"Kyla, can I share an observation with you?" He asked.
Gosh, when people ask you that, you can't really say no, even though you kind of want to and just run away as fast as you can.
"Ok, go ahead," I answered hesitantly.
"Well, I have noticed that you are really externally validating yourself all the time..."
If that came from anyone else, I might have blown it off, but it came from someone I really respected--a next level happiness guru someone. I continued the conversation telling him that I had literally just had a conversation with my sister that morning telling her how after meeting him and his colleague, I was so inspired by how ego-less they both were (even though they were both such badasses), and how I was becoming less and less ego-driven myself as a result.
This past week, I had two conversations with two new clients. Both of them asked the question I often get wherever I go, "How come you're always so positive/happy?" I think that is a great question, but a better question would be "How do you accept yourself no matter what crazy shit is thrown AT you in life?"
I spent the week contemplating whether I was externally validating myself. The observation haunted me. I had spent much of 2017 working on myself, getting my life coach certification, working on my book (which deals with a lot of this stuff), and just taking a huge life pause. When I explained this to the guru, he said, "You know the difference between a foolish and a wise person? The fool thinks he/she is wise. You can never stop working on yourself."
I recalled the conversation I had had with the guru to my two new clients separately. They were both shocked to hear that he would say I was externally driven, especially since both had attended my Happiness Workshop where I literally open the workshop with all the external things that used to drive me, and how now I focus more on the internal ones.
The guru probably sensed my denial/defensive nature and simply said, "Don't think too much about this. You know, you can't think yourself out of this. Just feel if there is a lack over the next few days and when there is a lack, try to figure out where that comes from."
CONVERSATIONS WITH GIRLFRIENDS
Over lunch the next day with a girlfriend in my bootcamp class, over shaved ice, we traded over-critical mom war stories.
"Yeah, my mom would scold me for like 15 minutes whenever I spilled milk...talk about not crying over spilt milk," I attempted to make a joke to make the situation a bit less serious.
"Yeah, my mom would do that too," my girlfriend shared. It was the first time I had heard her talk about her mom in that way. It was the first time we were both talking about our moms that way.
"It took me a long time before I realized that my mom was extremely verbally abusive..." I continued.
"Yeah, my mom...(she began crying) was not only verbally abusive but physically abusive..."
Over an iced green tea latte at the last not-so-hipster cafe in Seoul, I met up with Youjin, a former prosecutor who had started an online magazine written by Asian women for Asian women. She was super animated in her facial expressions and body language--I felt immediately at ease around her.
"When I was in Europe, I realized Asian women experienced severe discrimination, and no matter whom I spoke to, they all had similar childhood experiences. They grew up with parents who were extremely demanding of them. But they were all serious badasses...super talented."
HOW TO MOVE FORWARD
To answer that question of LACK (asked by my guru and two new clients), we have to take a step back and figure out when life throws stuff AT us, whether we respond WITH our true selves or our EGO?
1. Feel the lack. Where is YOUR lack coming from? For me, it came from an over-critical mom, which then made me seek external validation.
2. Once you figure it out, don't judge yourself, or the other people that might have contributed to this LACK. Forgive yourself and them.
3. Have a little talk WITH your ego. Whenever someone makes an observation about you, or gives you feedback, how do you take it? If it is wrapped around LACK, ask yourself, is it really YOU talking or your EGO talking?
4. If it is your EGO talking, do some mindful breathing, until your EGO is gone, and it is just the REAL and true you.
5. Figure out an action plan. Are there triggers that bring up LACK? Can you use these to instead of bring your EGO out, bring yourself out?
6. Repeat steps 1-5 often.
And remember what the guru said, "A foolish person is someone who thinks they are wise."
Thank you, guru.