Do what makes your soul sing! I heard that line in the movie, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again. Do we truly have the freedom to choose what makes our soul sing? If you are like me, your life is a mixture of personal choices along with events that were out of your control. You then made more choices to gain better control. And, well, here you are 10, 20, 30 years later.
I read this beautiful story about Himba women in Africa. When a Himba woman is with child, her sisters in the village go into the wilderness with her. For as long as it takes, they remain in the wilderness by her side under the stars until the dream of the child begins to beat like a singular rhythm under their hearts. They know that every heart has its own unique beat–its own wild and blazing purpose. And when the Himba women attune to the song of the coming child, they circle around, and together they sing the miraculous refrain of the expected child. When they return to the village, they teach the song to the community. The community will sing the child’s unique song when they are born, initiation to adulthood, marriage, and any other major life event or passage. But there is one more occasion that made my heart sing! If at any time during her life the sister loses her way, falls short, forgets who she really is, and who she is meant to be, they circle up and sing her soul song to her because Himba sisters believe that change happens most when we remember who we are and whose we are. (The Dream of You, Jo Braxton, Forward by Ann Voskamp, pgs. xi-xii)
Recently, I had two strong women sing my soul song to me. Through divine intervention, God used my mother and a mentor in my life at just the right time.
My mentor listened without judgment or agreement. She validated, posed questions to challenge my thinking, but most importantly, these sisters reminded me of who I am, and to whom I belong. I have the most amazing, strong women in my life. I’m blessed. They speak truth and love unconditionally. This specific event was a miracle. My mom (my spiritual sister, too) printed out an old email with the mentor’s name on it. She said, to me, “Remember who you are, Anna.” I had wanted to call this person, and this was God nudging me. I waited a few days and called.
Her suggestions on how to approach the challenges I am facing were relevant and faith-based. I remember just sinking into her voice and being filled with golden nuggets of TRUTH.
Her questions helped me sing my song again.
“What brings you great joy, Anna?” “What makes your life overflow with gladness?”
I had been so caught up in the problem, I forgot the source or song of my great JOY!
We ended the time with prayer, and I hung up the phone a changed woman. My sister sang my soul song to me.
She also emailed me this prayer:
Please help me to rest in your happiness,
To allow a smile to linger on my lips,
To dwell within a wonderful memory,
To walk back through sunlit places.
Please help me to awake with hope,
To engage with life in all its variety,
To take in the beauty of others joys,
To touch the souls of those I meet with thankfulness.
Please help me to sing with faith,
To carry the truth close in my heart always,
To rejoice at new life and
To have peace as I age.
Please help me to indulge in love
To breath in the sweetness of intimacy,
To taste the kindness of friendship,
To feel the warmth of embrace.
Please help me not to miss
A single drop of heaven,
To catch each moment
And drink in the great joy of life.
– Offered by Steve Storck; from Living Prayers
Can you imagine approaching each day not only with great expectations, but to know you have sisters that sing your unique song when you need it most?
I catch myself when I try to change my song to fit in. I hear the judgment in my voice and in others when we criticize and gossip. What if that person’s song is their gift to you? It sounds different, strange, or irritating, but it is the uniqueness of them that brings a synergy, a collaboration that produces innovation and creation.
I’m challenged now to notice when I label someone and therefore create a bias that shuts off my willingness to hear them. In reality, we all need crucial conversations that support growth and change; but, how can we do this in such a way that is filled with honor, respect, and connection?
“A Course In Miracles says that there are two kinds of thoughts: attack thoughts or healing thoughts. During psychological or physical threat, attack thoughts come out of ego-based fear. Attack thoughts are of a vibratory nature that is not conducive to physical health. The Law of Resistance states that which you resist, you draw to you. Resistance creates persistence. That which is denied stays bound to you. Attack thoughts whether directed to yourself in self-condemnation or towards others always keep us stuck.” Lynne Namka
I’ll leave this post with an email/blog I receive weekly from Lynne Namka. This one came the day after I spoke with my mentor/sister.
