We're starting off on a cheesy note, but Natasha Bedingfield said it best: "Release your inhibitions, feel the rain on your skin - no one else can feel it for you, only you can let it in. No one else can speak the words on your lips."
Sorry if I made you cringe twenty words into this post, but lately these lyrics have been circling around in my head, sometimes almost inexplicably; the last time I really listened to that song with intention was probably in 2006, so why is it coming back? I think it has something to do with the word "inhibition." I've been seeing it everywhere, along with its antonyms. To feel inhibited means to feel held back or not completely free. There is something blocking your path to liberation, or shielding the view of your true self. Identifying these blocks can be some of the trickiest inner work we will face in our lifetime, but once we are able to see them for what they are, we can finally begin the process of calling them out and dismantling them. There is good and bad news, here: the bad news being that some of these obstacles are out of our control. Within our power as individuals, we cannot destroy the patriarchy, reverse climate change, end toxic capitalism, or completely recreate the beauty standards.
The good news? To feel liberated, we really don't need to do any of that. Most of what stands in our way lies within ourselves.
Just in the past year, many realizations have come to the surface about my true nature and what currently surrounds me in this life. I am living an incredibly blessed existence, and I don't say that lightly nor do I ever take it for granted. I believe the first key in my own journey toward liberation and becoming the best version of myself was to understand and really sit with the fact that I never needed to fix anything. Of course, there are many areas of life that I would like to improve. I wish more people read this blog. I wish more people listened to my podcast and that it wasn't so difficult and futile to put myself out there on the internet to find more like-minded people. I wish work didn't exhaust me, and I wish that I made more money. There are always spots in the house I'd like to tweak, make them look better; I wish I could buy all the things to fill my walls and closet with to create the living version of the dreams on my Pinterest boards.
But here is the most critical realization I've come to: if I focus on those things, I immediately create an environment of lack. I don't have all that I want. In fact, I'll never have all that I want. Centering our mind on all that we yearn for - though it's great to have goals and dreams, don't get me wrong - simply takes us further away from the reality of all that we do currently have. This, I believe is the single biggest obstacle getting in our way. It is the greatest inhibition. So, as that famous lyrics instructs us to do, how do we release it?
Here are some questions you may ask yourself, and I will provide my own examples to help see through to the end goal:
What is an area (or several areas) of life where I feel inhibited?
When do I feel like my most uninhibited, authentic self?
What about that experience makes me feel free?
How can I incorporate those qualities into other areas of my life where I feel less free?
1 - As I began writing out all my "wishes" above, I realized they were exactly the areas I feel trapped or held down in my life. In both the job that makes me money and the pursuit of creating a brand that I hope will someday generate it, I feel incredibly stuck. I love teaching, but I hate the stress and the thanklessness that comes with it. I hate feeling like I could always be doing better, but that even if I did, no one would care or recognize it. As for Lead to Gold itself, my passion project, I often get so frustrated with trying to build an audience. I get self-conscious putting myself all over Instagram reels and resent having to spend so much time and effort there when I don't even like social media to begin with.
2 - When I am with friends and loved ones who I know love me and care for me, and I can say whatever I want, wear whatever I want, dance and drink and yell and overflow with obnoxious laughter, that is when I feel like my true self. When I can go home and saunter through the backyard with no shoes on, tend to my gardens, watch the bugs and birds, talk to them, and smile at the sky knowing I have the entire day ahead of me to interact with the world, that is when I am my most authentic.
3 - The key difference between these spaces - inhibition and freedom - is ultimately a level of judgment. I feel most cornered and resentful when there is perceived judgment coming from strangers, students, colleagues and friends alike. But when I am with the people or in the places that know and welcome me - that all goes away.
4 - Initially, it feels impossible to create spaces in my work without judgment. Of course I am going to be judged in all corners of my public life, no matter what I do. I suppose the best answer is to work on paying it no regard, and even more so, to stop assuming everyone is judging me, or even thinking about me at all (I have a LOT of work to do here). If there are people in my close circles doing this, perhaps this is a good time to assess our relationship.
And there we have it: this stage of life is calling out for me to release my fear of judgment, to believe first in my own mission and keep the vision of my happiest, most successful self at the forefront. She is already here with me. Pay no mind to the others. And in the sphere of your own life, dear reader, I hope you can take some time to cultivate the same outlook. I believe it starts with focusing on the abundance that currently surrounds you, first. Whether it's acknowledging the family of birds nesting outside your apartment window, landing a new job in an exciting new city, or simply getting out of bed today, there is something (many things) in your life to be grateful for. Recognize that you have many of the things you used to only dream about. If the pattern continues, the things you wish for now will someday be a reality.
As you take stock of the blessings, make space for the desires. We can do this by assessing what we are ready to let go of - be it dying friendships, old clothes gathering dust, or maybe even your own fear of judgment. Spend some time letting it go. Make a ritual of it (we are under a waning moon after all...). When we do this work with intention, we are often rewarded with not only the extra space for exciting new opportunities to present themselves, but also with a lasting, heightened sense of presence. It all works together in our favor to make the process easier over time. Let's lean into it and make space for all that wants to bless us.