Updated: Mar 28
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We are so influenced by the people around us and our environment that we can end up spending a lifetime figuring out how we really feel about things. Usually, we are adults at that point, and much of the damage is done.
I had an auntie (not even blood relation) tell me when I was nineteen that I wouldn't amount to anything. It hurt. What if I had believed her? How optimistic would I have been about my life?
The world is noisier than it's ever been. It's easy to feel anxious, nervous, scared, stressed, and uncertain. Perhaps you are listening to the people around you and getting lost in the little box they made for you. Perhaps you're judging yourself by looking at social media and silently competing and comparing with others. When too many voices contribute to your inner world, it can leave you feeling disconnected from what is true and right for you. So how can we be optimistic about our place in the world? Well, learning to tune into your unique voice and trusting it is essential in unfolding your most authentic self and there is one key ingredient that binds all self-development together, and that is OPTIMISM.
I consider myself a realist for the most part. I have this very street smart part of me born from the rawness of growing up in the '80s and '90s under very traumatic and dramatic circumstances. When you come from tough beginnings people don't pour hope into you. They tend to set the bar extremely low, for they are not that optimistic about you breaking the mould.
I was once in the back seat of my aunt and uncle's car, I was nineteen and in community college trying to get my G.E.D. after dropping out of school at the end of grade 10. I wasn't overly committed to the college experience and decided to drop school once again and instead get a job. I shared my plans with my aunt and uncle that I was going to move back to the mainland and get a job. My aunt, from the front seat of the car, her voice arrogant and angry, snarked at me that I would never amount to anything. She said it with total belief. She could only see where I was coming from, and could not see who I was becoming. She knew my mother was a drug addict, my father was dead, my stepdad was in and out of our lives, due to numerous breaks ups with my mom, and a demanding job that took him on the road. From the age of eight, I had no parents that I could look to for support, guidance, or steadiness of any kind. Not only did I not have parents but I was in an environment that was dangerous, terrifying, neglectful, and throw on top of that some good old fashion Christian fundamentalism, and you have got yourself a recipe for disaster. My aunt saw this disaster and thought that that's what I would become.
I started smoking at twelve, drinking at thirteen, sex at thirteen, and I was the good one out of my friends. I was putting myself in environments that felt familiar. The tough, and rough, party atmosphere, that I had come to know living with my mom. We seek what we know.
After my mother's second round in rehab, I decided to leave the foster care situation I was in at that time, to give her another chance at being my mom. I moved from the town I was in, to a new town, for a new start with my newly sober parent. It was a brave move on my part. I moved with a few months of the school year left. I had created a popular persona for myself and had no lack of friends and decided to leave anyway. I was driven by this inner knowing that I had to get out.
New town, new school, and new friends. I met this girl a few months into my new life, her name was Ursula. We became fast friends. And ultimately this friendship would end up changing my life. Ursula's mother Heide had already lived an amazing life. Some of which she won't talk about. But what she did talk to me about was mindset. She told me that if I could visualize it, then I could make it happen. This was the magic I needed to start imagining a life for myself that was beyond the trauma reenactment I had come to know. It was my first lesson in manifesting, my first lesson in optimism. I started to believe anything was possible.
We come to find out on our journey that we are continuously met with the ceiling of our nervous system, and previous trauma. We say anything is possible, but we know it's dependent on removing many of our subconscious blocks. Manifesting our lives as we wish them to be is lead by the soul's compass, our intuition. We are guided if we learn to listen; we get insights into what moves to make. This involves risk, but if we are not willing to bet on ourselves, then who will?
We have enough naysayer people in our lives, and enough heart-breaking circumstances to contribute to us just wanting to settle in order to be safe. For many, it can feel far too overwhelming to paint a new picture of life, using your imagination. Many won't risk sacrificing their comfort in what they know and will remain stuck, rather than seeking the unknown path lead by intuition and optimism. We tend to shoot ourselves in the foot before we even leave the house. We do a ton of settling. And we surround ourselves with so much noise that our own voice is drowned out by the sea of many.
