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Self-Care Minder

Exploring Womanhood > Mind, Body & Soul > Self-Care Minder

Hinding in the Cinders
by Jennifer Louden

Cinderella is not the archetype that springs to mind when one meets me. I'm feisty, sturdy, rambunctious, more a terrier than a Siamese cat. Hiding, hanging back, or waiting to be rescued is not what I do.

Or at least I thought so.

Wily psyche sure can hide her treasures well. In the last four months, I've become intimate with a previously hidden pattern of mine I'd been utterly blind to, the pattern of being a sort of Cinderella, or as Carolyn Myss names it, an indentured servant -- the shadow of serving others, in which you do not get or ask for what you need to flourish. Because I never waited for or relied upon a man -- except in an equal partnership -- and because I did not do this in every domain of my life, I never saw how this archetype was at play.

Specifically, this looked like:

Partnering with talented people, then taking on more of the work and ending up resentful -- with no authentic grounds for complaint.

Feeling guilty when my husband supported me with energy, love, time so I couldn't fully enjoy his gift.

Having an idea and then "rushing" to get it out -- even when there is no need to rush and therefore not allowing the idea the full gestation and consideration it may have benefited from.

Finding reasons why I can't have exactly the retreats and training I want to grow my knowing.

Being envious of women who live the archetype of the Queen or Priestess.

Having amnesia when it comes to asking for help with my creative projects.

Thinking there was one "right" project to move forward with.

The process of moving out of this pattern has been joyful, confusing and nerve fraying. Joyful as I see new energy released in embracing the assertion that I can always choose, that this is my life, that I am responsible for bringing my gifts into the world without shoulds attached. (Shoulds erode trust in ourselves, they erode choice, they erode self-reliance.) Confusing parse out what ideas I chose to develop and what kind of help would be best as I do that.

Nerve fraying as I spend money on my personal and professional development and my bank account decreases past that cushion I assess I must have. (Must or ought to, like should, abdicates choice and personal power.)

What has helped me transform this pattern?

  • Seeing the pattern and then clearly choosing to be done with hiding in the cinders.

  • Declarations of change must be felt in your body and feel possible. What doesn't work is declaring yourself done with -- let's say overeating -- when you know you aren't or don't want to be or aren't ready. This only creates an energy drain of guilt and shoulds. Declare only what you truly choose, declare it day by day, and ask for help to keep your promise to yourself.

  • Letting go of my subtle hiding without knowing what it would mean to be more visible or play bigger. I am beginning to sense with my body and spirit by what more visible and bigger might look like and I can tell it has to do with life energy, flow, radiance, and bliss. Not measurable outward bigger or more visible -- much more an interior and subtle stage.

  • Learning to look for what is right in front of me and taking action there. Acknowledging it takes more courage to be fully committed than to flit from this to that and dwelling in possibility more than actuality.
    Quick, off the top of your head, what are you afraid to wholeheartedly commit too?

  • Conversations with my friends Ann and Billie, both remarkable women with huge heart and gifted coaches...
    Who can help you see where you might be hiding? Who has already told you how you hide?

  • Re-reading Sacred Contracts by Carolyn Myss - in my opinion not a well organized or completely fleshed out book, but certainly full of many insightful gems. Also, her Sacred Contracts cards and her journal are good tools.

  • Coaching with Molly Gordon.

  • Listening to Conscious Business by Fred Kofman. These are great, grand, chock full of tools CDs or tapes aimed at business but easily adaptable to families and life in general. Fred studied many of the concepts I use in my coaching.

  • Daily meditation and yoga, time in the woods walking, praying for guidance, reading.
    What practices help you sustain your energy and faith? What practices are calling to you? What practices are outmoded or freighted with shoulds?

  • Knowing for the sake of what I am breaking this pattern -- my fierce desire to be of use to the world, to nurture our well-being as a planet and as women while not cutting myself out of this resplendent loop of nourishment. Because remember, Cinderella got the scraps. She didn't ever relax at the banquet table. Happily ever after is pretty damn vague and really, really boring.
    What fierce desire is calling you, even if you haven't any idea where this desire will take you? Why do you want to leave the dingy extinguished embers of an outmoded pattern?
Come, construct a raft of compassionate daily practices, nourishing friendships and support, and constructive, well-grounded thoughts. The world needs us healthy, visible, and out of the cinders!

Jennifer LoudenJennifer Louden is a best-selling author of five books, including the classic The Woman's Comfort Book and her newest Comfort Secrets for Busy Women. She has appeared on numerous TV and radio programs, including Oprah. She's also a certified coach, creator of learning events and unique life balance products. Visit http://www.comfortqueen.com

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