*Have you ever felt asleep to your life? Is it too hard to be fully present in your day-to-day? I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve been there. Here’s my story of how I had to wake up to my life.
Being numb to your life is easy. It’s being present that’s really hard
Sometimes it’s so hard to be present in our lives that we can get numb. Numb can mean a lot of things. It can be extreme like substance abuse. Or it can be low key like reading non-fiction books or browsing Pinterest. Or scrolling scrolling scrolling through Instagram or Facebook. It could be food. Or shopping.
I think for most of us it’s the low key things that get us. Don’t get me wrong. I understand the serious effects of substance abuse. I know there are many people who suffer from drug addiction, alcoholism, pornography addiction, prescription drug abuse, etc. Both men AND women can get hooked by any of these things. But it’s not my calling to help people fight those addictions. There are already many great people out there who are more capable than me to do that.
I do believe that I have been called to help you with the everyday vices. The common ones. The ones most people don’t look twice at because they seem harmless.
I’m here to tell you they aren’t. They are not harmless and they are killing you. Not in a dramatic way like drugs or an alcohol addiction will. But in checking out from your life you are also shutting out any way that you can live your authentic, real you, life. If you don’t believe me, I’ll let you read my story.
Before I chose to be present in my life I would spend hours and hours consuming.
Between “window shopping” online and looking at every aisle in every store I was developing a serious addiction. I was becoming an addicted consumer. I was losing sight of what really mattered most to me.
This was a serious case of consumerism. It was how I checked out from my life. Every time I bought something I would literally get a rush from it. Sad, right?
As always, after that rush came the guilt. Guilt about the money I spent. It was worse if I used the credit card.
The truth? I thought I needed all this stuff to be happy. Everyone else had houses full of stuff and they looked happy. So I needed stuff to be happy too. Right?
That thinking is so very wrong. I treated shopping like it was what gave me life. What I didn’t realize was that it was actually stealing my life. While I was buying all the things my family was paying the price. No, they never went without food or clothes, but they went without me. I wasn’t present. Mentally I was checked out.
Consumed by the need to find more things to buy, I was missing out on my relationship with my husband and I was missing life with my son. As a stay at home mom, my job is to take care of my house and to take care of my family. Boy was I sucking at that. Every time I swiped that card or clicked that button, I was strangling our lifestyle. I thought that I was buying our lifestyle. What I was really doing was sacrificing my family’s freedom on the altar of consumerism.
Wait. That’s not the life I wanted.
If you had asked me what my ideal life looked like I would have said, “Freedom to be spontaneous. Lots of traveling and going on adventures. I want to give my family the world.”
I would not have said, “I want to buy all. the. things. and fill my house with all the things and neglect my family. I’ll wake up one day and I won’t know my husband or my children. We’ll be strangers living under the same roof.”
That’s not what I wanted. I wanted freedom, but I was stripping that away with every purchase.
Something had to give.
And it did. My husband’s hours at work got reduced. Suddenly the weight of all my buying crashed down on our heads. We were up to our ears in stuff that we didn’t even own. Now you’re probably expecting me to say something like, “I learned my lesson and I quit spending so much. I became frugal and I never used debt again”. Well, you’d be wrong. Less income just meant I had to buy fewer things right? No reason to get all frugal and not spend money and start paying off debt. I can survive. As a result of that thinking, I took my smaller spending allowance and I spent every penny. (Actually, you could say I just ignored the allowance and smiled my way through my overspending.) Yep, that’s me. Full blown buying addict.
This is looking pretty bleak and it seems like there’s no hope for me. But there is a good ending to this story, I promise.
My shopping and buying started out as a small way that I checked out from my life. Because, let’s face it, being a new mom is hard and being married is hard, and I just needed a way to relax. But what I couldn’t see was the monster that it would turn into a few years down the road.
Just when things were starting to look the worst they ever had my husband and I were introduced to a networking company that helps people get out of debt and build a residual income. While we are no longer a part of that community, everything I learned about finances and leadership helped to kickstart my road to recovery.
