Monthly Archives: July 2015

Blog 31: Making New Associations part 4 – Moving from Insincerity or Faking it, to Living in Honest Authenticity.

Sometimes I enjoy watching “The Big Bang Theory”, a show on CBS about a little group of friends who are mostly geeks. Sheldon, the main character, is a genius who has no verbal filter and is irritating as hell because of his total self-focus and his condescending attitude toward everyone. Because they are not as smart as him. But Sheldon has something going for him. He is HONEST and genuine. He never pretends to be someone other than who he is, even if it gets him in trouble. Though his motivation for honesty comes from his sense of superiority, the fact remains, with Sheldon you always know exactly what you are going to get.

Becoming an idiosyncratic genius is not my idea of a good time, but we could all take a lesson from Sheldon in staying true to our real self. Ed Deci says, “Authenticity necessitates behaving autonomously, for it means being the author of one’s actions—acting in accord to one’s true inner self….to be authentic is to be true to one’s self.” Today’s blog is about making a new association with how we act in the world and present ourselves to others. It’s about moving away from inauthenticity, hypocrisy, and faking it, and moving toward living in genuine honesty, a type of moral integrity, in that our inner attitudes match our outward words and behaviors.

I have caught myself scoffing at politicians who like a chameleon, change exteriors so often you cannot tell his or her true colors no matter how hard you squint. They shift views, beliefs, and attitudes depending on the constituency surrounding them. I am not a politician but I have also been guilty of being a chameleon in certain situations and changing how I act based upon who I am hanging around. It is disingenuous to judge and criticize shifting loyalties and behaviors in others, when we sometime struggle with acting in similar ways. Sometimes we put on airs or a false persona for certain people, or act differently than we might if we were alone. Many of us do this to hide our humanness, our flaws, kinks, quirks and brokenness. We fear rejection so we hide the self we really are behind a “more acceptable” mask or behind an act that sometimes fools no one but ourselves.

Are the concepts of honesty, vulnerability, and genuineness still valued in our culture? Sometimes its seems that hiding, faking and guarding our true selves has become the soup de jour? However, thanks to people like Oprah, Brene Brown, Ken Wilber, Rob Bell, Richard Rohr, etc., honesty and vulnerability seem to be making a comeback. For this I am grateful. There is a true power found in raw authenticity that energizes humans to live in vitality and to bring about positive changes in our culture.  A power that is rarely found in wearing a mask or a persona. Perhaps one of the reasons people like Mother Teresa, Maya Angelou, Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, the Dali Lama, and Jesus, just to name a few, have been able to act in ways that have changed parts of the world with present reverberations. They all live(d) honestly and let their true voices ring out loud and long to the world where they had influence, They did not hide their voices and beliefs, or spout a party line. Their passion for the greater good burned true and bright and the world was been changed.

I was just at a Rob Bell event in San Diego last night, his “Everything is Spiritual” tour. http://robbell.com/portfolio/tour/ It was amazingly life giving, and motivating. One thing he shared that really helped me was that the Universe is made up of 96% dark matter and energy and though this is not fully understood by scientists, they know that somehow this dark matter and energy are important for the overall health of the universe. And he concluded, we humans are full of dark matter as well. Our shadow sides, our wounds, histories, flaws and struggles. Rather than hiding or ignoring our own dark matter, we need to embrace it. To use the energy of the darkness inside to propel us forward into the world for good, for loving, for connecting. We all have dark matter and like the universe it is part of the overall health of our own bodies.
I have been guilty of hiding my dark matter but as I have learned to embrace my struggles and honesty share my humanness (warts and all) there is a great freedom and power that can feel almost Nuclear at times in it’s intensity and brilliance. I was given a great big universal push into healing and vulnerability a few years ago when a dear friend put me on the Cable TV show, “What Not to Wear”. http://www.tlc.com/tv-shows/what-not-to-wear/ My issues with beauty, identity, self-love and my discomfort with my femininity and sexuality were exposed to untold multitudes via the medium of Television. It is harder to hide when everyone is watching.

Instead of wrecking me or filling me with shame (my greatest fear), this experience opened me up to my unique beauty and value and helped me embrace my dark matter as an important part of what made me Wanda. Risking vulnerability and honesty in front of the “world” was one of the best experiences I have had in my life. When Stacy London and Clinton Kelly and all 45 of the crew, loved and accepted me even though they saw and heard about my flaws and struggles, something broke open deep in my heart and I have lived in a new experience of freedom and joy from that moment on.

At some point I will write about my “What Not to Wear” days in this blog and I am working on an Ebook about this transforming experience.. But for now, I will close by encouraging all of us to seek and find our dark matter instead of hiding from it, and to stop faking our true identities in order to receive a scrap of approval from other people who want to fit in and wear all the same logos and drive the same cars. Own who you are proudly. Don’t settle for a caricature of yourself. The world needs you to be fully who you are. You are the only you that will ever live.

