The Other Side

The Other Side

We’re all broken people. We’re all damaged goods in some way, shape or form. We all struggle. The difference is whether or not we allow our struggle to define us, or refine us.

There comes a time in our lives when are brought to the precipice of a great change. We are asked to rise to our own challenges, let go of all of the fears and insecurities that have kept us caged our entire lives, and make a leap into darkness of the unknown. To cross the chasm between our destiny and what we’ve never allowed ourselves to be.

In that moment, just before we have the opportunity to step into our own power, the last tiny shard of fear that’s stuck in our hearts will twist. It will do everything in it’s power to keep you tethered to your cage, and you have to reach inside and pull it out.

You may bleed. I will certainly hurt. But in order to fully heal, you have to remove the shrapnel, and then you have to leap. Leap into the great unknown of your own potential. What’s waiting on the other side for you could be everything you’ve never allowed yourself to dare to believe was possible for you. Love. Beauty. Happiness.

Take the risk. Pull out the shard. Make the leap and trust the Universe – trust yourself, because you are the Universe – to catch you.

You are more powerful than you ever imagined.

Meet me on the other side.

I Listen To The Voices In My Head

I Listen To The Voices In My Head

It’s true. I’m crazy. But I suppose you have to be a little bit crazy to follow a clairaudient message that tells you you’re moving to the other side of the country.

Most of you know that earlier this year, I came to a fork in the road of my life path and I was faced with a decision – stay the course, or take the road less traveled by. If you’ve been following along since June, then you know that I opted to take the risk of dismantling my life as I knew it, moving a thousand miles to New York and starting over from scratch.

I mentioned, when I first talked about doing this, that I felt a deep need for it. That it was a part of my life’s purpose. That was an apt feeling, given the eclipse we just experienced earlier this week was pushing all of us toward living the life that was meant for us.

It heralds a new paradigm of heart-led existence, and it doesn’t look like anything you’ve seen before. Some of us have to be first. Some of us have to show you the way. So I left behind my life as I knew it, packed my bags and moved to New York City for one reason and one reason only – purpose. I can’t really sufficiently explain to you how or why, but I knew it was where I was supposed to be and that I had to be here, of all places.

I’ve never shared the entire story of how this came to be, but it was something that was discussed during my Shift Your Spirits Podcast interview. It had to be cut, for time’s sake, but I was able to procure the audio, and I want to share it with you now.

SHIFT YOUR SPIRITS OUTTAKE: Ashley and Slade discuss moving to New York


LINKS MENTIONED:

Kyle Cease

My Online Dream Interpretation Course

Getting here took a lot courage, a lot of sacrifice, and a lot of faith in the universe. And to be honest, I was scared shitless – it was the hardest, most terrifying thing I’ve ever done. In some ways, I still am. But my dreams were leading me to something greater – something important. I don’t totally know what that is or what it looks like yet. I hope you’ll join me for the unfolding.

Stop Using Spirituality to Kick Your Own Ass

Stop Using Spirituality to Kick Your Own Ass

Imade a startling discovery about myself last night. Ok, it wasn’t very startling. It’s a pattern that I’ve been ignoring for quite some time and never fully acknowledged until now. I use spirituality as a tool for self-destruction. As I wrote in this post long ago, sometimes that can be a good thing, but in this instance, I mean it in the negative context.

I’ve talked about the concept of spiritual bypassing – the tendency to use spiritual ideas and practices to sidestep or avoid facing unresolved emotional issues, psychological wounds, and unfinished developmental tasks – on numerous occasions, but rarely, if ever, have I talked about those of us on the opposite end of that spectrum.

I find myself, from time to time, pulling tarot cards for myself and immediately reading into them what’s “wrong” with me and how I’m fucking things up. Of course with cards, in a way, you can see what you want to see. They’re open-ended enough to allow for interpretation and that’s what makes them work. It’s also what allows your ego to creep in.

