I don't really use these words to describe myself. Nor are these words that others use to describe me. I know this because I recently asked a bunch of people who know me what words they would use to describe my strengths. Here is what they shared:
positive outlook - good vibe - good listener - compassionate - sincere - loving - loyal - intuitive - friendly - open - cheerful - bright - caring - honest - open - dedicated - good communicator - great sense of humor - realistic optimism - persevering - patient - resilient - flexible - curious - motivated - constantly growing - learner - spiritual companion - insightful - questioning - present - warm - analytical - quiet confidence - thoughtfully examine new ideas - great sense of timing - determined - calm - kind - deep faith - gentle - willing to get involved - able to center - focused - of service - helpful - empathetic - tolerant - conscientious - unselfish - excellent multi-tasker - organizer - attending - delegating - trustworthy, open-minded - intelligent - non-judging - beautiful - giving - hard-working - considerate - accepting - able to teach - creative - funny - endearing - wonderful heart - willing to be vulnerable - self-aware - trusting - perceptive - able to juggle and prioritize - calming energy - productive - resilient - liker of dark chocolate - diligent - flexible - serene - supportive - encouraging - grounded - loving spirit - genuine - inquisitive - chill
These are all wonderful things to read about myself, don't get me wrong,
And then a few weeks ago, as I sat and contemplated what I want in my life, these words sprung forth in my mind without hesitation:
Bold. Unapologetic. All In.
And I reacted. Upon hearing these words in my mind, I scoffed. "That's not me", I thought. I dismissed them. Blew them off. But, the words continued to drum inside of me. Bold. Unapologetic. All In. Bold. Unapologetic. All In. BOLD. UNAPOLOGETIC. ALL IN. This phrase continued to beat in side of me and has become a mantra - with an energy. Bold. Un. A. Po. Lo. Ge. Tic. All. In. Bang. Boom. Bam.
The mantra has captured my attention, and gives me pause, and I can't help but notice the resistance I feel.
But why? What am I making it mean? I reflected.
At first thought, as I try it on for size, it speaks to being open and unafraid to reveal myself - my likes, dislikes, desires, dreams, goals - without hesitation. It speaks to forging ahead, taking risks, with a firm conviction and an unmistakable air of confidence. It speaks to being fearless.
At second thought, when I think about being real in this way and standing in my Truth, I react. I feel afraid. Of being judged, not liked, and exposed as a weirdo.
But the mantra has continued for weeks. It's capturing my attention. It's nudging me. So, I continue to "try on" what it might be like for me to be Bold. Unapologetic. All in. I think about experimenting by revealing some parts of myself that feel most vulnerable. What would happen? I became curious to know.
Chogyam Trungpa a preeminent teacher of Tibetan Buddhism states: "The starting point on the path of fearlessness is the discovery of fear. We find ourselves fearful, frightened, even petrified by circumstances. This ubiquitous nervousness provides us with a stepping stone, so that we can step over our fear. We have to make a definite move to cross over the boundary from cowardice to bravery. If we do so properly, the other side of our cowardice contains bravery.
I decided to lean in (as an experiment!!) just to see what might happen. I have had some practice already (and lots of support) during much of the past year in Martha Beck Life Coach Training telling deep truths and helping others to do so as a way to "cross over the boundary from cowardice to bravery". I have observed myself as underlying truths were unearthed in me that I didn't even know were there. I have come face to face with truths that I have been trying for a lifetime to avoid, and I have watched as I resisted noticing truths that I didn't want to be there. In every single case, when the truths were brought up to the surface, there was a sense of exposure, sometimes relief, and always a feeling of "lighter".
So, now (just as an experiment!!) I want to lean in a bit more. I made a list of random things about me that I only reveal in the most trustworthy of my inner circles. And even in those circles I might not share all of these things. These things might not seem like a big deal to you. And I imagine that the truths you are concealing would not invoke even the tiniest bit of reaction in me. That's how fear is - it's personal. So just as an experiment, I want to share these here, with you.
Here it goes.
- I love Howard Stern. I do. This might not seem like a big deal, but there have been times when I have shared this with certain people, and have observed reactions: wincing, looks of disdain and even disgust. And I immediately felt regret, and wrong. But the truth is, I love Howard Stern. I love the way he stands in his truth and is unapologetic. I admire this greatly.
- I eat meat. I don't always feel comfortable with this truth, and it causes me to conceal it in certain circles. I have been a vegetarian in the past, and I go through periods of contemplating not eating meat for various reasons. But the truth right now is. I eat meat. And chicken. And fish.
- I'm flabby. My pants are tight, my thighs are loose, my waist lifts over my pants. It hasn't always been this way, I can't say I enjoy it. However, it is the truth. Gosh darnit.
- I've spent the past 20+ years as a student of yoga. Many of those years I have taught yoga to others. And here I stand with a back injury. I have spent parts of the past year telling myself "this shouldn't have happened to me, a yoga teacher". But it did. It has taken me time to allow this truth to be. So it is.
- I believe in God. I didn't always, but I do now. And not only that, I really do. This hardly comes up in conversation, but here's an opportunity to share it out loud and bring it up to the surface to be revealed.
- I subscribe to a religion. And not only that, I changed from the religion I was born with to subscribe to the religion I now have. And, I really like my religion, it provides a great support for me and an outlet for revealing some of these truths. I used to think believing in a religion is superstitious. I still have that thought from time to time. So be it.
- I'm Woo Woo. Meaning, I like most things new agey, esoteric and out there. I REALLY lean towards woo woo stuff. You might not know this about me by looking at me, as I also lean towards conservative. Being Woo Woo is something I have tried to conceal about myself most of my life because being Woo Woo made me feel different and like a freak when in the presence of most other people. But guess what people, I'm seriously Woo Woo. I need to hang a Woo Woo flag.
So there it is. What now? I don't know. It feels kind of like pushing send on an email that you don't want to go out (which is what I'm about to do) but it already has sent and it's too late. And so since it has already happened, there's really nothing else to do. And so it also doesn't feel like that big of a deal. And, it feels a little more spacious inside. A few less concealed truths to carry around with me.
Said by Chogyam Trungpa:
We may not discover bravery right away. Instead, beyond our nervousness, we find a shaky tenderness. We are still quivering, but we are shaking with tenderness rather than bewilderment...we feel a natural sense of fullness which is tender and sad. ...Warriorship is so tender, without skin, without tissue, naked and raw. It is soft and gentle...You are willing to expose naked flesh, bone and marrow to the world...When the warrior has thoroughly experienced his or her own basic rawness, there is no room to manipulate the situation. You just go forward and present the truth quite fearlessly. You can be what you are, in a very straightforward and basic way...".
"Fearlessness is a question of learning how to be. Be there all along: that is the message"...
And I feel slightly more Bold. Mildly less Apologetic. One step more In.
What truth in you wants to come up for air?