The ongoing journey of self-worth

You were born with an intact sense of self. 

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Rather hear it? Listen to me read this post {9 minutes, 48 seconds}

However, early on, we are indoctrinated into ideas about worthiness that lead us to believe that worth is to be found outside of ourselves -- in how we are perceived and received by those around us: another’s assessment or gaze or our monetary value or the work we do or our beauty. 

This focus on recognition is the air we breathe.

Consider gender bias, not to mention racial and sexual bias — consider all the ways society narrowly defines who and what is worthy or most often, unworthy. Then there are the insidious ideas and lived experience of needing to “earn” your keep, needing to perform, being expected to be pleasing (or not), or to be quiet, having your ideas dismissed, diminished or worse, stolen. And the hits keep rolling, don't they? 

Let's not forget the ever-present societal focus on beauty: body shape, size and image, looks and fashion that keep many women from the very real work of speaking up, making a powerful contribution, or simply living fully out of a sense of shame and unworthiness. If you aren't beautiful or perfect by some nebulous standard of beauty, no one wants to hear from you. 

Every day reminders abound that to be worthy you must be something other than who you are. It's all such profound bullshit, isn't it?

This dynamic is changing and being challenged, thank all that is holy and good. Yet it is so important to remember and to recognize that it isn't just you. That alone, in my experience, can loosen the chains. Because often, self-worth (or lack thereof) is viewed as a personal failing, but, if you grow up in western society, it’s difficult (if not impossible) to have a real sense of your true and innate worthiness unless you’re willing to reject societal norms to some degree. 

Sad secret: NO ONE feels worthy in this system. 

Not even the people who think they are writing the rules of worth. Why? Because worth cannot be defined by someone else, by a society, or by what we accumulate or do.

Worth doesn’t need to be earned. It’s who you are.

The work that the women I know have done to heal from these damaging ideas and circumstances is breathtaking — and, I’ve not met a woman for whom it’s truly done and over. We continue to dance with healing self-worth on an individual and collective level, perhaps in perpetuity. At least for now.

Most people, for some period of time, try hard to meet those societal expectations. I know I sure did. Of course we want to believe that if all of the ever-changing requirements are met, then a sense of worthiness will magically be ours. Many people stay locked in this game their whole lives and my hypothesis is that this is why addiction runs rampant in our culture — because addiction is a reasonable response to wanting to be seen and celebrated for who we are, but not knowing how to cultivate those qualities because we are told our worth - and every good thing in life -- lies outside of ourselves. 

My guess is that you are beyond believing these lies.

That you, like I, discovered at some point that no matter what milestone you reached (more money, better hair, fixed teeth, the right weight, the big house, a killer wardrobe, the PhD, the job…. name your own) that any sense of worthiness and accomplishment was fleeting at best. But even knowing that, and moving past much of it, there are likely places where you experience a lingering lack of self-worth. In other words, you may still be pinning your desire for an embodied sense of self-worth on external validation. 

In any case, knowing that there is no external reference point for self-worth is very good news — because that means you are, and have been, moving closer to a living embodiment of the truth about self-worth: self-worth is something that you can only find within you. 

Your WHY is everything.

There is nothing inherently wrong with wanting the PhD, wanting to be strong and sleek, to wanting the job or to be fired up to be in the movie. In fact, I believe with all my heart we are here to create, to express ourselves, to master our chosen work, to move in the direction of our desires, hopes and dreams. To experience all that we are capable of and what is possible as a human. However, the difference in why you want something -- for external praise and validation or because it will bring you joy -- changes everything. 

The difference between wanting those things so you feel differently about yourself or so you get recognized by others versus doing it because you feel an impulse and a desire and an excitement within you -- those two motivations are worlds apart. The experienced results are vastly different as well: the former will leave you feeling empty and hungry for more while the latter is a celebration of you and all that you are. 

