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Embracing Your Most Painful Memories Can Empower You

Embracing Your Most Painful Memories Can Empower You

Today I met and chatted with a woman who is what I call an “old soul”. You know how sometimes you meet someone and when you look into their eyes, you can tell there is so much depth to them? They have the biggest smiles and can light up the whole room with their radiant energy, but deep down, if you look close enough, there is a lot of pain. “Old souls” are said to have lived many lifetimes, full of wisdom and hearts of gold. I honestly think I was meant to chat with her.

She probably has no idea. but she has inspired me to write this article. I always talk about how tomorrow is never promised and we can’t take life for granted. Well, I gotta practice what I preach and stop waiting for the right moment. I need to make the moment right and grab the bull by the horns, so here goes.

Where I came from

Now I know there are a lot of other people on this planet that have been through hell and back and are still experiencing circumstances a lot worse than I can ever imagine, but seeing I am spilling my inner most thoughts to the world, I may as well have the courtesy to introduce myself properly and  allow you to get a better understanding of my background and where I’ve come from. I was born in Manila, Philippines.

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My parents weren’t exactly rich or even well off. Safe to say we were considered “lower class”. I still remember being 3 years old and terribly hungry. I was with my Papa and there was no food to be had. All we had in our shoe box home (imagine a tiny tin shed that barely even fit a car), was a bowl of rice that had been sitting there for days. Millions of ants crawling through it. My stomach was eating itself and as much as I didn’t want to eat the rice, I was famished. As I am writing this, I can remember the feeling of the ants crawling around in my throat. My mother worked hard and eventually brought me to Australia. I’m extremely grateful for all she had done and so unbelievably blessed that I have been able to grow up in such a wonderful country. The culture change at first was tough, but I settled in fine. I lived a pretty normal life.

It wasn’t until I was fourteen that my life took a turn. Life as I knew it changed for me at this age. Everything I knew was turned upside down. To try and fit most of it into one sentence, I have lived on the streets, couch surfed, stayed between multiple friends’ homes, been raped, molested, found myself in some very abusive relationships, been a drug addict, stripped, tried to commit suicide a few times and there was even a time my heart stopped beating and the doctors actually declared me “dead”. This was due to the night before when several men gang raped me and had put too much Rohypnol aka roofies into my system, causing my heart to stop. I actually still remember the out of body experience I had when I was supposed to be “dead”, but that is another story. Actually now I think of it, I’ve escaped death quite a few times. My time ain’t over yet! Lol.

Understanding who I am now

Now in saying all of that, I am not your typical case of “girl with messed up issues”. Only a couple of extremely close friends know this about me. Some of my close friends don’t even know any of this. My family have only just started to learn a small portion of what happened to me all of those years. Any one that knows me now would not even guess that I had been through half of the things I have. They would say that I’m bubbly, outgoing, and full of life. It took me a long time to come to terms with everything that has happened.

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It took me falling down on numerous occasions for me to wake up to myself. Looking back, I never did see the light at the end of the tunnel, there were times I just wanted to give up. I never thought I was worth much and it has been a journey to learn to embrace and love myself. As much as some of the things in my past was crazily painful at the time, I can honestly say that I don’t regret a single thing. If it wasn’t for being abused by men, I wouldn’t have the courage and the guts to stand up for myself as I do now. Ask anyone that knows me, I’m a tough little cookie and I won’t take crap from anyone. I know when to keep my mouth shut, but I know when the push comes to a shove. I know my worth, what I deserve and will no longer accept anything less. I have been manipulated by the best and for that I am thankful, as I have learnt to read and see straight through people and their deception.

These days, I choose my friends wisely. Only the genuine, positive and ones that add value to my life are who I spend my time with.  If it wasn’t for knowing what it was like to have nothing, I wouldn’t know how to appreciate the life I have now. I am like a child eating cake for the first time. Little things make me so happy. Watching the sunrise and set makes my heart skip a beat, hearing the waves of the ocean, chasing waterfalls and admiring it’s beauty, strolling by the water, eating a simple meal, snuggling on the couch in the warmth, all of these things that can easily be taken for granted is what brings a smile to my face.

I know what it’s like to be alone and to feel that there is no one on the planet that gives a damn. So when it comes to anyone in need, I am the first to offer assistance. If someone wants to talk about their problems, I will be their shoulder. I know what it’s like to make the wrong choices and do things that other people would frown upon and because of that, I am anything but judgmental. I do not discriminate on race or status.

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Only look back to see how far you have come

I realise we are all flawed in our own ways and that is what makes us unique. It’s a messed up kind of beautiful. Each and every single one of us have a story. We have all felt pain and happiness in different ways. Everything that has happened to us has helped shape us into who we are now. Don’t let the past define you. Take all of that pain, all of those tears, all of those sleepless nights, all of those times you never thought you would get through and use it as motivation.

