Today I choose to be present to my feelings, aware of my needs, and accepting of my true self… this however, was not always the case.
Hi, I'm Brenda
For many years I was…
How I came to find my true self…
In my teen years, I felt very insecure about myself. I desperately wanted to be liked and spent most of my life trying be accepted and feel like I belonged. I floated through school more concerned about relationships than my studies. I was so concered about fitting in, I slowly lost sight of who I was and what I needed in my life.
As relationships came and went, I found myself seeking out anyone who might accept me. Unlcear about who I truly was, I created personas that I thought would be more liked. And by the time I completed high school, my life was all about the next party and longing for a relationship to make me happy. I was drinking to much, smoking weed, and eventually found myself addicted to heroin.
After a year out of school, I found my way into college and graduated, landing a career in financial services. I was a highly functioning addict; I worked hard, but I played hard. As I continually fought to overcome my addiction of heroin, I was constantly pulled back in from that desire to be included.
I struggled to see myself as an individual with strengths and value, but I knew the life I was living was not how I wanted to be.
Finally just after turning 21, I found the courage to leave the circles of friends that had kept me in it, and I stopped using heroin. I felt empowered and liberated, but was struggling to know who I was and how to really take care of myself. A good friend encouraged me to go to the gym to rebuild my health. As I began frequenting the gym, working out and focusing on my health, I could see an impact physically as my body began to change and I felt stronger. I assumed if I kept it up, the way I felt on the inside would change too. Yet, there was still a feeling of emptiness.
Meanwhile I was working my way up the corporate ladder of a major Canadian bank, connecting with people and offering financial advice and services. I felt content in my work. I was making a difference in peoples lives, helping them manage their financial needs. This, coupled with the sense of stability in the financial world, and some emerging self-confidence, kept me anchored to the bank and its people for many years.
Yet, I often I felt like a chameleon. In my social life, I was constanting changing myself to fit into the groups of people I met. I didn't have a solid understanding of who I was, what I was good at, and what was possible for me. I kept following what I thought I should do, not completely connected with what I wanted.
By my late 20s, I was working full-time and completing my Bachelor of Management Degree in the evening. I was still frequenting the gym, but spending a lot of social time binge drinking, smoking marijuana, and dabbling in other drugs from time to time. I never went back to heroin, so I told myself I was doing fine.
I felt good about myself at the gym, I found the weight-lifting and cardio workouts I had done over the years had increased my strength and kept me feeling healthy. Then one day I discovered a yoga/pilates class. I was attracted to the continued growth in strength, but also to the increased flexibility. It enhanced my body awareness, in ways I recalled from my youth of figure skating, and slowly opened me up to more self-awareness.
In late 2010 I went on a trip to Costa Rica, which changed my life. I was introduced to yoga and meditation in a more traditional form. When I returned home, I began to study and practice meditation and yoga in a new way. I found a local Calgary studio and began to cultivate my practice. I started meditating daily and over the months ahead I found my awareness of the world I was creating opening up.
I started to notice how I was talking to myself and how some of my decisions in my social life were impacting me. There were glimmers of self-love and truth, but they were hard to hear and clouded in wanting to be accepted and loved. I was spiralling through cycles of binging, trying to clean up, to be happy and healthy, and somehow love myself.
Though I wasn't successful in changing my life right away, by that summer a close friend asked me, where I thought I’d be in 5 years if I kept living the way I was. I was already 33 and this question shocked me. By the time I drove 2.5 hours home that day, I knew I needed to stop the cycle. I quit drinking that day.
I dove into many self-help books seeking the answers to find clarity and happiness. What I found were my hidden shadows and a deep longing for self-acceptance.
I realized I needed additional help dealing with these shadows that were influencing my life. After previous years of working with psychologists trying to overcome my destructive behaviours, I ventured down a different path when I found a shamanic life coach with an approach that seemed to fit. Through our sessions, I discovered the emotions I was hiding from and how the choices I had been making in my life were stifling them. Working through unearthing these buried emotions was very challenging for me, but I was determined to see it through.
Accepting and welcoming my emotions was healing and awakening. I came to know myself on a deeper level and understand the needs that went along with my emotions. I took courageous steps to discover my truth and gained awareness and tools to be present to my emotions as they arise.
By this time, I was deep into my yoga and meditation practice, eating healthy, and feeling the best I could ever remember. I was sober, making different choices in my social and work life, and opening up to new possibilities in my future.
With mindful intention I changed my life to align with my truth, who I am on the inside. This experience was empowering and I felt brave. I took on new challenges of personal growth, I opened my heart to love, and I found clarity and trust in my life choices.
I learned to listen to my body, mind, and intuition in making decisions. I enrolled in a Yoga Teacher training program to follow one of my passions, fell in love within a couple years of discovering my self again, and changed my career to align with my desire to help others feel fulfilled and in align with their true self as a Certified Life Coach.
Reflecting… it all came together with a choice to be present to all of me.
One of my hardest choices during my personal transformation was to become present to my self. It took taking a break from social circles and instead time with my whole self, with no distractions, to help me see the light of the amazing person inside me. I had a couple of friends who encouraged me to listen to my self and honour my needs. I will forever be grateful for their love and support. Yet, the self-awareness, self-acceptance, and self-love I discovered inside of me has been the most enlightening and ever-lasting.
What I gained from discovering my true self…
With courage, I changed my life to reflect the truth I felt inside.