Releasing Yourself

With the beginning of a new year, I can’t help thinking of Andy Warhol’s sagacious observation, “They say that time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.” How many of us imagine that the start of a new year presents us with a fresh opportunity for change, success, happiness, and/or fulfillment? Yet, what is the reality? Is it not true that every day gives us a chance to make the changes in our lives that will enable us to live freely and authentically?

A few days before Christmas, I picked up a book by Steve Chandler with the catchy title, 17 Lies that Are Holding You Back and The Truth that Will Set You free. I spend many hours each day reading philosophy and psychology. Thus, I wasn’t sure how much an author who evokes comparisons to some well-known self-help gurus would appeal to me.

However, I tend to consider each book I read profitable if I come away with even two or three new ideas. I enjoy having my thought processes and thinking patterns challenged, for challenge promotes growth. Chandler’s honesty is probably the reason why his writing seems both authentic and persuasive. The minute that we adopt the view that the writer of a book by has never faced any of the problems or issues that we’ve experienced is when he/she will lose most of his/her ability to have an impact on us. Taking each “lie” one chapter at a time, Chandler analyzes the myths and misconceptions many of us have about ourselves and proves the lack of validity beneath them. The lies he speaks of are the lies that others have told us and that we have told ourselves—and they are all lies about us, about other people, and about the world at large.

If you find yourself blaming others for your depression or your perceived failures or find yourself frequently making comments about being “too old” or using the excuse “that’s just the way I am” to exempt yourself from guilt, then you might want to stay away from this book. Unless, of course, you’re really serious about changing. Chandler takes a no-nonsense approach. And, for those who need for others to treat them with kid gloves or to only tell them what they want to hear, he won’t be the author for you. At the same time, I tend to think that many of those who are reading this blog sincerely do want to change, even if they don’t admit it to themselves.

I came under brutal attack for my last blog article, “Reclaim Your Power.” In spite of the incredibly positive responses that I got from most of my readers, there were a few poor souls who didn’t like my article at all. They even ridiculed my work. But I understand that they were only trying to find some way to disguise their own lack of effectiveness as people. I was accused of belittling those who didn’t subscribe to the concept that we have a choice as to whether we can be happy or not. Well, it is never my intention to belittle those who do not agree with me. In fact, I sometimes end up contradicting my own views at a later date. I consider life to be a continual learning process, and, in spite of what others might think, I certainly don’t imagine for a moment that I have all the answers.

Sometimes I think that we are afraid of those whom we choose to demean and criticize because they show us aspects of ourselves that we would rather not reveal. Ridicule and scorn generally come from one of two things—either fear or a diminished sense of self-worth. Jealousy and envy are usually evoked by the same causes. When we start to understand and appreciate our own worth as people, we are able to accept it when others do not share our views without creating a need to attack, insult, or mock them. Moreover, we do not feel threatened by the accomplishments that others achieve.

Does this mean that once we establish a definitive sense of self-worth we are suddenly “perfect” people? Not at all. We are never what you might call “finished products”.  However, until we are willing to let go of preconceived ideas about ourselves and other people and respect the different views that others have and the decisions they make, we will always have a deep sense of inner unhappiness or dissatisfaction. Releasing others from your expectations enables you to release yourself from the expectations others have of you.

Although, at the time I received the insulting remarks that I speak of, I felt compelled to defend myself, I now see that in attempting to defend myself I only gave others power over me. In coming from a place of defensiveness, I ended up making what they said about me have more value than it actually did. But, all of this happened over a week ago, and I’m such a chameleon that I tend to change on a daily basis, constantly transforming myself, my thoughts, and the way I see the universe around me.

There are very few things that I regard as “fixed” in my life. In general, I find that becoming too attached to any one set of beliefs stifles our attempts to grow and expand. On the other hand, let me clarify that I do encourage others to be true their religious faith and also to their code of ethics (like I am), for these are things that should be celebrated because they are part of what makes us authentic individuals. Once we allow anyone to make us question what we truly believe, we are starting to give our power away to others again. And, your life doesn’t belong to anyone but you.  