You made it through, you were stronger than you thought. Use that pain to your advantage, use it to become a better version of you. Use it to win. Not against anyone else, win against yourself. Beat that voice inside of your head that is filled with doubt. You are better than that. Embrace those painful memories, take a second and reflect on how they have shaped you and look at just how far you have come.

You are strong, you are courageous and you are beautiful. How good does it feel to look at how much you have grown? Think to where you were last year, how about 5 years before that? Look how far you have come. Be proud. I think you should feel empowered.

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Don’t you?

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Last Updated on August 19, 2019

How to Be True to Yourself and Live the Life You Want

How to Be True to Yourself and Live the Life You Want

We live in a world that constantly tells us what to do, how to act, what to be. Knowing how to be true to yourself and live the life you want can be a challenge.

When someone asks how we are, we assume that the person does not mean the question sincerely, for it would lead to an in depth conversation. So telling them that you are good or fine, even if you’re not, is the usual answer.

In an ideal world, we would stop and truly listen. We wouldn’t be afraid to be ourselves. Instead, when we answer about how we are doing, our mask, the persona we show the world, tightens. Sometimes even more so than it might have been before. Eventually, it becomes hard to take off, even when you’re alone.

Imagine a world where we asked how someone was doing and they really told us. Imagine a world where there were no masks, only transparency when we talked to one another.

If you want to live in a world that celebrates who you are, mistakes and all, take off the mask. It doesn’t mean you have to be positive or fine all the time.

According to a Danish psychologist, Svend Brinkman, we expect each other to be happy and fine every second, and we expect it of ourselves. And that “has a dark side.”[1] Positive psychology can have its perks but not at the expense at hiding how you truly feel in order to remain seemingly positive to others.

No one can feel positive all the time and yet, that is what our culture teaches us to embrace. We have to unlearn this. That said, telling others you are ‘“fine”’ all the time is actually detrimental to your wellbeing, because it stops you from being assertive, from being authentic or your truest self.

When you acknowledge a feeling, it leads you to the problem that’s causing that feeling; and once you identify the problem, you can find a solution to it. When you hide that feeling, you stuff it way down so no one can help you.You can’t even help yourself.

Feelings are there for one reason: to be felt. That doesn’t mean you have to act on that feeling. It just means that you start the process of problem solving so you can live the life you want.

1. Embrace Your Vulnerability

When you are your true self, you can better self-advocate or stand up for what you need. Your self-expression matters, and you should value your voice. It’s okay to need things, it’s okay to speak up, and it’s okay not to be okay.

Telling someone you are simply “fine” when you are not, does your story and your journey a great disservice. Being true to yourself entails embracing all aspects of your existence.

When you bring your whole self to the table, there is nothing that you can’t beat. Here’re 7 benefits of being vulnerable you should learn.

Can you take off the mask? This is the toughest thing anyone can do. We have learned to wait until we are safe before we start to be authentic.

In relationships especially, this can be hard. Some people avoid vulnerability at any cost. And in our relationship with ourselves, we can look in the mirror and immediately put on the mask.

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It all starts with your story. You have been on your own unique journey. That journey has led you here, to the person you are today. You have to be unafraid, and embrace all aspects of that journey.

You should seek to thrive, not just survive. That means you do not have to compete or compare yourself with anyone.

Authenticity means you are enough. It’s enough to be who you are to get what you want.

What if for the first time ever, you were real? What if you said what you wanted to say, did what you wanted to do, and didn’t apologize for it?

You were assertive, forthcoming in your opinions or actions to stand for what is right for you, (rather than being passive or aggressive) in doing so. You didn’t let things get to you. You knew you had something special to offer.

That’s where we all should be.

So, answer me this:

How are you, really?

And know that no matter the answer, you should still be accepted.

Bravery is in the understanding that you still may not be accepted for your truth.

Bravery is knowing you matter even when others say that you do not.

Bravery is believing in yourself when all evidence counters doing so (i.e. past failures or losses)

Bravery is in being vulnerable while knowing vulnerability is a sign of strength.

It’s taking control.

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2. Choose Your Attitude in Adversity

You can take control of your destiny and live the life you want by being true to yourself. You can start anytime. You can start today.

You can start with one day at a time, just facing what happens that day. Most of us get overwhelmed when faced with the prospect of a big change. Even if the only thing we change is our attitude.

In one instant, you can become a different person with a change of attitude. When you take control of your attitude, you become able to better understand what is around you. This allows you to move forward.

Originally, you may have had a life plan. It could have started when you were little; you were hoping to become a mermaid, doctor, astronaut or all three when you grew up. You were hoping to be someone. You were hoping to be remembered.

