After reading the book “The Four Agreements” one of the most poignant points was about us, people, being careful what we put out into the universe because what we put out is what we agree with. He also spoke to being careful how we allow others to speak to us and about us because if we are not careful, the words they speak can attach to us and can also become things we unconsciously agree with.
I finished the book and went on with my life. Slowly but surely, the points in this chapter, in particular, started to tap me on my shoulder and remind me of some of the things I have agreed with over the course of my life and it definitely explains why my life does not look like it does in my wildest dreams.
When I was 24, the father of my eldest child, who was also my fiance' at the time, called me and told to abort my child or "do whatever I wanted to do with it" because he wanted nothing to do with me. I was at work when he called. My world was rocked to its core and I even attempted suicide to make the pain stop. At that point, I began to feel like my life would never be what I believed it could be. I used to ask why God was punishing me and would often declare that my daughter would be better off without me. I agreed that I was a statistic and was going to struggle. I agreed with this asinine idea that somewhere along the way I had done something so heinous that I deserved to be abandoned and to have my heartbroken. And there it is 11 years later and I was still living out that idea that somehow I am destined for something less than the best. Where in the world did I get that idea from and how the heck do I reverse it? Day after day I pray for God to reveal to me my purpose and yet it seemed He had somehow fallen deaf to my requests. The more I talked to friends and heard their stories..they too had somewhere along the way agreed with a very contradictory view of themselves. I then looked to people in my life who I knew had been through their own set of issues and hard times yet they were happy and living life fully embracing their purpose. When I spoke to them and read their stories in blogs or articles the difference was...they refused to agree with the chatter in their heads that did not match up with who they KNEW they were.
…. There are a few things I walked away with:
Know WHO You Are
My mother told me a long time ago “if you don’t know who you are, you will spend your entire life being defined by others.” I never realized how important that bit of advice would be until I got older. Find out what your beliefs are. What do you stand for? What are your non-negotiables and what places are you willing to compromise? What exactly do you want to be when you grow up, that is not driven by money or status? Often times we go through life and we pick up titles: CEO, Evangelist, Deacon, mother, father, sister, etc. but aside from those titles who are you when you are standing naked before the world? Define yourself for your own sake and ground yourself in that understanding and don’t waiver.
Be OK Where you are
Life truly is a process. It has ups and downs. It is constantly changing. We often spend a lot of time looking and preparing for the next thing or the next time or the next idea that we forget to just be ok right where we are. Whether right here is successful or climbing back up a ladder, learn to find peace in whatever moment you're in and pay close attention to the lesson you need to learn in that place and time. Comparing your moment to another person’s moment is always going to lead to a feeling inadequacy but what if we just resigned that where we are right now with what we have accomplished is ok and should be celebrated? Did you get up today and walk around the block? Celebrate. Did you get an award for your novel? Celebrate. Did you change your socks today? Celebrate. You might not be where you want to be or have the things you dreamed of having but you are far from where you could be had you not gotten up this morning.
This was one of the most important yet hardest things for me. I knew something needed to be done to reverse the damage of my misguided agreement but I didn’t know what to do so I kept trying different things. I went out and brought books to help me discover my purpose. I started a fast and even joined a gym to clear my mind. I tried a smoothie diet and a keto diet and a cleanse to reset my metabolism and provide mental clarity. Nothing seemed to stick until I spoke to my very wise mother who simply said, “just stop, what you are looking for can’t meet you if you are constantly moving.” It sounded like such a simple concept but it felt like being useless to me. Somewhere along the way I equated being still with being useless. It wasn’t until one day I just sat in the silence of who I was that is all came rushing to the forefront of my mind. I stopped and sat and listened to the beating of my own heart, listened to my hurt feelings and the emotions I thought were healed, the unresolved anger of losing my dad, the embarrassment of not being where I wanted to be financially and to think I was turning 40. There were tons of things I would have missed if I had never stopped and listened. I stopped blaming myself, stopped shaming myself and above all else, I stopped doubting myself. Stopping even for just a few moments a day to recognize your own humanity can do wonders.
It wasn’t until I realized that self-doubt had been controlling my life for the last 15 years that I was able to disconnect the rope that had been holding me back from moving forward. I had somehow tricked myself into believing that walking in a circle meant I was doing something until I stepped back and saw the ditch I had made beneath my feet. I made it up in my mind that at that very moment to simply disagree with what I had agreed with. When doubt began to whisper in my ear, I not only ignored it but I verbally disagreed and spoke out loud the exact opposite. For every “, you know this isn’t going to work” I uttered a “ this is going to be great.” For each “you are not qualified for that” I yelled, “ You have what it takes.” If someone called you by a name that was not listed on your driver's license you would keep walking and would not stop because that is not how you identify yourself- the same is true with negative thoughts and words that creep in to keep us stagnant. Life is going to throw you some curveballs and some lemons might even fall to the ground in front of you but you have a choice to make. You can either curl up in a ball and accept the label that does not have your name on it or you can grab those lemons get a good blender, make yourself a mean lemon drop and simply disagree!