Today is the first of July, which means that we’re now officially entering the second half of 2013. This is a good time to take stock: how have we experienced these first 6 months? What have we accomplished and shifted? How far have we progressed? What pieces of heretofore unknown resistance have presented themselves to be released? What have our manifestations shown us? What joy have we lined up with and what manifestations have we been willing to acknowledge? What can we appreciate about these 6 months, and what can we look forward to in the second half of the year?
If you’re anything like me, the first half of the year has been rather turbulent. I may have cleaned up more of my vibration in these past six months than I have in my entire life before then. At least that’s what it feels like. The energy is moving faster than ever and I’m being bombarded with new insights and obstacles on a daily basis. I’m not complaining, mind you. I’m simply describing my experience. It’s a bit like trying to ride a massive wave (more like a freaking Tsunami), and trying to keep my head above water. If I can stay above it, it’s one hell of a ride. If I don’t quite keep up with it, it gets a little bumpy. The trick is, to keep up with it. To me, that means continuously being willing to deal with the crap that comes up, the thoughts and beliefs that I’m being made aware of and which no longer serve me. It means being willing to continuously make time for this work, and not succumb to the temptation to just ignore it and distract myself (unless it gets too painful, in which case distraction can be temporarily helpful). It means paying attention to how my interests are constantly changing, and being willing to give up the old and embrace the new. It means being willing to continuously evolve, even if it’s sometimes scary or inconvenient. It means being willing to relax and go with the flow.
While I’ve been dealing with quite a few beliefs this year, most of them can be grouped under one umbrella topic: identity. I’ve been dissecting how I see myself in every way, and how I fit into this world. How much of our identities are cultural? How much of this is learned behavior? I’m beginning to understand that just about all of it is learned. As I strip away layer after layer of the conclusions I’ve come to about myself and the world, I’m realizing just how much of how we define ourselves is bullshit – these aren’t just made up ideas, they’re usually also incredibly restrictive paradigms. We try so hard to fit into certain categories, and we define those categories so narrowly. But why? Sure, it helps us to fit in. It helps us to feel like we’re one of the gang, the same as the group. It helps us make sense of others at a glance. We look at their labels and we know everything we need to about them. Only, it’s a lie. You can’t define people that way, and you can’t know them via superficial means. Nor can you be defined by one little category or even several. Frankly, this is kind of a lazy way of approaching identity. It’s a bit like taking a field of beautiful, fragrant wildflowers and labeling them as “Plants”. Sure, the label may be technically “accurate” (although, it often isn’t), but it doesn’t come even close to describing everything that’s going on in that field. When you use narrow definitions of identity, you greatly limit your perception and therefore your experience.
The labels we use
How we label ourselves is usually a combination of cultural beliefs and decisions we made about ourselves at some point. It’s important to note that it’s not just the label, but the way we personally define it, that limits us.
For example, I’m a woman. But what does that mean to me? My definition of what it means to be a woman shapes how I interact with others, both men and women. It shapes how I feel about myself in various situations, like family gatherings, business meetings, romantic situations, etc. Being a woman, in the world I grew up in, comes with a whole lot of obligations and restrictions. Women aren’t supposed to be loud and aggressive, for example. That belief can keep me from standing up for myself. After all, if I’m seen as aggressive, I’m no longer feminine, am I? Women are supposed to be nurturing and caring. That’s fine, but a belief like that it can keep us from being positively selfish when we need to be. It will cause women to deplete themselves by putting the needs of others before their own.
Men may decide that being masculine means being strong and stoic and not showing any emotions. This can keep them from not only displaying but processing their feelings, and can lead to a great deal of pain. Since your emotions are your vibrational feedback system, the GPS that tells you when you’re going in the wrong direction, ignoring them isn’t a good idea. Why do you think men are more likely to have heart attacks? Do you see how dangerous and restrictive these labels can be?