The Invitation: Choose yourSelf

I suspect you know first hand how it feels to do something to fill a sense of lack vs. something done because it is yours to do and you do it joyfully. Just off the top of my head I can name jobs, relationships, entire careers, ways I've shown up in public, and how I exercise and eat -- where I Intimately know the difference between showing up inspired and in alignment with mySelf versus doing it to fill a gaping hole in my sense of worth.

So get close to yourself -- what does it feel like? What is the difference for you between these two states of being? Embrace this vast range of experience with an open and compassionate heart. No matter how much you've done for glory, love or recognition vs. inspired action that is aligned with your heart, you have learned and grown. It is part of the journey. Those experiences and that wisdom is yours.  

And, you get to choose. I choose to practice aligning with my heart and soul. I've had enough of that aching empty feeling when the recognition and praise stops and I'm left with only myself. Maybe you are done with that, too. By acting in alignment with your own wisdom and your own sense of what you value and who you want to be and what you want to contribute to the world, you are guaranteed to amplify your sense of self-worth through your actions and feel good about the results no matter who else likes it or recognizes what you've done. 

Make no mistake, this is a powerful state of being in which to move through the world. Whole, sovereign, and worthy. Let's keep moving in that direction, together.

Tell me everything.

Where are you on your journey of self-worth? What are you noticing about the tension between seeking external praise and validation versus turning inward and seeking your own approval? What frontiers are you exploring on your journey to a greater sense of self-worth? 

xo.nona


Come, Practice with Me.

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The Art of Intentional Practice

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Practice gets a bad rap.

I've heard the gamut of responses to the idea of "practice"  -- from spiritual transcendence to athletic performance to dreadful, dull and boring repetitive action. 

In actuality, you are practicing every moment of every day. Consciously or unconsciously, you are practicing your responses, your actions and your reactions. You are practicing your best and your worst qualities by simply doing what you do, over and over. This ultimately defines the quality of your life.

However, done intentionally, practice can be a potent and reliable ally in real and reliable transformation. 

Intentional practice is the key.

Intentional practice is about making a different choice -- disruption of the status quo in your actions. Intentional practice has a vision. Intentional practice is also fluid and deeply connected to the present moment and what is working. 

Intentional practice means you are practicing something that is incredibly important to you be it abundance, peace, health, self-expression, connection, or success and, done right, you are practicing in ways that hold tremendous value for you and the woman you wish to be today and tomorrow. 

Who do you want to be? 

This is a valuable question, and, certainly you can be no one but yourself. There is nothing to fix or mend, intentional practice is about peeling back the layers of who you aren't to reveal and polish that diamond that you are. 

  • I want to be a woman who embodies generosity and abundance.
  • I want to be a woman who is strong physically, mentally and emotionally. 
  • I want to be a woman who speaks up and speaks the truth. 
  • I want to be a woman who uses and celebrates my innate gifts and talents.
  • I want to be a woman who loves deeply and lives close to my own knowing. 
  • I want to be a woman who makes a powerful contribution in the lives of others. 


These are examples of who I want to be each and every day and how I practice. And in showing up for this vision of myself and supporting other women over the years, here is the secret I've learned; if you want something (like YOU really want it, it isn't something you've been told you *should* want) it is already burning within you. It is already yours

All you have to do is practice. 

How to be intentional in practice. 

Value your practice -- elevate it's importance. The biggest objection I hear is that people don't have time. Yes, you do. I understand that this can feel like a monumental shift but it is critical -- you, and your intentional practice, is for you and you alone. It is time for you to affirm and embody your desires as a priority. This, right here, changes everything. Make the time. Put yourself first as a radical act of elevating the importance of who you most wish to be and how you most wish to feel as you move through the world. 

Be willing to fail. Let go of perfection. Failure is a part of any good process. To be great at anything means understanding and knowing the contrast intimately. Expect and welcome failure as the teacher that it is. We all know intellectually that failure is a powerful teacher. Welcome failure with grace, instead of beating yourself with the idea of perfection.  

