the disease of people pleasing

Where do I even begin writing about my life changes since meeting up with my dear friend Alexandra Marlene a few months ago?

Alexandra is a true conduit for the Divine Feminine. I have no doubt she is here to lovingly and ferociously shake up humanity in delivering a message the world is ready to hear NOW. She and I initially met on a yoga retreat to India a few years ago, and reconnected last November. Through her presence and friendship, I’ve been able to access deep parts of myself…belief systems so ingrained that I couldn’t see how they were running my life. It has been a profoundly healing and transformative ride.

For one thing, I never really understood how I was a people pleaser, till I took up a recent contract job with my previous employer. The workplace dynamics of hierarchy and subservience that I observed were an assault to my senses. One colleague’s overly servile behaviour particularly irked me. This is pathetic, I thought. We’re still just a bunch of secretaries running around, kowtowing to the (male) powers that be. What the hell am I doing here?!

ppl pleasing

One of Alexandra’s core teachings is as within, so without: everything in our outer world is simply a mirror to what’s happening within. And so it didn’t take long to discover that the people pleasing I perceived triggered me because I was identifying with it.

I’m now seeing my people pleasing tendencies everywhere. In my impulses to stick in smiley faces and exclamation points on work emails, so as to not sound bossy or unpleasant. In the habit of justifying or explaining myself when I think I’m disappointing someone. In my deferential behaviour towards those in ‘authority’. Even on this blog! It’s a habitual way of being, and it’s fascinating to see how it’s permeated my life.

Why do so many women people please? (Because let’s face it, this seems to be a woman thing.) After much inner excavation, I know where my own inclinations come from. And I have compassion for the little girl who desperately wanted to be liked and accepted, and who felt responsible for the well-being of those around her. For her, being ‘nice’ – compromising herself – was the only option. Disapproval = rejection = abandonment. Major fear. Survival.

But what about the woman she is now? Does she need to carry all that around? Is it serving her to pretend? Can she finally stop feeling so responsible for others? Does she get that she never had that kind of power to begin with?

And how ‘nice’ is she really being, if she’s pretending? Does inauthenticity, in any form, serve anyone?

There’s nothing wrong with nice, if it’s coming from an authentic place. It’s a problem when we get that icky feeling within…when we know we’re not acting in integrity with how we truly feel. Some of us have been doing it so long we don’t even know how we truly feel in the first place!

We get used to betraying ourselves. It becomes so normal we don’t even realize it’s happening. And then we wonder why we’re so depleted and resentful.

I judged my co-workers, because what I observed in them activated the severe discomfort of my own self-betrayal. People pleasing now feels like a hazy film that’s coated all my relationships. What could life look like with this film removed? How will I show up?

Will I become selfish, as the ego warns? Probably – but in the most beautiful way. Loving of self…none of my energy bound up in pretending…free to give even more of my real self back to those around me. Not threatened when others are their true selves too. Authentic, self-expressed, clear…yes.

It’s time for the people pleasing to stop. It’s time for self-compassion as we understand what created it. As long as we fear what others think of us, we will always play small and suppress our real power. The energies are here to support a new way of being. I believe we are ready to rise to the occasion.

i’m not passionate, just curious

Last weekend I listened to a fabulous interview with Liz Gilbert, author of Eat Pray Love (or EPL, as my bloggette pals like to call it) and The Signature of All Things. The discussion was full of gems, but what stood out was Liz’s take on passion.

‘Passion’ can be such pressure! Find your passion. Go after your passion. Live your passion. In Liz’s words, passion is a very ‘rock star’ state of being. But for many of us, including me, our passion is not obvious.  We can’t pinpoint it to something specific.

i took this by accident, but i like it

i took this by accident, but i like it

When our passion is not clear, we may feel bad about ourselves. We perhaps feel inept that we can’t find it, or assume we don’t have one.  We become blocked and discouraged. We believe passion should be *big*, so we don’t train ourselves to watch for more subtle cues from the universe. Maybe we don’t think those cues exist.

