Discover Your Authentic Self: Be You, Be Free, Be Happy - Sherrie Dillard (2016)

Chapter 4. LIFTING OFF THE LAYERS

At some point during the journey of knowing self, you will feel as if you have had enough. You will encounter an inner resistance to letting go of who and what you have thought yourself to be. You likely will want to transform and at the same time hold on to the familiar and comfortable ways that you have been living your life. This chapter challenges you to go deeper into the thoughts, feelings, and beliefs that keep you stuck and to embrace new possibilities.

47. Cultivating the Seed of Self

The authentic self is like a seed. Until it blossoms, its potential and power can never be truly understood and known. Your everyday thoughts, emotions, choices, and actions either nurture or repress the true you. To bring the authentic self to full blossom, it is necessary to pull and dig out the false, the habitual, and the mind-numbing choices and ignorance that are not you. Dig deep and root out what is not true for you. Allow the weeds of the false to become the fertilizer that nurtures your goodness and joy.

The work of cultivating and nurturing the true self is not always easy, yet the victory is not in the final destination. Each time you listen to and express who you are, you become stronger and filled with joy. Like a mighty oak that shelters and shades, the authentic self becomes the wise, steadfast inner assurance that everything is in order and happening for a reason. Love surges through your heart and soul when you become aware that your life has purpose and meaning. Like an out-of-control bed of daisies in the sunlight, the warmth of truth spreads through you and into every aspect of your life.

I till the authentic inner garden.

48. Calm in the Midst of an Emotional Storm

Our feelings and emotions are messengers that guide us into a greater awareness of ourselves and of life. When you delve deep into your truth and live authentically, your feelings can become the stepping stones that lead you through the winding maze of self. Instead of being driven and controlled by your emotions, you can see your emotions as guideposts that, when listened to, help you to know more about who you are.

We often feel overwhelmed by our feelings and emotions. When they are powerful, they can take hold of us and control our moods, thoughts, and actions. In an attempt to feel like we have control, we often suppress or stuff away our distressing and difficult emotions or act on them in unhealthy ways. Unfortunately, this may only push our emotions deep within, where they churn and fester, unhealed and unacknowledged. We might also act out our emotions in ways that affect our self-esteem and confidence. We may eat, drink, shop, or have sex in excess. We may rage and take our anger or frustration out on others.

Instead of denying your feelings or trying to manage them in ways that can have detrimental effects, welcome your emotions as wise messengers. Listen to them and invite them to be a part of your journey to authentic living. Accept all of them—especially those that are dark, difficult, and unruly—into your awareness. Don’t stuff them away, deny them, or judge them. Give your most difficult thoughts and feelings the best seats in the house. Allow them to have center stage and listen to them. Encourage your fears, anger, jealousy, and anxiety to express their woes to you. Don’t turn back. Once you make the decision to allow your emotions and feelings to be known and felt, all of who you are floods in.

There are aspects of you that may have been in hiding for a long time. Behind the defensiveness, sadness, confusion, and pain, there is an open expansiveness and freedom. As you listen to your feelings with gentle compassion and accept all of them, the confusion dissipates. Despite the ferocity of your emotions, there is a calm and balanced place of peace within you.

Be present to your feelings and emotions without judgment or criticism. Wait patiently and stay in the gentle process of being fully present to yourself. Your goodness will eventually come forward. You came into this world as a magnificent being with the stuff of the heavens locked up in your heart and soul; give it the opportunity to surface.

I wait for the inner calm.

49. Free from Stereotypes

Most of us identify who we are primarily through our physical self. Our gender, age, race, hair color, eye color, and weight all define us. Cultural norms and our personal judgments of these characteristics often limit and control how we perceive ourselves.

For instance, if you are a female and possess certain physical attributes, like a slim waist and large breasts, then society reflects back to you desirability, attractiveness, and worth. If you are overweight, small-breasted, or even an average weight and average-looking, you are viewed as less desirable and often lazy and lacking. Generally speaking, young women have power and older women do not. Tall men with an athletic build are viewed as stronger, more assertive, and more capable than shorter and heavier men. Your socioeconomic status and your race also contribute to the way you are viewed by others. Young African-American or Hispanic men are judged as less reliable and responsible than older white men. If you are a young, slim woman, you are likely given preference over older women in social settings and many career and job opportunities.

Although you may not personally agree with these and other collective stereotypes, you are still in some ways affected by them. These kinds of common and broad-based biases and preferences have a subtle and often profound effect on how we perceive ourselves. If there is a prevailing view of who you are that is based on your physical self, you may unconsciously take on some of those traits and characteristics.

It is a challenge not to be affected by the prevailing stereotypes. Take a look at how you may be judging yourself. If you are not slim or skinny, do you feel less attractive and appealing? Do you harbor feelings of being less worthy when you are a few pounds heavier than you believe you should be? If you are a male, do you feel that there are certain jobs that are acceptable for you and others that are not? For instance, should you be a doctor and not a nurse? Do you feel that you need to make a lot of money to prove your value?

These judgments and others like them do not define you and have nothing to do with your authentic self. They are stereotypes, opinions, and criticisms that crowd out the truth of who you are. Do not settle for this kind of falsity and distortion. You are the being who lives inside of the physical shell. You have a heart, mind, and body that are fully equipped to serve your higher purpose in this life and experience happiness and joy no matter what your physical appearance may be.

Live from the inside out. Look beyond appearances and accept yourself for who you are. When you do this, you become beautiful. Your authentic self is powerful. Allow it to be the strongest determiner of who you are.

