Facedown In The Arena

On my quest to find the subject for this month’s post, I was led to Brene Brown’s book Rising Strong, where she writes about being facedown in the arena. Her inspiration comes out of a quote born from Theodore Roosevelt’s 1910 “Man In The Arena” speech:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly;…who at the best knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.”

Our facedown moments can be major life-changing experiences, from the diagnosis of an illness to a tough breakup, or they can be comprised of the small pains in life, from feeling someone’s judgment to uncovering a lie. We all have been figuratively facedown in the dust several times, and that ass kicking is just a piece of this whole process of waking up, especially when it comes to trusting our gut instinct. I myself have a habit of putting excessive thought into what I do or experience. This over-analysis is paralyzing when it comes to being clear-headed and making a good decision. For those of us who overthink, we can have hyperfocus, but put that focus on something you strongly desire, like attention or acceptance, or that focus can turn to something else, like trauma or a negative thought pattern. It creates a situation where you can easily overlook your gut instinct and miss all the red flags popping up.

The arena? All those moments in life where you dared to show up and risked being seen. While Brene goes on to write a whole book using her research and storytelling on how to rise up strong from our facedown moments, my mind started taking inventory on the times that I dared to allow myself to feel something, put myself out there in an uncomfortable situation, allowed myself to be open, love or be loved, have the experience or to dream. The creation of this blog and each post was one of those moments. It’s a chance for me to be vulnerable and share my story as it unfolds. I wanted not just to express myself but to share my perspective. We can not transition into who we want to be if we don’t see the patterns that define the old self that traps us in the past. I know I am long overdue for some risk-taking, discomfort and fun. How about you? When is the last time you colored outside the lines?

What comes to mind this month are distractions. All these things that I think I have to do, most of which I am not doing well. I’ve said it time and time again that we all have a list of shit that gets in our way and the level of energy that can go into our distractions stems from sitting in a place of fear and unknowing. It’s an idle feeling. We do our best to distract ourselves from the fact that we are not living up to our truth or that we are not sure exactly what that truth is.  If your not careful your ego can suck you into a vacuum of feeling defeated, which, coupled with a lack of self-trust, can be a recipe for miscommunication and disaster.

Sometimes we throw ourselves into a distraction or allow one to fester because of our lack of answers. It’s a way to take our minds off of the powerful pull for something more; It can be painfully frustrating not knowing what that idea is or how to get there. There will always be bumps in your journey but sometimes you need a damn bomb to go off to help course correct and reveal some information about your next steps. Souls will enter into your life to help with that, so you can see the current reality you are creating. Often, it can be rough. It’s not easy to see yourself coming back at you. We can feel when we are caught up in something that’s in misalignment with who we really are. I am always grateful for the souls that bring such valuable information. We all need that proverbial slap in the face once in a while!

The other thing that kept coming up was boundary lines or the lack thereof. You teach people how to treat you, what you will put up with from them, and what they can expect from you via boundary lines. Without healthy boundary lines, you are at the mercy of others.  Your precious time and energy can be wasted doing and feeling what others want instead of following your own wants and needs. This can go on for a lifetime and have a tremendous impact if you never see the pattern. According to what I have read up on, setting and sustaining boundaries is a skill that many of us are not good at.  

Personally, I believe the caretaker role I was chosen to fulfill as a kid has had a huge impact on how I create boundary lines. My mother was a widow and I knew from an early age that I was the chosen one for this role. I made many decisions based on guilt, wondering how my mother would ever get along without me, and not wanting to let her down. Be careful and aware if you are doing things via guilt and putting everyone else’s needs before yours; it’s only a matter of time before you wind up with a boatload of resentment festering in your soul.

A few years after settling into a new home I was talking to a friend who was a therapist and I happen to be telling her about how my mom lives downstairs and the door is always open. She stopped me and said, “your mom has complete access to your space?” The answer was yes. She could come up or yell up and interject herself into my space anytime she wanted and there was always the never-ending sound of her television blaring in the background of my daily existence. My friend said you have no boundary lines with her and that I should not just close the door, but lock it. It was the first time I was made aware that I was allowed to have a boundary line with her, yet just the thought of closing the door, much less locking it, created fear and anxiety for me.

I always thought that I was doing the right thing by my mom. I always understood that she didn’t want to be alone or forgotten. Closing the door between us made me feel like I was being mean and that it wasn’t a very loving thing to do. On the other hand, I was already aware of all the compromises I made for most of my life with her.  I have built major relationships in the same way. I was already carrying around resentment, guilt, fear, frustration and a slight bit of annoyance by it all, and let’s not forget the co-dependency. I came across a post from the Harley Therapy Counseling Blog about the 12 Signs you Lack Healthy Boundaries (And why you need them), and it seemed as though I was in alignment with almost all 12 of the signs.

