For years I hid. Hid behind brands and labels, coats and hats, chef knives and hot pans, bullying and criticism of others, substances altering all reality and one harmful relationship after another. What or who are you hiding behind?
When I began this chapter of my journey a little over a year ago, I was hit with the harsh reality that it was time to take a literal look in the mirror. Had I ever truly done that before? I would take quick glances, make sure nothing was in my teeth, but had I ever truly looked at who was staring back at me? There were many layers of pain, tiredness, anger and a mountain of years of other hidden unfelt emotions. When I stripped myself of the mask that had taken over my life and my career, I stood naked before myself ready to embark on my new mission of finding myself and embracing my passions.
So what did I do? Here are three things that I found work for me.
1. Slow down:
I took baby steps and started asking myself questions. I had gone 36 years in hiding, I was not going to change everything in a day.
2. Start talking to yourself:
I asked questions such as "What do you enjoy, Stephanie? What kind of person are you really? And the doozy, what are you afraid of?"
The reality is that all of that hiding ran deep and started young, all covering up who I truly was out of fear. Why? In the book The Dark Side of the Light Chasers the description Debbie Ford gives of what occurs when we are young rang so true to me. Essentially (I will paraphrase) When we are little our minds are a castle with an endless amount of hallways and doors to rooms. Every room is a character trait that as a child, we decorate and cherish. That is until someone tells us that it is a negative trait. "You are such a big mouth; you never shut up" One door closes. "You are not good at art. Give it up." Slam. "You should wear dresses or something more feminine." And there goes a few more. So on and so forth through the years we close one door after another until we are left with a few doors open that we have deemed "good" traits of ourselves. The reality is there is no good and there is no bad. We are all in everything, capable of everything, and a reflection of everything. So, I infer, if I am everything, then I can be anything, and I am going to stop being afraid and closing doors and find me. Becoming visible is one hell of a journey. I have not perfected it by any means. See my hiding meant protecting myself from the criticism of others, being angry, and running away when things got tough or real, or to be honest, anything that gave me discomfort. Do I still do it? Yes. Am I getting better and working at it? Yes. Through creating my coaching business, I have dug deep, gotten uncomfortable, and dealt with criticism. I am exposing myself and my truth to others. Because I have a passion, to help women who are where I have been to find another way. A way that involves much less pain and much more joy, much less lack and way more abundance, and removing the masks to let the beauty shine.
3. Daily affirmations:
The instinct kicks in daily, run and hide, lash out, and give up. I say back to that voice, "I am strong; I am confident; I am successful; I am healthy; I am creating the life I am meant for, the life I desire, and the life I deserve. The fear is a learned behavior that I am un-creating. I choose life and freedom."
So where can you begin? Ask yourself one simple (not easy) question... Why are you hiding?