I look beyond appearances to see who I truly am.

50. Authentic Thinking

Your thoughts are powerful and some of them are more influential than others. Our everyday conscious thoughts usually evolve around day-to-day issues and details. They may include thoughts about current events, our job or schoolwork, friends and family, what to eat, and whatever else surfaces throughout the day. There are also random mind-chatter thoughts that continually bounce in and out of consciousness. These thoughts are a stream of consciousness where one thought leads to another and another without regard to importance or practicality. These thoughts can be entertaining or distracting. However, they do not have the potential damaging effects that judgmental and negative thoughts can have. Negative thoughts can spiral downward into a dark hole, taking us with them. They are not based on truth, but on subjective criticism, beliefs, and perceptions. Focused on ourselves, others, or events and situations, these thoughts are self-defeating. The more we think and believe them, the stronger they become and the more likely they are to manifest as self-defeating and negative experiences.

Few of our moment-to-moment thoughts are generated from our deepest truth. Instead, most of them surface from the layers and layers of accumulated beliefs, feelings, and judgments that we have collected and accepted over the years. An authentic soulful thought is one that emanates from our truest self. These thoughts are positive, wise, and intuitive and bring with them insight and peace. Unfortunately, our more superficial thoughts often cloud our ability to become aware of them.

To better tune in to the thoughts that spring from your soul, it is necessary to first become aware of and pay attention to what you are thinking. This is called identification. It is the process of noticing your thoughts without attachment and judgment. Once you become more aware of your thoughts, you can begin to notice their random nature and let go of them. This is called dis-identification. It is the ability to detach from the thoughts that do not support your highest good.

This process is often best accomplished during meditation or contemplation. Relax in a quiet place and allow your thoughts to surface one by one. Take your time and listen. Unlike our random and judgmental thoughts, which can be loud and produce feelings of stress and anxiousness, thoughts from the depths of our soul are often experienced as the still, small voice within. They are wise and insightful and create inner harmony and a feeling of freedom and expansiveness.

As you allow your true thoughts to surface, you attract the conditions, people, and situations that speak to your most authentic self. There is increased harmony in your life as you flow into alignment with your soul path.

I listen in quiet contemplation to my thoughts.

51. Will the Real You Please Stand Up

In the late 1950s, the game show To Tell the Truth began to air on television. It later made a short comeback in early 2001. On this show, the contestants would win money by correctly identifying, from a panel of three people, the person being portrayed. The contestants would ask each member of the panel questions to discern who was telling the truth. After the contestants cast their votes, the show would end with the announcer asking the real person being described to please stand up. If you ever watched this show, you may recall that quite often the contestants were fooled. The imposters were able to take on the personality, characteristics, and talents of the person being profiled.

The success of this show may in part be attributed to the ability that we each possess to be who others want us to be. We can hide behind a false mask and fool not only others but ourselves as well, so much so that we do not always know when we are not acting in our truth. If we take on false characteristics and do not act with integrity for an extended amount of time, we cannot always recognize our authentic feelings and thoughts. Very rarely do we do this to be deceitful or to have power or influence over others. Instead, we act this way because we want to be who others want us to be, we fear being hurt or criticized, or we are not always sure who we are.

Expressing and being true to ourselves can feel risky and cause us to feel vulnerable and insecure. Yet not being who we are rarely gives us the positive payoff that we expect. We can be left feeling empty and misunderstood, or like an imposter. Being yourself allows others to be who they are. Take the risk and stand up as the real you. When you identify and acknowledge what is true for you, the inner pressure releases. Just listening to and acting on your truth allows healing and compassion to emerge. Being you is a soothing balm that calms the inner storm. Claim your ground. It is the holy space where the authentic work of knowing self is taking place.

I tell my truth.

52. Choose the Positive

Choose to feel the positive vibe of your authentic self. When confronted with unexpected problems and stressful conditions, we often feel a combination of worry, sadness, fear, stress, and anxiety. It is important to give yourself permission to feel what you feel. Do not judge or be critical of your automatic responses. All feelings and emotions are normal and natural. They come and they go. They do not define or limit who we are and what we are capable of.

It is when we habitually cling to specific emotions and allow them to be the lens through which we perceive and judge all that we encounter that we get into trouble. There are some emotions that we are comfortable with and others that seem foreign and less appealing. We all have default emotions. Some people quickly feel anger, others confusion, and some fear or anxiety. Become aware of your default emotions and pay attention to when they surface. Whatever emotion you commonly feel is coloring your world. What you experience in your day-to-day life is being created, in part, by the energy of the emotions.

Replace your distressing default emotions with more positive ones. For instance, if you feel fear, imagine instead that you can feel the inner assurance that everything is working out exactly as it is meant to. If you feel worry, shift this into trust and confidence. Sadness can be transformed into compassion. Anxiety can be transformed into positivity, and confusion into awareness. Don’t wait to naturally and automatically feel these more positive feelings. You can activate the emotion’s energy. First, recognize what you feel and listen to the feeling. Then imagine a more positive, loving, and compassionate emotion right alongside it. Allow them both to coexist simultaneously within you. In time, the more positive emotion will expand and the distressing one will subside. Continuously focus for longer periods of time on the positive emotion. Eventually your nervous system, your heart, mind, and spirit, will welcome and accept these new emotional responses and they will become the norm. Be the master of your emotions. Move yourself into the life stream of positivity.

I choose to feel positive emotions.

