Today I’m breaking down my true mission, because even though I talk all this mindfulness stuff – the truth is – it’s actually just a foot in the door. It’s a sneaky wedge to get me closer to my actual supportive purpose – more women living in their fullness, more women who are self-aligned, more women taking up space and in their power (and I’m not talking about the patriarchal ‘brute strength & domination’ power, but more on in Part 2).
Self-Alignment and people feeling free to be who they truly are, comfortable in their own skin, is something I’ve been somewhat obsessed with since I was a kid oddly enough. As a kid, I grew up in rural USA (western states: Utah, Oregon, Washington, Nevada). I moved from state to state every few years, living in very small towns that were fairly mono-culture – typically white, Christian majority.
Sameness was valued more than differentiating. ‘Fit in, don’t question the norms. Follow the same exact life path as everyone else, and don’t question it’.
My favorite Aunt lived in San Diego, California and my brother and I would go visit her yearly. When I traveled to California I noticed a stark difference from these small towns I lived in: all kinds of people! I loved it! On every trip I was people watching.
Diversity in style, culture, ethnicity, religion…. It felt so natural and true to the human experience, unlike the bubbles I had existed in. I remember as a kid feeling genuine delight at people who stood out from the ‘norm’. They were embracing the uniqueness of themselves! At least compared to what I had been exposed to. And something about that just felt right to me, even at a young age.
I knew I would live in California as soon as I was an adult, and I went on to study psychology to follow my curiosity even more deeply into the human experience.
Before we go further, let me ask you a couple questions:
Do you ever doubt your internal instinct or compass?
Do you ever feel glitched out, trying to please and help everyone else around you while your own circuits are frying?
Do you ever feel like you’re not enough?
Do you ever criticize yourself, your body, and wish you or your life was different?
Here’s the thing – the problem is NOT you (although we DO have to take FULL responsibility for our lives), it’s the society we are seeping in. We are cooking in a vat of societal values & norms that work efficiently to condition us from childhood to work against ourselves, separate from ourselves, seek answers outside of ourselves and not trust ourselves.
Here’s some quick and dirty examples (keep a flexible mind here, this is not ‘all or nothing’ and this is generalized summarizing):
Capitalism > ‘You need to purchase XYZ to be of value / happy / beautiful’.
Sexism > Women (And all LGBTQ+ identifiers) are suppressed & less valued than cis men who have disproportionately held control and domination for thousands of years in most cultures. The patriarchy exists and it sends subtle messages at all times around what you should/shouldn’t be or do.
Racism > Light skin preference / bias throughout the world (racism can of course go in all different directions depending on unique situations. In any experience, you can find dissertations and encyclopedias acknowledging the presence and impact of racism on sense of self and ability to self-align.
Industrialism > Your value comes from your work and productivity. If you aren’t performing to standard there’s something wrong with you (and it COULDN’T be the system that’s the problem *sarcasm*).
Hyper – Individualism > ‘Do it on your own, figure it out by yourself, you’re weak if you need help.’
Hyper – Collectivism > ‘Be like everyone else, follow others, make your family proud.’ If you don’t fit in to the norms, you are shamed and rejected.
Religious Puritanism (including what seeps into a lot of New Age spirituality) > If you aren’t striving to be perfectly pure, love & light and ‘god like’ then you are going to hell & influenced by evil. Natural human experiences, needs & desires are vilified, and we become unable to look at our unhelpful patterns because we’re so scared and ashamed of them. For thousands of years these religious ideals even meshed with governments to control people.
Trauma Experiences > Our basic physical & emotional safety or boundaries are violated & invalidated.
Phew! It’s a tough world out there ya’ll! But don’t lose hope… keep reading, we are waking up.
So what does this all lead to? Anxiety, Depression, Self-Doubt (even Self-Hatred), People Pleasing Patterns (valuing others more than yourself), Staying in Jobs/Relationships/Situations that are unhealthy, Over-Extending and MORE. All because we never learned to trust & love ourselves. We never learned how to care for our difficult emotions, only to suppress and hide (or react ineffectively).
