Reconnecting with the True You

Sitting here thinking about all the aspects of being connected and our productivity, I had a moment of being overwhelmed with the enormity of this subject.  I will do my best to keep it to one post but it’s going to be long! J
When we lock away parts of ourselves because we think they are unacceptable, we don’t just lock away the negative parts.  We lock away some good parts, too.  This is true for our emotions and our productivity.  I’m using the word productivity to encompass the doing part of people.  We feel, we think and we do.  The “do” part includes our connections with people, involvement in activities and work.
When I was young I shut away the parts of me I thought weren’t perfect (read the previous post “Moving from Disconnected to Vulnerable”).  When I was in 7th grade I discovered I could act and sing.  I thoroughly enjoyed being on stage.  It was gratifying to me to see that I could make people smile.  As I got older, the acting world got harder.  I wasn’t comfortable taking risks.  It was as if the perfect part of me wouldn’t let me.  In the acting world, a person has to take risks; she must put everything she has into a role or it won’t be believable.   I did not see this back then but as I look at all the pieces of the puzzle from this vantage point, I can see it clearly.
When I started looking at colleges, I knew I wanted to attend a school that would further my acting career.  My parents weren’t excited about my desire to enter the world of theater.  I interpreted this as displeasure with me.  I dropped the idea immediately and chose instead to go to the college my mom attended.  I wanted to make her proud of me; I wanted her to accept me.  Since the acting part of me wasn’t acceptable, I put that part away.
As with my emotions, I wasn’t aware I did this.  It just happened.  As I think about it now, I remember having no idea what I would major in.  I chose psychology because the classes fascinated me, but I never felt truly settled.  Part of me wanted to be in business, part wanted to be a teacher, part wanted to be a doctor, part of me wanted to be a child psychologist and part of me didn’t want to do anything.  I was very confused.  When we aren’t connected, when we shove parts of ourselves away, it is very difficult to choose the right fit.  The parts of us that are put away aren’t really gone, they are just in hiding.  When dissatisfaction bubbles to the surface it might be a result of the part put in hiding.  It’s trying to get out, to tell us that we’re working with an incomplete set of skills, interests and desires; there are other valuable parts with lots of duct tape on them to shut them up.  Eventually the duct tape starts to loosen, and we start hearing those hidden parts.  I’m not saying this is always the reason for dissatisfaction with the doing part of our life, but it might be.
Are there parts of you in hiding?  Think about your life.  Do you have an underlying belief that parts of you aren’t acceptable?  I’m not talking about the parts that want to hurt people or destroy things.  Those parts need restraints.  I’m talking about the truest parts of who you are.  The parts, that if no one would judge, you would feel safe to let out: your creative self, your intellectual self, your playful self, your inquisitive self, your free self…  Journal about all of this; sometimes when we write things down, then go back and read the words, we get some clarity.
Think about your young self, way back before too much hurt had been heaped on you and before you shut parts of yourself away.  That’s a hard task for me because I think some of the hurt started pretty early.  I love, love, love my parents.  I am thankful for them, but they were not perfect.  I have some scars from things they did or didn’t do.  It wasn’t intentional.  They didn’t set out to hurt me, but in their humanity they did.  Do your best to remember the uninhibited you.  That might help you get a sense of who you really are.  Think about the things you really enjoy and why you enjoy them.   You may find activities you thought you enjoyed but when you give them some thought you realize you only do them because you think others will accept you.  Perhaps you will re-engage with a part of yourself you put away because you thought you had to in order to find acceptance.  Be gentle with yourself and others as you go on this journey.  You may have to go through a time of mourning as you grieve the past.  Eventually, as you heal from the grief over lost years and lost parts you can begin to celebrate the awareness you now have and the opportunities that await the connected you. Take your time with all of this; it’s not an overnight task.
Some can process through this all on their own with the help of trusted friends.  Some will need the guidance of a trained counselor/therapist or coach.  If this stirred something within you, I encourage you to get the help you need.  I used all of the above in my journey and I am incredibly thankful.  I might be messy, but all of me is present. J

