When you’re the target of bullying

We’ve talked about the energy of words and how everyone in the public eye has haters, but some creatives seem subjugated to a phenomena of bullying. This is an incredibly painful experience to have in life and while it doesn’t apply to some, there are those who have been nearly destroyed by this.

If you’re one of them, I want you to know that this post is written specifically for your heart, with compassion and respect for how deep these wounds cut.

Bullying sucks the Self out of you. It denies you the right to publicly define who you are. It makes you feel powerless, vengeful, furious, helpless, and often, as if there is something inherently wrong with you, but you can’t figure out what it is.

It sets you up as all alone against the world and makes you face difficult inner choices: do you shrink, hide, and keep silent, or do you lash out, fight back, and go down fighting? It makes you face parts of your Self that you wouldn’t face any other way, including all those voices inside that tear you down.

Part of the illusion of fame is that it asserts that you don’t struggle with self-worth. Ha! Where did this come from?! High-performing creatives by nature are sensitive, open, and deeply feeling people. You got where you are in your career because of your ability to feel and express emotion.

Many creatives are also empaths, which means they are exceptionally in-tune to emotional energy and highly intuitive. You often sense and “just know” things, and pay close attention to how you are guided. Emotions are your lifeblood, and the currency of your creative profession. If the phenomena of bullying has silenced you from expressing your true Self, it’s damaging your spirit.

You most likely cannot stop the bullying; but you can stop the damage.

~~~

Here are some things your soul needs to hear:

You could not have prevented them from choosing you to bully, and

there is nothing intrinsic in you that makes them hate you.

I know you have wept more tears than anyone will ever know trying to understand what it is about you that is so bad that you deserve this. I know the question “Why do they hate me so much?” haunts you. The truth is you do NOT deserve this. You never did. No matter what you did that may or may not have instigated their negative attention.

For the most part, bullies choose people who are brave enough to be themselves. People who are different. Smart. Talented. It’s the sensitive, feeling hearts that get targeted for bullying. When you are highly successful and excel at your craft, you also get targeted for being…Different. Smart. Talented.

But sometimes, there is no reason other than the fact that you just happen to exist.

I don’t care if you did something first that seemed to cause them to target you. You still didn’t and don’t deserve it. You do believe that, right? You don’t deserve this. Sometimes you make one mistake, lash out because you see yourself being drowned, and from that moment on your mistake puts you dead center in their cross hairs.

Again, they don’t see you as a real human being. But you are one. Whatever you did does not give them the right or the cause to hate and bully you.

This is all about their energy, love, not yours.

Unfortunately, once the energy of bullying begins, it’s nearly impossible to stop it. Efforts to lash back, resist, set the record straight — only fuel them. They can’t and won’t hear you. Any move you make will feed them.

~~~

What can you do to heal from this?

There comes a point where you have to let go of the idea that you will ever change their opinion of you. It’s not a defeat, it’s a choice. To disengage from their energy; to reclaim your own. You can’t stop them from behaving as bullies and haters. You can stop allowing them to beat you up inside your own heart.

How? By letting go of the belief that there’s something wrong with you. By letting go of the belief that other people define who you are. By letting go of the need to have them understand who you are. Bullies will never know who you are, and furthermore, they don’t give a shit who you really are.

There comes a point where you have to change your opinion of yourself.

 

You can become grounded and centered in your Self. Your true Self. This is where the work of reclaiming your Self is so essential, because for you to heal the wounds of fame, you must have a Self to heal. And bullying strips you of that self even more so than fame does.

But the truth is that Self– that feels so gone and so invisible –it’s still there, love. It is.

Let’s take your attention off of them, and turn it back to your Self.

Let’s look at where you can reclaim your power.

~~~

Believe in your heart that who you are is not who they make you think you are.

I know your brain knows this. I know your therapists have said it. I know the clergy and spiritual leaders you’ve consulted have told you. I also know that when others believe things about us loudly and long enough, we fall under their spell. We start believing them, even unconsciously.

So until you truly believe that they are wrong about you — absolutely, completely wrong about you — you won’t get your power back.

I know you try to hide how much this has hurt you. I know you do your best to live your life. I know that you won’t let them defeat you. And I know that deep down, you’ve been more hurt by this than anyone will ever guess. But you are not a victim. And you don’t need pity, just compassion.

