We don’t always get to decide WHERE we get to show up, but we always get to decide HOW we show up.
I had to remind myself of this truth recently when an uninvited life change put me a place I didn’t want to be, and that old familiar gremlin voice started saying…” Okay, armor up sister. You’re in the arena now….so pull out that old armor of performing, people pleasing, and perfecting…blah blah blah.
I had to remind myself of my truth. The truth that I learned at a Brene Brown Daring Greatly Retreat several years ago. The truth that says, we each get decide to HOW we show up and what we bring into the arena with us. And although armor feels safer, it's actually what prevents us from what we truly want, which is to be fully known, to be loved, and to belong,(to ourselves and to others). All of that requires vulnerability. But here’s the hard truth…armor doesn’t just block the painful blows, it blocks out authenticity, love, and connection. When we live armored up, even if that armor is pretty and shiny like “people pleasing”, we trade our opportunity for being truly known, seen, and loved for a false feeling of safety. We end up hiding the most beautiful parts of ourself, the parts that allow us to be gorgeously human, (our authenticity and vulnerability) behind the armor. We end up betraying ourself for the lie that says….”If you want to be safe here, you have to armor up”. And Sister, that feels crappy. It’s waaay too heavy of a cost, and it’s just not true.
But the thing is – when we find ourself in those "arena moments"…those challenging, hard, painful, even dangerous situation or circumstance in life, we need something that we can take into the arena with us. Something to guide us, ground us, and help protect us. Don’t we? So what then?
What I had to learn is that it’s our clarity of values that will light our way. And it’s the specific behavior and people we place around us that will support and protect our values. This is what allows us to step into the arena with out the heaviness of armor, AND to stand with ourself, and to find our way.
Brene says it this way, “There are no guarantees in the arena. We will struggle. We will even fail. There will be darkness. But if we are clear about the values that guide us in our efforts to show up and be seen, we will always be able to find the light. We will know what it means to live brave.” Wow…that feels so much better than hiding, hustling, or battling behind some heavy armor.
“There are no guarantees in the arena. We will struggle. We will even fail. There will be darkness. But if we are clear about the values that guide us in our efforts to show up and be seen, we will always be able to find the light. We will know what it means to live brave.”
If you’re saying…"Yes please, that sound great but how." Here’s how it goes.
Get really clear on the 3-4 values that matter most to you. These are the values that are fundamental to who you are in the world and how you want to live. Without them you couldn’t be you; they light your way in life. For me, that is Courage, Love, and Authenticity. Yours will be different, unique to you. There is no right or wrong here. And, they may change according to different seasons in your life. If you don’t already know yours, there’s lots of good resources on line to help you define them…use the power of google to help you.
Next, get clear on the behaviors and people that support and protect your values. This is what you want to surround yourself with. Think about specific behaviors that will support and protect your values. Mine are, truth – (owning and speaking my truth), self-compassion - (refraining from harsh judgement and treating myself with kindness), healthy boundaries – (setting and holding them), and permission slips – (the act of giving myself the permission I need to show up in the ways that are true to me, and to make choices that are true to me and my values). Permission slips are amazing little power tools…a game changer for me. (More about permission slips in a future blog post, but for now if you want to know more, check out our IG post @soulchicks).
Now think about the people that protect and support your values. Get really honest when it comes to your people. There’s lots of people you may love, but only a few will be those that truly support and protect your values. This isn’t about judgement, it’s just about clarity, so don’t get hung up on feeling guilty for not putting names on your list. And you’re not going to share it, so be honest. These are the people you can lean into during those arena moments. All other voices are just noise.