Another label that comes up often, particularly in an audience such as the one this blog has, is the belief of being a “good person”. If we’ve narrowly defined what it means to be a good person, it can cause us to become a doormat, be non-confrontational, and let people get away with murder because we’d rather not add to their pain than find relief for ourselves. When we think that being a good person means always capitulating and never making waves, it means that any behavior that doesn’t fall into that narrow definition automatically makes us a “bad person”. So, when we do set a boundary, we feel guilty. We feel bad. We feel like we’ve done something wrong.
Create new definitions
We all have these labels and definitions. I think ultimately, the goal is to get rid of all categories and take each person, situation and experience as it comes, without any kind of expectation. Wouldn’t it be great if we could just flip a switch and get rid of all the labels? Well, probably not. I’m guessing that this instant change would lead to massive anxiety and widespread panic. Releasing the only identity you currently know isn’t something you do overnight. You’ll want to ease into this one.
To that end, this is the strategy that I’ve been utilizing: I find the definitions I’m currently using and I replace them with broader, much better feeling ones. I often create a visualization or image that represents this new definition, to help me solidify it. Let me give you an example from my own life, and one I’ve used with many clients with great success:
I grew up in a family and culture that believed that women were subservient to men (I know, hard to believe, given the mouthpiece on me now, eh?). We were supposed to be compliant, even to the point of putting up with abuse. And of course, I attracted the men who were only too happy to mirror that crap back to me (bless them). This carried over into my first couple of jobs – I was non-confrontational, introverted, and unable to say no. I ended up working 120 hours a week, doing the job of 5 people, while my boss, a man, watched me quietly kill myself. And I thought that was totally ok. It fit my definition perfectly.
Only, at some point, I simply couldn’t sustain that workload or pace. It broke me, and when it did, I had to admit that this paradigm, this definition, simply wasn’t working for me. Something had to change. I became aggressive, like the men I saw around me. I wore suits and barked orders and took no shit from anyone. I was the Amazonian Warrior Goddess that no one got to mess with. That felt more powerful, but I hated every minute of it and so did my employees. I didn’t want to be a tyrant. I didn’t want to be harsh and bullying. I didn’t want to go back to being a doormat, either, so there had to be middle ground, some kind of balance. I eventually found my way – I could be feminine and strong. I could be respectful and respected. I could be confident without being arrogant. I could be me. I envisioned myself less the strong warrior, pounding on her chest and having to prove her strength, and more the wise woman, whom no one would even consider messing with, not out of fear, but because they loved and respected her. And when I found my balance, I became exponentially more effective at my job. I redefined my identity and it brought me closer to happiness. I’ve been doing the same thing over and over since then.
How we define ourselves
The labels we use are varied: woman, man, mother, father, wife, husband, daughter, good person, healer, teacher, role model, straight, gay, transgender, wild, funny, silly, adult, child, introverted, extroverted, kind, tough, strong, weak, doormat, pushover, warrior, crone, young, old, middle-aged, rich, poor, competent, incompetent, intelligent, stupid, and on and on and on.
How do you define yourself? And what do those definitions mean to you? If you think you’re stupid, for example, ask yourself what that means? What would you have to do to prove to yourself that you’re intelligent? Is this a definition you still agree with? Does it serve you? How are your definitions affecting your relationships? You job? Your willingness to take risks and do what you really want to do? Your ability to set boundaries and stand up for yourself? Your ability to ask others for help?
Most of the blog posts on this site are and will continue to be about dissecting how we choose to define ourselves, and how to broaden those definitions. The bottom line is this: you get to choose how you define yourself. You get to choose which categories and how many of them you fit into. You get to choose how you want to define those categories. No one, for example, gets to tell you what it means to be a real woman. No one gets to define the parameters of intelligence (something academia is slowly figuring out. Just because you don’t know certain facts that others have defined as important, but often really aren’t, doesn’t make you stupid). Even concepts such as “good” or “bad” are entirely subjective. Instead of judging yourself based on definitions you never consciously agreed to, create better ones. Decide how you want to see yourself. Decide how you want to fit into the world. Drop all the should’s, have to’s and ought to’s. Drop all the narrowly defined obligations and requirements.
