Weak vs Strong

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If I want to let go of self doubt, I first need to define what I am doubting in myself and where it comes from. And it most likely comes from a judgment – but am I judging myself or am I projecting someone else’s judgment onto myself?

I’ve noticed that I start to doubt myself when I feel vulnerable and therefore weak. But it’s strange because I don’t see vulnerability as a weakness so why do I feel weak when I am being vulnerable? It is of course one of the most common misinterpretations that showing yourself vulnerable makes you weak, it’s why men don’t cry and why men think a woman who are vulnerable makes an easy prey and take advantage of her. But if you think about it – isn’t it more weak to not be authentic and to numb emotions because of fear of being judged as weak by others? You can’t be authentic unless you are vulnerable – you can’t make authentic art if you’re not willing to get undressed and embrace vulnerability. In fact, “vulnerability is where fear and courage meet” (Brene Brown). And a man who takes advantage of a woman in a vulnerable state is more weak because he’s going after an easy prey instead of showing her respect and empathy. To me, that’s so weak. To think you are strong because you take advantage of what you consider to be something weak. It’s also gross.

I started to think about how and when I feel weak.

I feel weak when I disappoint my parents. I feel weak when I am not perfect because I fear other people’s judgment. I feel weak when I can’t live up to other people’s expectations of me. I feel weak when I am sick or in a bad place. And when I feel weak I feel worthless, stressed, not worthy of love or happiness, I feel unseen, lonely, abandoned, unsafe and hurt. So basically – when I’m not ‘perfect’ in the eyes of others (especially in my parents’ eyes). That’s when I start feeling weak and worthless. Not worthy of love. That’s when I start to doubt myself – but since it’s very hard to be perfect and live up to other people’s expectations, I pretty much doubt myself all the time. No wonder I’m having a hard time with this.

So then I started making lists.

Lists of what I THINK my parents definition of when I’m being weak – but also how I define being weak. And I got some surprising results. Not only did I pinpoint their definition of a weak person (and it was so much to live up to in order to be a ‘good daughter’ – totally exhausting!) – but I also found that my own definition of being weak, had nothing to do with my own weaknesses. It really surprised me.

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Here’s my list of what a weak person is to me:

  • Doesn’t want to look at themselves on a deeper level
  • Scared of being authentic and genuine, scared of meeting their true nature
  • Afraid of the uncomfortable (confrontations, conflicts, difficult truths, emotional challenges, personal growth, change, bursting bubbles etc)
  • Unempathetic people or people not wanting or caring to connect with other people’s feelings, thoughts, behavior or situation
  • Opinions unsupported by knowledge
  • Losing oneself to other people’s expectations (yes, that I’m guilty of)

While studying these lists, I can see that I don’t share the same idea of weakness as my parents, even though I’ve tried to live up to their vision of what a strong person should be and look like. I’ve not been following my own ideals. I’ve been on the wrong path for so long – but what I relief that I found this realization so I can start following a new one. My own.

I have felt weak when I’m not living up to other people’s expectations even though I don’t share their idea of what those expectations mean to me. My state of perfection is not the same as theirs. My definition of weakness is not the same as theirs. My idea of strength is not the same as theirs. So why try to live up to a perfection that I don’t even feel connected to? I don’t even like perfection. In fact, I loathe it. Look at my art. The characters are all flawed. They are not perfect. Their skin is falling off, their features are asymmetrical, they have scars and wounds on their bodies and they sweat, bleed or pee themselves at times.

In Heaven Everything is Fine

“In Heaven Everything” is Fine by Mia Makila, 2012.

I have to stop trying to be the perfect me in the eyes of my parents, my audience and any other people – because I have my own definition of perfection, strength and weakness. I know my limitations and weaknesses and I’m working on them so I can overcome them, one by one. What more could be asked of me? Are the people who are judging me doing that? Are they working hard to overcome their own weaknesses and shortcomings like I am doing? Or are they judging because it makes them feel stronger? Do they judge others because they are afraid to be judged themselves? Or do they judge other people like they are judging themselves?

