Profiling books I feel blessed for having read.
I share what I personally “needed to hear now” below!
The book that’s caught my attention this time ’round is:
How Did I Get Here?
Finding Your Way To Renewed Hope and Happiness When Life and Love Take Unexpected Turns
Barbara DeAngelis, 2005
“We cannot pretend to be
who we no longer are.” -BDA
This is a great book for folks entering a new phase of life: diverging from your family of origin, relationship transitions, job changes, newfound spirituality, empty nest, retirement… or when you’re finally fed-up enough to shed your masks and live your life as the REAL you, and not just what others expect of you! It’s an extremely relateable read… not just theoretical. Lots of bite-size and very poignant high-lighted quotes to look back on.
It challenges you to really look at your “truth”; to identify denials, limiting beliefs, family patterns in a way I’ve not read in ALL those books on my book page; and to acknowledge that as you grow and learn, your old choices are highly likely no longer a fit – particularly as our growth curve is exponentially faster than even the generation before us. You will be provoked to re-define what life is for you from here on out.
You can not feel truly connected to people when your authentic self isn’t available to connect with anyone.
The love and acceptance gained from playing a role is counterfeit and empty. It will never fulfill you, for deep inside your heart, you will know it is not even directed toward your true self. -BDA
This is the type of book that will never be outdated, and worth a scan every now and then for some life re-alignment. It will be on my highly filtered booklist for clients because it does cover a broad spectrum of common challenges with great depth.
Topics where I thought Barbara NAILED it:
FEAR OF THE TRUTH “Perhaps the reality we are facing doesn’t fit our picture of what we expected or hoped things would look like, or we’re frightened of the consequences it will have on our lives.”
CRISIS “They are doorways through which we leave one phase of our life and enter into another.”
MIDLIFE CRISIS “We may be in the midst of powerful moments of transition and transformation, but misinterpret these as moments of failure, weakness of character, or a even a kind of insanity.”
GUILT“Guilt is a very convenient place to hide out from the things we need to confront… Feeling guilty becomes a penance we assign ourselves for our transgression.”
TUNING OUT “We don’t want to deal with unpleasant or challenging realities so we tune them out.”
GRIEF & MOURNING “Even when we are leaving behind that which no longer serves us, still we must grieve.”
CONFUSION “Emotions we would rather not feel, challenges we would rather not address, realities we would rather not face – we tell ourselves we’re confused.”
GROWTH SABOTEURS “Others not on board with your growth reminds them of all the ways they need to change… but haven’t.”
(see “in more detail” below for further elaboration)
Soul Shifts is Barbara’s latest book – a bit more focus on honing your spiritual path and also an excellent, timeless read!
Why am I blessed to have read this book?
WHAT DID I NEED TO HEAR NOW: Predominantly, I think I’m guilty of a key idea of Barbara’s called ‘tuning out’ – perhaps because I need to ‘grieve’ something once and for all: my image of what my future was suppose to look like (according to my childhood tribe: family, school, community).
When life started feeling off-kilter in my early 30’s (but let’s face it, that was just when it crashed & burned!), I spent a lot of time SELF-IDENTIFYING my own limiting beliefs & behaviour patterns and consciously shifting them to fit my personal truth of life: a practice that can be immensely time consuming – particularly in cases such as mine where I had a very traditional, safe upbringing (i.e. no glaring contrast to what “normal” was: it causes very deeply-engrained brain paths, i.e subconscious beliefs & behaviour patterns!).
When the awareness finally hit me (later 30’s) that I simply had not been nurtured within (nor had a compelling need to learn to seek) the true safety of tribes with values and views that supported my authenticity, I do believe that had the RIGHT guidance been at hand (to note: I did have many books… and a therapist!), I may have been able to simply and relatively quickly mourn my old perceptions as a death: rebuild from scratch, instead of trying to band-aid the dysfunction.
Would this book have eased my journey had I read it when it was written in ’05 verdict: YES. (And it still will!)
YOU – YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE: YOU NEED TO READ THIS BOOK!!
IN MORE DETAIL…
~ Barbara did an excellent job presenting inclusive ‘lists’ of our potential issues, which brings real clarity as to the breadth of certain ideals that keep us stuck. It can be so easy to see an example or two of a concept and then go “oh, it doesn’t apply to me”, when in fact you remain stuck exactly for the reason of not looking deep enough for the truth. Here’s a sample re: mourning that opens the field way beyond our typical ideals of loss:
We mourn the innocence we once experienced before life challenged us
We mourn for the dreams of love we’ve had to relinquish
We mourn our loss of safety, of certainty that we will not be harmed by life
We mourn for the parts of ourselves we’ve had to leave behind
We mourn the loss of the comfortable and the familiar, even if we once cursed them
We mourn for things which we ourselves have deliberately fled
~ Barbara gives brilliant examples of some very tough situations that truly inspire you to look deep at what you want from this limited life-journey, for example: a woman with a short-term diagnosis of cancer in a passionless yet comfortable-enough marriage who wants to experience a relationship based on real love before she dies. What would you do… and more importantly: why? What was equally interesting in this particular scenario was how others reacted to her choices… and why! However, the creme de la creme is the shocking outcome – can’t spoil it for ya!
“Could the fear of losing the acceptance of friends, family or community be driving you to hide your emerging self?”
“There are people, circumstances, and even
pieces of ourselves that serve us for part of our journey.
They are not meant to keep us company for the whole way –
in order to travel to our next destination, we will need to let them go.”
~ My favorite theory in the book as a coach/mentor, is the reinforcement of the philosophy that there is no such thing as a “crisis”, particularly a “mid-life crisis” but rather:
” They are doorways through which we leave one phase of our life and enter into another.”
