A friend recently asked me this question. I could have said lack of communication, affairs, money, addiction, clashing personalities and all the usual suspects, which I often see in my office. But I thought a little deeper, both about the couples I have seen, and about my own marriage, over the past two decades. And I replied, Underneath it all, I believe the truth is most of us don’t realize the true meaning and purpose of relationships, and we certainly don’t understand the spiritual opportunity that our friction and differences afford us. If we could only see that with every hurt, every feeling of unfulfillment, every button our partner pushes, we are being given a chance to grow and this can completely change our lives.
The path of least resistance is not what it’s cracked up to be. It’s easy to give in to the temporary gratification of being reactive (whether that’s to shout or shut down or grab another beer). And when we let temptation win, we create distance from our partner and everyone loses. It’s like we receive a winning lottery ticket, cloaked in difficulty, but through our fears and laziness and lack of awareness, we can’t see the winning numbers and so never cash in.
Why don’t we see clearly? We use our physical eyes, and they are limited. All we see is the annoying habits, the wrongdoing, the hurtful act, the list of faults, the wall, the unrealized dream, the unmet needs. Most of us don’t realize we have been given spiritual eyes too. These are the ones we need to find and use to create a marriage that is lasting AND fulfilling. These are the eyes that will help us see where we need to change and grow, and help us rise above the gravity of blame. With these eyes, we can see and appreciate the dozens of opportunities we are given to be earn real fulfillment.
Anything real and lasting must be hard earned, the challenges we face only come to us because on some deeper level, we asked for more … more of the good stuff. And we can have it all. But we must work for it. Simple yes, easy ... not so much.
Whatever tempts us to create distance between us and our mates, even if for all the right and justified reasons, when we learn to activate our spiritual eyes and use them to fight against our own reactive nature, this allows us to expand our capacity for more and more fulfillment. Then we begin to see that the space is really an illusion upon which many divorces are made.
Most of us think that once we can drive, graduate from school or hold a job – or maybe it’s to be married or become a parent – that we are grown up, independent. The truth is that until we are emotionally and spiritually independent – that is, not expecting others to fulfill us and make us happy – we really can’t enjoy the blessings of being a “grown up.” Being independent is a state of mind, not only a matter of how our lifestyle appears on the outside. And it’s a lifelong journey.
Whether we struggle with anxiety, have marriage problems, feel lonely or unappreciated; maybe we battle depression or low self-esteem, anger, jealousy or confusion about why we’re here. All of these challenges may stem from a lack of emotional and spiritual independence. We are often oblivious to the beliefs and messages we send ourselves that place the responsibility on others, on outside circumstances, for our own fulfillment. Good news! As humans, we are designed for change; our brains are born ready to change. We start out as infants pretty stupid, right? And totally dependent. Our brains learn and grow exponentially as we become more self-sufficient.
It’s an illusion that we stop expanding and growing our capacity for independence once we reach a certain age. It’s a lifelong path, and we are here in this world to continually grow “up.” Why is it called growing “up”? It’s about rising, not just physically. But ultimately it’s about rising above being needy, the people who trigger us, our negative self-defeating thoughts. Happiness, inner peace, love that is real - these can only be achieved as we become the creators of our own happiness, as we continue to grow ourselves up.
I was raised by stories: by my grandfather who barely escaped the Cossacks in Russia, who watched them murder his older brother; by my father who was not free to go to high school in Cuba because of daily riots; by my mother who had to pick between going to college or marrying my dad – a common choice in the 1950’s.
I grew up knowing I had freedoms my family at one time did not have – to openly choose my spiritual path, to attend school safely and without discrimination, to follow my career dreams WHILE choosing to marry. And even more importantly, through the way they faced their challenges, my ancestors gave me a glimpse into what ultimate freedom truly means. It's the freedom we have inside our own minds, especially when faced with great difficulty. No one can take our freedom away to rise up or open our hearts, to see the good in people and situations, to give without expecting in return, to do what’s right when it's against the grain, to change ourselves instead of blame others, to trust.