A boundary is that invisible line that separates you from the rest of the world. Within your boundary is that personal space where you feel safe and secure. In healthy relationships where neither person needs to control the other, both partners have an understanding of fairness and the others person’s needs. They grant each other the right to have psychological space and look out for small ways to create happiness for the other person.
Abuse within a relationship can happen when appropriate boundaries are not set and kept. Status aggression is a concept from the animal-pecking order of some species using violence to establish dominance. Status aggression is the misuse of power where the older, larger or meanest person uses anger and rage to make others submit to his wishes because he can get away with it. Children learn abusive behavior from parents or siblings who get their way when they are aggressive. Unfortunately some of the children in the family learn that the angriest dog gets the bone.
Boundaries are needed when one partner tries to control the other. When someone invades your space physically or emotionally with discounting your needs, manipulation, bullying or abuse, your personal boundaries are violated. Power and force to get one’s way and cause the other person to submit are the hallmarks of boundary transgressions. When you give yourself away taking care of others without looking out for yourself in a relationship, resentment and anger can build up resulting in your feeling like a martyr and victim.
You have certain rights of being emotionally and physically safe within any relationship. Assertiveness is always about finding the balance between aggression and submission. Boundary violations happen when one partner does not accept responsibility for their own inappropriate actions and blames the other person for their own problems. Blaming the other person when things goes wrong is a defense mechanism called projection. It is a reversal of taking responsibility for one’s self.
My Wishes for You Regarding Healthy Boundaries
For Those Who Can’t Say No (And You Know Who You Are)
May you know your bottom line—what healthy behaviors you will stand for and what unhealthy ones you will not.
May you listen to your internal voice and gut when something radically doesn’t feel right for you.
May you get a reality check with someone whose clear-minded thinking you admire if you’re not sure about an appropriate boundary.
May you always set and stick to strong boundaries when others push past your personal comfort level.
May you know when you are doing too much for another person and are approaching burnout.
May you speak with authority to say what works for you and what doesn’t.
May you repeat your boundary statements in no uncertain terms if others shame you for speaking out.
May you know the difference between agreeing because you want to and giving in.
May you take an assertiveness training course if you don’t.
May you use your strong, firm voice to ask for what you want and know you won’t always get it.
People who can’t hear no and won’t back off because they believe that their needs are paramount are the bane of relationships. Without limits put on certain behaviors, selfish people sometimes increase their egotistical behavior.
Crossing of boundaries usually comes from errors in thinking on one’s person’s part and allowing those errors to become the RULES in the relationship. Cognitive errors are those irrational beliefs that people pick up and then live by. They create conflict in one’s life and in the lives of others. Children who come from homes where there is trauma, addictions and game playing have more cognitive errors and thus unhappier relationships when they grow up.
For Those Who Can’t Hear No (You May Not be Aware of how You Squash Others’ Rights)
May you undergo a study of errors in thinking and irrational beliefs so that you will gain happiness.
May you stop all words of blame and shame.
May you distinguish between what benefits you only and what legitimate needs others may have.
May you examine your expectations of others to determine which are valid and fair for all concerned.
May you listen to and respect the boundaries of others.
May you stop using anger to set inappropriate boundaries of your own.
May you learn about how the balance of power within a relationship benefits both partners.
May you learn the methods of fair fighting, conflict negotiation and compromise.
May you take the responsibility for observing and changing how you project your own undesirable behaviors on others.
May you explore topics of power, force and narcissism.
May you stop putting your time and energy into behaviors that do not bring you peace and love.
May you put strong boundaries on your beliefs about entitlement.
In healthy relationships each person has his/her own thoughts and feelings and can take responsibility for his/her actions. So ask yourself: are you really getting what you want out of life in terms of living in fair and balanced relationships?
You hold the key to happiness when you start taking responsibility for how you treat others and how you allow them to treat you. You and you alone can take the responsibility for healthy boundaries. You will be as happy as you are able to know and set appropriate boundaries and listen to those appropriate boundaries expressed by others.
My wish for you is that your boundaries be healthy ones.
This portion of this article is excerpted from my book, Your Quick Anger Make Over: Plus Twenty Cutting Edge Techniques to Release Anger.
Peace and joy,Lynne Namka, Happy Psychologist