“We may be in the midst of powerful moments of transition and transformation, but misinterpret these as moments of failure, weakness of character, or a even a kind of insanity. We may have no way within ourselves of saying goodbye to the past, letting go of the old and fully embracing the new.
When a society has no understanding of these inner rites of passage into new WISDOM, it wrongly identifies them as something else.”
“To dismiss a moment of great soul-searching as a midlife crisis is to insinuate that the life circumstances that came before this were “normal”, and that deep self-reflection and reassessment is some sign of mental instability or temporary confusion, rather than a moment of great awakening. Who’s to say our life BEFORE wasn’t the crisis?
Perhaps it’s more accurate to suggest that it is those who never question their lives, their choices or themselves who are in a crisis.“
I wholeheartedly agree! Change can be difficult, it can feel uncomfortable, uncertain… we should have learned that THAT feeling is normal, not the other way around. It’s not fear: it’s life! Your life may or may not include grandiose adventures: your definition of grandiose – or adventure for that matter is wholly yours, however, you know inherently if you are feeling off, flat, bored, unsettled: settling– not living.
~ The Truth is knocking, but we don’t answer. We hope, consciously or unconsciously that if we ignore whatever is trying to get our attention for long enough it will go away. We get so habituated to disregarding the Truth that we even tune out the sound of it’s knocking – avoid, evade, tune out, and convince ourselves it’s gone away for good. But… if human beings are stubborn: the Truth is more stubborn. And infinitely patient. It will knock and knock again until we can no longer ignore it… and are forced to get the message – not always in an appealing way!
“We learn a kind of game I call hide and seek with reality – reality tries to find us and we do our best to avoid it. Perhaps the reality we are facing doesn’t fit our picture of what we expected or hoped things would look like, or we’re frightened of the consequences it will have on our lives. We become experts at the art of denial. What are we so afraid of:
we are afraid that we will discover we have wasted time.
we are afraid that we will have to admit we’ve made mistakes.
we are afraid of what other people will think when we change direction.
we are afraid of losing what is familiar, even if it is causing us pain.
we are afraid that once we let go of what we are holding onto, we may never find anything worth holding onto again.
we are afraid that we will look stupid/foolish/laughable/inferior/worthless to others and to ourselves.
we are afraid of hurting and disappointing the people we love.
we are afraid of so many things, some we can not even name.”
~ Tuning Out. We approach unpleasant or challenging realities now, in our adult lives, we don’t want to deal with them so we tune them out.
“We think we are tuning out to avoid pain, but in the end, avoidance delivers us into the very pain, confusion, and unhappiness from which we are fleeing.”
“You’re never lost, the road you are on will just take you to the next road… and the next road…and the next and the next, delivering you to many miraculous and surprising destinations that aren’t even on your current itinerary, but are awaiting your arrival just the same.”
~ Guilt. Guilt has the power to keep us trapped in the past by convincing us to feel bad about ourselves, and tricking us into believing that until we get rid of that bad feeling, we cannot move on.
Guilt is a very convenient place to hide out from the things we need to confront. After all, as long as we have guilt, we have an excuse to avoid facing the consequences of our revelations, breakthroughs, and wake-up calls, and can put off the risks involved in making decisions about how to move forward. This is especially true when we convince ourselves we are so worried about how our actions might affect others that we’d better not do anything at all for the moment.
We think that to feel guilty is to somehow demonstrate, to ourselves and to anyone else watching that we care and that we never meant to hurt someone we may have hurt in the process of making changes in our lives: feeling guilty becomes a penance we assign ourselves for our transgression. (In reality, you need to understand the difference between guilt and remorse!!)
~ Grief & Mourning. We must Grieve:
each time we hold ourselves back from being our authentic self
each time we go into denial
each time we allow ourselves to be talked out of our dreams
each time we refuse to heed the call of our heart that is yearning for love, for intimacy, for joyful passion
each time we are to afraid to fully live.
Even when we are leaving behind that which no longer serves us, still we must grieve.
~ Growth Saboteurs “Sometimes, if people only know the outermost version of you, they will be shocked to find there is more inside, especially if what emerges does not fit their picture of what and who they thought you were or want you to be.” Ways saboteurs might work:
convincing you that something’s psychologically wrong with you
creating their own drama or emergency to pull your attention from your soul-searching and on to them
enrolling other friends or family to talk you out of your concerns or feelings
making you feel guilty for your growth by accusing you of abandoning them, feeling superior to them, breaking promises made to them or misleading them
intimidating you by saying that other people are very unhappy with how you have changed but are not telling you this to your face.
scaring you by predicting a negative outcome for all of your new choices
emotionally blackmailing you by withdrawing their love until you change back to the way you were
What they are really feeling is:
the new you threatens me and the way I am
I’m afraid the new you won’t like the old me
seeing you so changed reminds me of all the ways need to change but haven’t
~ Confusion. Being ‘confused’ is always covering up something else. The experience masks emotions we would rather not feel, challenges we would rather not address, realities we would rather not face – so instead, we tell ourselves “we’re confused”.
Payoffs for Confusion:
avoidance (avoid truth, change facing fears disappointing people we love, taking risks, confrontations with others, reality, leaving our comfort zone into the unknown)
A chicken cannot squeeze itself back into it’s shell.
Neither can we squeeze ourselves back into roles that no longer fit.
Convincing ourselves that we are simply making compromises or being ‘flexible’ e.g
Maybe I can tolerate being mistreated at work because it pays so well... or
Maybe I can just sleep with them, even though we’ve technically broken up
is actually backsliding, and that will always catch up with us. – BDA