Are You Ready?

There’s this idea society has adopted that in order to be “ready” for something, we must be sure we have all the knowledge, strength, and skill needed to accomplish what we’re going forward to do.

This notion of “being ready” equating to not being able to fail is simply bullshit. We are stagnating ourselves from making changes, transforming our lives, taking risks, going after what we really want, because we just aren’t ready (and we never truly feel that we are) when we define “ready” in this sense. How could you ever feel confident in succeeding in something you’ve never done? 

And sure, when it comes to packing a suitcase for a trip or studying for a test, this idea of being able to adequately prepare and feel like you will succeed may be something worth striving for before doing the thing. But when it comes to making changes in your life, this idea that we should feel confident in our success BEFORE even attempting to do it is ludicrous, and it’s keeping us stuck.

If we all wait until we FEEL ready and invincible, we will never have the lives we really want. We will never know what’s possible. We will never experience what life really has to offer.

Because we’ll just be standing backstage, waiting for our nerves to calm down or to master every step. And the difference between the one shaking backstage and the dancers on stage isn’t how ready or confident they FEEL – it’s how COURAGEOUS they are choosing to be DESPITE their feelings.

Fuck ready – You need to get out there and dance.

The whole idea of “being ready” seems a bit like wishful thinking anyway – and clearly hindering when it comes to personal/professional growth. So that’s why I challenge this idea of “ready” and encourage you all to chuck it out and replace it with the following..

  • Do you know why you want/need to do this thing?
  • Are you clear on the value you are pursuing in this venture?
  • Are you uncomfortable enough in your present state to make a change?
  • Is the idea of not trying appalling to you? (Perhaps even worse than the idea of trying it and failing?)
  • Do you wish that you were smarter/more skilled/more confident/more fit/more SOMETHING before doing this thing?
  • Do you worry that you aren’t good enough to do this thing? Perhaps thinking, “who do you think you are?!” 
  • Are you scared that it will all blow up in your face?

Great!  Then consider yourself READY.

Because that is what ready really looks like. People who take the risks and go after what they want are not sitting there thinking they are perfect and 100% confident they’ve got this. They are going for it, despite the fears and doubts and wishes that they could be perfect before even beginning. They are fed up where they are and ready to make the leap because staying where they are and not pursuing this venture is more painful than the idea of falling.

Next time you’re debating making a change and you’re asking yourself “Am I really ready for this?” Don’t ask, “Can I DO this?”, ask yourself, “Can I NOT?”.

Stop waiting to be READY – just GET SET and GO.

One Choice.

I can’t be detached and invested at the same time. So it’s time to stop beating myself up for not being able to do what (when laid out like that) seems pretty much impossible anyway. Besides, when I reflect on this, there is no choice here. I mean, of course there is. But when I fight with myself over the options and try to bargain and plead my way to justify detachment – it’s pretty clear that there is only one thing I can do authentically, and for now, that is to invest. As long as that is true, there is no choice.

My only choice lies in my choice to live my values. If I decide to follow my values and live authentically – then there’s really no battle here. Not in choosing anyway, perhaps a battle of acceptance. Accepting all the stuff that comes with choosing my values.

It helps me to look at why I’m choosing it. It’s not that I’m choosing the pain and heartache per se- I am choosing to live authentically. I am choosing to live my values, even when it hurts. Even when it’s the hardest thing to do. Because it matters that much to me. So, in turn I am in fact choosing the heartache, the pain, the difficulty. I am choosing to actively ignore the fear-based messages in my head; the urge to hide, or run like hell. I’m choosing to accept that this is part of it.

When it comes down to it – authenticity, connection, and vulnerability mean more to me than any of that other shit. As shitty as it gets.

If I go down, I want to go down clinging to my values so tightly that I face-plant. Because as much as that will hurt, it will be the best way to get hurt. I’ll be proud of how hard I fell (at least deep down).  There’s no question if such a fall would kill me. My resilience is unshakable at this point; I will rise again – no matter how hard the fall. And if my history has taught me anything, I’d actually rise even stronger.

Reminding myself of what I’m choosing and why I’m choosing it helps me regain my footing. I’ve been spending some time reminding myself of who I am lately, to anchor to my strength and what I’m all about. It helps me see clearly about why it’s important to make this choice, and accept the consequences of that choice (or at least try not to fight with them).

It quiets the battle in my head about what I should/shouldn’t do when I am hurting. When we’re in pain it’s easy to get stuck on the idea that you need to take action (like hide, run, or fight back). And yet, it’s not always the truth. “Not everything that hurts is harmful.” (Dr. E.A. Wilson). And in this case, I need to focus on acceptance and sitting in the feelings without trying to get rid of them or protect myself from the pain. Feeling the pain is actually proof that I’m doing good by me – I am sticking to my values and who I am. When put that way, it’s a hell of a lot easier to accept.

