This Is What Happens When You Finally Work On Yourself From The Inside Out

It was a warm January afternoon, the 29th to be exact, when we locked eyes at a local organic cafe. I briefly smiled. Minutes later, he walked up to me and said, “I don’t normally do this, yet I couldn’t help but to notice you. If you are open to it, I’d love to take you out sometime?”

That afternoon, we exchanged text messages and scheduled a date for the next night. Two months later, as we were traveling through Mexico City, we decided to move in together when we got back home. Three months from the day we met, we were cohabiting, and I had the exact life I had envisioned for myself back in December. At the end of 2015, I had spent a lot of time journaling and reflecting on the highest vision I could create for my life in 2016.

In my journal, I wrote:

“I date a sexy man, who is smart, ambitious, and practices yoga on his own. My partner cooks for me and understands that I am a unique woman that needs independence and compassionate support.”

…That’s Alex.

I also wrote that I wanted:

balance — more time to rest and play… lots more time in/on/by the ocean and more time at home. I create time and space to manifest personal and professional growth…an opportunity to step outside of the grind so I can explore the work I want to do on my own.”

…Since April, I have had the most time-off I have had in years.

Within months, my life transformed into the words I wrote in my journal. Yet, much to my surprise, these external changes did nothing to elevate my internal condition — if anything, the changes exacerbated all of my negative feelings and emotions. I did not consider the internal work and mental shifts that needed to take place in order for me to embrace my vision.

Aside from a short transitory period, I had lived alone for the last seven years. In an instant, I lost my identity as “an independent woman making it happen for herself.” If I was no longer “an independent woman,” who was I? How did I navigate life with help? I wanted a partner — I did not realize how challenging it would be for me to open up to being interdependent after being fully responsible for myself.

I self-selected to live alone because it was easier that way — it was hard for me to trust others. This lack of trust came from years of neglect and abandonment. I constantly questioned “what I did” to deserve a partner like Alex — so caring and attentive. As much as I wanted and appreciated his support, I had a hard time accepting his devotion. As our relationship evolved, I realized a lot of what I was experiencing stemmed from a lack of self-worth and self-love.

After I moved in, I felt worthless and unworthy. On my own, I needed to hustle to stay on top — with Alex, my priorities shifted and my motivation to grind was lost. It took so much more energy to find the same output from before. I was demotivated because I was redefining my definition of success and many of my previous goals no longer mattered anymore.

I so deeply desired the downtime I had when I first moved in. For years, I worked six-to-seven days a week to accommodate my “successes.” I derived my worth from my identities and involvements. When I moved in with Alex, I wrapped up a lot of projects and the chaos of an overcommitted schedule ended. I finally had the free-time I wanted — yet, that made space for me to release everything I had repressed while my life was a blur from being overly hectic. A lot came up — feelings of sadness from a recent loss, fear of the future, a lack of confidence — it was almost too much for me to process all at once.

Since I placed great value on my external accomplishment, I felt awful as I paused at “accomplishing.” Through self-reflection, I discovered my desire to hustle and “make it to the top” was driven by the misconception that I was not “good enough.” My situation changed, but I remained the same — wherever you go, there you are.

This experience taught me how important it is to address what is happening on the inside with the same tenacity that I approach my external pursuits. From my experience, when things are right on the inside, things will be right on the outside, not the inverse.

There is great power in manifesting a clear vision. Yet, the real work lies in the practices of gratitude, self-love, and honest introspection. Back in December, I envisioned a “better life” because I was unsatisfied with the one I had. In retrospect, my life was incredible — I taught at amazing local yoga studios, I lived in a quaint studio apartment next to one of the nicest, most loving women I know, and I could walk to the best Thai food and gelato in all of San Diego! The only thing “wrong” in my life was my discontentment.

At the time, I thought I was “connected” — I thought I was listening to the divine wisdom of my heart. In hindsight, I was racing around, filling my life with activities, to avoid having to be still and do the real work.

The real work came in the form of letting go of toxic relationships and the stories that kept me stuck in the mentality of “less than” and/or “never good enough.” Then, it shifted to seeking guidance and mentorship and deepening my spiritual practices.

Through this experience, I have learned self-love is a practice and there is nothing outside of myself that will make me any better than I already am — my worthiness comes from who I am on the inside not what I do nor the titles I have. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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