It’s been three years since I started the journey to my real self. To being present. It’s been quite a battle, fighting my way out of consumerism and into freedom. I’m not perfect at this, I still struggle tremendously with buying things. But I work very hard at consuming less and even doing less. Being present with my family matters more to me than having trendy pillow covers.
One thing that has helped me the most in consuming less is minimalism. It’s helped me cut the excess stuff and the endless consuming.
But minimalism isn’t the only thing that has helped me wake up to my life. Over the past two years, I have been reading books, listening to podcasts, watching YouTube videos and attending events. All of this learning has helped me to open up my mind to the truth that what I’ve been told about myself is a lie.
I can find the authentic me even though she’s been hiding for longer than I care to admit.
I’m pretty sure the shut down happened between the ages of 5 and 7.
Can you imagine living your entire childhood, adolescence, and almost your entire 20’s stuffing and hiding the real you? Over 20 years of acting like someone else. Someone you think that everyone else around you wants you to be, and maybe they do. Shame on them for asking you to hide because they feel insignificant next to the real you.
Maybe it wasn’t someone else who wanted you to be someone you aren’t. Maybe you are the one who told yourself you had to be different to be liked, accepted and loved. In that case, I feel you.
It’s painful to hide for so long. But it’s more painful to let the real me out. It’s easier to let the doors slam back shut and bolt those suckers so good that no one can pry them open. But you know what? If you could just fight through the pain you’d find something so beautiful that you would dazzle yourself and everyone around you. Like the proverbial butterfly fighting its way out of the cocoon. Letting your real self out would let just a little more beauty into the world.
It feels amazing to be the real me. I’m still hard at work letting the true me out. I want to be authentic with myself all the time. It’s hard. It’s work. But it’s so worth the effort.
There’s nothing sweeter or more beautiful than a woman living her authentic, brazen life where the whole world can see it.
If you doubt that you could ever be that woman then you are believing a lie. Because, whether you’ve been told that or you’ve told it to yourself, it’s not the truth. When an authentic woman falls but gets back up, the world will forget her failure because they will be too busy applauding her success. And the best part is that world being your family and close friends. You don’t need to appear successful on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram. But if you are successful in being the real you for your family, then girl, you are winning at this whole life thing. Don’t ever give up on you because you are the only you there ever has been or ever will be.
Chose to live your life wide awake.
How have you struggled to be present in your life? What lies have you believed about yourself? If you are living your authentic life, what led to that discovery of yourself? Let me know in the comments!
Here are my top resources for being present and becoming the real you:
This is a lengthy list and most of these will probably surprise you. They aren’t your typical “get in touch with yourself”self-help stuff that’s flooding the market. (My personal opinion is that a lot of that is junk and feel good crap, it’s not actually helping to solve the real problem.) Most of these resources were lights on my path to realizing my worth. And that’s really the starting point for all of us. When you’re told that you have worth, that you were born worthy, you can’t help but start treating yourself like you are. And the real you will start cracking open the door to true authenticity.
- Breathing Room by Leeana Tankersley
- Brazen by Leeana Tankersley
- Begin Again by Leeana Tankersly
- She’s Still There by Chrystal Evans Hurst
- Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst
- The Road Back to You by Ian Morgan Cron
- Anxious for Nothing by Max Lucado
- Captivating by John and Staci Eldredge
- The Resolution for Women by Pricilla Shirer
Life ChangingMagic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
- The DNA of Relationships by Gary Smalley
- Perfect You by Dr. Caroline Leaf
- Chrystal’s Chronicles
- Chrystal Evans Hurst
- Chrystal’s Chronicles
- Bullet Journaling
- Listening to and reading other people’s stories
- Sitting quietly and just listening
- Doing something you love that is not what you were doing to check out. (i.e. creating, exercise, an activity that brings true joy)
- Watching or listening to someone talk about their story and how they fight to be present in their life.