I’ve been anchoring to my dragon-self by using visuals, writing, meditating, and reading books that focus on my values. I was at the buskers festival yesterday and there was a beautiful creative soul offering her gift of poetry (The Spontaneous Prose Store @Pseuodonymsays). You pick the topic and she writes you a poem. Right there, on a typewriter. I asked her for a poem about a girl who is a dragon – and explained I had a blog called “mindful dragon”. This is what she gave me. It’s so beautiful it melts me every time I read it, and I can’t help but keep reading it over and over. I cannot thank her enough for this beautiful gift.

One choice.

Make the choice. Own the choice. Accept the consequences of that choice (even if you don’t like them). Anchor to the you who made that choice. Trust yourself. Believe in yourself. Be proud. Be strong. Be a fucking dragon.

Share Tactics

I’ve been doing a lot of real life practicing and I must say, I’m getting much better at sharing my most vulnerable thoughts and feelings – even when it makes me want to fold in on myself until I disappear. A lot of times it has been valuable; builds me up, fosters connection, and makes me feel stronger. However; at other times, I have found it reinforces my insecurities and makes my fears louder.

When I feel hurt and burned from my efforts to share, it is pretty clear that I need to continue working on my self-worth. I need to be able to hold onto my worth, remind myself of the importance of following my values of authenticity and vulnerability, and hold myself in compassion and being proud for doing so -regardless of the outcome. Too often when I get burned (even a little bit) after I dare to share, my go-to is to beat myself up and judge the decision to be vulnerable as a mistake. In fact, I usually declare quite dramatically, “Fuck Vulnerability!” when I’m bringing out my star defensive player (detachment). Clearly, this is the opposite of what I stand for. But in those moments of pain I struggle with what I know because following what I know just lead me to feel so badly. By holding onto my values and self-worth with a little more muster through these not-so-ideal experiences, I could allow myself to feel the hurt of what happened without using it to “mean” something (like per se, that I’m shit and all my values are shit). I would be able to hold my own safety even when (it feels like) I’m being rejected, and not feel compelled to run away in fear.

Sometimes getting hurt is just the name of the game and I get that. I’m not happy about it, but I understand it’s the risk. Falling off branches is no fun, but going out on the limb is worth the risk. I accept that. Now maybe I should record that to play back to myself as evidence when I’m spewing anti-vulnerability propaganda, because in that mind-space it certainly doesn’t feel like I believe or accept that. Though deep down, even in those moments, I know I’m just reacting out of hurt and having a temper-tantrum in response to the pain. Growth pains from this new way of being. The wonderfully painful experience of living whole-heartedly – totally sucks but totally worth it. The pain of being truly connected. Connected to your feelings and to others. A pretty big deal; certainly not something worth throwing away over a bit of heartache.

So sometimes this is the case. You will get hurt. Not because of how someone responds, but unfortunately, because the truth itself is painful. Reality can really sting.

Other times the pain comes from the response I receive, and what I’m starting to realize is that I need to own that. At least partly.

I can wish all day long that the person I’m sharing with will understand what I need and respond with just that – but that’s extremely unreasonable to expect from them and it’s not a very dependable way to get my needs met. 

What I need to do is ASK for what it is I need from them – sharing is not enough. Even if sharing and being heard is all I want, I need to clarify that. I need to be specific about what support I want from them and/or what I need them not to do (offer advice, for example). 

We will avoid a lot of pain if we learn to practice these share-tactics. Instead of leaving it up to chance or hoping others can mind-read, we must take ownership over meeting our needs. We cannot control how someone will react to us – that part we don’t have to (or get to) own. What we do have to own is our ASK. When we share something vulnerable, we can ask for what we need in return. Instead of just blurting something out and hoping (or better yet, not even realizing we needed anything until we get a response we aren’t happy with); we can take the time to identify WHY we are sharing and what we NEED from the person we are sharing with — and then tack this information onto the end of our ‘show and tell’ presentation.

It could sound like this…. “I am struggling with feelings of insecurity right now and feeling very vulnerable. I felt it was important to share with you because I want to be open about what I’m feeling. What I need from you is to show compassion that I’m feeling this way, and to allow me the space to work through these feelings without judging me for having them.”

Just noticing how long it took me to write out that example is a good indication of how much practice I need in this. It’s a lot to take on – being able to identify what you really need can be difficult in itself, and then figuring out how to ask for it is tricky – let alone finding the courage to actually do it!

As Brene Brown discusses in her presentation on The Anatomy of TrustASKING for help and what we need is an act of building trust. When we are willing and able to ask for help, we become more trustworthy. People trust people more when they know that they will ask for what they need. So you aren’t just helping to fill your needs; you are building stronger, more trustworthy relationships and allowing others to be able to have more trust in you. And hence, more trust that they can ask you for what they need without judgement.

By taking responsibility for identifying and asking for what we need, we will not only be serving ourselves better, we will doing those around us a big favour. Taking care of ourselves and taking responsibility for meeting our own needs is one of the best gift we can give to others.