Moving from Disconnected to Vulnerable

I grew up in a system that, whether intentional or not, praised only perfection and joyful emotions. When I was very young I was aware of this system. Somehow I knew I had to put away the parts of me that made mistakes, were hurt, angry or scared. I don’t remember consciously doing this but it became a way of life for me. I thought I was normal. I thought people who expressed anger, sadness or fear were out of balance. I thought it was normal to be disconnected. I would not have used that word, but that’s what it was. I went along merrily this way until I was about 36. Then, I had an affair. The disconnected part of me could do this. At times I would come into the feeling place and realize what I was doing was horrible on many levels. But I didn’t stay in that place and would bob back down into the disconnected place. After my “perfectly disconnected” life fell completely apart, I went to counseling. I worked with a variety of counselors and coaches over the next few years. Each one was part of healing and weaving together all the parts of me: the scared parts, the angry parts, the sad parts and the joyful parts.
I am not as tidy anymore. That seems strange. I was tidy before and I thought that was better. Now, when I am not tidy, I feel a bit uncomfortable. In the earlier stages of my healing I would feel really uncomfortable as I let out the real me. In the earlier stages I needed to get used to really feeling, even if it was super messy. It helped to experience messiness and learn to be ok with it. When we shut down parts of ourselves, when we are unwilling to be vulnerable, we are only partly present. Our relationships are only partial relationships, our connection with and enjoyment of this world is only partly connected and enjoyed.
It’s scary to connect with all of who we are because there can be some really painful stuff inside. I recommend if you haven’t felt all your parts…if you identify with being disconnected, find a good therapist or coach who can help you navigate the waters of feeling.  A few recommendations are Shadow Work (, EMDR (, Henry Cloud and John Townsend books: “Hiding from Love,” “Changes that Heal” and “Boundaries” are just a few (  I learned and processed a ton in the Cloud and Townsend Ultimate Leadership Intensive (their definition of a leader is very loose).  I attended a recovery group for co-dependency.  Mine was at my church ( but you can also attend a CODA group or any recovery group similar to AA ( and I read Melody Beattie’s “Codependent No More” and continue to read “The Language of Letting Go”. I’m sure many other helpful ideas are out there. This is just a short list of options.  These were the tools I used in my recovery journey.  Yours will be unique to you.
In my messiness, I now have fabulous connections with other messy people.  They welcome all the parts of me.  We are vulnerable with one another, we encourage one another to continue on our journey, and most of all, we accept one another.  That was my biggest fear as a child, that all of who I am wasn’t acceptable and loved.  That’s why I hid away my parts, the ones I thought weren’t acceptable and lovable.  Surround yourself with people who accept and love all of who you are and are willing to journey with you as you knit back together.
A note on this acceptance piece.  Parts of me need refinement.  I can be harsh in my delivery sometimes.  While that is a real part of me that I choose not to put in hiding, the people who love and accept me speak truth into my life (with a heavy dose of grace!).  They encourage me to delve into why I am harsh at times, to work on softening my edges.  That’s just one part of me that needs refinement.  I can be highly critical, shaming, jealous, greedy…  I want and need those parts to be accepted and loved but not condoned.  This is tricky.  We often assume if someone points out a part in us that needs refinement they are not accepting us.  This isn’t necessarily true.  Listen to the words of others; allow them to speak into your life, process through the words.  Are you being given a gift of finding out “what it’s like to be on the other side of you”? That’s a John Townsend quote that I love! If the person is just being mean, don’t take that on.  Put a lot of weight on who the messenger is.  Is this someone you trust, someone who has your best interest in mind? If so, listen to and process what you have heard.  Use the information for your good and continue on your journey of staying connected.
PS There is so much more I want to say on this subject.  Especially how our disconnected selves affect the productive parts of ourselves, like our creativity and interests.  I try to keep my posts short and to the point.  This one is already longer than I would like so, I will write my next post on the connection between disconnect and productivity.

Vulnerability Leads to Freedom

I have mentioned in previous posts about my participation in John Townsend’s Counselor Training Program. I’m with talented people who inspire me to grow. We get down deep into our own issues, letting all parts of ourselves rise to the surface in a sweet dance of vulnerability. I have a history of being a people-pleasing, perfectionistic co-dependent. In December, Dr. Townsend gave us a chance to practice leading a role-play method of group counseling. I really wanted to take a shot at it, but I felt a lot of fear as I blurted out, “I’ll volunteer!” Dr. Townsend sensed my fear and asked me about it. Over the next ten minutes tears streamed down my face while I faced the group and let them know how fearful I was of their judgement and rejection. It was a pivotal moment for me. After hearing authentic affirmations from the group, I dried my tears and bumbled my way through leading Dr. Townsend on a mock role-play. After the initial fear died down, I felt exhilaration coursing through my veins. I got into it and put aside any need for approval. It didn’t matter if i did it “right”. I was totally open to the journey of learning, not the destination of perfection. In that moment I crossed the threshold into freedom. This was one of those experiences that you simply must have for yourself to fully grasp the power of that moment. Some of us get so locked into wondering what others want and trying to please them, that we miss out on actually living our own life. That is not how we must live. For me, freedom was found in opening up with a trusted group and sharing my deeply ingrained fear of rejection. Vulnerability was the path and genuine acceptance of me, flaws and all, was the antidote.