The list of inner decisions we are free to make is endless. It is the human ego that truly imprisons us – bombarding us with thoughts of 'I can't' or 'why me' , trying to limit our soul’s capacity to achieve its purpose and to love & give for absolutely no reason. Every difficulty is a chance to free ourselves from the self-centered barriers that separate us from our ultimate destiny - to tap into the peace and greatness known as our soul, enabling us to achieve anything and everything under the sun. This is true freedom.
Thriving as a woman has been misunderstood since time immemorial. It's not about pleasing others, being the perfect wife and mother. It's beyond being smart, having a good reputation, working day and night or having the perfect body. It doesn't matter whether we're married or have kids and it has nothing to do with "just being lucky." There is a system to achieve true happiness and it's meant for EVERY WOMAN. When we learn what it takes to tap into our True Selves, then we are empowered to create a life of fulfillment beyond what is typically expected to achieve. And then we are not only thriving, but we become a beacon of Light for others. Then, and only then, can we be truly happy.
A THRIVING WOMAN IS A HAPPY WOMAN BECAUSE SHE …
1. KNOWS WHO SHE IS In body and soul—and isn’t afraid to be who she is!
In Body: Because women are connected to the earth in a particularly powerful way, we need to care for and live grounded in our bodies - more so than men. A thriving woman understands her body, cares for the gift she has been given. She listens to her rhythms and cycles. Knows her patterns regarding moods. Knows the kind of rest she needs in order to stay happy and balanced. The more we listen and learn – to our own bodies, to the wisdom that is available about a woman’s health and cycles, the more empowered we are to thrive and be happy.
In Soul: The human tendency is to ‘not deal’ with whatever is uncomfortable, unpleasant, confusing, painful. The more we listen to the whisper inside of us about what is real, about who we are, about what we need to face – the more we can live from our true self and do that which fulfills us. Knowing who you are requires a continual process of revealing the shells and masks that cover who you really are. Breaking these ego shells, is it a painful process? Yes. But the Light behind these shells is how our true power and self-esteem can be revealed and ENJOYED!
Hormones are the truth serum. Whatever it is that you have not dealt with in your life, the universe wants you to do so, therefore, aren't we lucky?! We as women have been given the gift of cycles. What we have shelved and avoided, what we typically cannot even see as a problem, will more likely surface between ovulation and our period. If we still don’t address it, we might develop seasonal affective disorder to help us; then if we still don’t take care of the issue, then no worries, menopause will hit us good and strong.
2. A THRIVING WOMAN LIVES HER PURPOSE
The women we admire most have a goal for the sake of something bigger than themselves. For a woman, it is essential that she actively takes steps to find and live what she feels in her soul she is meant to do in and for the world. She is willing to make sacrifices to reach her goals, and yet here she finds her greatest fulfillment. She knows that true sharing with another human being, with no agenda, is the highest form of greed.
If she is not clear about her purpose, she allows time for silence, listens, takes simple actions, is willing to seek guidance and take risks to find and live her purpose. She makes this a priority.
3.A THRIVING WOMAN TAKES RESPONSIBILITY FOR HER OWN HAPPINESS.
She is independent–emotionally, spiritually and I dare say even financially. While she may be a devoted wife and mother, she doesn’t need someone or something outside of herself to be happy. Nothing outside of ourselves will change, until we change ourselves.- Yehuda Berg
She lives the "Change Me First” consciousness. She fights the battle of entitlement, living in touch with what she needs to change, where she is the problem. She welcomes opportunities to transform, including criticism and seeing her garbage. She takes risks. She takes responsibility for being HAPPY WITH HERSELF ~ AND HER LIFE.
4. A THRIVING WOMAN LOVES HERSELF.
She has compassion and self love; strives to know her radiant essence; not afraid to be who she is; can tolerate mistakes;she knows what brings her happiness and is proactive to make that happen.
Appreciation is a life long, moment to moment endeavor. A thriving woman actively grows her appreciation for the people and blessings she is given - she recognizes and runs away from the plague of entitlement when it infects her mind.