I will continue to work on this theme because it’s an important discovery that will liberate myself from other people’s judgment. Their judgment has been a dark cloud on my sky for so long, it’s time to clean the sky and bring back the clear blue colors and the warm light.

The meteorite

My collection of babies is growing…

My sleeping habits are back to normal and it makes my health improve faster. I’m listening to classical music and trying to relax as much as I can. Stress is a sneaky thing and since the physical symptoms are so connected to the psychological mechanisms of being under too much pressure, it’s hard to treat it with medicine – the best thing is to meditate and do the things that makes you feel good. For me that’s taking walks, listening to classical music, laughing, meditating, being creative and using my imagination, being around positive people and embracing the love I have around me.

My stress is so easily triggered when my trauma wound is exposed (PTSD is after all a stress disorder), when I encounter aggressive or highly negative energy, when I start to doubt myself and feeling like I’m not good enough  – so that’s what I have to work on right now. I’m so used to being judged by people (close to me) that I’m confused about the whole thing – for me being judged is the new normal and it’s become all twisted. I need to sort it out.

The self-doubt is without a doubt (no pun intended!) my biggest obstacle in order for me to reach the next step in my self-empowering process. It’s like this big meteorite that comes crashing into everything I’m building for myself. It’s destructive. Once I stop doubting myself, I will start to believe in myself more – and then nothing or no one can stop me from reaching any of my dreams and goals – not even myself.

From my own death to a new creativity

3 days until my love will come. I’m starting to feel like myself again, it’s a nice feeling. The seasons are slowly changing outside my window, it’s unusual cold for being the last summer month. I enjoy the cool weather. The grey skies and the melancholy. It feels like home to me.

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I’ve been resting for weeks or perhaps for a small eternity, that’s how it feels anyway. I’m tired of resting and watching TV series. But I’ve been studying art and I’ve thought a lot and hard about my own art. It’s been good for me. I don’t want to overthink things or to overanalyze, but it’s like with everything in my past – I’ve been going through life without reflecting on what my true voice sounds like because I have been so busy pleasing other people. I know that at some point in my career, I started to make art for my fans, for gallery owners and collectors, instead of making it for myself. Something that was so private and intimate suddenly became corrupt and compromised in public. I know exactly when it happened. Even which painting I was working on at the time.

This struggle to get back to my art, especially painting, has been long and hard. Just like a trauma can happen in a second but will take a lifetime to overcome, it takes a lot of time to heal a compromised creativity and an abandoned inner voice. I regret the way I deviated from my path to go where I wasn’t supposed to go. I got so lost. I ended up so far from myself. From the expressions I had inside but didn’t allow to come out. I got used to the resistance, to the silence of it, to the feeling of being dead and buried underneath the fear and the doubts.

From my diary 2011:

“It is more natural for me now to not be creative than to create and make art. My paint tubes and brushes are stored away in transparent storage boxes and waiting for this mental paralysis to be dissolved so I can use them again. So I can go back to how things were before.

It’s like all of me is stored away in an invisible, transparent storage box that separates me from my true identity, and from my desire to create. Like in a coffin, because I feel dead in so many ways. It is not an exaggeration or emotional debauchery – but an honest feeling rooted in my inner core. “

I know how it feels like to be dead. I know that the real death is not and the end of our lives but comes in the same colors and textures as life itself, but without your own sense of vitality. It doesn’t happen when you stop breathing, it happens when you stop believing in yourself, when you separate yourself from your core. And the way back is awfully long and painful.

At least I know what it’s like to die and to be awakened and resurrected, all in a lifetime. I have many important things to tell. I need to use that in my art. This phase of finding my true artistic voice after letting go of an older version is so unbelievably scary – you have no idea. But it has to be done. This process is just as private and intimate as the creativity itself. I’ll let you be part of it, but please know how vulnerable I feel to share these things with you.

But it’s an important and genuine part of my art and should not be undisclosed or forgotten. It is part of the substance to my future paintings and who I will become as an artist.

