A Life Without Disclaimers
When I first began making an effort to understand myself — to leave no stone unturned, to live consciously—I asked my mentor (Lynn Segura) what I could do to start getting in touch with myself. She gave me the simple advice of starting to take notice when I had a rise in any kind of emotion. Whether it was anger, joy, excitement, sadness, disappointment. Whatever it was. She said an easy way was to catch how my emotional reactions while watching TV shows and movies.
This was the start to an incredibly rewarding journey of self-awareness and discovery. I began to pause and be curious about myself. I saw myself as I was reacting to a situation, rather than after the fact in a more detached and intellectualized retrospection. I began asking myself layers upon layers of the question “Why?” when learning about my reactions. Pausing to notice the moment suddenly created a space in between stimulus and reaction — a change in my perception of time…I somehow had more of it to work with. It gave me, for the first time, room to choose how I wanted to react instead of repeating patterns virtually blindly and uncontrollably out of rote memory.
One such pattern I’ve noticed time and again is feeling ashamed of something that I say to someone, with an immediate reaction of providing a disclaimer to justify myself. I feel instantly judged both when I say the initial thing and then also when I make the disclaimer — maybe the other person was judging me, but knew beyond a doubt that I was judging me. Sometimes we judge ourselves in an unfounded and cruel way. Other times, we have to recognize that pain is there to teach us. Pain is our body/gut/heart’s way of showing us that something needs to adjust. In my case of the shame and self-judgement feeling, it’s mostly reminding me of when I’m not living my truth — I’m putting something else ahead of it and it just doesn’t feel right.
I’d like to share a few of such recurring instances where I catch myself disclaiming and feeling guilty:
- When people come over and I warn them that my place is a bit of a mess.
- When I’m supposed to suggest a restaurant and say that I don’t really know San Francisco (where I’ve lived for 4 years).
- When I tell people I barely have friends to hang out with because everyone moved away and I’ve just changed so much as a person.
- When I tell people I pretty much only meet guys through Bumble because I’m not into drinking and don’t go to bars and work too far from the city.
Well, today as a woman of 33 years, I declare that I am taking action on these with no further delays or disclaimers. I have been aware long enough to choose a different reaction. I want my life to all match — what I walk and talk, what I look like to others and to myself. Today I treat guilt not as a negative feeling but as a caring and handy feedback loop, teaching me how to live in truth. How to live a life without disclaimers.