"Consider this: Living from your Spirit is like learning to play an instrument, with all new rules for making music. The rules of the ego-based world for making music start with: "Live for others' approval." The Spirit-empowered rules start with: "Live for your own approval, and be willing to stand in the discomfort of others' disapproval."
In learning to live for my own approval, my challenge has been "to stand in the discomfort of others' disapproval." Historically, the discomfort got me nervous... squirming.... jumpy... uneasy... and sometimes I'd crack- wanting the relief of approval. Then I'd silently kick myself for being such a pushover. Sometimes I'd half-heartedly try again, only to feel defeated before even trying, and seeing that I wasn't taken seriously anyway after my first attempt was so quickly retracted.
There were times I would stand up for myself, while shaking with fear. Times I abandoned myself for the feeling of false security that people-pleasing would bring. Times I fell into feeling sorry for another, only to disregard myself completely. Times someone guilted me, knowing I was more concerned with their feelings than my own and using it to their advantage- while I smoldered with resentment and they sat smugly in getting what they wanted. Times I assured myself I was a "good" person for my choice when I didn't feel so very good inside. Times I felt trapped in doing what someone else wanted me to do, which didn't sit well with me. Times I didn't feel like me at all.
Slowly the situations became more obvious.
And in time, my voice grew stronger.
In time, my fear lifted just a little bit.
My confidence peeked out of it's hiding place to see if it was safe. My honesty unveiled itself.
In time, as my inner voice spoke to me,
I began to understand it's message more clearly.
When it came time to make a decision, I knew which direction my heart was guiding.
But my brain would add a big BUT...
...But how will so-and-so feel about it?
...But what if it hurts someone's feelings?
...But what if they'll hate me? Be angry at me?
...But what if no one understands and I'll be all alone?
... an outcast?
...But what if they won't love me anymore?
Suddenly the focus of my decision would shift from what my inner voice said to how my brain imagined everyone around me would react. My attention to my inner knowing distracted by approval-seeking. Suddenly the shakiness of fear and the uneasiness of doubt would return and cloud my eyes. Suddenly the decision did not seem so clear or my heart's voice so strong. Suddenly everything became very confusing and my head would fill with should's and have to's. Suddenly the weight of guilt would bury me like a thousand blankets. Would drown me in a sea of heaviness as I struggled against the waves of my own shame, to get a quick breath of air.
The idea of hurting anyone would tear me up inside.
And the thought of pleasing someone would send me scrambling up a mountain of my own making.
Then a little light would poke through, slowly at first.
And a little clarity would shine and I would see...
That the way for me was quite clear indeed.
That my heart would bring me peace if only I would listen to it.
That my feeling was so strong, so sure, even if there were no words to explain it to anyone else.
That I didn't need to explain it at all.
That my inner compass would lead to what was best for me.
That I didn't need to be afraid to follow it.
That my values had shifted from people-pleasing to being authentic, honest, and real.
That I wanted to feel good about myself when I went to sleep at the end of the day.
That the people who truly loved me would always love me no matter what I did.
That others' reactions to my life and decisions was not my concern or my business.
That I was willing to change the way I'd always interacted in the world and let go of old habits to find a better way.
That I wanted to make some new music.
So I took a deep breath.
I threw off the blankets of burden.
I swam to the shore of surrender.
I stopped climbing the mountain of madness.
I stood in the discomfort of another's disapproval.
And where the squirming usually set in, a peace washed over me.
And where the guilt usually buried me,
a calm voice gently reminded:
"Be True To Yourself."
And I was.