Do you know who you are and how you influence your world? Understanding self has been a recurring theme these past few weeks. So much of our attention is focused outward, to process what influences us. Yet the greatest changes in life can happen when we put aside our externally influenced beliefs and world views and look deep inside ourselves to find truth.
It seems we avoid focusing within because of an underlying fear that we are broken beyond repair, or a belief that we will find unbearable imperfections. Yet I have discovered the opposite. As we courageously look within, we find amazing parts of who we are, a process that frees us from those unsubstantiated worries. As a friend shared with me, I was bracing myself, creating tension for the potential positive experiences I desired and keeping away the good experiences and qualities within myself. In essence I was holding what I wanted at bay.
As Rich Henning stopped by on his 500 mile walk to raise Post Traumatic Stress awareness, I celebrated and lent support to the organization Vets on the Farm. I was curious about how he mentally passes the time with each step on his long journey from Olympia, Washington to Montana. He identified music as helping him balance thoughts and spirit. As he described his path of post-traumatic stress recovery, specifically dealing with anger and blame, I identified with two commonalities.
First, he recognized what he called his “shortcomings;” the need to make different choices. Rather than blaming the world around him, he identified the role he played in each of his experiences. Some experiences required self-forgiveness, and others needed to be reprocessed more objectively. When he did this, he noticed that his life perspective changed. His second lesson was recognizing his desire to serve; to give back and become active within the community. This seemed to be a common theme among those he spoke with who are making headway with their trauma. Rebalancing became possible through a combination of trauma reprocessing and active contribution to the community.
Reflecting on my own experiences, I fully resonate with that journey of self-discovery. Understanding that authenticity, fearlessness, and freedom are my core values helps me navigate away from influences that no longer serve a purpose. Becoming more focused about my internal values helps me identify interpersonal relationships and world experiences that are more aligned with positivity and health.
Ironically, I can look back on those hard times in life and notice the many moments I was living these values. Now, I prefer to do it consciously, easily. Much like Rich’s journey, it reinvigorated a natural desire to share my experiences, serve others, and support the creative good in our community. Internal clarity creates the environment we desire, which, in turn, creates the change we wish to see.
Original article appears in Sibyl Magazine: For the Spirit and Soul of Woman