53. On the Way to Clarity

It’s okay to be confused. Maybe you were given the message when you were young that in all situations and circumstances you should know what you want, how you feel, and what will make you happy. Perhaps you give yourself this message. However, self-awareness is a never-ending process in which we are often first led away from ourselves in order to find ourselves. Knowing the depth and breadth of who we are does not happen instantaneously and on demand.

Sometimes we are confused as to what we feel and which choice and decision will produce the most positive outcome. When you are not sure what you are feeling, it is okay. Not knowing and being confused is valid and sometimes quite useful. In the process of becoming more self-aware, respect the chasm between being unconscious of your thoughts and feelings and being able to feel, know, and clearly identify them. The space in between is not always comfortable. You can feel out of touch and unable to connect with your authentic self.

You don’t have to understand everything about yourself all at once. It is enough to feel your feelings and allow your thoughts to surface without judgment and criticism. Let them come and then let them go. Be a free and open, flowing channel. Resist the temptation to believe that you “should” be feeling certain feelings or feeling what others expect or want you to feel.

Give yourself permission to be honest and not know what you think or how you feel. Although it may seem like you are going in the opposite direction of what you may want, not knowing clears the path for your authentic thoughts and feelings to come to the surface.

I accept my feelings, even when I do not understand them.

54. Being Rerouted

Sometimes we arrive at a dead end. What we want does not happen or what we want does happen but it does not give us the kind of happiness and joy we thought it would. It is easy to take failure and endings personally. Our self-talk can be negative and damaging. We may tell ourselves that we have not tried hard enough, our effort was unsatisfactory, or we were just not smart, attractive, or talented enough. Although it is always wise to be honest with ourselves and learn from our mistakes, being overly self-critical and hard on ourselves can be crippling and can keep us from experiencing the true power of the moment.

We have all been grateful, at one time or another, for not getting what we thought we wanted. I had a client, Brenda, who was trying to buy a house with her boyfriend. They had been dating for over a year and she was very much in love. Over a period of six months they put offers down on three houses, and each offer was accepted. Yet for various reasons, one at a time they fell through. Discouraged and disappointed, Brenda felt as if either she had bad luck or someone had put a hex on her. That was until she unexpectedly found out some disturbing news about the man of her dreams. Soon after the contract on the third house was canceled, she discovered that her boyfriend was still married and had children he had never told her about. When she confronted him, he confessed. He was still legally married and was the father of three children. This revelation shook Brenda to the core. With immense gratitude, she now viewed her failure to buy a house as a blessing.

Life has a way of guiding us into the experiences and opportunities that we can benefit and learn from the most. Trust what happens, even when it does not look anything like your vision for happiness and success. Trust the flow, shifts, and sudden changes that come your way. Release yourself into the powerful hands of the silent and mysterious. Surrendering to the unknown is an act of mastery. This is where the magic happens. Instead of using your will to knock down walls and get your way, use your will to stay steady. Not knowing where you are going and feeling a lack of control over your environment can provoke fear and stress. Allow your authentic self to take the reins and lead you into new territory. Listen for new direction and new life. Feel the inner assurance that all is well.

I release my disappointments and trust that 
there is unexpected good coming my way.

55. Load the Joy Truck

At some time or another, we all want something more and something better. Yet we do not always know what will make us truly happy. We often live in constant hopeful expectation that something better is on its way. Yet time passes and we may seem no closer to having the something more that we desire. It would be so much easier if the joy truck simply showed up in our driveway and dropped off our specially tailored happiness neatly packaged to our specifications.

Instead of waiting for the good to come to you, take charge and create it. If you are not sure what will make you happy, visualize the possibilities. Creative visualization is a way to use your imagination to create more of what you want. There is nothing new or unusual about using your imagination in this way. You already do it every day. Whenever you continually think, feel, or see an image, you are programming your mind to create this reality. Many athletes use creative visualization to improve their athletic performance.

Try this creative visualization exercise to attract more joy into your life.

Get into a comfortable position in a quiet place. Close your eyes and begin to breathe long, relaxing inhales and exhales.

Imagine a large, shiny new truck with the word “joy” written in bold letters on both sides. You can fill this truck with everything and anything that brings you joy and happiness, no matter how big, small, elusive, or nonphysical it may be. Now load the truck. As you do so, imagine a lift device that is able to easily put everything in the truck, no matter how ethereal or abstract it may be. Imagine what you want and let it appear.

For instance, I loaded my truck with beautiful fresh flowers, a long and empty seashore, my dogs, angels, my favorite foods, good friends, a few professional comedians, a path through the forest, a snowy day at dusk, my favorite clothes and shoes, books I enjoy, and the people I truly love.

You get the idea. Whatever makes you happy, put it in the truck. There is no space limit and you can always add new things. When you are finished, get in the driver’s seat. The truck is comfortable and easy to drive. Drive your truck home. Home may be where you currently live or it may be a new home, the one you have always dreamed of living in. It can be anywhere you want it to be—in the mountains, along the seashore, in the city, or on a quiet country road.

Once you arrive at your destination, unload the truck and fill your home and yard with happiness and joy. If you prefer, you can keep some things in the truck and take them out when you most want to experience them. Just know your joy is in the truck parked at your home. You have the keys and you are in control.

Take a few minutes to breathe, relax, and soak in the joy. Feel it move through your body and circulate through your heart, mind, and soul and emerge through your authentic self.

Use this visualization often. The more you use it, the more joy you will create.

I fill my joy truck.

