Bruce Jenner and What It Means to be a Man

From Vanity Fair (July 2015):

Bruce Jenner was ‘always telling lies.’ Caitlyn ‘doesn’t have any lies,’ she saCaitlyn Jennerys.

 “If I was lying on my deathbed and I had kept this secret and never did anything about it, I would be lying there saying, ‘You just blew your entire life,’” she told me. “’You never dealt with yourself,’ and I don’t want that to happen.”

“I’m not doing this to be interesting. I’m doing this to live.”

 “I never thought in a million years I would ever have to divulge such private, intimate feelings I’ve had all my life.”

I’m reading excerpts from Caitlyn Jenner’s interview in the upcoming issue of Vanity Fair with tears in my eyes and goosebumps on my skin. She is an incredible, complex, beautiful, multi-faceted and brave woman. And what really strikes me the most, is watching this woman exemplify what it means to be a man.

Caitlyn Jenner was once Bruce Jenner, an accomplished and famous athlete. He set a world record for the decathlon at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal and came home with a gold medal. Bruce epitomized what being a man “should” look like. He was strong, handsome, capable, and physically powerful.

However, all the while, Bruce had a secret. He felt like, and wanted to be, a woman. For decades, Bruce kept this secret, only telling a close few. The pressure to keep this secret was so palpable, that Bruce even contemplated suicide after a 2013 TMZ report came out about his tracheal shave. So great is the shame in our society for sexual choices and preferences other than the heterosexual “norm,” that Bruce thought death was a better option than openly admitting his secret.

And yet, two years later, Caitlyn Jenner debuts herself on the cover of Vanity Fair in her full gorgeous glory.

Just for a moment, I want to thank Bruce. I want to thank him for having the courage to live his truth, in spite of the fear and shame he faced. Bruce, by living into his true identity of Caitlyn, has helped to shift what it means to be a man in this country.

I would propose that “being a man” is not necessarily being the strong, tough, guarded, emotionless, powerful and dominating character that our popular media depicts. Instead, I think that Bruce (and many many like him who are bravely but quietly living their own truths) is helping to pave the way to a new version of masculinity which is about bravely and courageously living your truth and vulnerability.

In her book, Daring Greatly, Brené Brown writes that in her research, men reported their biggest source of shame was feeling weak, defective, criticized, and ridiculed. The star athlete transforms into a soft feminine woman. The feminine energy is the epitome of vulnerability and softness – everything the masculine fears being. For this Olympic athlete to face the shame of looking like a failure, to live his truth of living as a woman, is a tremendous act of bravery.

Bruce Jenner was a real man. He had the courage to face his greatest source of shame in front of a worldwide audience. He chose to live as a woman, in a society that still degrades and demeans women for being the lesser sex. Bruce felt all of this, and still chose to live his true identity.

Caitlyn says, “If I was lying on my deathbed and I had kept this secret and never did anything about it, I would be lying there saying, ‘You just blew your entire life.”

Thank you Bruce, and Caitlyn, for helping to redefine what we think it is to be masculine. Being a man is to live your truth, in spite of the perceived shame. It is about having the courage to live in your vulnerability, and even softness. Being a man is no longer about hiding what you really feel, in order to be strong. It is about being so strong, that you can express your greatest fears and vulnerabilities. It is about realizing that bravery is not about conquering others, but living your highest truth.

Letter to an Old Soul

Dear Old Soul,

Years ago, I remember listening to a channeling by Lee Carroll, who bIMG_2227.JPGrings forth the being called “Kryon.” I don’t remember the subject of the channeling, but I do remember Kryon saying that old souls tend to have low self-esteem. He explained that because we have been embodied hundreds or thousands of times, we have seen everything. Through our experiences, we have gained wisdom, which we have innocently tried to share with others. However, much of the time, the planet has not been ready for our wisdom. This has led to some unpleasant experiences such as being made fun of, criticized, condemned, jailed, and even killed in past lifetimes.

We have been the minority for a very long time.

As a result, we’ve adopted an element of hesitation, shyness, or a reluctance to really share what we know. And as old souls, we know. We know things deep in our bellies and in our very bones. We know that power, darkness, energy stealing, domination, and violence never get us where we really want to go. We’ve tried it all before, and we have learned that all of the ways we tried to get power from others never brought us the satisfaction we truly longed for. We know that all we are really looking for is home.

As old souls, we know that the way home is through loving ourselves and others, treating all beings with respect, and taking care of the planet. We know that the way to get where we want to go comes from love and freedom, not power and control. We know that utopia comes from taking care of and nurturing each other, especially the downtrodden and the weak. We know that God (or the Universe of Spirit) is not an angry man with a beard in the sky, but rather, love. Pure, radiant, soft love. We know this deep in our cells.

And yet, we’re reluctant to share what we know. Perhaps we see that the world still needs to learn and grow, and isn’t ready for our wisdom, or is only ready for a small dose of it. Perhaps we are too afraid of having our heads cut off or being burned at the stake to share our truth. Whatever the reason, it is ok.

Dear Old Soul, know that I see you, and I love you. I honor the struggles, hardships, horrors, and difficulties you’ve faced in this lifetime and all previous ones. I see your sensitivity, your wisdom, and your gorgeous heart. I see your beautiful sparkling essence. I see your Spirit and the loving that wants to burst out of every pore. I love you, and I love your ability to love, in spite of everything you have experienced.

Dear Old Soul, you are precious and special. Your wisdom is valuable, even if it goes unappreciated. I appreciate you and all you bring to this world. I know it is hard, at times, to be here. You see the shootings, and the racism, the homophobia, the violence and the poisoning of our water and food. You feel the pain and suffering deep in your belly or in your heart. And yet, Old Soul, I remind you to look deeper. Look deeper into your wisdom. You’ve seen this before. Remember that we are here to wake up. And we are witnessing a planet that is waking up quickly and in a giant burst.