When you were young, they told you to just “be yourself”. What they didn’t tell you, is that YOU get to define exactly what that means. So, what do you want it to mean? Who do you want to be? And remember, none of these decisions are permanent. You get to redefine it all over again tomorrow, and the next day and the next.
Hi, my name is Melody Fletcher. And today, I’m a writer and a teacher, who’s sitting in a beautiful Spa, tending to my business while in another country. I’m a person who just had a piece of cake and feels absolutely no guilt about that (nor about the half bottle of Prosecco I polished off last night). I cry in public. I laugh loudly. I give long, smooshy hugs to everybody. I smile at grouchy people (especially at grouchy people). I stand up for myself. I’m kind and caring and nurturing and incredibly positive, but if you try to step all over my boundaries, I won’t hesitate to go full on bitch on you. I let people get away with loads of petty stuff that doesn’t matter to me. I actively look for joy. I play. I stay up late. I sleep in. I’m weird. I’m often nice to those who aren’t nice to others because I see their pain and desire to be loved. I will roll around on the floor with a dog, even when I’m wearing an evening gown. I wear white after Labor day and I use whatever damn fork I want to. I will go to a bar and happily drink nothing but water all night. I’m a hippie who gets pedicures. I’m a contradiction. I don’t fit into any predefined little boxes. Why would you?
Love the picture. To me it says don’t be so serious about every situation that comes up. I have much less fear in life my since I have been learning about the LOA. I’m a truck driver and since learning about the LOA my road rage has pretty much disappeared. I now make sure everyone who cuts me a break while out on the road that I wave to them and I’m thankful that they did. I cut people a break as well and feel good doing so.
Your name fits you well.
I’ve been following your blog for over a year.
It has been so enlightening and clarifying!
Just wanted to say, THANK YOU!!!!
Melody – don’t know if you do this or not but I’ve just nominated you for the “I Am Part of the WordPress Family Award” on my site at http://plaintalkandordinarywisdom.com/ive-been-nominated-for-the-i-am-part-of-the-wordpress-family-award/.
Thank You for being a member of my WordPress family! 🙂
Thanks so much Pat! I really appreciate it!
Sending you huge hugs,
Happy to spread the love Melody. You have such good messages – I wanted to share. 🙂
I like your explanations of labels and I love your free spirit Melody. I can see where we get funneled into one type or another, who knows where it begins, and we take on that role.
I’m in the middle of waking up from those roles and labels and enjoying it. Like you, it’s kind of exciting and adventurous. I’m enjoying the freedoms in my life right now.
I am a cluster of energy, which, when viewed by other clusters of energy with the attribute of eyesight, it looks like a human being. I carry the genes and the experiences of my ancestors in the blood that keeps me alive. I wish I could be more exact, but my moods, my choices and my behaviour change in the presence of different human beings.
When I shield my ears with wax against the noise and I close my eyes, tuning out most of the stimuli of what I perceive as the outer world, the only thing I am aware of is my breath and a feeling that my mission, whatever this could be, has failed long ago. I wish I were a lot of things but since I realised it is I who create this experience, it seems ridiculous and artificial to take the creation process seriously. We have also learned to do maths. But it’s boring to do calculations every day, plus, who cares if the result is the right one?
Frankly my dear, if you speak to God, tell him this game is so boring that His kids create experiences in their experiences, matching matches that don’t match. And it makes no difference that the variations can be endless, the principles are the same. Does God advertise this game in other worlds or is it some kind of secret manifestation for some serious s/m stuff in the universe, like a bonus stage or something?
This is super good Melody. We are so much more than any tiny definition we might choose. These labels simply cover over our awesome beingness that’s behind everything. Our awareness of being is simply I am. After all who’s the one who says I’m a woman, I am. Who’s the one who says I’m a wife, I am. You get the picture.
Everything other than that is stuff we’ve made up, stuff we heard when we were young, stuff we accepted as true. Bottom line none of it matters…so we might as well go right ahead and choose some absolutely fabulous labels for ourselves.