56. Acting with Courage

Does fear ever hold you back from going forward, trying something new, or changing an aspect of your life? If so, you are not alone. At one time or another, we have all allowed fear to control and limit what we want and what we do.

The biological function of fear is to keep us safe. It is a primal, spontaneous emotion that is meant to warn us when we are in danger. It is neither long-lasting nor an emotion that we are meant to cling to or mentally and emotionally generate at will.

The kind of fear that we live with on a day-to-day basis is habitual and destructive. It does not warn us of real and potential danger or keep us safe from predators. Instead, it distorts our perception of who we are, drains our energy, and affects our health and well-being. Fear is a pretend voice that shouts from a dark corner. When we listen to it and allow it entry into our lives, it suffocates our heart and mind.

Fear holds us back from the natural flow of growth, change, and transformation. We all too often allow it to influence our perception of the future and the outcome of our choices. In the clutch of fear, we imagine all kinds of scenarios of what lies ahead. Fear tells us that we will be hurt, embarrassed, and shamed and suffer some form of loss. Most of the time, what we fear will happen never does. But still we allow it to have power in our everyday decisions and choices. Fear hijacks our imagination and our ability to move forward. It keeps us stuck in a confused and worrisome state. Yet even though it is twisting and manipulating our perception, we believe that we are being smart by listening to it and making choices that keep us safe and secure.

All around you and within you there is an open field of potentiality. It is yours to fill with love and beauty. Don’t plant the seeds of fear here. Instead, listen to the quiet voice of your authentic self. You have dreams to live and possibilities to explore. Don’t wait for fear to dissipate.

Courage is the ability to do something that frightens you. To feel the dread and anxiety that fear produces and yet go forward, despite your hesitation, is powerful. It strengthens your self-esteem and confidence. When you choose courageous action, fear loses its grip on you.

I do not let fear control me. I act with courage.

57. Fall in Love

Fall in love. Get out of your way and allow powerful waves of love to move through your heart. When we fall in love, we forget ourselves and make room for the “other.” When the other whom we fall in love with is someone who loves us in equal measure, our hearts open and meld as one. But the other does not have to be a person. For instance, we can fall in love with a sunset or sunrise, the mist lifting from a mountain lake, a smiling child, a creative project, music, a friend’s laughter, a book, or a beloved pet.

When we fall in love with another, the relationship may last a lifetime and grant us the opportunity to grow and mature through the full spectrum and many phases of love and a shared life. But sometimes love lasts just a few months or a few years and ends with disappointment or pain. This kind of love can come into our lives with a surprising ferocity and leave the same way. Even though its purpose in our life is not always clear, the joy and pain of love and loss often stretch our heart open beyond what we thought possible.

When the other is not a person, but an experience of beauty, an awakening, or a mysterious lifting up of our heart in unexpected awareness, the initial surge of love can fade and dissolve as quickly as it arrived. Falling in love is a transitory state and an invitation to more fully experience soulful bliss and joy. Yet the true gift of falling in love should not be measured by its duration. Ultimately it is not how long we are in the initial stage of falling in love but our increased ability to open our heart and give and receive love that is most valuable.

Under the spell of love, we go running into the unknown and unexplored aspects of ourselves. In truth, it does not matter what we fall in love with. It is always ourselves, the depth of our soul, that comes churning to the surface, that captivates us. Our inner true self leaps in recognition and relief at discovering itself in the world, connected to something or someone. The object of our desire is a mirror that reflects our soul’s beauty and love. It takes us deeper into who we are and at the same time moves us beyond our limitations.

Fall in love with that which inspires and lifts you out of your self-
confinement. Let your heart rise like the tide of the sea. Allow it to surge forward, greet you, and unveil the depth of your being, unguarded and vulnerable. Allow love to transform you and give birth to the little sprouting seeds of your authentic self that have gone unnoticed. Release yourself to love and it will take you by surprise. Look expectantly at the world, as it is going to grace you with your true love.

I allow myself to love.

58. Overcome Doubt

Behind every genius idea, new project, work of art, budding love relationship, and step into the unknown, doubt lurks. Following an aha moment, where the clouds of confusion part and we see with clear awareness, there often comes a time of questioning. Self-doubt can make you feel as if you are inwardly divided and at odds with what you know to be your truth. Your creative, inspired, and intuitively insightful spirit and your cautious, fear-based ego mind seem to be at war with each other.

Doubt traps the authentic self in a small, dark corner. A form of judgment, doubt arises when we expect certain outcomes. For years I wanted to write a book. I had a lot of ideas, but whenever I started to write them down, I doubted my abilities. I would torture myself with questions like What if I fail? What if I spend months and maybe years writing a book and I cannot get it published? What if no one reads it or likes what I write?

My expectations were high. If I wrote a book, I wanted it to be published, read, and successful. Doubts plagued me. Lacking the conviction that I could be a successful writer, I turned my attention to other areas. I devoted myself to becoming a better and more accurate intuitive and medium and increasing my clientele. I also worked part-time as an art therapist at a treatment center for troubled youth. It was in this unlikely environment that my fears and anxiety about writing were transformed.

A large part of my work as an art therapist involved creating stories to engage and motivate the students. When they expressed enthusiasm with one of the stories, usually an outrageous and ridiculous one, I quickly wrote it down, hopeful that the next class would also find it as interesting. The more I wrote, the more I relaxed and enjoyed it. My relationship to writing changed, as I no longer felt pressure. Writing, I realized, helped me to feel alive, vibrant, and full of energy. It was a transcendent experience where all of me came together with passion and purpose. The dread of publishers’ and others’ opinions and my own perfectionist self-judgment began to fade and be less important. Writing no longer felt like a choice. I wrote for my soul. It was the elixir that helped me to feel fully alive.