This is the opposite of Self-Alignment. When we are not Self-Aligned, we are operating beneath a false set of assumptions about where our value lies, how we should live our life and how to actually create a satisfying life. We are living by externals and glitching out from who we really are.
I’m gonna make a bold statement here, and I’m willing to die on this hill: If we want the world to be more just, peaceful & balanced, we need more womxn in self-alignment (we also desperately need more men in self-alignment, healing their own relationships to power and self-worth, but that’s not my lane).
My own journey of self-alignment is my lane, and then in turn helping other women in theirs.
So what exactly does Self-Alignment mean?
If all those above factors that I listed get us out of alignment, then self-alignment is simply a remembering of our wholeness – coming back to center, to trusting & loving ourselves as we are. We were never broken, we were never not enough, the answer was never someone else or some ‘salvation’ outside of ourselves… it’s always been within us.
And when you start looking close enough, you can see how each of the above mentioned cultural factors has very carefully curated a gaslighting narrative to prevent you from ever realizing your wholeness to begin with (I mean, some religions have an origin story that blames all of evil & human suffering on a woman, Eve. Genius move to establish a power hierarchy and insert shame). I legit have some family members that still say women should obey their husbands because they were the ‘downfall of man.’
Self-Alignment is an integration of all aspects of ourselves. Making space for everything, even ineffectiveness, painful emotions, mistakes and weaknesses. Normalizing and coming to understand that all of our thoughts, emotions, actions and traits make perfect sense given context & causes. Addressing these parts of yourself with compassion & understanding instead of criticism and intolerance. Learning how to trust your inner wisdom and intuition, how to work on your own team instead of against yourself.
Imagine when we change the way we relate to ourselves how that ripples out into how we relate to others and the whole world. It frees us, and in our wholeness it heals. We start setting boundaries more effectively where we didn’t before, saying no and trusting our limits and needs. We start getting clearer with ourselves and others. We react differently, when grounded securely in ourselves. We make decisions for our life more confidently.
‘Ugh, more self-love talk! It’s so Narcissistic’
You wanna know the funny thing? There’s times where I feel nervous to promote self-love & self-alignment because another way these intolerant environments keep us disconnected from ourselves is through using Shame. It’s ‘selfish’, ‘this generation is so narcissistic’ (don’t get me started about people throwing around a mental illness as an insult, that’s a whole other blog).
In my blog post ‘Being Visible’ I break this down further, but to keep it short here: To live is to need attention & validation for our experiences and who we are. That goes for all life forms. Plants need attention from sun and water, but we don’t call them narcissistic or selfish when they turn towards the sun. In fact the true pathology of ACTUAL narcissism is the result of severe lack of needed emotional connection over time. It is a psychic fortress built to protect, but instead it entraps. It’s actually very sad.
Self-Love is not narcissism. The end. Because the kind of self-love I’m talking about helps us drop all the barriers to looking at our unhelpful patterns so we CAN work on them effectively.
So let’s de-stigmatize Self-Alignment, needing acknowledgment and validation (from self OR others). Self-Alignment is about learning to attend to ourselves, and validate our natural experiences, in a way the environment was never capable of or never knew how to do.
So Katy, Why the fuck have you been talking all this Mindfulness stuff if Self-Alignment is actually what you’re really about???
The full answer is coming in Part 3 of this blog Series, but in short: Mindfulness is a new operating system for our mind, body & soul. It counters all the above mentioned cultural aspects that have taught us we are unworthy or not enough, that certain emotions or thoughts are ‘bad’. We can’t begin to explore ourselves, our relationships and life very effectively without the loving & curious glasses of Mindfulness. It’s a new way of viewing, a softening, an acceptance.
I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. What have your experiences been with the difficulty Self-Aligning?