You aren't there yet, so keep your attention where you are right now. Intentional practice is about having a powerful vision, but keeping your eyes and your attention fixed on getting to your vision of success is a recipe for misery. As badly as we might wish for an end-game and a final completion, it typically doesn't exist. We are constantly evolving and changing and until you die, I hope you will be engaged in your sacred practice. Yes, have a vision, but let your attention rest in the day to day doing. 

Appreciate how far you've come and how it feels in the doing. It is vital to take time to acknowledge how far you've come. Take time to take in how good it feels to take action that is aligned with the woman you know you are and that you are becoming. So yes, appreciate how it feels and acknowledge your progress. When I was learning to love strength training, I did not enjoy most of the sessions of strength training. But what I did enjoy was the feeling in my body afterwards. What I did enjoy was the growing sense of strength and the lessening of aches and pains. This kept my skin in the game while I was learning to enjoy strength training. 

Enjoy the process. If every fiber of your being hates what you are doing, evaluate your desires and intentions. It could be simple resistance or, it could be that you are under the spell of someone else's ideas and expectations and *shoulds*. To be honest, it could also be that you have ideas about how things should be -- sometimes, things are hard. That's okay. You are built for hard things. I trust you to know the difference between not wanting to do something hard and a true and deep NO from your soul. Trust yourself to know the difference and really, enjoy the fullness of your humanity as you choose to be more intentional in how you practice. 

I believe in you, and your practice. 

You are not here to elevate someone else's desires or ideas. You make your most powerful contribution to the world when you are committed to honoring your own desires and being the woman you are more fully until the day you die. 

May you practice with vigor being the woman you are and the woman you wish to be. May your practices be potent allies in real and reliable transformation. And, heart wide open, may you embrace the joys and the challenges of intentional practice and all that is has to offer you. 

xo.nona


The Deep Magic of Practice Awaits

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Befriend Your Demons

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Do you prefer audio? Listen to this blog post here {10:01 minutes}: 

How do you face your demons?

This may seem like an odd question, but many women struggle to look directly at their own suffering - let alone get support or share what's happening in the realm of their darkest struggles out of fear or shame or, in the hope, perhaps, that if they ignore their demons they will disappear. Rest assured that without facing our demons directly, they will bring us to our knees, insisting on our attention in some form or fashion that we will not like. 

The devil and I. 

When I was 4 or 5 years old, I had just learned about the concept of God's enemy, the devil. Knowing that God is pure love, I reasoned that really, the devil was the one that I wanted to cozy up to. I remember distinctly that I had taken a decision to pray to the devil each day so he wouldn't tempt me or make me do bad things. 

I also remember distinctly that I was learning to tie my shoes at the time and, one morning, sitting on the stairs of our porch, I was chatting with the devil and tying my shoes. I got my shoes tied by myself for the first time (woo hoo) and, running off to play, my Grandmother asked me who I was talking to. I explained that, since God loves me and wants to take care of me, I had decided to get on the devil's good side -- I mean, why pray to God, when it's the devil who is going to lead me into evil?? 

My Grandmother nearly had a heart attack and told me in no uncertain terms to NOT pray to the devil, but instead to trust that praying to God was going to keep me safe. Even at the time, I remember being puzzled by this idea of ignoring a fundamental aspect of life (evil, darkness, temptation, etc) and relying on God to keep me safe. 

Though this is an adorable story it also points to an essential piece of my character that has heavily shaped my own life and shapes my coaching. As a woman and a coach in recovery from alcohol addiction, as a woman and a coach who has struggled with money and finances, as a woman and a coach who has dealt with trauma, depression and anxiety, hell, as a woman and a coach who has struggled with so many darn aspects of life I can say with a lot of certainty that befriending the demons we grapple with is a far more effective, and kinder approach than denial, fear or shame.

Courage to befriend your demons. 

Though I'm no longer a church-goer nor do I believe there is an entity called the devil, on a metaphorical level, my 4 year old self was right: understanding and befriending our demons is wise. And, whether women know it or not, they tend to arrive into my circle seeking support in facing, and embracing, their own demons. 