If doubt immobilizes you, here are a few suggestions.

Take a break and get away from the project or issue that you feel doubtful about. Do something that helps you to feel confident and happy. It doesn’t matter what it is. Go for a walk, play your favorite sport, listen to music, watch a good movie, or go to a museum.

Be honest about your expectations. Ask yourself the following questions: What are my expectations? Are they realistic? Am I expecting too much of myself?

Be with others who love and encourage you.

Share your feelings with someone you can trust and who is supportive. Be careful not to confide in those who allow their own doubts and a negative perspective to limit them. Learn how to take care of yourself and share your dreams with those who have followed theirs.

Be with those who uplift you and love you for who you are.

Listen within for what is right for you, and trust your intuition.

Spend some time alone. Listen to your heart and your gut. Ask yourself, If I knew that I would succeed and that everything is possible, what would I do? What is my truth?

Write down a plan for what you would like to accomplish and experience. Break it down into manageable steps. Give yourself small daily and weekly goals. Celebrate your progress. If you begin to feel doubt, take a time-out. Refocus on what you have accomplished and what your next steps will be.

Give it your all and remember that choosing the safe, sure thing does not necessarily mean that you will be happy, successful, or better off. You cannot control outcomes, but you can choose to participate in what brings you joy and what feels right for you.

I do not let doubt limit me.

59. Take Off the Mask

To know and express your authentic self, it is necessary to take off the false masks. To survive a difficult childhood, fit in with our peers, hide our emotional wounds and vulnerabilities, or be part of a group, we become who and what others want us to be. Over time, we begin to identify with these false masks and we forget who we are. Eventually, these masks begin to feel more like a prison than a coping strategy. When they no longer provide us with the safety and security we seek, we feel trapped by the false.

The feeling of not being true to yourself, the sense that there is something else you are meant to be doing, and feeling an inner void and emptiness are some of the signs that you have lost touch with your authentic self. When you continue to ignore these warning signs and persist in denying your true self, you suffer.

What masks are you hiding behind? Are you ready to let them go? Begin by committing to speaking your truth. Say no when you mean no and yes when you mean yes. Before you accept an invitation or agree to take on a task or responsibility, ask yourself if this is what you really want to be doing. Discover what you enjoy. Take time to investigate dormant talents and abilities by taking classes or trying new activities. Have fun, laugh, and boldly express who you are. Love yourself for the qualities that make you unique and you will find that others will love you to.

When you strip away the false, true intimacy with yourself and others becomes possible. You increase the flow of vital life force energy through your body, mind, and spirit and begin to feel more alive. Masks suppress spontaneity and our capacity to enjoy new opportunities and possibilities. When the mask is off, we can attract and magnetize to us that which speaks to and supports our true nature.

Even though your authentic self may be clouded over or hidden, it will guide you in this process. Take time to listen within. Trust that there is a healthy, wise, and loving inner self that is guiding you into pure joy.

I am complete and whole.

60. Emotional Sensitivity

Have you ever been called oversensitive or hypersensitive? Do you feel deeply and wonder why others are not as affected by negative people or events and upsetting situations as you are? Do you feel others’ pain and stress?

If you are an emotionally sensitive person, life can be an emotional obstacle course. Like a strong wind blowing through an open field, the emotional energy of others and your environment can seem to come out of nowhere. You likely feel the emotions of others, even those of people who may not be physically close. It is also likely that you are affected by the emotional energy of traumatic situations or events, both near and at a distance. At times it may seem as if there is little you can do to shield yourself from the onslaught of others’ feelings and emotions. You soak them in like a sponge.

Emotionally sensitive people often unknowingly absorb others’ emotional energy into their physical body in an unconscious attempt to resolve or heal it. This can lead to physical pain and illness and emotional problems such as anxiety, insomnia, exhaustion, and stress-related afflictions. An emotionally sensitive person is also at risk of becoming so overwhelmed by the energy of others, especially those with whom they are in an intimate relationship, that they lose touch with their own authentic self.

Here are a few more signs of emotional sensitivity:

• You feel drained, anxious, or exhausted when in crowds.

• You desire to help and heal others.

• You know what others need and do your best to try to give it to them, often before they ask.

• You know what others are feeling, sometimes better than they know themselves.

• You need time alone to recharge your batteries.

• Violence in the news, movies, or video games adversely affects you.

• People come to you with their problems. You are a good listener.

• You are easily hurt by criticism.

• You find yourself giving in to others’ demands to avoid an argument.

• You enjoy peaceful and serene environments.

• You love nature and animals and often volunteer to help in these areas.

• You require a fair amount of solitude.

• You seek to know and understand others deeply.

• You have a difficult time faking emotions.

• You are always ready to help those who are suffering.

These are just some of the attributes of an emotionally sensitive person. If you believe that they may describe you, it is important to take care of your sensitive and vulnerable nature. Quite often, emotionally sensitive people are misunderstood. We live in a busy, competitive, noisy, and often aggressive and insensitive world. At times you may feel alone in your sensitivities and overwhelmed by your environment. The voice of your true self may seem small and barely audible. Yet you are stronger and have more inner resources than you may realize. Emotional sensitivity can sometimes seem like a curse, but in truth it is a blessing. Your emotional sensitivity is a core aspect of your authentic self and a beneficial strength. But to get the most out of your innate sensitivity, it is essential to take care of yourself.