When my firend, Anna Lieb, spoke of the positive impact that Wayne Dyer’s book, Pulling Your Own Strings, has been having on her and her life, I felt inspired to pick up my copy of the book, too. Needless to say, I have not been following Dyer’s suggestions in recent times. I have become a victim of the whims of others and have even been allowing them to manipulate me into joining them in games of betrayal and self-deception.  Now, you don’t have to tell me that life itself is a bit of a game. The situation is, we all deserve to be victors—not victims. And ultimately, we end up victimizing ourselves more than anyone else does because we give our power away in a number of ways every single day that we enable those around us to manipulate and mistreat us. Unless, of course, we make a conscious decision to make our life strictly our own.

One of the key ways that others will victimize and manipulate you is by telling you things about yourself that aren’t based in reality. For example, if you behave in a manner that they perceive as irrational, they may label you as being “neurotic”. It might even be implied that you are emotionally unstable or much more fragile from a psychological perspective than you actually are. Pay attention. Stop to consider whether the things you’re hearing others say about you are really true.

Just because someone else perceives you a certain way, you don’t have to agree with them. People have been attaching labels to me for most of my life, some of them positive and some of them extremely negative. After awhile, you must learn to disregard any opinion about you that doesn’t match up with your authentic self. You don’t even need to spend time wondering why someone thinks something about you or says something about you. Realize that, in all likelihood, they are dealing with self-esteem issues, and they are demeaning or criticizing you in order to feel better about themselves.

Does this mean that such people are “bad” or “evil”? Not necessarily, although it is certainly within the realm of possibilities. But, whether they are “bad” or “evil” or not, they are undoubtedly toxic to you. For one thing, they are operating from a place of fear rather than joy, and this, according to psychologist Nathaniel Branden, is one of the key elements of low self-esteem. Low self-esteem doesn’t make people toxic (except to themselves, naturally) unless it creates a need in them to control, manipulate, or abuse other people. Manipulative tactics are not always easy to discern either for they can take many forms. For example, being needy and trying to dominate others are both signs of low self-esteem, and the types of behavior that are evoked by either of these things can be forms of manipulation.

It has not been easy for me to get to the point where I have been willing to let go of anything or anyone that might be holding me back. Why? Well, I tend to think that I’ve been coping with self-esteem issues of my own. It’s perfectly normal for those who do not have a definitive sense of self-worth to look towards others to give them the love, acceptance, and approval they are withholding from themselves.

The problem is that you cannot continue this pattern and have control over your own life, for you are at the mercy of other people. In some ways, it can be more difficult to maintain a high level of self-esteem than to continue living with low self-esteem. One reason that this is the case is because we tend to attract people who are quite a bit like us, whether the similarities are immediately visible or not. Thus, if we have been struggling with low self-esteem, we have most likely been drawing other people with low self-esteem to us. So, as we begin to work on our self-esteem and start having the confidence to gain control over our lives and to put our own needs first, we’ll notice that there will be people who have been there to support us who start to distance themselves from us. They may even get angry or feel that we are abandoning them.

What you have to remember though is that only when we esteem ourselves highly will we be capable of holding anyone else in high regard. We may envy others and we may admire them, but a genuine sense of self-respect will be beyond our capabilities. We will end up hurting others and ourselves because we probably won’t love and/or like them any more than we love and/or like ourselves. As Denis Waitley has so wisely pointed out, we must first have an emotion inside us before we can give it to another person. In keeping with this concept, we would have to at least consider the possibility that until we love and/or like ourselves we won’t be able to love and/or like anyone else.

There are a lot of misconceptions about self-esteem. And there are those who will use words like “conceit” or “arrogance” to describe people who simply have a genuine sense of self-worth. But, this is because they have low self-esteem and yet they are still living in too much fear to overcome it. You may well lose such people as friends. Yet this will all be part of the process in your embracing your authentic self.