We can approach optimism and intuition by degrees. We can plant the seeds for optimism to sprout while using our intuition as a compass. And like an onion with many layers, we will be continuously met with our personal ceilings again and again. This is where we tend to get stuck.
Shadow work is necessary when navigating the bread crumbs on the path to self-realization. Our level of comfort will be tested and we may want to stay in the cozy contracted state we have come accustomed to, why? Because we know it. The mind loves what is familiar. That way we have the identity we can relate to and others know how to relate to us. Safe and reliable and rather predictable.
Optimism is the belief that can open windows, and doors, where you didn't know there was one. It is the mindset that looks for possibility. If it is developed alongside intuition, simultaneously removing subconscious blocks, smashing the ceiling on what you thought was possible, then we can dance with the rhythms of our true nature moving towards that which will truly fulfill us. This requires risk, hope, and OPTIMISM!
The bar was not set very high for me. We have to be careful of the boxes we put people in and the boxes we put ourselves in. Learning to reject the projections of others, as well as learning to reject our negative thoughts, makes the space to get curious about our negative protective beliefs and we can then become explorers, willing to excavate what is underneath our need to stay with what feels familiar.
Now, I am no millionaire, I am not the rock star I was trying to visualize when Heide first taught me about imagining the life I wanted. I could have been that person if I wanted to. I saw the crossroads where I could have dedicated myself to singing in a band and through my intuition knew I didn't want a life in bars, around drug addicts, and being in a shitty van touring, I liked sleep far too much. I even had the opportunity to move to Seattle, to work at Easy Street Records(I was offered the job), where all my favourite musicians shopped. I had manifested that opportunity by 15 years old, two years after Heide gave me the gift of understanding the subconscious mind. And for a young girl from Canada in love with music, particularly punk and grunge, this organic opportunity was huge. But I knew something more stable was to be my destiny.
We have the choice all the time to break open the box, put on our Dora the explorer hat, and use our heart song to light the way on our journey through life. It is not very comfortable taking risks on ourselves. If we don't push the boundaries of our own minds, our upbringings, we are most likely living a sort of groundhog day life as to control our level of comfort and safety.
It took me until I was thirty-three to understand that I was gifted spiritually and was destined to be a helper to those on the path. It wasn't until I was forty-one that I was comfortable calling myself a healer, and a spiritual teacher in many aspects. I had to remove a lot of fucking ceilings to get to my destiny which is still unfolding of course. It is not easy coming out of our spiritual closets. I came from the hard-knock streets where there was no manifestation, psychic abilities, and talk of destiny. If you weren't meditating on the bible you were opening the door to satan. I had family members warn their children not to go near me, and I was told to keep that which was natural to me, a secret. I was shamed left right and center for who I was becoming. I believed in myself and I clung to that. If you're looking to fit in, you will be lost once again in the noise.
Think of optimism as being a facet... it doesn't always need to be on full blast. It can be most difficult to use this power when we are feeling lost and confused, and in the mists of an identity death. I call it the hallway period where it is dark, narrow, and we have no idea where we are going. How do we tap into the gift of optimism when we are in the in-between, in the contraction and the yearning?
We can start to accept that the contraction is the fire where we are being forged. We are in the cacoon, the gestational period, soaking in the nourishment of the mud. We get a lesson in self-trust. Self-trust and optimism go hand in hand. Sometimes when I need to remember that I am a fairly optimistic person, I need only look back and see how far I have come. Sometimes a slow drip of optimism is all we can muster. That can be enough to get us through.
When my aunt tried to put me in a box, projecting onto me that I would end up like my Mom, addicted, reckless, and dependent, I rejected that thought on the spot. I have Heide to thank for that. I knew I was the co-creator of my life, and I knew I could walk into my destiny with grace and purpose. Optimism was opening the door to my true self.
Like any relationship, our relationship with optimism will ebb and flow. That's ok. Not everyone was designed to have that tap on full blast, some of us of including myself experience times where optimism is just dripping like an old broken tap, one lonely drop at a time, and other times it's flowing like a river and I use that expanded magic when I can. The point is to believe it is there. It is available to us. This hope is one's self is fertilizer on the path to self-realization.
Keep on believing,
Patricia MacNeill R.H.N, C.CHT