What Would It Be Like If You Were Living Your Life Out Loud?
What would you be doing? You might want to close your eyes and see what images float into your mind. Trust the first one(s) that comes.
You might be singing from the rooftops… singing out loud and not caring what you sound like or look like.
It might be telling someone how much you love them.
Or living the creative life you always dreamed you would..
Or standing up in front of a group of people (in spite of being utterly petrified), speaking with passion about a subject that is important to you and allowing your voice to be heard.
It might be moving away from something that has been a dead end for you, and having the courage to start all over again. Or picking up the pieces of a dream that you gave up on a long time ago, because you couldn’t see a way of making it a reality.
It may something much less dramatic, but still powerful. It might not involve you being loud at all. It could be allowing the truth of who you are to shine from you, in stillness so that you become a magnet for everything and everyone around you.
Because when you are truly living your life out loud you don’t need put in a lot of effort or to make a good impression, or to bend yourself out of shape in any way, you just need to be your authentic self – the self that has always wanted to be you, but you have kept at bay, or locked away.
So how to get to being your authentic self so that you can truly live your life out loud?
This is of course a huge subject and this the first of several articles in which I will be exploring what keeps you from living your life out loud….
The Power of Fear
And one of the most power things that keeps you from living your life out loud… is fear. Fear is a very powerful emotion and motivator and it’s not going to go away. Fear is with the brave and strong and with the weak and defenceless. It’s just a matter of how you relate to it.
Has it got you or have you got it?
So if you feeling fear right now – welcome it. Fear is often a sign that you are ready to shift to the next level which is the first stage of Living your Life Out Loud.
But fear too can crush the life out of you, can keep you in a frozen state for years and can keep you very stuck. As you may know only too well.
So the first thing to do is to give up being run by your fears. And this is of course easier said than done. To give up seeing yourself as small even if everyone is telling you that’s who you are. It will mean not worrying how much is in your bank account or if you’ll lose your job, or what other people are thinking of you. It will mean stop believing all the things that you head tells you, about how you should be and what you should do to stop everything from going terribly wrong.
Living Like a Mouse
As one client said to me, “I don’t want to keep living like a mouse”. Looking at her web site, this was the last thing I thought was true for her, but it was how she felt deep inside. She was a gifted introvert with amazing creative gifts who was at a cross roads in her life. She had had a successful career but the world had changed and it was time for her to make a major shift – and she was understandably petrified.
She didn’t know where to start.
If you are feeling a bit like this woman, you may have very good reasons why you are living like a mouse, and/or hiding yourself away. You may have fallen flat on your back hundreds of times, you may have tried and failed, you may be struggling under the weight of parents/family/teachers undermining and criticising you and even if you know better than to believe these powerful messages, they still get under your skin when things get tough.
Its not surprising that you want to retreat into your shell and hide yourself away from the world.
If you’re an introvert that is not easy, because that retracted state is in fact an important aspect of your make up. You need to go there to feel balanced. Your place of retreat is an enormous resource, a place where you can tune in to what is really important, to think deep and long and really get to core of what you are wanting to achieve, a place too where you can find the energy and inspiration for your next step.
But it is not a place where you are meant to stay for too long.
The Cave of Safety
And for many this place a contraction can become a habitual place, a very natural place to be. You might even call it home. It is a “cave of safety” – somewhere very deep and dark and enclosing with very thick walls that keeps you very safe and protected.
It is a place where you don’t have to do anything and where nothing is expected of you, and where nothing much happens – where too you can stay in a space of limbo and wonder what happened to your life.
It is here that fear breeds and is what keeps you in a state of contraction. Fear stand like a guardian at the gates of the Cave of Safety, so the moment you think you might want to get out, Fear jumps into action and pushes you back in again. So no wonder you stay there.
But there is a difference between the place of resource which is healthy and restorative, and the place of contraction – which can keep you stuck for years. The trouble is they seem to be the same place. One is a cocoon out of which a butterfly can emerge – and the other is a prison from which there is no way out.
There is a point at which one morphs into the other, when place of resource morphs into the place of contraction. And it is not always obvious that this has happened.
You can live in the place of contraction and appear to be functioning perfectly well. You can go through the motions of life and kid yourself and everyone else that you’re OK….