Never forget that when you let go of those who are holding you back or who fail to respect your desire to take control of your own life, you are doing both them and you a favor, whether they realize it or not. For you are no longer encouraging them to continue the self-destructive patterns in their own lives. There is not any person who is helped by the friendship, companionship, or love of someone who doesn’t expect him/her to take charge of his/her own life. Even parents must understand that, at a certain point, a child must be taught personal responsibility. This isn’t about “tough love” although some people  may label such behavior with that overused and misused term. What it is about is about making sure that others are entitled to the same privileges that you are—namely, the privilege of having power over their own lives.

If you are someone who does look towards a new year as a new beginning, then by all means take that source of inspiration and run with it. I’m certainly not going to try to stop you. The philosophy I live by is this:  if it works for you, then do it. This is why I have to laugh when anyone suggests that I am trying to “fix” people or change the world through my SuccessDiva articles. Even if I wanted to do so, how foolish would I have to be to actually think I could? Let’s get serious for a moment, instead of entertaining fanciful ideas about me and how much power I think I have over anyone’s life besides my own.

I am here to offer suggestions to those who want to hear them and feel that they will benefit from making use of them. Indeed, I feel very fortunate indeed to have such a large following. But I certainly didn’t expect it when I started my SuccessDiva work. My SuccessDiva work was begun as part of my own personal journey towards self-discovery and spiritual and psychological healing. The recognition, respect, and praise I’ve gotten have simply been icing on the cake, so to speak. At the same time, without the support and encouragement of those who have been my fans and admirers, I wouldn’t be half the diva I am. And, this is something I recognize on a daily basis.

I want to close this article by wishing everyone a beautiful new year. I trust that those of you who take the time to read my blog will make the choice to look upon each day as a new beginning. And that rather than trying to follow New Year’s resolutions, you’ll embrace your authentic self each and every day and take responsibility for every aspect of your lives. You don’t need resolutions to do that—you just need to get to the point where you’re willing to let go of all of your excuses, your preconceived ideas, your lies, and any self-destructive patterns you may be holding onto.

Be bold . . . be daring . . . be authentic . . . and Live without Limits, SuccessDiva style!

Blessings,

Your SuccessDiva

This page and all written material at the SuccessDiva pages is written by Alexis Wingate. All Rights are Reserved. (C) Copyright by Alexis Wingate.

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9 Comments

  1. January 7, 2010 at 1:41 pm

    Dear Alexis- you have written such a wonderful peice, almost poetic, straight from the heart. And so well written…you are the real writer my dear in our family, I’m a mere story teller.

    “We are what we write” because that is all we can write about…wonderfully inspring which makes me want to do great things! And working on that as we speak!
    Love always,
    Mark

  2. Brijmohan said,

    January 7, 2010 at 2:54 pm

    hi Alexis,
    i have been going through your your articles and this is the first time i am replyin to any of the article of yours that i have read. it gives me immense pleasure to read the overwhelmed articles.And this article has given me the same. hope you keep inspiring us this year!

  3. Cliff Perry said,

    January 8, 2010 at 1:06 am

    Alexis, my Dear, You already know how i appreciate and admire your spirit. I bow Low to your warm and gracious ways of making your ideas flow with compassion and sincerity !
    When someone criticises us, no matter how well grounded we are in ourselves, It Still Hurts despite the intellectually knowing that these criticisms come from someone who has to better their own self worth or importance. Sad for them, or pity or compassion, maybe wishing even moreso to help them raise themselves to a place of not needing to put down others.
    In our constant wish to Grow, we stop, ponder, look for the positive side of a negative comment, and put aside our hurt ego to accept ourself again and maybe pray for light to enter the aggressor’s clouded vision. And our different viewpoints already are a distancing in state of mindedness. It is a shame that if one can’t say something nice, they just don’t say anything, but this almost is human nature, certainly a nature of the current state of mass hoplessness and synicism of modern times.
    As we get more intuned with ourself and the universal One, and as our ego feels less hold on us, we are blessed to be able to shrug off the naysayers more easily.
    I praise you for your gracious way of dispelling the negativity, and i’m sure it all more than balances out when the majority of people Do appreciate you !
    ~~~~~~~~~
    Not only is every day a new opportunity to start fresh, I would like to relate my twist on this that i’ve rarely seen aluded to ……. that to ME – That a Great Day starts with a Great Bedtime – going to sleep with a smile that I did my best is my number one precursor to the next day being Great.

    in brotherly love to you, my sister Alexis !
    ~ Cliff Perry.