Dear Old Soul, I love all that you are. Take care of yourself, nurture yourself, love yourself. And when you feel ready – when you feel safe enough, or maybe just courageous enough – please feel free to share your wisdom with us. Not everyone will understand it, and that’s ok too. But there are those who will. There are those of us who are ready for you. I see you. I honor you.

 

 

Why Forgiving Others Doesn’t Really Matter

I’m going to say something very controversial in self-help circles. This isn’t a popular viewpoint, but it is something I have discovered through my years of practice. I’m going to tell you that all those people who have done you wrong, hurt you, betrayed you, stomped on your heart, and called you names – don’t forgive them.

Let go of the fight inside.Forgive copyWhat?

“But isn’t being spiritual about forgiving everyone and loving them? Isn’t that what being a good person is?”

Sorta.

Here’s the thing, forgiveness is incredibly important. I would argue that it is the most important aspect of healing there is. My entire healing practice is based on forgiveness and I have witnessed people’s lives changes instantly with just a small dose of well-placed forgiveness. But here is my secret: it isn’t forgiving others that matters, but forgiving yourself.

The mind is a funny thing. When we go through difficult experiences, even if we logically know those experiences aren’t our fault, some part of us forms a belief that what happened is our fault. Our mind likes to take everything personally. We want so desperately to understand why something happened, and the mind’s logical conclusion is that we must have done something wrong or that we are bad in some way.

I’m not sure why the mind is wired this way, but it is. And it isn’t a problem, if we know how to bypass the mind and get back into our loving.

We do this through self-forgiveness.

The next time you are in a difficult situation, I want you to try something. Just for a second, forget about the other person or people involved. I want you to place a hand on your heart, close your eyes, and say to yourself:

I am so sorry you had to go through what you did.

I love you.

Please forgive me.

I forgive myself.

And take a deep breath. Forgive yourself for just having had to go through what you did.

You will likely feel a release in your body and the return of joy.

The really exciting thing is, that once we forgive ourselves, oftentimes forgiveness towards the person who wronged us starts to happen spontaneously. We don’t have to force it, or make ourselves forgive someone when we are still struggling with real hurt.

All we have to do is reach into that part of ourselves that was hurt, and offer ourselves the love and forgiveness we think we should be offering to another.

Love and forgive yourself first and foremost.

Once you have forgiven yourself, it might feel natural to then do a similar forgiveness process with the person who harmed you. Feel free to if it feels natural. But please don’t force yourself.

Love yourself so much that you offer yourself forgiveness and acceptance above all. Stay gentle and soft with yourself, letting yourself know you will never betray yourself by offering forgiveness to someone else when you aren’t ready. Just keep loving yourself and forgiving yourself for where you are at. The rest will take care of itself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Self-forgiveness: The Key to True Healing that You’ve Probably been Missing

There is a lot of talk in the healing world about forgiveness. We all know that to truly let go of a situation or person that has disturbed us, we need to forgive. This world is a tough place and all of us are at one time or another, the subjects of mean words, traumatic accidents, gossip, criticism, and sometimes even physical, emotional, or sexual violence. Life as a human being can be hard!

Often times when difficult things occur, a piece of ourselves gets stuck in the negative event. While this society can be pretty harsh, we aren’t taught how to really release and integrate a difficult experience. This leaves many of us walking around with minor or major PTSD – anxiety, depression, flashbacks, general unease, etc.

One thing we are taught is that we need to forgive others when we’ve been the victim of some kind of perpetration, whether minor or major. And it is true, forgiveness can radically help a healing process. But I have found that for mysForgive yourself and forget about(1) copyelf, even once I’ve forgiven someone who has hurt me in some way, I still feel hurt. I still spend time and energy thinking about the event and I still feel anxious that the event could happen again. When I forgive another, I feel better, but I usually don’t feel great.

It wasn’t until I stumbled onto the power of self-forgiveness that I realized it was even possible to feel great again. I was doing my M.A. and had started working with an incredible spiritual teacher in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He led me through a series of self-forgiveness exercises that completely transformed my life. In five or ten minutes, I was able to once and for all, heal some situations that were still hanging out in my body and mind. He led me through a process to recover the parts of myself that had gotten stuck in those negative events. And at once, I felt my entire body soften. I felt joy and inklings of happiness again. I started to feel like me, the real me. Self-forgiveness turned out to be a magical process that changed my life forever.

Through working with my spiritual mentor, I realized that we’ve had it wrong this whole time. Forgiveness of another is not the way to fully heal, forgiveness of yourself is. In working with hundreds of clients, I have witnessed firsthand the power of self-forgiveness. I would even be so bold as to argue that forgiving others doesn’t matter, but forgiving yourself does. I would also say that once your forgive yourself, forgiveness of another happens spontaneously and without any effort.

My hope is that one day we will all be taught the power of self-forgiveness and how to actually do it. If you are wanting to try self-forgiveness out for yourself, you can try this exercise (for simplicity sake I am using a female pronoun but this exercise works equally well for men and women).

  • Find a quiet place where you will not be disturbed. Close your eyes.
  • Call to mind a difficult event that still doesn’t feel resolved.
  • Look at the you who is in the event, experiencing it. We are going to gently work with that version of you.
  • Call that version of you over to you. Hold her, nurture her, put a blanket around her. Do whatever feels natural. Give her some love.
  • Look at that version of you and repeat this statement “I’m so sorry you had to go through that. I am so sorry. I love you. Please forgive me. I forgive myself.”
  • Take a deep breath and notice what happens in your body.
  • Give that version of you whatever love and attention she needs.