Self-Care for the Emotionally Sensitive

Your emotional sensitivity may not be a choice, but you can make a choice as to what and whose emotions and feelings you absorb. Instead of feeling the vast array of others’ tumultuous emotions and those of your environment, it is possible to shift your emotional receptors to receive the lofty vibrations of pure love. Emotionally sensitive people have direct access to this higher aspect of love. Wherever you are, you can tune in to and absorb positive energy.

Try these steps.

Begin by making a commitment to yourself and informing the universe that you are no longer willing to be an emotional sponge for negative and detrimental emotional energy. As much as you may want to help others to heal or resolve their difficulties, know that feeling their pain does not dissolve it. In fact, it just makes it stronger. Know that you do not have to be an emotional sponge for the free-floating emotional pain, negativity, stress, fear, and anxiety that you may encounter in crowds, while shopping in a store, or even while simply sitting in your home and watching or reading the news.

Become aware of the people in your life whose feelings you are the most susceptible to absorbing. Ask yourself if you take in their emotions in the hope of being closer to them or because you feel that this is the natural way to be in a relationship. Realize that you do not have to be emotionally enmeshed with another to maintain a positive connection. This is not the same as shutting down or not being available to those you love and care for. Instead, you are taking charge of your sensitivity and using it in a more beneficial way.

You likely absorb certain feelings and emotions more than others. For instance, some people are more likely to feel another’s emotional pain, while others are more likely to absorb another’s fear. We do this because like attracts like. If unresolved fear, sadness, or grief resides within you, you are more likely to feel it in others. Discover your emotional wounds and heal and release them. This will prevent you from unconsciously attracting and absorbing these emotions and feelings in others.

Spend time alone. Listen within to the inner voice of your authentic self. When a feeling or emotion surfaces, ask yourself if this emotion is your own or someone else’s. If this is not your emotion, ask yourself what the source of it is and let go of it. Once you identify that the origin of a feeling or emotion is another, it is easy to release it.

If you feel overwhelmed by feelings but you are not able to name them and you feel confused, give yourself time and don’t push yourself. Be compassionate and patient. You have likely been emotionally sensitive since childhood, and it may take some time to sort through your emotions and get to the core of your genuine personal feelings.

Have a source of positive energy in your life. Many people find love, peace, and solace in a spiritual practice. Meditation, rituals, and quiet time in nature can provide you with the opportunity to connect with the pure energy of unconditional love. Create a safe place in your home where you can relax, unwind, and come into balance.

Do not feel shame or embarrassment if you need more alone time than others. Be honest about your needs. If you do not want to socialize in large groups or in an environment that feels overwhelming, graciously decline and take care of yourself. Others may not understand you, so it is especially critical for your well-being that you understand and have compassion for yourself. As you do this, you will be able to be more present and available to the people and activities that are most important to you.

I honor and care for my emotional sensitivity.

61. The Inner Mind: Doorway to Change

To delve deep into the authentic self, go beyond your everyday thoughts and understand the power of the unconscious and the subconscious mind. The unconscious and the subconscious mind are closely related and are what I refer to as the inner mind. Our primal instincts, beliefs, buried memories, subjective perceptions, and reality map are stored here. Although we are not normally aware of our unconscious material, it has a powerful effect on our everyday choices, decisions, and experiences. For instance, a long-forgotten childhood trauma can affect our ability to trust others and feel at ease in new situations. A fear of flying may stem from an unconscious fear of not having control.

Psychologists and scientists have theorized that as much as 95 percent of our behavior and decisions stem from what is buried deep in the inner mind. Despite our desire and efforts to change, we will continue to experience the same defeating patterns over and over again until we become aware of these forgotten influences and heal and reprogram them.

There are a few different ways to become more aware of what is contained within the inner mind. One of the most common is through our dreams. A window into what is hidden and unknown, dreams never waste our time. There is always a message for us within them. Although it may be difficult at times to decipher the puzzling symbols in our dreams, there are many good books that can help us interpret and gain insight into their deeper meaning.

Hypnotherapy is another useful tool for lifting the curtain of consciousness. Empowering you to bypass the conscious thinking mind, hypnotherapy allows you entry into the inner mind to resolve and heal past issues and limiting patterns. It can be used to eliminate and change the thoughts and beliefs that are creating detrimental effects and to introduce positive statements that will empower you to manifest what you desire. Through hypnotherapy, you can also become aware of forgotten memories, even past-life memories, and release fears and phobias. During a hypnotherapy session, you have the opportunity to heal your past and create a fulfilling future.

In recent years, nontraditional and innovative therapies and healing modalities have become more widely used to understand the unknown and buried memories, emotions, and beliefs that affect and influence behavior and experiences. Among them is BodyTalk, a holistic system of healing that reveals and heals the communication connection between the body and the unconscious. Various types of energy healing—such as meridian-tapping techniques, which free the body of emotional energy blockages, and Matrix Energetics, a transformational healing technique that uses the principles of quantum physics—have also become more popular.

Accessing the deeper unconscious enables your authentic self to freely emerge and express your goodness and joy.

I am willing to explore my subconscious mind 
to discover more about my authentic self.

62. Use Affirmations

Your emotions and thoughts are powerful. Do you know in your heart what is real and true for you? Does your life reflect this? Do you feel that you are able to express the true you? As you become aware of your authentic self, you may at times find that your day-to-day life is not always conveying your inner truth.

