Friday, 28 June 2013

How Do We Know When It Is Time To Walk Away?

'While it is a challenge for any individual soul to swim against the collective tide, thankfully the collective tide is now turning towards equality and personal freedom.' Freja 

While there are many benefits to 'staying the course' and to being loyal and committed, sometimes we reach a point where we must 'walk away' from a relationship or situation. We can spend many weeks, months or sometimes even years feeling unsure and undecided about whether to 'stay or go'. So, how can we tell when it is time to walk away?

It was not so very long ago that people were expected to simply 'put up with' their lot in life and it seems that having the ability to do this is still regarded as being a sign of inner strength and fortitude. While sometimes this truly is the case, more often than not the desire to 'stick it out' comes not from inner strength but from feelings of fear.

The list of fears that come up can be quite overwhelming; fear of lack or scarcity, fear of insecurity or loss, fear of nothing better being available, fear of being 'wrong', being judged by others or making a mistake... you get the picture. Our internal fears only get amplified when we think of the old saying 'better the Devil you know than the Devil you don't.' Surely it better to have no Devil at all?

This rather popular expression suggests that ultimately we are always caught between a rock and a hard place; that even if we manage to escape some awful reality, there is nothing better available to us so we may as well just 'put up and shut up'. Or, as a rather forthright Headmaster once advised me to do when I was really struggling as a teacher; 'go home, have a stiff drink, then come back tomorrow and get your head down.' 'Ah', I thought to myself, 'so that's where I have been going wrong all my life!'

For better or worse, I have never been able to simply 'put up and shut up' and this has made for a very rocky ride indeed. Although my approach has lead to a somewhat insecure life, when I look back the only thing that ever truly bothered me was the nagging belief that I should somehow be able to 'put up and shut up', and that if I can't then there must be something wrong with me.

The list of 'shoulds' that accompany the 'putting up with it' approach is also very long; should be able to 'stick at it'; should be able to turn a blind eye or ignore unacceptable behaviour, should be able to meet the unrealistic demands and expectations of others, should try harder, work harder, be more accommodating and less sensitive. The question is, where did we all get the idea that if a situation is truly awful that we just need to 'get better' at dealing with it, and if we can't that it means we are not trying hard enough? And who decided that being a 'responsible' adult equals agreeing to put up with 'the Devil' in our jobs and relationships?

Over the last hundred years or so, we have been moving into a more 'liberated' age, a time when people feel compelled to break free of oppression and enslavement. This process is all part of evolution of Humanity which is pushing us more and more urgently toward spiritual freedom. However, until we are ready to fully experience liberation and have found a way to integrate it into our lives, it can seem like all we are doing is trying to run away from something we ought to be able to accept.

Nothing can be further from the truth. Ultimately we are not really 'running away' from anything, we are 'running toward' spiritual freedom and inner peace. However, this process takes time and can make us feel lost and confused. Our soul's call for spiritual liberation usually begins with a strong intolerance for oppression, bullying, double standards, and for unreasonable demands being made on us in exchange for the security of love and/or money. Any intolerance to the endemic abuse of power within our society is not a sign of weakness or irresponsibility, it is a sign that your soul wants to break free.

The closer you get to reaching spiritual freedom, the greater your intolerance of power abuse becomes, however minor, subtle or unintentional. As your inner journey brings you closer to personal liberation, you become increasingly sensitive to how others respond to and affect your energy. While it would be so much easier to function 'normally', the 'normal' lack of sensitivity is actually due to desensitisation caused by thousands of years of oppression and layer upon layer of cultural denial.

Heightened sensitivity and intolerance to oppression is a sign of becoming increasingly unable to live in the 'Old Paradigm' – the abusive hierarchical social order that people have lived under for thousands of years. While it is a challenge for any individual soul to swim against the collective tide, thankfully the collective tide is now turning towards equality and personal freedom. Gone are the days when you are likely to be nailed to a cross or burned at the stake for owning your power or striving towards spiritual freedom – though don't be surprised if you are judged or shamed for it.

If you are trying to decide whether to stick at something or to walk away, you need only ask which option will enable your soul to evolve. Take a step back to check your feelings and listen carefully for any 'shoulds', underlying fears or limiting beliefs that may be holding you hostage. If having done all this you are still not sure, then make an empowered decision to commit yourself fully to your current situation, at least for the time being. And trust that if it turns out that you do need to walk away, in time it will become absolutely crystal clear – just as soon as you are ready.


Sunday, 16 June 2013

Why Do People Feel Shame About Being Single?

'The best way to deal with shame is to talk about whatever it is that makes you squirm and want to hide under the blanket.'