Clinton, Stacy and the famous dog, Mary.
Clinton, Stacy and the famous dog, Mary.

Going deeper:

1.) What messages did you receive over the years about your own dark matter? Have you been given encouragement to embrace all of yourself, or have you bought into the cultural lie of perfectionism and the need to put on a happy face that may not be fully yours?

2.) What experiences have you had with your dark matter that have turned out positively for you? Perhaps you chose to embrace and reveal it, or maybe you were universally pushed into it like I was. How has that positive experience helped you live more deeply and authentically?

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Part 3: Making New Associations; Moving from Craving Certainty to Welcoming Wonder

In our technologically advanced, “just google it”, and “ask SIRI” culture, every fact we could ever want is literally at our fingertips. Anyone with a Smart phone has literally turned into a know-it-all. Knowledge has never been so easy to acquire and you would think this would make us a more balanced and peaceful society.  But anxiety levels are higher than ever. It seems that the more we know the more stressed out we become.

It is easy to believe that knowing more should bring us more certainty, about our lives and our futures. But certainty, and especially future certainty, is an elusive concept in a quantum Universe where 96% of it is made up of black holes and dark matter. Where Light acts as a wave and a particle, though they are two mutually exclusive things, and when the Universe is expanding at a mind-blowing rate. When some of the atoms that used to be in me are now in you or in the veggies I grow in my garden. There are natural laws, yes, and then, there is mystery, wonder, the miraculous, the inexplicable, and unexplained phenomena. The new association suggested in today’s blog is to move from craving certainty to welcoming Wonder!

What is wonder? “A feeling of surprise mingled with admiration caused by observing something beautiful, unexpected, inexplicable”. This is the dictionary’s attempt to catalog the concept of wonder. But I would suggest that wonder is more easily grasped with images or memories. For instance, do you remember the exact moment your very first child entered the world, or the first time you made love to that exquisite being who you had adored with your heart for so very long? What about watching a massive thunderstorm over the ocean, or a double rainbow after said storm, or surfing a 40 foot wave at Mavericks and living to tell about it?  Wonder by its very nature is not certainty or knowledge or a gathering of facts. It is visceral and hearted/body based sensations that cause deep emotions, some would say it enlivens our very souls.

If I am like most humans, I long for wonder while wanting certainty at the same time. But I would posit, they are often opposite sides of a coin and being open to wonder may mean I let go of demanding control, the human means used to accomplish certainty. Being open to the present moment as opposed to controlling it so the outcome is as I desire, allows me to experience any wonder that may be lurking. (And the more I try to stay open, the more wonder I find lurking).

I will close this blog with a poem I wrote as a way for me to make sense of my decade-long journey to try to move toward wonder. I hope it reaches places inside you where my logical words cannot. And may you find Wonder and mystery lurking in plain sight as you go about your daily life.

CAMEL TRADING

A long time ago, I traded Wonder

for knowing, certainty, and a sense of control

like a shrewd camel trader

looking for the better deal.

Now, I’m still wanting wonder while

craving security, safety and knowing what’s coming.

In a competition between a want and a craving,

the craving wins every time.

What if I craved wonder with every fiber

of my substantial being. What would life look like?

And the craven voice of my fear-based life form,

why I crave surety in the first place,

whispers, “What will you have to let go of’?

Like a rock climber whose rope’s ripped,

clings to the crack in the rock for dear life,

my human, grasping fingers grip,

every shred of certainly and all I have gained

gathered and amassed along the way.

The fear of farther loss,

seems a blow from which I will not recover.

Though choosing to let go, and be emptied,

is nothing like

having self, personhood and dignity

ripped out of your body and being

from as far back as you can remember.

But to the body, loss is loss

and the fear runs silently, in the background

of my mind like a software virus.

Then, I watch imperfectly formed, bold outlines

of humans choosing wonder

and her wingman, JOY

and my grasping, gripping fervor

seems less appealing, and loosening,

my fingers enjoy the break,

while my heart opens an inch more,

and then God with infinite patience

perpetuates the cycle.

Year by year this rhythm repeats

until that day dawns,

when I will trade certainty for Wonder

and like that camel trader,

will walk away laughing because,

I got the better deal!

by Wanda Brothers

Going deeper:

1.) Where do you find yourself, if anywhere, in this blog? Do you crave certainty? If so, what is the hit or reward you get from being certain? What would it be like to surrender this craving just for a few hours?

2.) What relationships do you have with Wonder? Can you stop and bring to memory one or more instances of Wonder you have experienced? If you can, notice the body sensations that accompany this memory. Wonder is expansive, cleansing, and revitalizing. Watch children experience Wonder if you need a refresher course.