Unlike spiritual bypassers who use spirituality to puff up their ego and delude themselves into ideas of spiritual grandeur, I use it to beat the shit out of myself. Cut myself down to size. Sure, it makes me humble. It also keeps me small.

Always, in those moments, my intuition becomes muddled. I get confused. I can’t see the forest for the trees. I believe I’ve used the analogy of drowning in a bird bath before – you’re so busy thrashing around that you don’t realize that all you have to do is stand up. The water is shallow.

 

One thing is for sure about this move, I’ve been far more conscious of my own self-destructive patterns of thought than I ever have, and I’m actively attempting to let them go. It’s too easy to struggle. I’ve been doing it for so long that it comes naturally to me. Isn’t it about time we floated?

Last night was the kickoff of eclipse season with a lunar eclipse in Aquarius. Eclipse season is going to burn away every last shred of anything that is contributing to your own suffering. Expect that you, too, will be experiencing all of your own self-destructive patterns. What will you do with them?

I read something the other night that said the lunar eclipse in Aquarius was about figuring out how you want to be seen in the world, and in order to do that, you first have to know who you are. During a phone call with a friend on the same evening, she gave me a good homework assignment: Write down who you are. And so I did.

I am kind.
I am loving.
I am beautiful.
I am wise.
I am open and accepting.
I am fearless.
I am the creator of my existence.
I am honest and vulnerable.
I am a leader.
I am a beacon of hope for everyone around me.
I am living my purpose.
I am connected.
I am whole.

That. That right there. That’s where I’m telling eclipse season to take me. How about you?

13 Reasons Why

13 Reasons Why

I binge-watched Netflix’s new series 13 Reasons Why in less than 24 hours this week. It left me feeling a lot of mixed emotions for a lot of different reasons, a big one of which being that I related so much with the high school experience of Hannah Baker.

I’ve written at length about the kind of sexual assault and sexual harassment that I and other girls experienced in high school and college. In some ways, I almost feel like the show didn’t do it justice because until the very end, it made it appear as though it was isolated and targeted at only a few people. It’s not. It’s ALL OF US. And the effects are real.

I loved the way that 13 Reasons Why attempted to show the duality of these kinds of situations, that nothing is black and white, and that there are many sides to every story, each with it’s own reasons and motivations. That was real, and it was honest.

I loved the way that it begged the question, “Did you do enough to help this person?” That’s something that all of us who’ve been touched by suicide have asked ourselves at one point or another. I remember feeling that guilt and asking myself the same question after I found out that a guy I had dated briefly in college, Sean, chose to end his life a few years later.

I was asking myself that question even though we hadn’t really kept in touch and had only spoken once or twice in the previous three years, even though we weren’t even that close. Even though I knew those things, I still found myself combing over our last conversation in my mind wondering if I’d missed a sign that something was wrong.

There’s another emotion that occurs after a suicide, a conflicting one that often creeps in. Anger. You feel angry at them because you see the devastation left behind. I remember Sean’s funeral, seeing his sister and his parents there and how utterly torn apart they were. And I thought, “How could you do this to them?” At the time, it seemed selfish.

And during the last episode of 13 Reasons Why, when Hannah’s parents found her in the bath tub, I couldn’t help but think about Sean’s parents and what it must have been like for them to find his body – and I cried. Hard. Harder than I’ve ever cried watching any movie or anything on TV in my entire life.

I liked how the show depicted the difficulty of the situation as it relates to Hannah’s mental state – the way she rarely asked for help, and in many cases pushed people away, even though on the inside, she was screaming for someone to help her. I’ve been on that side of suicide, too – being the person who KNOWS that this person is in trouble and trying as hard as you can to help them, but also knowing that ultimately, there’s nothing more you can do because it’s their choice.

That’s the hardest part. I’ve been the person who practically forced myself into the house of a withdrawn suicidal friend. I’ve been the person who is frantically sending text messages to someone who posted a goodbye note on social media with no response. I’ve been the person taking on the sole responsibility for someone else’s well-being… and it’s too much. It’s too much to make yourself responsible for another person’s choice of whether they live or die. All you can do is listen. And I suppose my situation is unique… I doubt most people find themselves crossing paths with so many people in that mental state in such a short span of a few years.