This sounds so hard. It sounds so horrible. It sounds so.... unfun, right? 

In moments, yes, of course it's hard. But mostly, it feels like freedom and joy to be fully present and not only face your demons, but to consciously work with your challenges. Because really, let's consider how much energy goes into denying something. Even when you might not be actively thinking about something that you struggle with, the fact is, that somewhere in the background: in your energy, in your beliefs, in your day to day actions, that particular demon is draining energy and shaping the trajectory of your life. 

To make the choice to befriend your demons and work with the truth of who you are is the easier choice. That is ground truth, no matter what the fallout may be because the easier choice is the choice that frees up your energy and aligns your actions with your deepest wisdom.  When you choose to befriend your demons you are saying yes to living truthfully and committing to living into the woman you are meant to be: joyful, free, fully alive and beautifully human. 

We are built to handle this exquisite range of experience. 

The Role of Sacred Practice in Befriending Your Demons

We are always practicing - however, Sacred Practice is on purpose, with an eye to conscious choice and transformation.

So, imagine if you will, an infinity loop (an endless figure eight flipped onto it's side) - my experience is that there are two kinds of Sacred practice: like an inhalation and an exhalation, like expansion and contraction - there are inward-facing practices and outward-facing practices and they not only work in tandem, but are amplified by one another. This is the nature of Sacred Practice.

On one side of the infinity loop, you have the exhalation, the contraction, the proverbial stillness of the winter: you have Inward facing Sacred Practices. These practices bring you into a state of intimacy with yourSelf: your pain, heartache, demons, yes, but also your divinity, your wisdom and your light - however, without welcoming and working with the darkness, you will deny yourself the incredible potency of your light. Your demons and your divinity go together and, to access your full wisdom and therefore, a life of meaning, you need both. Welcoming the entirety of yourself and your experience in this realm is the very basis of self-trust and wise action in your outward facing Sacred Practices. 

On the other side of the infinity loop, you have the inhalation, the expansion, the blooming and the growth of summer: outward facing Sacred Practices are the actions that you commit to with your spiritual resources: the rest you give your body, the way you tend your money, marketing your business consistently, cooking nourishing meals for yourself, speaking the truth with loved ones, sitting down to write on a regular basis... these outward facing Sacred Practices are shaped by the clarity we receive and the healing we do in our inward facing Sacred Practice. Outward-facing Sacred Practices, done in alignment with our inward facing Sacred Practices, shape and mold the trajectory of our lives no matter what our circumstances. 

Both types of practices are essential - they feed each other and make our lives, our work and our experience rich and meaningful as they teach us to trust ourselves and our capacity. 

This is the heart and soul of conscious transformation. 

We know it's working when we see the results of our healing (debt being paid off, financials up to date, we wake up rested, our right clients begin arriving, our relationships become richer and more satisfying) and sometimes we know our Sacred Practice is working because situations and ideas and relationships crumble as we come into integrity and alignment with our own deepest truth. It may not be easy, but it is the easiest choice. It is the life-giving choice. It is the path of growth and transformation. 

In a world that rests on the false promise of instant transformation and instant results, Sacred Practice offers a reliable way to be your own healer and guide as you keep showing up with fierce commitment for the woman you are, and for the woman you are becoming. 

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Tiny Magic: Befriend Your Demons

The School of Sacred Practice is open for registration. In the first intensive, Tend and Mend, we will be focusing on the outward-facing Sacred Practice of tending and mending money, which can be tricksy and challenging for women in business -- I find there is always an element of healing,clarity and wise action to address here, don't you? 

And so, whether your demons are money related or otherwise, tune in to this Tiny Magic: to Bless and Transform your Demons into allies and wisdom - this is energy medicine that is amplified when you listen with your full attention and an open heart. I love this for you, for all of us.

If this Tiny Magic Sacred Practice calls to you, join me and the incredible community of women that is gathering for the deep magic of transformation in The School of Sacred Practice. 

I would love to support you in 2018. 

xo.nona

 

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash