Welcome to the Transformation Through Journaling column with Identity writer, M. Shannon Hernandez. As owner of The Writing Whisperer, Shannon coaches and motivates women to hone their writing skills, particularly in non-fiction and business writing. Join her on the journey of transformmation with creative journalism. Identity Magazine and The Writing Whisperer have been hosting Transformative Journaling Courses, and this month we are featuring one of our participant’s pieces.
By Theresa Venezia
I have been doing a lot of self-reflection in the past weeks. With this new moon, there has been so much coming forward for everyone. One thing that stands out as I reflect on my own life is how deeply women (myself included) are affected by what others say.
The idea of adopting other people’s opinions of you starts in early childhood. Our parents’ perception of us helps form our character. Think about it–I’m sure that there is something that at least one of your parents said that has stuck with you through the years. For some reason, the negative things are easier for us to hold onto than the positives. If your mother told you every day that you were the most wonderful person in the world, you believed it–until that one day that you made a choice that she didn’t like. Suddenly, she is telling you that you are a bad girl and you can see the disappointment in her eyes. Chances are that this was a very traumatic experience for you, so this becomes the memory that you hold onto, instead of all the times that she told you how wonderful you were.
We carry this type of behavior through all of our relationships as we move through life–close friendships, romantic relationships, teachers, doctors, etc. The fact is, when people who we really respect have an opinion, we tend to give that opinion more credence than we give what we know as TRUTH deep down inside.
Constructive criticism can be good, WHEN WE ASK FOR IT and when it comes from those that love us. When someone gives you criticism that is unsolicited, it very often blindsides us. We are not sure where it is coming from, so we, as women, tend to bring it inside of us instead of discarding it as we probably should.
We often take these words and run them over and over, looking for a place to make them fit. There HAS to be a place for this to fit, or WHY would someone say it?
Here’s why: That person is in a bad space. They are feeling things about themselves that they are projecting onto us. We don’t know every nuance of someone’s life experience, no matter how well we know him or her. There could be something about us or about our life that is triggering a memory or emotion from within that person. And it turns out that my own parents were right about this. Very often it is some form of jealousy or frustration within their own life.
I’ve recently had a very deep experience with this in my own life. The work that I do with people is very deep, meaningful, and spiritual in nature. For this reason, I need to make sure that I keep my own agenda out of things when I am in a session with one of my clients. It is completely about my clients and where they are at that given moment. In the language of many spiritual traditions, this translates to “leaving the ego out of it.” I know that if I ever let my ego get too involved in my work, the Universe will no longer allow me to work in this capacity.
Years ago, I had a thriving practice when a spiritual teacher told me (without me asking), “Your ego is getting involved.” This was the absolute worst thing that she could say to me, and she knew it. As the words came out of her mouth, I felt that they had no place in my life and were not true. So, did I just leave them there? Of course not, or I wouldn’t be writing this article! I took them with me. I looked at every place in my life, and I couldn’t rectify them with anything! Instead of discarding them at this point, I STILL kept them around.
The cost? I lost ALL ability to communicate to others about the work that I was doing.
I became so deeply afraid that if I told people about the nature of my work and the countless people who had been helped by it, I would not be sustained. The funny thing is this: by going into that place of fear and closing down my communication I manifested exactly that–scarcity. You see, ego is not just about bragging. It is also about being afraid. When we are afraid, we are making a conscious choice to keep ourselves small and deny the world the joy of knowing what we are here to do for it!
I can say that I am just about finished releasing this unsolicited criticism, years later. The more time that passes in which you hold onto and nurture these negative thoughts, the longer it takes to untangle them from your life. I wish that in that moment, I had just left the comment out there in the air instead of breathing it in. By now, it has consumed a lot of my energy and resources–in essence, it has fed off of me for years. Instead of a split second, it has taken a lot of time and resources to get my ability to communicate back.
Later on, the same person told me that I would take a severe pay cut if I left the career that I had been in for many, many years in order to help people heal. I laughed at her and said that she is the one who taught me about manifesting my dreams and that it simply wasn’t true. Do you know what? I shattered my business goals for that first year! BUT, a funny thing happened around December of that same year.
