I was at a meeting this morning in which I heard a woman talk about the inability to get a hot dog jingle out of her head, trying to identify the brand name. When she’d finally identified it, “Armor”, I was immediately sidetracked into my own metaphor, the conversation blurring as I contemplated that word.
Upon walking into the meeting, I had noted that I seem to stand a bit taller now that I have, in my perspective, a “worthy purpose” in this world – ignoring the fact that my “other” purpose, motherhood, is of the utmost value. Despite my not being entirely clear with how my new business will manifest itself in the world, just being a part of the professional world and gaining my professional certification back makes me feel a bit more proud. Able to stand before these women who I’ve admired over the years, indeed, my mentors, and know that I have worth and value purely for the sake of my present goals. And then, immediately recognizing that for the ego that it was; jotting it down with a smile as I noted its presense.
And then, laugh out loud, the word “Armor” arrives. OK! I hear You! I do take note of how much I am still highly defended. My most notable suit of armor? Looking good. Being productive.
Showing you how valuable I am. Jumping through your hoops, and lots of those of my own creation. I can also see it’s double sidedness, though. At the same time that I note that the act of becoming part of a productive, helping structure makes me feel valuable and thereby feeding my ego, I can also acknowledge that being purposeful, in service to others, helps keep me from navel gazing. And becoming mired in the muck of my own doing, having more time on my hands than is good for my mental wellbeing!
My common default is feeling “less than”, doing whatever I can to help you see that what I feel is false. I am indeed every bit as good as you. I wear the armor of looking good; being attractive, keeping fit, attempting style. I’ve found I feel my best when looking “put together”, sounding as if I got it all together. Perhaps that’s why I’ve been so drawn to Brene Brown and living authentically. She reminds me that the more I struggle in that armor, the more it literally weights me down, it hides my true creativity and value behind steel. At the same time, I can just as easily flip into the “better than” armor when I’m especially proud of myself; staying on track with diet and exercise, finishing my professional requirements for certification and licensing, reading my blog thinking, “Damn! I’m good!! More people should read this!!”
Yesterday, I was reading an email about “playing small” from Lissa Rankin, an online personal development guru. She talked about our ability to easily see those who are the braggarts, the name droppers, as having a big ego. But I was shocked to find that those who play small, who are in constant self doubt, feeling less than and questioning, are playing the other side of that same ego. Feeling that we are separate from All that Is, making us feel that we are somehow distinct and always in comparison as better or less than. Instead of the recognition that we are part of the Ocean, the Great Divine, just another beautiful wave and undeniably human in our similar but different journeys.
I remember one of those mentors saying to me at one time, “ those defenses are likely always going to be there” and thinking, “WHAT? Are you KIDDING ME? Aint that the shits?!” As a kid, I can remember thinking that I’d truly be grown up when I didn’t get in trouble with my parents. I think I’m still in the same mindset, that when I truly grow up I won’t beat myself up side the head with my continued faults!
I realized that the answer to our stumbles is forgiveness. Noticing where we’ve hurt another, namely here, myself, and ask forgiveness. I am so quick to forgive my neighbor, but offer myself a gang beating for repeated offenses. We can take notice of where our defenses continue to show up and have compassion for the journey – in doing so, it teaches us compassion for others in their struggle with the weight of their own armor.
I recently heard a friend describe herself as, “unaplogetically unfinished”. I like that. To be authentically “in progress” – not with the attitude of a slobby resignated “I am what I am, so take it!” Moreso, being aware, open, embracing the shadow and showing up to your best self in the moment – which at all times is human. Failing sometimes. And armored….to different levels at any given moment or situation. Curious and acknowledging….and then moving forward.