Gosh, girlfriend! That was SUCH a good post! I think I’m read it again!!!
Always big bear hugs back,
I think this quote be de Chardin explains beautifully exactly who you(we) are ……
We are not human beings having a spiritual experience, We are spiritual beings having a human experience.”
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
The wisest of all humans having been trying to awaken people to this Truth since the dawn of time (Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free – John 8:32 and even though this quote is from a religious book it has nothing whatsoever to do with or being bound within the confines of any set religion) unfortunately there is a little devil inside of us and in the many who wish to control us that doesn’t want us to know this simple truth and will do anything to keep it hidden , it is also the root cause of most if not all human suffering and problems , it is known by many names but the one name many know it by is EGO and it is this little devil ego that causes many to be angry , hurtful , spiteful , paranoid , fearful etc but do not despair for in order to awaken to the truth of who you(we) are only requires a simple shift in perception , the perception of who controls who , either you learn to control it or it will control you – it’s a simple change of mindset , now having said it’s simple does not in any way mean that it’s easy , it’s probably one of the hardest changes in self that anyone can ever make but once you learn to control it instead of it controlling you a whole new world opens up , it’s not unlike the transition of a caterpillar trapped in its’ cocoon and emerging as a beautiful Butterfly now able to fly free to explore the World it couldn’t achieve as a caterpillar.
Wow. Your question “who are you” hit a bit close to the mark today. And was pretty much exactly what I needed to help me excavate a troublesome corner of my Self that gets triggered two or three times a year and REALLY sucks!
I have a voice that for some acoustic reason I don’t begin to understand carries for *miles*. Seriously. When I give workshops, I don’t need a mic. I can call your name the length of a busy shopping mall, and you’ll hear me. It was great when I sang in the choir, but not so much the rest of the time. It was the bane of my life when I was a kid because I was *forever* being told to be quiet, to stop talking, that I was too loud. It made me withdraw so profoundly that I stopped speaking up in school, at work, anywhere, afraid of being “too loud”. For years I was pretty much invisible, until slowly, over the years, I got my “voice” back (now you have trouble shutting me up!). But, man, can I still get triggered!
In the past week, I have been told by 3 different people that I laugh too much, that I’m “too loud”, and that I am (apparently) too “ebullient”.
My response was as it’s always been: hurt, anger, resentment, embarrassment, all cycling rapidly. Then I read your post this morning. And re-read it. And said “enough”. This afternoon I faced down two of these people and told them that they were well out of line, that the problem is theirs, not mine, and that they can cheerfully kiss my Irish-Canadian backside if they think I’m going to tone down my natural self because they can’t handle it. The third person I’ve decided isn’t worth wasting time on.
Over the first half of this year, I have had some fairly cataclysmic insights (the kind that rock you back on your heels and make you say, “whoa, how the hell have I missed THAT for XYZ years?!?”) and made 3 major life-changing decisions that I’m making happen by year’s end: letting go of 2 people who bring nothing to my life but negativity, chaos & drama of Shakespearean proportions, quitting a job that has stopped being fun or rewarding, and moving. Letting go of other people’s view of how quiet I “should” be, or how often I laugh, or how ebullient and cheerful I am is going to be a forth.
I’ve read this post 3 times now, Melody, and it says more to me with each pass. To quote the inestimable Popeye, “I yam what I yam”. And you know what? If people don’t like it, this ageing-but-still-has-it Irish-Canadian behind is here for the kissing! Thank you a hundred hundred times!
It looks like a lot of us have been experiencing an ‘interesting’ last six months! I keep hoping that after everything falls off (ie falls apart), it will all come back together in a beautiful new mosaic. Sigh… hoping! I’m rediscovering a little piece right now, volunteering in a big spay/neuter campaign. The old ideas are so seductive! Congrats on breaking loose! Huge hugs,
‘We create who we are through the truths we choose.’ ~ Charles Eisenstein
Truth is nothing more than a state of integrity. Choosing which truth to buy into depends on which fits with greater integrity into all that we are, and, more importantly, all we strive to be.