5. A THRIVING WOMAN IS BALANCED.
A women must listen to her feelings, and yet not let them rule her life. Suppression is dangerous, and yet so too is believing that our emotions are who we are. A balanced woman knows her limits, has good boundaries, especially with energy drainers. Her focus is on "how can I share with other" and knows when she needs to replenish in order to give from a place of wholeness. She knows the difference between caring for someone and trying to please them. She knows her priorities: her relationship with her Self first and foremost, then her marriage, then her children.
6. A THRIVING WOMAN LIVES WITH CERTAINTY AND TRUSTS THE GOOD in all things, especially life’s challenges. She strives to see the big picture of her goals and what matters most, and puts effort to not get stuck in the little details of "he said, she said" or "I don’t have this or that." She knows how to let go of control and truly receive life’s blessings. She is confident, yet knows that she must remove the "I” – the "it’s all about me and coming from me” way of thinking - to be truly successful.
7. A THRIVING WOMAN GETS BACK UP WHEN SHE FALLS
Many of us have an illusory idea that life should be easy. It can’t be easy for the rewards and fulfillment to be real. Challenges are essential and the only way to rise to our next level of self esteem, impact and deep happiness. We are stronger than we realize and the moment we shift our thinking to appreciating and accepting the challenges for what they really are, that is the moment we begin to rise – higher than ever before.
8. A THRIVING WOMAN NOURISHES HER FRIENDSHIPS WITH OTHER WOMEN.
Don’t ever underestimate the power of your women friends. Allow yourself to open up with them - this is how women learn. From each other! Give yourself permission to prioritize these connections, especially with those friends who are genuine and don’t just tell you what you want to hear. Be that kind of friend yourself and you will thrive.
9.CHOOSES A ROLE MODEL, COUNSELOR, MENTOR, OR TEACHER.
As the 12-step saying goes, "You have to do it yourself, but you don't have to do it alone." While independence is the goal, we cannot get there without support. We have so many blind spots and set intentions and objectives that are filled with limitations of what we are truly capable of. Finding a counselor, a spiritual teacher, a coach – whomever you are drawn to who is THRIVING, who is filled with Light, who has achieved what you aspire to achieve and who has overcome their own limitations of the ego – this is a great place to start. A thriving woman is not afraid to ask for help!
This article is a summary of "Thriving as a Woman" - a seminar Dr. Glik lead, with two other holistic doctors, in September, 2011.
If it feels right, I would be honored to work with you to help you find your purpose and power – and THRIVE!
Dr. Rachel Glik, EdD LPC
Licensed Professional Counselor
The Healing and Counseling Center
314. 341. 4205
“I really admire the success you have created,” I said to a dear friend who took me in for the weekend.
“It’s not me,” she clarified. “Though I used to think so. When it comes to the success I have now, you sound impressed, but I literally had to lose it all to realize it’s really not me. Knowing this, and with intention to truly give to my clients, I have planted a completely new seed. And now what's coming to me, these new accounts from way out in left field, make absolutely no sense. I know, it's definitely not me.”
Her wise words hit me like smelling salts, reminding me that fear is not an option and those “what about me” voices are the fastest way to cut myself off from all that is abundant and good.
You see, I had been up late working last night, like a gerbil round its wheel – that ole’ fearful voice tried to close my heart and give me 'purpose amnesia.' As the night grew darker, I could feel the small and selfish agenda taking hold – propelling me to prove that I am worthwhile, I have power, I can accomplish.
The spiritual path, any path that strives to make us better and more loving, can fly right out the window when we forget the abundant Source that runs through our being like a freshwater spring. I can be very dangerous. We need to live like guards to the Queen, vigilantly looking for any traces of this limited ego thinking. Confidence is one thing, but we need to be very careful to where or who we attribute our gifts and success, and the purpose behind everything we set out to do or say.
The truth is that we can only plant seeds. And only if we are able to remove the I, can we make room for the endless force of giving that make all things grow--in miraculous ways that make no sense, whatsoever. We must plant and plant. But the actual one to make things manifest, always remember, “It’s not me.”
So go and plant something today with this kind of clarity. I can't wait to hear your miracle stories, that make no sense at all.