I recently had an experience that helped me to see some of these unhealthy, old patterns that I can still function from. Sometimes the toughest lessons come through the most unsuspecting people. I observed my lack of clarity and how much of my power I was willing to give away. How passive I can be when it comes to protecting myself because I equate making a strong boundary line with being mean to someone else. It was unnerving and un-present. There comes a time when you need to redefine your mean. It was a quick and powerful lesson that gave me the insight I needed to begin to change a very ingrained pattern of my old self. I trust in the timing of everything and know that everything goes down exactly how it is supposed to because we create it. There is no such thing as a mistake, only lessons, and these lessons will be repeated until you learn it and can move forward in life.

Someone once told me they didn’t worry much because they were blessed. Yes, we are all blessed, we are all a product of God and his divine universal energy, we are all also blessings to each other. We wouldn’t have an understanding of who we are and what we are creating for ourselves if we didn’t have each other and the experiences we bring to one another. Every action, good or bad, carries karmic energy. When you choose to do harm to another, directly or indirectly, it’s on you. You reap what you sow. Know that every situation is designed by the universe to bring you to your highest good and personal growth.

When you quiet your mind and focus on your consciousness, that is you calling on your spirit. As we grow and mature emotionally we experience growing pains. They don’t always feel good, and you will have them at every stage of your life because the learning never ends. If you really believe that you are different, have the courage to not fall victim to the crowd. Know when you are giving your power away and being controlled by another. If you feel heartache, anger, and frustration it’s because you are going against your own self and who you believe you are. Stand tall, walk with your head up, right a wrong if you feel you have to and never make yourself small. Stay valid!

So how do you find redirection?  Refer to blog post number one: Self Love and Courage! Start by loving yourself again. It may sound simple or corny but it is something to practice every day or you lose sight of yourself. To get clear, loving ourselves is when we are in one or more of these states to yourself or to someone else: Compassion, Courage, Calm, Curiosity, Connectedness, Confidence, Clarity and Creativity.  So, can you have compassion for the part of you or another that doesn’t always show up as your/their best self? When you have negative self-talk and beat yourself up about something can you get curious or clear about it instead? Take your time, life is not a race, I learned the hard way about taking baby steps and I still have to remind myself how important it is.

I have often wondered what it was that I was white knuckling in life and Maxie McCoy in her book, I’m Not Lost, helped me see the light. The steering wheel of desire! She is right when she says that it takes over all your waking thoughts. You think about your thinking and rethinking how to bring everything together, how to get to where you want to go, and for many of us, it needed to happen yesterday. I have had a wicked obsession with figuring it all out. Baby steps, baby steps, baby steps!

It would be remiss of me if I didn’t bring up integrity. When I was researching distractions and boundary lines I came across a post on integrity and what it meant to live with it. Many of us would say that we are good and honest and believe we live this way but I learned there’s more to it than that. I also received my first copy of Science of the mind which was a gift from a friend. The March edition published an article on the art of spiritual integrity by Dr. Dennis Merritt Jones. Living with spiritual integrity is the practice of a lifetime. It’s knowing how to bring divine spiritual wisdom into every aspect of your life. In the words of Erich Fromm, It’s not violating your own identity. It’s about awakening to the sacred self and staying present. It’s all the things listed in the quote below. Learning all this had me realizing how much we all go against our own integrity on a regular basis on some level.

My beloved warriors, I know that we have all been there, feeling facedown beaten and bruised. It’s tough. It can be defeating knowing that you have to start the process of rising strongly again. We all suffer setbacks and get caught up in things we shouldn’t. There is no room for self-judgment and even less room for what anyone else thinks. Have love, kindness, and forgiveness, first and foremost for yourself and then for others. Trust the process which means trusting in yourself again. We came here with all we need. Anything you think you lack is an illusion that you picked up along the way. You have always been worthy. Love yourself and your future self now, so you can make the decisions you need to make and take the actions you need to take. Take that first step forward, be brave enough to look at your true self, start weeding out low vibrational thoughts, words, deeds, patterns, behaviors, beliefs and people that are not serving your higher sacred self. Move out of the idle space you’re in. The beauty of being in this place is there is only one way to go and that’s up. Keep shining your light, keep loving, stay humble and always find it in your heart to forgive, the world needs more of that kind of sweetness. I love you and I am grateful for you and this life. Keep holding down the front lines. We’re in this together.

Here is a video from Fearless soul with 5 ways to get back on track when you have lost your way.

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