You can break free from the grip of continually attracting and manifesting what you do not want and create experiences that are better aligned with your truth. One of the most effective ways to create and manifest your core truth is through the consistent use of affirmations.

An affirmation is a short and concise positive statement that, when repeatedly spoken or written, attracts and creates the conditions and experiences that you most desire. Replacing self-defeating thoughts and beliefs through the use of affirmations empowers you to manifest your authentic self.

For an affirmation to be effective, here are a few basic guidelines.

Create a short “I” statement that directly expresses the truth that you want to manifest in your day-to-day life.

Always express this statement in a positive way.

Make sure the statement is in present time.

Use one statement at a time.

Repeat or write down your affirmation seven times, seven times a day, for seven, fourteen, or twenty-one days. This is my personal formula that has worked quite well for me. Seven is a powerful number that reinforces and connects you to your highest potential.

When you speak or write an affirmation, visualize an image of yourself manifesting and experiencing what you desire. Feel the positive emotions and feelings associated with this image. Open your heart and surround your affirmation with love.

Keep in mind that negative thinking neutralizes the effect of an affirmation. If you find yourself complaining or becoming negative, repeat the affirmation seven times.

When you begin to use an affirmation, it is not uncommon for thoughts to surface that are in opposition to what you are affirming. This means that the affirmation is working. As the new thoughts are accepted, the beliefs and old patterns of thinking that oppose the affirmation will surface. When they do, make the choice to no longer accept them as your reality.

Eventually the statement will sink deep into the inner mind and you will automatically begin to experience the affirmation.

At the end of every entry in this book, there is an affirmation. Here are a few more. You can use these or create your own.

I manifest opportunities to fully live my purpose.

I confidently express my authentic self.

I attract a loving, emotionally and spiritually mature partner.

I receive financial abundance.

I am healthy and full of energy.

I use affirmations to attract opportunities 
and experiences that express my authentic self.

63. Depression and the Authentic Self

Depression is a dark cloud of energy that feeds off the soul. It is a hungry destroyer of the light and has no essential purpose in this world but to feed and survive. Unlike the emotions of sadness, grief, heartache, or despair, which allow for the presence of other emotional states and feelings, depression is a hungry ghost that consumes all other emotions and quietly seeps into every aspect of an individual’s being and takes control. Depression is a psychological, mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual cancer that usually creeps in without notice.

Depression begins with the small dismissals of our personal truth. It often takes root in a childhood where truth was replaced by manufactured smiles and compliancy. When a child’s feelings, emotions, and thoughts are ignored or ridiculed, the authentic self is numbed into silence and nonexistence. Gradually and throughout life, this denial of the true self only intensifies. As we are socialized to live according to outer expectations and be who others want us to be, layers and layers of the false dim our inner light. We compromise, ignore, and suppress who we are and what we feel. This creates an energetic vacuum that allows the energy of depression to settle deep into our heart, our bones, and our soul. Without the light of our truth and the power of our spirit, we are vulnerable and defenseless. We become immobilized, and with severe depression, we can no longer find our inner light. We cannot hear the voice of our soul, and we live within the prison of darkness.

Signs of Depression

True depression is more than feeling down and sad. Feeling the highs and lows that come with life is natural and normal. Depression is a lack of feeling and a deadening of the spirit. If you experience several of the following signs and symptoms that do not go away, you are likely depressed:

• Changes in sleep; sleeping either too much or too little

• Experience exhaustion, fatigue, and loss of energy

• Feelings of worthlessness and self-loathing

• Experience physical aches and pains

• Feel hopeless and helpless

• Unable to control negative thoughts, no matter how much you try

• Inability to concentrate and difficulty performing simple tasks

• Loss of appetite or continuous eating

• Feeling irritable, aggressive, and short-tempered

• Engaging in reckless behavior, consuming excessive amounts of alcohol, or illegal drug use

• Thoughts of suicide; life is painful and you will do anything to stop the pain.

Reclaiming Your Light

If you struggle with depression, you cannot ignore it and hope it will go away. Although depression may intensify or subside, if it is lying dormant within you, it will surface. Know that the true you is buried deep within and you must do everything you can to activate its presence and power. Everyone experiences depression a bit differently, and your path out of depression will also be unique to you. Here are some strategies.

Talk to someoneAs difficult as it might be to acknowledge that you need help, reaching out to another begins the healing process. Start with someone you are comfortable with. This may be someone in your family or a friend. Be honest and express what you are experiencing. Depression loves isolation, and once you begin to share what you are feeling, you invite new energy into your life.

Seek out professional healers. You are in need of healing. A part of you will resist getting help. This is the depression talking; your mind, body, and emotions are being held hostage. Do not give in to this thought. A good medical doctor, psychiatrist, psychologist, counselor, or therapist can make a significant difference. In addition, consider seeking the assistance of credible energy healers. Depression is a dark and negative energetic vampire that is feeding off your energy. It is essential to open and clear your subtle energy body and remove any negative attachments. Depression can make you vulnerable to attracting other negative thought forms. Find a healer who can detach these energies, clear your subtle energy body, and strengthen your aura. This may be an energy healer, a Reiki practitioner, a shaman, or someone who works with the angelic realm. Get a referral from someone you trust. If a healing practitioner tells you that they can heal you for an astronomical amount of money, find someone else. A true healer will charge a reasonable fee for their services.