  4. January 8, 2010 at 3:11 am

    Great blog post Alexis!

    I definitely agree with you that peopler should let go of things that are holding them back. When you grow as an individual, it is almost inevitable that some people around you don’t like what you have become. Let them go and focus on the positive and what works!
    I always encourage people to go their own way and follow what works and feels best.
    To always strive for feeling as good as possible by reaching for a better feeling thought will help people tremendously in life and those negative fearbased people will eventually disappear from your route since they are in a different vibration.

    Keep on posting your great thought and knowledge my friend!

    Dr Jon

  5. Alex Zanazanian said,

    January 8, 2010 at 10:11 pm

    Alexis –

    Thank you again for another wonderful article. I appreciate the way you summed it all up. ” Be bold . . . be daring . . . be authentic . . . and Live without Limits, SuccessDiva style! I would just add be honest with myself, don’t have false expectations and live in the present moment and enjoy it to it’s fullest. I will endeavor to do this this year fully. Thank you again for the openness about your own experiences and your willingness to share it with us. God Bless you. Love, Alex

  6. January 9, 2010 at 4:09 pm

    Hello Alexis. All of us who put ourselves out there are subject to criticism. Anyone who writes is going to be hammered by critics. The wonderful diversity of people means that there will always be some people who disagree and say it in a way that is not nice. I once wrote an article telling people to stop being the victim and I was accused of “berating” and told to “have a heart”.

    The good side of critics is that sometimes they say something we need to hear. I’m hurt by criticism, but I just let it roll off. On occasion I realize they were right.

    “Never forget that when you let go of those who are holding you back or who fail to respect your desire to take control of your own life, you are doing both them and you a favor, whether they realize it or not.”

    I think this is soooo important. You must understand that when you eliminate toxic people you are truly doing them a favor. It doesn’t feel like it at the time, but intellectually we know it is true.

    “To thine own self be true.” — William Shakespeare

  7. Tanya Icelic said,

    January 11, 2010 at 8:55 pm

    Alexis or Angel of words…

    What a beautiful article you’ve written. I am speechless with the knowledge and power behind your words. It’s so authentic, yet it seems as though I can relate to your words. There is no need to defend yourself against anyone. I once read a sign that has stuck with me to this day and it reads, “Those who anger/bother you control you.” Ever since then I decided I don’t have to please everyone. I don’t want others to anger me or have control over me. I am the captain (along with God) and I am in control. Like it or leave it, sometimes things cannot be sugar coated. You are an amazing Diva, and your words are simply poetic as Mark Stephen Levy wrote. Please continue to write your magic because it flows beautifully like a Bach masterpiece. I appreciate your words and even though sometimes things may be tough to hear, we all need to grow and be aware. There are always different perceptions to different ideas and you should be proud that you educate yourself and place yourself inside the box and outside the box. Many blessings being sent your way and thank you for emailing me your blog. Great article!

    Peace, Joy, and Love,
    Tanya Icelic

  8. successdiva said,

    January 12, 2010 at 10:30 pm

    To everyone who has been kind and thoughtful enough to leave comments on my article, “Releasing Yourself,” I extend my heartfelt thanks. I have a personal crisis in my life at the moment, and I am not able to respond to all of the comments at this time. However, I will do as soon as possible.

    Love and blessings,
    Alexis, your SuccessDiva

  9. Stevie Ray Robison said,

    January 23, 2010 at 2:18 pm

    It’s sometimes hard to succeed and to perform at increasingly higher levels. It’s sad when we have to leave people and possessions and beliefs behind. But we must. Because we cannot be held back. It’s time to fly.

    Much love. <3<3<3


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