Who do you choose to Be?
Oh by the way I invite you to read ‘We create who we are through the truths we choose’ here: https://www.facebook.com/NewDawnNewDay25
This is the first time I’ve ever commented on your site but I’ve been following you almost religiously for the past few months. I’m not one much for commenting on sites, but I just feel I really need to say thank you for all that you have helped me with, especially with today’s post. The past 6 months have actually been very hard for me as well, but the past few weeks’ posts have finally really got in me a place that I don’t think I’ve been to since I was way little. I started with the Law of Attraction with The Science of Getting Rich because it seemed to explain why my prayers had worked some of the time in the past and why they seemed to have stopped working the past 10 years. When I found your site, it all clicked and I was finally able to see where I was going wrong and how exactly (and simply, thank you 🙂 ) I needed to turn it around.
My label of myself, just from doing this and realizing that what I’m seeing in my life is only a reflection of how I’ve come to view myself, has so completely changed that I’m actually now confident in who I am. I’ve struggled with Social Anxiety since I was about 7, and the realization that I don’t have to try to get myself to change into something that is acceptable to society, but that I can actually attract those who will accept me for me, has gotten rid of almost all my anxieties. I’m actually ME around other people now 🙂
Sorry for the long post, but I really do just want to thank you. I know you say that you get your information from inspiration, but thank you for being the type of person who is willing to listen and be the instrument in giving this information. It takes a very special person to do that!
Trish, I loved your comment! I resonated with so much of it, especially the part about social anxiety…wow! Reading your words just helped me to also accept myself exactly as I am and just be me so thank you! 😀
That’s awesome, Marjorie! I’m so glad! It’s so nice to be able to just relax inside and just be, isn’t it? 🙂 It just makes everything so much brighter. I’ve never gotten this feeling from anything else and I think it’s because it’s the only thing that frees me while satisfying my need (and it is a need) to have other people in my life, too. I can love myself AND find people who love me too 🙂
Melody, you have a little typo, it`s the first of July. Thanks for the post. It`s very helpful.
Thanks Heidi! Fixed it! 🙂
Love how you described you who really are:) xx
Sure coming along the same road there, Big M. For the last few weeks or so somehow everything seems to have slipped into an identity analysis, not just myself but it would appear to be just about everywhere. Maybe the economic crisis is making lots of people rethink what they are doing which inevitably (or not, some may never make the connection) causes them to question why they are doing it and why they insist on defining themselves by the car or phone they have under peer-group pressure, but worst of all, defining themselves by what they do instead of doing what they are.
This personal turmoil for me stems from the difficulty I had in communicating with someone who had apparently created an identity for herself from self-help books, she knew all the theories and tried hard to live by what she had been told was the Truth, but to me all it did was to create barriers to her own (and mine) inner experience – certain activities and attitudes and kinds of music she allowed herself to listen too were taboo – a kind of self-enforced snobbishness which provided her with an identity. In all fairness, she was having a hard time with a crappy childhood syndrome so it’s not all clear-cut, sometimes people need an adopted reality to cling to until they feel ready to jump. What I hated – yes, hated, it drove me nuts! – was the lack of debate and the restrictions this relationship laid upon my own gut feelings, feelings that didn’t fit into the mould and therefore were to be discarded.
I like motorbikes. Sorry if I’m repeating myself here but the analogy works for me: on a bike, you can have lots of fun but there are Strict Limits to The Game; the edge of the road, that slow truck in front, cars coming towards you just when you reckoned on overtaking…but when the road is clear wow what fun, took that left-hander well within the limits but it still felt exhilarating. Riding also seems to lock a couple of channels out of your consciousness – you need them for the autopilot – and frees up the others which you don’t need, great for chewing things over. But when it comes to watching football, I’m not participating as such (just as well, I was hopeless anyway and no, I don’t mind) and the only thing I can do is join in with the tribal identity hit, while it lasts. But I’m weird too, of course.
