How Beating My Inner Bully Makes Me a Better Friend

During my second year of high school I became friends with *Ashley. One of the first things she admitted to me was how she didn’t like me the year before; she thought I was a bitch and standoffish because I was quiet and shy. I remember being surprised and semi-insulted when she told me this because her perception of me was so opposite what I felt inside. I considered myself a friendly, caring, open-minded person and felt unfairly judged. When I reflect on this now it makes perfect sense.

careful

When we invest in the belief that we aren’t worthy we are forced to live and act as though we are worthless. It’s pretty hard to act like a friendly, caring, open-minded person if you have to act like nothing you think or do means anything to anyone. I’m beginning to understand the true impact low self-confidence, self-worth, and self-love have had (and continues to have) on my actions and the way I come across to others.

Someone really helps me out and it means a lot to me. I want to tell them how helpful they’ve been, compliment them, and thank them wholeheartedly. But do I? In the past the answer would have been a resounding no. I’d hear that voice inside say “Why would they care what you think? A compliment coming from you is probably worthless to them, it might even be seen as an insult” so I kept my mouth shut. Now I’ve become better at seeing this voice as a reflection of that old “I’m worthless” story and I try my best to ignore it, or drown it out with my commitment to authenticity.

insecurities

It has been intriguing to learn how much my self perception is affecting my “friendliness”; a few scenarios I have noticed thus far have been a hesitation to give hugs, compliments, express opinions, and extend invitations. I’ve even heard this voice pipe up when I go to “like” someone’s facebook status. Oh, and eye contact… can’t forget that one *insert fake laugh* !

When I fail to make eye contact with others I’m sure the conclusions that are being drawn about me are not in keeping with who I truly am, but a mere reflection of the constraints my Inner Bully has me under. ~Insight on my semi-social nature walk

I’ve been practicing eye contact when passing strangers on my walks lately. It’s quite a funny experiment. The rush of self doubt and judgement when I see someone approaching is enough to make me laugh- I mean, they are strangers! People I will probably never even see again! Is there any better way to truly understand that this it totally my own shit?! It has also been interesting to see people’s reactions with the understanding that that’s all them. I admit that I have had moments where I was offended and even judged people as unfriendly for their lack of response – much like Ashley did with me back in high school. Understanding myself better has helped me understand others as well.  What’s true for me is also true of them; how others react to my some-what forced greeting is truly a reflection of how they feel about themselves.

treat others

Realizing these consequences of having the “not worthy” mentality has made me even more motivated to tackle that old story. Being authentic and a good tribe member is vitally important to me – I refuse to let myself stand in the way of that.

 

Passing the Test and Sitting with Feedback

My solo journey was a test; I wanted to see if I could take care of myself, and if by doing so I could gain confidence and prove that I could be the dragon all by myself out in the big scary world.

Quite frankly I would have been proud of myself if I had managed to drive and stay in the hotel in Portland for a couple days. What I did was far beyond that. I didn’t just survive on my own, I thrived. I put myself in a situation where I was constantly pushing my boundaries and challenging myself to go outside way outside my comfort zone. I was stronger and braver than I knew I could be. And I even enjoyed it.

become

I did have moments of panic, self-doubt, and times where I was absolutely sure I made the wrong decision. Overall these moments were a mere blip in the whole experience, and overcoming them felt more like a victory then had they not occurred at all. I realize I cannot escape from myself, no matter how far I travel, but I can handle it and hold myself with compassion as I continue to live my values. Therefore, I will say I aced the test.

I feel like it’s given me confidence I can apply to other areas. That it has shown me what I can do and that knowledge will make it more difficult to stay small and hold back. I’ve seen first hand what I am capable of so it’s pretty difficult to deny. Even if I choose to stay in the cell, I’ll know that I am capable of running free -it will be a choice. I know the secret now… the door isn’t locked.

“This is a place of beauty. A place for me to find out who I am. I’m free to explore and be whoever I want. But am I not free anywhere? Isn’t it only my own limitations that stop everywhere from being here?” ~Insight at Earthdance

Which brings me to the feedback. Being at earthdance was an eye-opening experience. I may have been on a trip to prove to myself that I could take care of my needs, but what was interesting was how much I discovered what those needs are. It made me very aware of a whole new realm of needs that need to be addressed. On one hand the trip made me more confident as a caretaker, but on the other hand it actually made that job more difficult.

I’ve been unsettled and uncomfortable since I returned “back to reality”. Awareness is a double-edged sword. I’m happy for the insight and excited to strive to fill those needs, but the reality of living with unmet needs is frustrating. I got a taste and now the cravings are relentless, but I don’t know how to feed myself, and I’m starving.

“As I walked through the woods I could feel my perception change. I was concentrating on the trunks like i usually do, but then I noticed the branches. Once I focused on the branches they were all I could see, everywhere. Like a cat’s whiskers. They are always there yet somehow invisible. And then there’s a shift, a change in light, and you notice them. They aren’t just there, they’re overpowering. You can’t believe you couldn’t see them before. You wonder if there’s a time when they will fade out of your awareness again.” ~Insight at Earthdance

As uncomfortable as I am, I hope it continues until I can make a change. I don’t want to lose this ambition for more, even though it’s making my skin crawl. I don’t want to feel restless or caged- but even more so I don’t want those feelings to become so normal I don’t even notice them. So normal it feels fine. Everything is fine. Everything is not fine. I hear Dr. Wilson’s voice clear in my head as validation to sit in this discomfort; when it comes to your life “‘good enough’ is not good enough”.

vacation

This journey gave me a lot of insight into who I am, what I need, and what I’m capable of. At the same time it showed me what I don’t have, what I’m yearning for, and that change is paramount.

It’s a gift I’d never return, like a surprise puppy dog under the Christmas tree.

“I feel like I’m a different person here. Maybe I’m not a different person. Maybe I’m me – with less limitations.” ~Insight at Earthdance