I started believing that I would need to take a pay cut, as she had suggested. That small group of words she had strung together stayed around and burrowed itself deep within me for THAT LONG, manifesting in my life after that much time had passed! I realized that I had once again adopted something that was completely and utterly untrue. This time, I was able to let go of it much faster. I went straight to my vision board and got clear about what I would need to sustain and grow a healing practice in that year.
This has been my journey, and I thought that maybe I was just susceptible to this sort of thing. Recently, however, one of my beautiful students told me that she had had a life coaching session with someone who told her that she really needed to stop the work she was doing (work that makes her heart sing, by the way) and refocus her energies in a direction that would make her money quickly. Since my student was struggling a bit, financially, she listened. She stopped seeing clients doing the work that she loved and became very confused. Her house became incredibly disorganized–an outward symptom of what her mind was becoming. She became depressed and shut herself down.
So I am left with this question: WHY do we, as women, STILL allow the words of others affect us so deeply?
Women are natural nurturers. Even if a relationship is not healthy, we tend to stick around to make sure that we have done everything that we can do in the hopes of making it work or helping the other person. We all have experiences with toxic relationships, and chances are that THESE are the people whose words we are holding onto.
Sometimes the most loving, nurturing thing that we can do for ourselves and for another is hold our center and be a mirror. As soon as someone criticizes us or something we do, ESPECIALLY if it is unsolicited criticism, we can let it bounce off of us. If it doesn’t land, it has no place to go but back to the sender, and she will be left standing there looking at how it resonates in her own life.
The time is changing. We are now in a feminine paradigm, and these old ideas will no longer be supported. We are being called to stand FULLY in our Feminine Power. This is not just our femininity or the manipulation that can come with using it. We are being called to center ourselves in our Power. Are you ready to take a stand? I AM.
The Evolution of a Soul
I am a blink of the eye of our Father Mother God
I am a piece of the Divine, equal and connected to all of the other pieces
I am a product of all of the experiences of this soul in all lifetimes
I am a merging of the hopes and dreams parents, grandparents, and all ancestors living on in my genes
I am a gathering of microscopic particles, each with
I am a channel for the Love and Light of the Divine
I am a student and teacher of the Light
I am a conduit of the infinite wisdom of the sciences of yoga and Ayurveda
I am a priest
I am a vessel for the energy of the angelic realm
I am your biggest cheerleader
I am your mirror
I am space for you to relax into
I am Infinite Wisdom
I am Love
And I love you fiercely, freely and unconditionally
I AM THAT
Identity Magazine is all about empowering women to get all A’s in the game of life — Accept. Appreciate. Achieve.TM Every contributor and expert answer the Identity 5 questions in keeping with our theme. As a team, we hope to inspire and motivate ourselves and inspire you to get all A’s.
What have you accepted in your life that took time, physically or mentally?
I have accepted that change is the only constant in life. Change can be very painful or joyful–sometimes both at the same time. As a child, I wanted everything to stay exactly the same. I would pray (and try) to stop time so that everyone I loved would stay with me forever. It took a long time to fully surrender to the constant change, but I’m there.
What do you appreciate about yourself and within your life?
Personally, I appreciate my tenacity. I don’t give up until I succeed.
Within my life, I appreciate humor. I’ve learned that laughter truly IS the best medicine. Lessons often come to me in a humorous way. At one point in life, I decided that I would not date anyone who did not understand Looney Tunes references. The next person I went on a date with made a reference to Gossamer (the giant red monster) on our first date. I married him.
What is one of your most rewarding achievements in life? What goals do you still have?
One of the most rewarding achievements in my life has been becoming a priest. I’ve always felt called to be a Teacher of Light, and the religion that I grew up practicing does not allow women to become priests.
Thankfully, I found a place where I fit in that capacity. I love performing spiritual ceremonies of all types!
I have many goals. My biggest one at the moment is to open a holistic healing center. I want people to people to have a place to stay where they can receive the highest quality treatments and therapies in order to heal physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual issues before returning home or transitioning to the next life.
What is your not-so-perfect way? What imperfections and quirks create your Identity?
My not-so-perfect way is perfectionism. I’m a firstborn child, and embody all of the traits that come with that.
How would you complete the phrase “I Love My…?”
I love my eyes. I love their physical form, as well as their artistic ability to see things from a completely different perspective than most. I also love that they see beyond the seen.