An internal war zone

I’ve been in bed for the last few days with a horrible headache and an overwhelming pain in my left jaw. Perhaps it’s a toothache or maybe I have a really strong case of a sinus infection, whatever it is it feels like my whole head is an internal war zone. It’s always something.  But I’m not letting this stop me from enjoying the happiness I feel inside. I have so many ideas for future artworks, I’m so inspired. I won’t let this pain or any money problems,  hormone storms or anxiety stand in the way of exploring all the good things in life. My art. Writing.  Pleasure. Love.  Happiness.  Success.  Just being myself.  I know it might sound like something obvious and natural,  but for me it’s been a life long struggle to be able to just be myself – all the way. I mean, without allowing other people to punish or censor me.

And at times when there hasn’t been anyone to punish me, I’ve punished myself. I’m working hard to break all those destructive behavioral patterns. And I’m making progress,  but it’s still very hard for me to just be myself and embrace love and pleasure without expecting a dark shadow hiding behind it. I thought getting over my traumas would be the hardest thing I ever had to do, but letting go of the fear of punishment and humiliation when embracing the good things in life is without a doubt the most difficult and complex process I’ve ever gone through.  People from my past manipulated me into believing that I didn’t deserve good things, that feeling pleasure and happiness made me into a selfish person. They made me believe that I should be shamed for wanting to be myself without apologizing for it. That wanting to express myself made me into a narcissistic attention whore.

I am sort of hoping this pain in my jaw is real and not some subconscious self punishment for being so very happy.  it’s a good thing that I’m doubting the pain like this, it means that the days of self punishments are over, that I’ve moved on – that I’ve moved passed their ridiculous manipulations. It’s a sign of growth.

The destructive doubt

Step by step, I am deconstructing myself in order to find understanding and acceptance. In each step, I am healing a little bit more. During a period of only a year or so, I’ve dismantled old survival strategies, destructive behavioral patterns, I’ve demolished false self-images, fantasies, old belief systems, I’ve explored and confronted concepts such as fear, guilt, shame, control, power, anxiety, worry, vulnerability, dependency, suffering, trauma, sexuality, trust, home, integrity, thinking styles, health, strength, awareness, destructive relationships, freedom, victimization, law of attraction, peace of mind, meditation, letting go, starting over, change, psychological projections, the core, self sabotage, happiness, creativity, failure, success, pride, connection, mental paralysis and passivity – and love.

It’s been hard work. A LOT of hard work. And after I’ve filled nearly 15 notebooks with therapy notes and self-therapy notes, in only two years – I’ve cleaned my inside from the chaos and pain of two traumas. The pain will always be there of course, but it’s not an active pain. I think I have to write a book about all this – I want to share my knowledge, especially with younger women who could identify with what I’ve been going through.

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My latest challenge and concept to break down – so I can get to the core of it and apply that knowledge to my consciousness and awareness – is ‘doubt’ – or self-doubt. And I think it’s the essential ingredient in most self destructive thoughts, behavior and perception. Whenever there is a doubt – there is a sense of loss. A loss of belief, trust, acceptance or faith. And if we’re talking about the belief, trust and faith in oneself, the doubt will lead to insecurities and suffering. It’s the moment where you start to doubt yourself that can lead to damaging decisions – or the consequences of not making one at all.

Imagine the doubt as a meteorite coming right at you. Now imagine its impact – and how it will change your thoughts, behavior and feelings just like a crater changes the surface of the Earth. The doubt-meteorite is an interruption of a flow of thoughts and behavior – and a disruption in our confidence and self-esteem. This is very destructive.

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The impact of the doubt-meteorie will create thoughts like “am I good enough?”, “perhaps their abuse is my fault after all?”, “am I really worthy of love and happiness?”, “could somebody really love me?”, “can I really do this?”, “what will other people think of me?”

Every doubt comes with a little fear. To overcome self-doubt – we need to examine that fear in order to rebuild whatever it destroyed inside us. Doubt can be good and can carry a lot of important information – like if we have doubts about a relationship, situation, a job or in things we know we need to change in order to be happy. But self-doubt is nothing but destructive. Believing in yourself and the things you do, will protect you from the any approaching meteorite inside your mind.