Create the conditions for a breakthrough. It is essential that you create a way for your authentic self to emerge. Inner and outer movement will stimulate and allow healing life force energy into your mind, body, and spirit. Take some form of action.

Do yoga, get a massage, or sit in a hot tub, sauna, or steam room. Get outdoors and walk, run, bike, or do any other physical activity. The sun, wind, moon, stars, trees, and flowers all emit source energy. If you cannot exercise, then sit outdoors, close your eyes, and breathe in the natural world. Create art or go to the movies, to a play, or to a live concert. Hit a mattress with a tennis racket. Sit in front of a fire. Yell, scream, climb a tree, or plant a garden.

Eat healthy and drink clean water. Natural whole foods contain vital life source energy. The energy of the earth and the sun are absorbed within and will revitalize you at a cellular level.

Help others. We tend to open our hearts and give more to others than we are willing to give to ourselves. Get the love within flowing outward. Volunteer at a homeless shelter, soup kitchen, or any environment where others are in need. Talk to others, look in their eyes, and listen to their struggles. Feel your heart open and give. It can also be helpful to work in an animal shelter or with rescue animals. Be sure to do this with others or with a group. Remember, depression loves isolation. Absorb the energy of those who freely give their love, time, and attention. Be this kind of person. As you give, you receive. Sharing your unique talents and love dispels depression. It cannot exist in someone who is in their truth and whose light shines.

Know who you are. Listen within, meditate, and make a commitment to live in a way that is true to you. Whatever it is that makes you uniquely you, do it. It does not matter what others think, what you have been told about you, or the past roles that you have played. Get rid of the false. Live only in your truth and keep digging deep inside and expressing who you are, no matter what anyone else says or thinks. Be the authentic you.

You can heal. There is nothing outside of you that is more powerful than what is within you. Although depression is challenging and can feel overwhelming, the universe and your own soul flow in the direction of goodness and love.

I seek help with depression.

64. Absolute and Relative Truth

Our thoughts change and evolve. What you believe today may only be temporary. A new thought or insight may soon emerge and become your truth. It is not being false or indecisive to change your mind, your opinions and beliefs. Knowing the difference between absolute and relative truth will help you to better appreciate the continual reshaping of your truth into new awareness and perceptions.

Most of what we know as our true thoughts and beliefs is relative. They are likely to change and do not describe the ultimate and eternal truth.

For instance, I grew up believing that I had to work hard to receive any degree of success and security in life. This was the truth that I acted on. After working hard for many years, my beliefs began to change. I realized that hard work alone does not always guarantee success and abundance. As I learned more about metaphysics and my understanding of the laws of the universe increased, I began to perceive things differently. I challenged my beliefs and feelings and became aware that the universe flows in the direction of positivity and abundance. I realized that I could flow within this current and not against it. My old truth and belief was replaced with the truth that abundance is natural and I can receive it with ease.

Unlike relative truth, absolute truth is eternal and never-changing, as it lies beyond our thinking mind. We may be intellectually able to understand absolute truth, but the full experience of knowing ourselves and all of life in this way is rare. However, in moments of illumination and intuitive insight, we can catch a glimpse of our eternal self and feel our soul power and potential.

Whatever your truth may be in this moment, accept it and live it. Do not be shy about claiming your beliefs and thoughts. What is true for you today is an essential stepping stone on the road to reaching your highest potential. Your truth cannot just be known. It must be embodied and integrated into every area of your life. Speak your truth and share it with others. Act on it and be aware of new insights and awareness that continue to unfold. Most of our truth is transitory and fleeting, but do not devalue it for this reason. Be true to yourself today and be willing to peel these layers off when your thoughts and beliefs no longer support and best express the authentic you.

I claim my truth.

65. You Are Love

Just as there is relative and absolute truth, there is relative and absolute love. The kind of love that we desire from another is absolute love. This love is divine, all-forgiving, compassionate, and healing. Yet the kind of love that we usually experience in our relationships is personality-based, or relative love. Relative love is experienced through the lens of our beliefs, emotions, judgments, biases, and experiences. We generally experience relative love in our relationships, and it can be clouded by fear, defensiveness, jealousy, and need.

Love in its absolute form is divine life force energy. It is at the authentic core self of every living being and is an electrifying energy. It unifies and speaks to us of our oneness with all of life. To penetrate into the presence of this pure form of love, peel away the layers of false love and allow the light of absolute love to emerge.

Through acknowledging and letting go of our less-than-attractive emotions such as jealousy and fear, we ascend into the higher vibrations of love. Listen to your feelings and emotions and do not judge them or yourself as good or bad. Be a curious observer and allow your emotions to move through you. As you do this, you will begin to experience their transitory nature. They come and go and they intensify and subside. Feel all of your emotions, even those that are difficult and distressing. Do not blame others for your less-than-positive feelings. Own them and realize that they are messengers that have come to tell you more about yourself. If you frequently experience feelings such as anger, sadness, fear, anxiety, stress, or depression, ask yourself what you need to pay attention to and listen within.

Meditate on the purest energy of love within you. Close your eyes and imagine your heart opening and unfolding like the petals of a rose. Continue to breathe and exhale any stress and tension. As you do this, imagine your heart opening and, from its center, absolute love pouring through you. Keep breathing and allowing pure love to move through your body, mind, and spirit. Rest and absorb this love.

Become comfortable with experiencing love in its many different forms. Feel the power and presence of absolute love deep within you, ever ready to emerge. As you come to know yourself as love, you attract this kind of absolute love from others.

I feel my emotions and they lead me to the core of absolute love.