I’ve definitely stripped away lots of onion-like layers (hope there’s more, I like mindsurfing!) and at last feel I’m living who I am, instead of how I saw myself.
“I find the definitions I’m currently using and I replace them with broader, much better feeling ones” Yup, but just let the definitions occur to you, if they do, but don’t allow yourself to slip back into a safe one if nothing has turned up…yet.
Open up, shift the need for an external identity and ride that wave! Yipeee!
It is only recently that I discovered you and I have to say that I am completely blown away by how all your blogs resonate. Like you I have been an ABE “disciple”, lived in Barcelona (presently in Vancouver) and still very much a “student”; continuously learning about being in joy, being aware of the abundance in all aspect of my life.
This most recent post has made me sit down and credit myself with so many accomplishments in life that have been going un-noticed. I needed to read this; to sit down and take stock of everything in my life and at the end of the exercise I am now smiling and again appreciative of my life; full of optimism. THANK YOU!
Melody, this one really hit home for me.
This has been a tough 6 months and I have been bouncing on the waves of change instead of riding them. I have never fit in to any single category or any 100 categories. I am me and from the outside it looks like I do what I want, when I want and how I want. For the most part I do, but not with out much heartache, regret and reflection. To be honest, I would be much happier if I could lock myself in my home and create art for the rest of my life.
I have spent my 49 years trying to be a better person, only to be sucked in to the negativity around me; reacting to it, thus being thrown into a state of imbalance and unhappiness on a pretty regular basis and then trying to numb that pain from bad choices with drugs and alcohol.
Life is definitely a long strange trip, and I have not enjoyed the ride. My biggest challenge is holding the energy instead of taking it on. I am an empath and so much more; but the empath part of me is unable to control the energy that surrounds me. I can hear peoples thoughts on occasion (I really try to stay out of others peoples heads) and can interpret feelings as if they are my own(all the time), most of the time taking the pain on for them. I stopped giving Reiki sessions because I would end up in bed crying and ill for days! It’s difficult to be in areas where there are a lot of people; it can be quite overwhelming.
I have thought I was crazy most of my life. The black sheep of the family and an embarrassment; if you listen to them. When all I ever saw was a bunch of unrighteous and selfish people who blamed me for their unhappiness. I am slowly cutting those ties, but they don’t want me to, which causes all other kinds of problems for me.
I am closer than I have ever been to living a life that I want, but also have never been further from it. I am at a crossroads, stuck at the yield sign. I appreciate your blog. I have set the intention (one of many) to save money to give you a call. Until then, I’ll be bouncing and/or riding the wave, depending on who I think I should be today. My goal is to be love, patience, compassion, joy, creativity and happiness; always. Love, Love, Love, Tomi
I really love reading your posts. One day (when I was supposed to be cleaning, oops) I spent hours and hours just reading your articles. I have learned so much from you. Although, that’s not what I stopped by to say.
For several months, my life has gone through major changes. Changes that I totally did not see coming. Nothing now is the same – and everything is still rapidly changing. One of the hard things for me, and probably others, is to ride that wave gracefully and with faith and trust that everything is working out perfectly. I can intellectualize and verbalize that is so, but really believing it at a cellular level is tough. That’s something I struggle with, and agonize how my doubts and fears affect what I’m drawing into my experience. I’m such a rookie.
And I’m not the same person I once was, and I think now the challenge is to find out who I am. Beats the heck out of me. A couple of the biggest labels I used to identify and describe myself no longer fit. That’s a little weird and uncomfortable, to be middle-aged and have to figure out how to re-define yourself. Yet, that’s where I am. Because the definition I used the last 20 years isn’t going to be the same description of me for the next 20 years. I guess life is like that, yes? A cycle of change?
Anyhoo – lots to ponder here. Thanks for sharing, this one really resonates with me – enough for me to comment which I normally don’t do as I’m a pretty private person. Oh wait, am I anymore? Don’t know if that one will make the new list.
Have a great day! 🙂 Much love coming your way!