13 Reason’s Why also addresses bystander apathy, where people are less likely to offer a victim help when there are other people around. I’ve seen that in action, too. When I was 16, I was at a party at the house of a much older guy from my hometown named Kyle. He was in his twenties, and he was dating a girl my age from the next town over (this sort of thing happened frequently, I grew up in a very small, rural town). This girl – we’d been conditioned not to like her because one of our friends was dating a guy from her school and at some point, she’d made our friend feel threatened in her relationship. So now, a year or two later, she was dating someone else and we were all sitting in the living room of his house on New Year’s Eve. Several of his friends were there – guys his age – along with us, and everyone was drinking. He was drunk. Too drunk.

I remember four of us sitting at a table playing a card game – myself, an older guy named Jay, and the couple in question. I don’t remember what was said or how it happened, all I remember is Kyle becoming completely belligerent, standing up, reaching across the table and slapping his 16-year-old girlfriend across the face. The room fell dead silent, and no one did anything. I was a 16-year-old girl, too, and a socially awkward, extremely introverted one at that. I was in shock and I didn’t know what to say or do. I wasn’t really friends with Kyle, he was really angry and frankly it was scary and I didn’t think there was much I COULD do. But I do remember looking across the table at Jay – the one person in the room who was Kyle’s equal, the person who was the same age, who did know him – and waiting for him to do something. To say something. But he just sat there and looked down at the table like everyone else.

Later that night, a group of us girls took Kyle’s girlfriend back to one of our parents’ house and hid her in the basement while he called incessantly demanding that we give her up. I guess, in the end, we did protect her, as best we could. For the night, anyway.

If you haven’t watched 13 Reasons Why yet, I recommend that you do. It’s real. It’s uncomfortable. And I hope that it spurs the appropriate amount of reflection and social conversation on this very real problem. I don’t know what the answer is. I don’t know that there is an answer…at least not a simple one. It’s a complex problem and it requires a complex, multi-faceted solution, but the beginning of solving it is becoming aware of all of the aspects of it, becoming more sensitive to it, and working toward solutions collectively in small ways.

I just heard a psychologist on the news say that this show should be pulled off the air immediately because it glamorizes suicide and shows that there is no help if you ask for it, and he believes that it will make more teens want to attempt suicide. I don’t think it glamorizes suicide at all. Whether or not it will make teens want to attempt it, I don’t know. But what I do know is that it’s not directed at suicidal teens. It’s directed at the people who stand by and do nothing, and it’s meant to show them the consequences of their apathy, and begs them to do something about it.

How To Know If Love Is Real

How To Know If Love Is Real

Question from a reader:

“How can I really know if I love someone? The thing is this guy has a girlfriend but we are “together” since October last year. I have suffered a lot (but I grew up a lot) and now my mind tells me to put a limit, but my heart still wants to be with him. What should I listen to? I think I love him, but my mind tells me I don’t love him. Maybe not to suffer anymore? I’m struggling.”

There are so many ways to answer this question and so much to say about your particular situation, I’m almost struggling with where to start. Some of us, myself included, struggle with balancing our heads with our hearts. One of my greatest challenges has been allowing myself to fully love someone and allowing people to fully love me. I try to convince myself with all sorts of reasons why it’s not love – attachment, codependency, fulfilling psychological needs. All of it is really just my ego’s insidious way of telling me that I’m not truly worthy of love.

I know that conventional wisdom would tell you, and probably a lot of my other readers, that if he really loved you, he’d be with you and not his girlfriend. But I know that life isn’t that simple. The heart is complicated. People are complicated. And fear makes people do crazy things.

