Posted on Mar 7, 2012 | 4 comments
For years, I’ve been wondering, “As I learn to quiet my Internal Critic, what’s left? If not my Ego, who is it that shows up as Me?” Unexpectedly, I recently discovered that I’ve been exploring the answer, using many different approaches, for almost 5 years. The answer is “Essence”. There are a lot of words for this, like “Higher Self”, “Spirit”, and “Soul”, but I like “Essence”. Why? Because it is easy for me to dismiss the first three words as somehow not a part of me … face it, they even sound like they are beyond me. Not so easy to do with “Essence”, because by its very definition, it is an intrinsic part of something … in other words, Essence are those qualities that are uniquely ME. I wouldn’t be ME without my Essence. Similarly, YOU wouldn’t be YOU without YOUR Essence.
So what does this have to do with anything? A lot. First, in order to fully let go of something, I discovered that I needed to know what I was moving towards. When faced with uncertainty, I’ve noticed that a part of me wants to grasp onto what I know, even if what I’ve done in the past no longer serves me. Knowing that there is a “ME” that exists separate from this Internal Critic that I’ve been seeking to quiet is reassuring.
Second, as much as I would like to believe that “I’m beyond categorizing”, I’ve been shocked to discover that most people experience the same qualities in me. Doesn’t matter how long they’ve known me … meeting again after many years of absence, meeting for the first time, personal friend, professional colleague, known me since I was born. I know that is incredibly hard to believe, so being an ornery “I won’t believe it until I experience it” kind of person, I set out to prove it to myself. I already know that if you are reading my blog you’re as ornery as I am, and won’t take my word for it, but will have to prove it to yourself. Stay tuned and I’ll provide you with some resources at the end of this post.
Why is the truth that most people experience the same qualities in me so important? Because I could finally give myself permission to relax and stop … stop trying so hard to be liked … stop trying so hard to be like “that successful businessperson” … stop trying so hard to withhold my assaults for fear of being perceived as weak. And in that space where I could stop trying so hard, acceptance emerged. Because all that was left was for me to relax and be me. Not the Judgmental Ego, but my Essence. What a waste of energy to try to be anyone other than ME, when being ME comes so easily! Sounds obvious, and yet that is how most of us persist in living our lives … looking to others for answers, building businesses based on what the experts say, looking around and seeing what others are doing for guidance on what to do next. I turned 45 this past summer … what a wonderful mid-life crisis to have … to discover who I really am!
On a personal level, discovering my Essence has been a powerful healing image for me. You see, 20 years ago, trapped in that Cathay Pacific economy seat, where my entire nervous system was revved up to 60 miles per hour to escape the hand of the large stranger who penned me into the corner of my window seat while he stroked my thigh … when I could neither fight nor flee … my Body took care of me the only other way available … I froze and disconnected from my Body. And in that moment of disconnection, the mental belief “I don’t have value because I didn’t fight for myself” was cemented in place. That is the true wound that has been driving my life ever since … seeking external ways to value myself because I couldn’t trust myself to know how.
Discovering my Essence and that there are people who value those qualities for the very reason because they are ME has become a homing beacon for me. I may not have known how to value myself, but I can start with what others are telling me. For almost a full year now, I’ve made my Essence the focus of my cultivation practice … that each time I fully experience one of those qualities that others have mentioned to me, I pause and reflect on how that quality has shown up in my past. This is a huge change from my prior unconscious practice of silently saying, “Yeah, yeah! What’s so special about that? If I can do it so easily, then everyone must be able to do it!” And in this new moment of reflection, I can breathe in deeply how that quality IS ME … how it has shown up without me even knowing it … without even trying … and yet there it is, as a thread that weaves throughout the tapestry of my life.
On a practical level, claiming my Essence has led to freedom, play and productivity.
Who would have thought that being willing to fully claim my Essence would lead to freedom, play, productivity, acceptance, appreciation, focus and energy? I hope this post inspires you to explore your Essence! Please share your “WOW! I didn’t realize that about myself!” discoveries of your Essence with me by entering your experience in the Comments box. And in case you are seeking resources to explore your own, I’ve provided two options below.
By the way, here is a sampling of my Essence statements. Feel free to laugh because some of them are quite funny … but they really are me, aren’t they? Go ahead … admit it … you can hear me saying them, can’t you? No one else can say these statements and have them ring true because they are ME!
And as I review these statements that were developed for me in August 2010, I can now gratefully claim the last two … which just a year ago did not quite feel like they were me. Now I can actually feel the truth of them. That’s the side benefit of letting go of those old patterns and moving towards Essence … that qualities that you didn’t even know you had can emerge more strongly! What a validation of the depth of change that I’m experiencing due to my recent love affairs!
Here are two resources that I found particularly powerful in understanding my essence:
Nichecraft by Dr. Lynda Falkenstein – I did the process that Dr. Falkenstein describes in her book back in 2008. When I did the interview process, I made it a point to include people who I had only met the day before. And their answers were aligned with the response from people who have known me since I was a little girl. And their answers validated those I received from my best friends. Shop & Purchase A little freaky to be seen so clearly, but it is also very freeing to know that what people value about me is that I am ME. I dare you to go out on a limb to prove it to yourself! To make it easy for you, simply click on the Shop & Purchase button, scroll down to my Amazon Store and you can locate Nichecraft under the category “Discover Your Essence & Genius”.
Sam Christensen’s Branding Process – This is an in person 4-day workshop that I took in 2010, which resulted in 3 pages of Essence statements like those I shared above. Sam’s genius is developing those statements, which range from making me want to laugh because it is SO ME, to wanting to cry because I have no clue how he saw that quality in me when I couldn’t see it for myself. I particularly like Sam’s process because you are in a room full of strangers and yet you come away with statements that perfectly describe you. He goes into depth on how to translate even seemingly negative comments that you may hear about yourself as validation of your Essence … simply filtered through the lens of someone who may not value those qualities. He also gives you a month’s worth of suggestions on how to begin breathing in those qualities, so that you don’t just toss them away, but rather fully inhabit them. While Sam is based in Hollywood, he does offer his workshop in Washington DC, New York City and Toronto.