Five Uncomfortable Truths About Me

We live in a world of distorted views. Naturally, we then adopt those views— unintentionally creating distorted beliefs about ourselves. These beliefs then become our personal uncomfortable truths.

While practicing Clarity for the month of January, a particular mental exercise, inspired by New York Times Best Selling Author and CEO of Onnit, Aubrey Marcus—who himself is always exercising different ways to optimize in self love and self growth through self-exploration (that’s a lot of selves!), made me realize that I was actually exploring my self-hate. This has brought me closer to clarity than I have ever been in my life.  

In one of his weekly Newsletters, Aubrey shared five uncomfortable truths about himself. It was vulnerable, it was eye opening, and it was inspiring. I thought about my own uncomfortable truths and noticed that there was a shared corroboration; truth feels like shame.

Instead of letting truth slide out of our heart, radiate through our voice, or spill onto the page, we bottle it up. We’re afraid that our truth isn’t good enough. That if we speak our truth, someone will get hurt, or someone will stop loving us, or serving our needs. So we spin little lies like sorcerers casting spells to receive a desired action.

— Aubrey Marcus

Shame comes from thinking you are the only one feeling or acting the way you do. How can we share these things with others? Most of us have a hard time even acknowledging things about ourselves even in our own private thoughts.  

Brene Brown, professor at University of Houston, storyteller and researcher of all things in shame and vulnerability, defines shame as the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing we are flawed and therefore unworthy of acceptance and belonging.

As I explored and jotted down my own uncomfortable truths, I realized that each of my truths plays a role in different areas of my life.

Okay people…here we go. Its about to get uncomfortable.

Waste no more time arguing what a good man should be. Be one.

— Marcus Aurelius

1.) My ideas of love and loyalty are distorted

Area of Impact: How I conduct Relationships/Friendships Consequences: Complicated and failed relationships. States of unnecessary anguish

Let me start with this first–You cannot love another properly if you cannot even love your damn self. And, how the HAIL can you judge in others true loyalty, kindness, and real trust, if you are not even any of those things to yourself. I know, I know, so cliché but most clichés hold truth.

Now, absorb that for a little bit while I type out the two realities that I had to come to terms with about love and loyalty.

The first—just because you are friends with someone, does not mean that they are automatically loyal to you. Nor should you hold that expectation over their heads.

Hell, that applies to siblings too. The whole “blood is thicker than water” and “we ride or die” bullshit just leads to false stories, guilt trips, and seemingly cool, but meh, not so much, fantasy scenarios. You are just setting yourself up for disappointment, hate, and eternal resentment.

Your loved ones are just as human as your friends are. They make mistakes too. Loyalty comes in a natural form. You find it, you don’t enforce it.

Numero dos—just because you love someone, that does not mean they have to love you back or that they should love you the exact same way you love them. 

See what had happened was I use to place a sense of value on myself, a ranking on my role in other people’s lives. When the time came and I found that I didn’t sit anywhere near the side of the room that I told myself I did, I created a lot of unnecessary pain for myself and the other person involved.

But I realized this, you cannot force love. You cannot get upset at someone if you say I love you and they look like a deer in headlights or do not say it back. You cannot give someone a ridiculous unrealistic hypothetical ultimatum and then be upset because they did not give you the answer that YOU want to hear or that you think they should say.

Placing people in a position to lie and feel bad about speaking their own truths will only lead to more pain in the end then upfront. Practice grace in the presence of honesty. Respect that, and respect those who give it to you because it seems so far and few these days.

My point is NOT that love and loyalty does not exist. Nor that people should not have expectations at all for the quality of relationships they want or deserve in life. My point is this –love and loyalty is not a contract. They come straight from the heart and you need to accept them as you receive them. Just be a good person. That is all that really matters.

We are more often frightened than hurt; and we suffer more from imagination than from reality.