I’ve been in similarly complicated situations in my lifetime and I’ve learned quite a bit about myself and about love through them. When you feel like you’re unworthy of love, you’ll attract to yourself and create situations that will reflect that emotion back to you. Whether or not the other person loves you isn’t even the point of it – it’s about whether or not you love you.

We can create these situations in a couple of ways – we may truly love this person and they may love us, but our inability to fully love ourselves creates an inability to be with them in the way we truly want. This puts us in a difficult position of wanting something that we’re unable to have, and that creates suffering.

The other way that we put ourselves in these situations is by falling for someone that we don’t truly love, but our need for validation from someone outside of ourselves is so strong that we seek it out, regardless of how inconvenient or unhealthy the relationship may be. This is what we would refer to as attachment. Once again, this puts us in a difficult position of wanting something that we’re unable to have – in this case, the validation of receiving the other person’s love – and that creates suffering.

You can both love someone, AND need their validation in an unhealthy way. It doesn’t have to be one or the other.

My advice to you, to discover whether or not you really love this guy and if it’s worth it to you to wait around for him is this:

First, discover whether or not you love yourself. Ask yourself, what would your ideal situation look like? What is missing from your current situation? Do you deserve your ideal situation? If so, why are you settling for anything less? If not, why not?  Listen to that quiet voice in back of your mind. Hear what it says when you ask yourself these questions. Many times, the things it has to say are pretty negative, but we don’t want to acknowledge it, so we ignore it and shove it back down into our subconscious.

Hear it. Acknowledge it. Bring it into the light. This will help you release it.

To answer your question directly, how can you really know if you love someone? Real love is unconditional. It is given freely and asks for nothing in return. Real self love means knowing that you are deserving of receiving real love, and it will settle for nothing less.

The Dark Side of Positivity

The Dark Side of Positivity

I had a consultation with potential new client for my mentorship program a few weeks ago, and in our short conversation, I asked her about some of the issues she was struggling with and what she hoped to gain from working with me as a personal development mentor.

Among the things she listed that she felt were holding her back from being truly happy, she lamented, “I have negative thoughts all the time. And I know everybody says that you need to think positive, and I try to, but sometimes I just can’t.”

I stopped her dead in her tracks.

I see this kind of dangerous thinking from all sides. Bullshit New Age content farms are hocking over simplified clickbait social media content on a daily basis telling people how they shouldn’t be negative, think negative, or hang out with “negative” people.

I told my potential client that it was perfectly okay for her to have negative thoughts. It’s perfectly human to feel negative sometimes. Or even more than sometimes.

This growing idea that in order to be spiritual, you must shun any and all negativity, is at best based on a surface-level understanding of spirituality and enlightenment and at worst, a form of intellectually lazy emotional repression and spiritual bypassing.

What is Spiritual Bypassing?

Spiritual Bypassing is a term coined by psychologist Robert Masters to describe the practice of empty spirituality devoid of real personal development. In spiritual bypassing, a person “acts” spiritual without actually doing the internal work to develop real spiritual understanding, often resulting in stunted spiritual growth, repressed emotions, inflated ideas about their own level of enlightenment, and a plethora of other detrimental activities and ideas.

This sort of empty spirituality doesn’t facilitate conscious expansion or enlightenment, but rather keeps its followers trapped in the lowest levels of awareness. Oh, the irony…

Negative emotions, thoughts and feelings have their place. They are the catalyst for growth. Negative relationships and situations serve as mirrors to reflect back to us the negative beliefs that reside within us and spur us to self-examine. Without negativity, we would remain ignorant in our spiritual understanding and stagnant in our personal growth.

I explained to my potential client that she needn’t be worried about having negative thoughts and that rather than attempting to ignore them or push them out of her mind, she should find time to sit with them, allow herself to feel them, examine them, discover where they arise from and once she has truly found the source and understood the lesson it’s teaching her, she can thank them for the experience and release them.

I know that sounds pretty simple, but what is simple isn’t always easy. I look forward to helping her explore this aspect of spiritual growth and perhaps come out on the other side a stronger, wiser person.

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