You can still dream those dreams, but eventually reality sets in. Obstacles and struggles arise. You set on a different path when the last one didn’t work out. You think of all the “shoulds” in your life in living the life you want. You should be doing this…should be doing that…

Clayton Barbeau, psychologist, coined the term “shoulding yourself.’[2] When we are set on one path and find ourselves doing something different. It becomes all the things you should be doing rather than seeing the opportunities right in front of you.

But in all this disarray, did you lose sight of the real you?

It may be in our perceived failures and blunders that we lose sight of who we are, because we try to maintain position and status.

In being who we really are and achieving what we really want, we need to be resilient: How to Build Resilience to Face What Life Throws at You

It means that we do not see all possibilities of what might happen, but must trust ourselves to begin again, and continue to build the life we want. In the face of adversity, you must choose your attitude.

Can attitude overcome adversity? It certainly helps. While seeking to be true to yourself and live the life you want, you will have to face a fact:

Change will happen.

Whether that change is good or bad is unique to each person and their perspective.

You might have to start over, once, twice, a few times. It doesn’t mean that everything will be okay, but that you will be okay. What remains or should remain is the true you. When you’ve lost sight of that, you’ve lost sight of everything.

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And then, you rebuild. Moment after moment, day after day. We all have a choice, and in this moment, that matters.

You can choose to have a positive attitude, seeing the silver lining in each situation and, where there is none, the potential for one. Maybe that silver lining is you and what you will do with the situation. How will you use it for something good?

That’s how you can tap into yourself and your power. Sometimes it happens by accident, sometimes on purpose. It can happen when we aren’t even looking for it, or it can be your only focus. Everyone gets there differently.

You can rise, or you can remain. Your choice.

When the worst happens, you can rely on your authenticity to pull you through. That’s because Self Advocacy, speaking up to let others know what you need, is part of finding the real you.

There is nothing wrong with asking for help. Or sometimes, helping others can help us deal with the pain of a hurtful situation. You decide how you’re going to help others, and suddenly, you become your best self.

3. Do What Makes You Happy When No One’s Looking

Being the best version of you has nothing to do with your success or your status. It has everything to do with your Character, what you do when no one’s looking.

In order to create the life you want, you have to be the person you want to be. Faking it till you make it is just a way to white knuckle it through your journey. You have the fire inside of you to make things right, to put the pieces together, to live authentically. And Character is how you get there.

If you fall down and you help another up while you’re down there, it’s like you rise twice.

Along with attitude, your character is about the choices you make rather than what happens to you.

Yes, it’s about doing the right thing even when obstacles seem insurmountable.  It’s about using that mountain you’ve been given to show others it can be moved.  It’s about being unapologetically you, taking control, choosing your attitude in adversity and being the best version of you to create the life you want.

How do you know what you really want? Is it truly status or success?

Unfortunately, these things do not always bring happiness. And aspects of our image or “performance driven existence” may not achieve satisfaction. Materialism is part of our refusal to accept ourselves as enough. All the things we use to repress our true selves are about being enough.

“Enoughness” is what we truly seek, but ego gets in the way.

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Ego is the perception of self as outer worth. It’s not REAL self worth.

Ego represses our true self with a new self— the self of chasing ‘“Am I ever enough?”’ questions. And instead of filling our true selves with self-love and acceptance, when we “should ourselves” and chase “enoughness,” we feed the ego or our image.

It’s important to realize YOU ARE ENOUGH, without all the material trappings.

Stanford psychologist Meagan O’Reilly describes the damage of not thinking we are enough. One of her tactics for combating this is to complete the sentence,[3]

“If I believed I were already enough, I’d ____”

What would you do if you felt you were enough?

By believing you are enough, you can live the life you want.

So many fake it to try to get there, and they end up losing themselves when they lose more and more touch with their Authenticity.

Final Thoughts

By being yourself, you are being brave. By acknowledging all you can be, you tell the universe that you can until you believe it too. The steps are easy, and you are worth it. All of it is about the purpose you are leading and the passion that is your fuel.

Being true to yourself is all about mastering how to live life authentically rather than faking or forcing it. Having the life you want (and deserve) is about being trusting in yourself and the purpose you are living for. Both need passion behind it, fueling it each second, or you will experience burn out.

When you are authentic, you can call the road you walk your own. When you live your life for you and not just the results of all your actions (faking it till you make it), you can let go of what you don’t need. This clarifies and pushes purpose to you, living for something that is greater than you.

You will find that making decisions based on what will actually achieve your goals, will help you attain the life you want, and your success with each step, will allow you to enjoy the process. Good luck!

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Featured photo credit: Ariana Prestes via unsplash.com

Reference

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