Liz suggests going with curiosity instead. Now this I can get on board with! The word ‘curious’ is showing up for me a lot lately. A few weeks ago, I watched a YouTube interview featuring the wonderful Danielle LaPorte, who wrote The Fire Starter Sessions – a hugely motivating manual on how to get-off-your-ass-and-start-really-living.  (This book has inspired me on so many levels, and is partly responsible for me quitting my job!)

Danielle spoke about discovering the top five feelings we want to cultivate in our lives, and living from those states, rather than focusing solely on achieving goals or acquiring ‘stuff’.

Curiosity made my list.

There are so many things I’m curious about; I couldn’t stop wanting to know ‘why’ if I tried! Curiosity keeps me interested in, and ever-learning about, life.  This is very important to me, as I don’t ever want to assume I know it all.  I especially want to stay curious about people. And our role in the mystery of the cosmos. (Ok, that’s another post.)

Curiosity is very powerful.  It will never burn out. It stokes itself!

I’m certainly not discounting passion; it can be a very good thing (hehe). But passion can be viewed as a sweet, deepening revealing, rather than something I have to find, now.  I’m relieved to take that pressure off myself.  And curious to see what unfolds as a result. 😉

 

the power of the women’s circle

Today is the final day of a 3-day sacred women’s circle I’m part of. I didn’t even know about the event until just a few days ago. It popped up on my Facebook wall (on the Full Moon, hmmm) and, despite my recent resolve to not spend money on retreats and workshops for the next little while, I knew immediately that I had to go. Not only would I be connecting with women in my own city, we would be learning the steps to facilitate our own women’s circles – gatherings where women come together to connect with each other deeply and authentically.

josephine wall, 'spirit of flight'

josephine wall, ‘spirit of flight’

I’ve always been intrigued by the idea of leading women’s circles, so I trusted the divine timing at play and signed myself up before the doubting inner voice could talk me out of it.

After two days, what I know is this:

Few things are more powerful than women coming together in sacred circle to heal (individually and collectively).

Women can really go there when held in a trusting environment. Our emotional depth and our capacity to self-express makes my head spin (in a good way)!

It feels amazing to sit with a group of conscious women and feel truly seen and heard. Feeling that total acceptance is like coming Home. When judgment does come up, it is usually acknowledged (internally or externally), and dealt with.

-When women create sacred space with intention, magic happens. I mean real, palpable magic. The energy is electric. The power we can tap into when we are united is astounding.

I live two different lives: the one I present to the outside world, and the one in circle. In sacred space with my soul sisters (yes, even those I’ve only met two days ago!), I can relax and be truly Me, with no pretense. I can say things I would never ‘normally’ say out loud. Women can allow this for each other. It is possible. And when it happens, it is fucking amazing.

-Our society is set up such that women are often in judgment and competition with each other. It’s ingrained in most of us, and it takes constant conscious awareness to override this programming. Not an easy task when our triggers get activated and the pain runs so deep – not only in our present life experience, but in our ancestors/genes (DNA).

It is what it is for now, and it’s much more manageable when we have support and can see the bigger picture.

Women are waking up. And a lot of us really want men to be along for the ride, by our side, the Divine Masculine to our Divine Feminine. Both men and women can rise to a level of greatness that Planet Earth has not yet seen. The road to get there is not for the faint of heart…but it’s OH-SO-WORTH waiting for!)

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I didn’t know the importance of authentic connection with women, or how much I needed it, till I experienced it for the first time a few years ago. A whole new world opened up.

This is where the Divine Feminine happens – when women gather together with the intention to awaken her. She is found in the real, raw, uncomfortable, deep, soulful, exhilarating, hilarious gatherings of women in our communities, in our backyards. The effects of those gatherings ripple out and transform all.

I’m driven to do this work…it’s exhausting and out of my comfort zone, it’s messy, and it brings up a lot of unpleasant stuff. I certainly can’t say it’s fun. But I feel alive when I’m doing it. I feel I’m tapping into something so Real in the midst of a grand illusion. This stuff matters. And I want more of it in my life.

And so it is.