But if you stay too long in the place contraction, it is almost impossible to get out. In fact you cannot get out by yourself. And many people stay there for the whole of their lives, believing that’s who they are.
I know this place very well. I lived there for many years and although I didn’t know it at that time – it was deathly. For most of the time I wasn’t aware of what it was doing to me. I was in a state of numbness, completely shut off from my feelings.
One of the hardest things about this place for many people is along with the the feeling of utter isolation and abandonment from everyone and everything – and along with that a craving to be connected, a craving to be seen and to be part of the world.
But the truth is that you have abandoned the world. You have unknowingly shut other people and the world out.
Not because you want to – but because the place of contraction has you in its grip.
Getting out is a delicate process.
As you may remember the place of contraction was initially a place of resource – and it still is. And this is one of the reason why it is so powerful – it is both the way in and way out.
So the very first step to emerging from the “cave” is to recognise it. Recognising what it is to you and how has served you.
In Greek Mythology this is expressed by the Underworld which also holds all the treasures of the earth, the gold, the jewels, the bright sparkly things that as human we find ourselves so deeply attracted to.
It is the place too of creativity, of dreams, of the imagination and the unconscious.
This is why it is so powerful to work with creativity and mythology which can get those deep places within, and bring about transformation and change, very qucikly and effectively. With all the power of Jungian analysis but a lot more fun.
Here is an exercise which will give you a taste of how it can work. It is also a good exercise to do at this time of year as the days get increasing shorter and the nights longer. A time when much of nature is entering a kind of Underworld and we find ourselves needing to withdraw and be quiet, away from the hurly burly of life.
OVERCOMING FEAR EXERCISE
STEP 1 CONNECTING WITH THE UNDERWORLD
So take a moment, and let yourself become aware of this Underworld place – this place of contraction. Closing your eyes can be a good way of connecting with it more deeply. See what images float into your mind. What does it look like? It doesn’t matter if you don’t see it too clearly, or even see anything at all. Trust what comes into your mind. Let your imagination play. And if it helps let yourself be like a child who enjoys such things.
Resist the temptation to interpret anything.
Describe this place as fully as possible
This place is…..
STEP 2 DESCENDING TO THE UNDERWORLD
Imagine now that you are a god or goddess who is choosing to visit the Underworld.
Allow yourself to descend to the Underworld and enter though its gates. How does it feel to be there. You are a god or goddess so this place cannot hurt you, you have divine protection. Allow yourself to aware of the way in which this place is a cave of safety. What do you like about this place. See too the riches that are down in this Underworld – the gold, jewels. Let yourself receive from this place. Let it restore you.
Come too aware of the other beings that are down there. Is the Lord or Queen of the Underworld present? Are there demons, lost souls?
You may have unfinished business with these beings – but this is not the time now. Make it clear that you will return to work with them at another time. They may represent some aspect of your lost power, an area of stuckness, or an issue that you haven’t yet worked through.
STEP 3 RECEIVING A GIFT FROM THE UNDERWORLD
Come aware of what your intention for coming down here is. What do you need from this place. Let yourself receive that – it might be a physical object or it might be a quality or a strength. You might want to name that. It can be helpful to breathe the quality in so it can truly strengthen you, or hold the object in your hands and feel its power.
STEP 4 MEETING FEAR
When you feel ready to leave this place, become aware of how much stronger you are than when you came in. As you start moving towards the Gates, know that you will be meeting the Guardian Fear who will try to stop you from leaving. Prepare yourself for meeting Fear. Look Fear straight in the eyes. Call on your divine power so that Fear will let you pass through the Gates. What happens when you do this?
STEP 5 DEPARTURE AND ASCENT
As you ascend from the Underworld, become aware of what you are bringing with you. Have you changed in any way? Do you feel stronger? Move with all the power and strength of what you have received from the Underworld. Where do you feel drawn to go? To your throne in the Heavens? To a place in Nature? Wherever it is, feel what is like to be out of the Underworld.
You might want to write down what happened on your journey and any insights or understanding that came to you. What was this journey about for you and what did you get from it.Is there any action you need to take as a result of it that will assist you along the pathway of living your life out loud.
I hope this exercise was valuable for you. It will give you some insight of what is going on for you and how you might resolve it. It is of course just a taste and cannot compare to what you might experience in an actual group, workshop or session.
© Claire Schrader 2010
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