— Seneca

2.) I feel stupid more times than not when engaging with others or in a group setting

Area of Impact: My Social Life Consequence: I withhold so much more of who I really am

I am not quite sure if this is because of my ADHD or because well, I just do not feel smart—period. It is obviously an insecurity of mine.

However, at this point I observe the dumb bug feeling as it comes, and then I just let it go…after I go home and make ugly faces in the mirror and mock myself for whatever it is that I said of course.

Even though this particular truth is one that is on constant work mode, I can say for sure that I finally recognize that what makes me interesting in conversation IS the dumb shit that I say.

My impulsiveness and lack of filter turns a chat with me into the Vanessa show…I’m talking sound effects, hydraulics, feathers, sprinkles…I do it all.

People tend to crack up when I explain things—which by the way is just me translating all the visuals that are playing out in my head as I am recollecting or reliving an event. It seems as though my thoughts apparently make for a good open mic night.

And when all eyes ARE on me, I get so frustrated with myself because I am trying so hard not to act like a weirdo that I ACTUALLY act like a weirdo because I get so into my head I can only hear me, and not what is happening in conversation.

Those who know me will see I’m either sweating, or hear my fake as fuck bimbo giggle (think one of the Wayans brothers from White Chicks) or how I stutter an answer, OR worst of all how I forget how to speak like a 36 year old adult and revert to the vocabulary of a 5 year old child. Cue palm face plant!

I just cant with myself. Nevertheless, I keep going, and will continue to explore my feelings in this area.

If you are ever tempted to look for outside approval, realize that you have compromised your own integrity.

If you need a witness, be your own.

— Epictetus

3.) I measure my significance by external recognition

Area of impact: Work/Home Life, Purpose Consequences: Unnecessary stress and pressure to be the best family member, parent, friend, spouse, employee…yada yada

While listening to Ryan Holiday being interviewed in a podcast, he struck a nerve when he said “We’re like sharks, we think we have to move to live.” It reminded me of the saying “why are people called human beings—they really should be called human doers instead”.

It starts from a young age. We get rewarded for the things that we do, the things that we produce. We get prizes out of a mystery bag for making our first poops for god sakes! My parents most likely celebrated, hooted, and hollered about my first turds in the toilet and I am sure that I felt intense pride over those same baby turds vowing to make bigger ones next time. Ewe!

It carries into school and then into our professional lives. I create something, you reward me; either through verbal praise, an office shout out announcement or via a promotion. I – am – recognized for my efforts.

It is almost as if we are socially conditioned to accept doing as the real purpose of our existence; so much so that when the gift of retirement comes our way, we do not know what to do with ourselves.

Before I go further, let me clarify, there is absolutely nothing wrong with external recognition. It feels good and is a very effective tool when used as a method of encouragement. However, external recognition becomes a problem when it is relied upon.

I, Vanessa, House of Morgenstern, The Spent, Queen of Tyrant Sticky Finger Toddler and ManBoy Teen, Esposa de Chris, Breaker of Children’s Aspirations and Dreams— me, I relied (and still feel the urge from time to time) on external recognition.

It has been a sobering experience in transitioning from an employee in corporate America to an employee of a toddler staying at home…all the time…like 24/7…3 hundo and 65…well you get it.

My distortion has been that if I am not recognized, then that means I am doing nothing. If I am doing nothing than what is my purpose and then the cycle of what the heck is my life begins. A total pity party I used to host a couple nights a week.

All of this has also magnified my closet struggle in dealing with perfectionism. As I am slowly trying to return to work mode I am finding that I am spending countless hours on things that do not matter, that no one else will ever see, that are only catastrophic to me.

I am not proud to say this but it has taken me a long time to realize that me – just being me, just being here is enough, and anything that I do personal or work related is enough. Because I know, I am always giving it my best.

I am recognizing that I need to trust myself more and I am even taking extra steps in allowing “my mistakes” to show. No backspace, no white out, no do over.

I am exercising my views on my significance through my imperfections, through my silent deeds, and in the moments that I shout out “I can’t do this right now”.

