love to your Mind
Spirit – Love to your Spirit

Love to you,
In Light,

Martina