We live in a society where individuals are free to choose all aspects of their life style. Gone are the days when a woman was passed from father to husband like a prized jewel or a marketable cow. Gone are the days of shot gun weddings, 'illegitimate' children, and the the fear of becoming an old maid at the tender age of 25. When it comes to sex and marriage, society has changed beyond all recognition, so why is it that people still feel so much shame about being single?
I used to think it was 'natural loneliness' that drove me to join one online agency after another and endure endless dates with men who were completely devoid of even the most rudimentary manners. But after the ending of my most recent relationship I was reminded once again of an inescapable truth: There is nothing more lonely than living with someone who doesn't love you - at least when you're single you're free to focus your time and attention on people who do love and care for you. After the initial shock and grief of the latest break up I thought I'd finally cracked it: I was happy and single – and if one day a lovely man should come along, he knew he would be the cherry on the cake not the eggs, milk and flour.

The it started, that old familiar feeling like a dark heavy cloud creeping slowly across the sun. I checked in with myself to see what I was feeling; lonely? No. Desperate for sex? No. Bored and in need of some drama or excitement? No. I decided to sit with this feeling until finally I was face to face with what was making me feel so bad and much to my surprise I discovered it was shame. I was absolutely horrified to hear the voice of shame that said 'no man wants you and therefore you are a failure, an outcast, an absolute reject'. In the eyes of shame, it never matters how great I think I am, or how wonderful my friends say I am, it doesn't matter how amazing my life is or what I achieve in the world – if no man has granted me his 'seal of approval' then shame quietly points out to me that if I am still single, then I must be completely worthless.

This may sound harsh but that is exactly what I discovered lurking in the core of my being when I stripped away all the layers of 'perfectly natural' loneliness, the urgent desire for sex, the feeling that something is missing and the wistful belief in my very own 'happy ever after'. And, knowing as many single women as I do, I also know I am far from alone in experiencing this insidious, excruciating shame. Are women really are free of the shackles of social control, or has the oppression has simply been sublimated and hidden from view, making us think we are now choosing to go bonkers in the quest for His love?

Things are difficult for men too, after all we all live together in this shame based society. If a man manages to cleverly avoid being 'tied down' by a woman, then he is expected to be out there having sex with everyone and anyone, (as long, of course, as it is not with someone wearing pig tails or long shorts which is the only sexually addicted behaviour that is frowned upon these days.) I have met many men who have no interest in 'sleeping around' but who feel shame about not having done it – as if this would have somehow made him more of a man.

Despite the 1960s 'sexual revolution', it appears that women and men are still carrying huge amounts of shame about their sexuality. We can't simply be, instead we have to constantly find ways to prove our sexual worth. The shape and form of the shame many vary between the sexes, and even between individuals – but it is always there; ugly, pervasive and cunningly well hidden. That's the problem with shame, it lurks in the shadows and is such an uncomfortable feeling most of us will do anything to hide it, even from ourselves.

A wise person once told me; shame doesn't live in the light and I have discovered that they were absolutely right. The best way to deal with shame is to talk about whatever makes you squirm and want to hide under the blanket. I was shocked to discover that not only do I feel ashamed of being single, but I also feel deeply ashamed that in this day and age, I can still feel this way. (I should have more self respect than that!) But I'd much rather own up to my feelings of shame than continue pretending that I am experiencing one of the more socially acceptable feelings of loneliness, horniness, wanting a baby or some dreamy notion of being rescued.

I wonder how many of us are running around sleeping with strangers, going on endless disappointing dates or slowly suffocating in painful, unloving relationships just because we are afraid of feeling ashamed? (Ashamed of not being 'man enough' or of not being cheerfully claimed and taken off The Shelf.) Maybe if we started admitting to our feelings of shame we could finally begin to heal the buried wounds caused by thousands of years of social-sexual oppression. Perhaps we could begin to experience true freedom from the realisation that none of us have anything to prove to anyone through our sexual encounters or relationships with others. After all, true self acceptance can only come from letting go of external judgements and living a life that is true to oneself.

Freja  © November 2011

Additional note for Manifesting Mr Wonderful readers:

There is absolutely nothing shameful about wanting a positive loving relationship or to meet the right man. However, I highly recommend checking to see if you are motivated by feelings of shame about being single or if this shame is hidden somewhere in your unconscious because it will only stand in the way of you manifesting what you want. I now believe this 'shame of being single' plays a major role in blocking women's ability to manifest positive relationships; there really is nothing more effective at lowering your vibration and your standards. Shame is an incredibly powerful emotion and our unconscious fear of it can lead us far away from self caring decisions. If we really want to raise our energetic vibration then we must begin by confronting any conscious or hidden reservoirs of shame.