The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts: Therefore, guard accordingly, and take care that you entertain no notions unsuitable to virtue and reasonable nature.

— Marcus Aurelius

4.) I view acceptance as a weakness

Area of Impact: My internal struggles Consequence: I bully myself into thinking I can control things that are never under my control, making myself feel broken

I create stories in my head. I think a lot of us do. Therefore, when it comes to acceptance, my default switch flips to “fuck that shit – I will fight till the end”. When I am resisting, I believe I can laterally think my way through a scenario and if I give in then I absolutely suck. It’s all or nothing.

I then become so obsessed in looking for the workaround that I am blind to how my actions, attitude, and misery affect all around me. Not to mention that when I finally get drop kicked to the ground by the reality of the situation, how my family perceives me going from 0-60 than shut down to a ball of tears curled up on the floor. It’s not a good look.

I am rewiring my choice maker in understanding that acceptance does not mean defeat. Acceptance does not mean its over.

My truce is Acceptance is reality. Acceptance is the dice of life. I just need to roll that motherfucker and let it work for me. Whether it is two steps or 12 steps…I need to MOVE! Pass go. Amor Fati (love of fate)!

A gem cannot be polished without friction, nor a man perfected without trials.

— Seneca

5.) I rather turn to substance than to actually go through the motions of feeling emotions during a heavy day.

Area of impact: Health Consequence: I create a cycle of self sabotage. I do not go to bed at my normal time, I lose sleep, I don’t get up my usual early time, I don’t exercise, I don’t eat right, now Im angry at myself, all my pets head’s are falling off –repeat! Exhausting!

Unfortunately, I started to experiment with substances at a young age. Mood enhancers if you will. Why – because they fire off some cool chemicals in my brain that is hard to stimulate myself. And because, they leave a stimulus imprint on your brain, as adults it almost becomes 2nd nature to add a drink or some other substance to enhance an activity that you are engaged in (like watching a movie, relaxing in a bath tub etc.)

I no longer smoke cigarettes but I still remember the quick woosah relief I felt after lighting up from a stressful situation or how gratifying it was to smoke right after a full meal.

I watch my children enjoy life….daily….and soberly. How much fun they have dancing to music, or sitting in the grass chatting with their friends, or watching the sunset on the beach. All without a drop of substance to enhance those moments.

The same goes for when they are sad, or angry, or heartbroken. You know why children are so damn resilient? Because they FEEL EVERYTHING. They realize that after the rain and thunder pass –they survived. They learn that this is life. Shit happens but it didn’t mean it was the end of the world.

I think that we forget that. We were once those children.

Today, my drug of choice when warranted is a relaxant glass of wine (or bottle pending the level of fuck this shit) , or a chest pressure lifting glass of sipping tequila. When drinking, I am not doing myself any favors in numbing things that hurt or are heavy. I also am not building stronger connections with people, having better sex, exercising bravery, or gaining any type of true sustaining courage either. It’s all a distortion. An excuse.

To strengthen my resilience and to beast up in fortitude, (which btw is ESSENTIAL in not just surviving but thriving in this life) I need to feel. If someone pisses me off I’ll just go for a walk, if I am overwhelmed by work I will just take a break and breathe, and if my kids drive me nuts, I will….I…well—fuck…I will go for a walk again. Or maybe jog with some heavy metal playing on my headphones…either or—I need to deal with it.

Sometimes even to live is an act of courage.

— Seneca

Confronting myself with the uncomfortable truths has been like a general site check, me being the contractor. I can now visibly see the areas of concern in my life’s blueprint design.

We all understand how buildings are built. They need a solid foundation as well as flexibility to withstand all that mother nature brings its way.

My uncomfortable truths are not set in stone. I can easily repair these cracks in my foundation. I just need to change my perception, know the difference between distortion and reality, and remember to remain flexible. Sharing these truths has now brought me five steps closer in achieving clarity.

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