~~~

Break the spell of beliefs.

There are, no doubt, specific beliefs bullies have thrown at you and cast you under. Things you struggle deeply with, and try as you might to not be impacted, those beliefs still make your heart contract in pain.

They are highly personal, and often humiliating to admit. I’m going to talk about some of the beliefs you may have. Remember, these things are NOT true about you, even though they feel true.

You’re mean, cold, uncaring, a bitch, an asshole.

You’re selfish and ruthless.

Your best is never good enough.

You’re so fucked up no one real could love you.

You’re a bad person.

You’re stupid, fat, out of shape, too skinny, too young, too old, too this, too that.

Your talent is a joke. You’re a fraud.

You’re too sexy, you’re not sexy enough.

You are not a loving person.

If you weren’t so fucked up, your marriage/relationship would have survived.

You let people down.

You’re not a good parent.

You don’t know how to love.

You’ve hurt people who’ve loved you, so it’s better if you don’t let anyone really love you.

You’re lost and you’ll never be found.

If people knew the real you, they’d never want you.

All of these sound like self-talk, right? These are the kind of things your inner critic whispers. These beliefs are transmitted to us by others; we take them into our hearts as truths.

They hold their power as long as we keep believing them to be true.

~~~

Left unexamined, they will forever be true. But when you surface what it is that you are believing about your Self, they don’t seem so true in daylight. Write down everything that you believe about your self. Good and bad, but especially bad.

Now look at each phrase and ask yourself where did this belief come from? Is it true? How do you know it is true? What would it mean in your life if it was not true?

Taken down to their skeleton of words, beliefs are just strings of words that we call thoughts. Thoughts we keep thinking. We assign meaning to them based on the emotional trauma we experienced when someone first said them to us.

They ingrain themselves in us as truth because:

1) We never stop to realize that we don’t have to accept them as truths and,

2) We replay them over and over in our mind until the groove is so well worn that just the slightest nuance of the thought leads us right down a predictable emotional response.

This is why remembering what someone said to you 18 years ago can put you into a depressed mood within minutes now. It’s an automatic response.

But it only has that power over you because YOU actually believe it to be truth.

~~~

Beliefs are not solid or permanent. They have to be continually kept alive by reaffirming them and by never challenging their veracity. Once you lay them out in the open, your mind has the chance to look at the facts, to see them without the intense emotion, to open up space for the possibility that they are NOT TRUE.

You heal your heart by healing your beliefs.

You reclaim your power to own who you really are when you stop letting these nasty lies go unexamined and you make them stand up to your interrogation. It doesn’t take much time before you will realize that so much of what has been cast on you by others is simply not true, nor has it ever been true.

You set yourself free when you wake up to your power to stop believing strings of words that have never once defined who you really are.

And then you start to fill in the holes left by these missing beliefs, by choosing new beliefs that DO assert your truth.

I know it’s all easier said than done, but I also know, love, that it can be done.

Reclaim your Self from these cruel lies.

You are worth it.

Privacy is better than sex

They have an insatiable need to consume you.

To stop and stare. To trespass. To capture you. To devour every aspect of your life, vomit it up, eat it again. They can’t stop watching you. They can’t stop following.

They can’t stop fabricating and believing lies about what you said, who you’re with, how you reacted, what you believe, how your heart is cold or broken or happy. They love you. They hate you. They take you.

They gnaw at the edges of every space you enter. They linger around the corner. They are always there. Waiting. Snarling. Salivating.

You have nightmares of being chased, cornered, attacked. You live with a constant sense of unease, mask on, shield up, this never-ending battle between what you will reveal, how much you can conceal, what they will steal.

Sometimes you wonder if there’s anything left of you.

~~~

No where is ever truly safe, though you put your trust in security and hope that those guarding you and your loved ones are strong enough to withstand the pressure to betray you.

The threat to your safety and your wellbeing is perpetual and credible. Sick, infatuated minds fixate on you. Unstable personalities. Unpredictable behaviors. Stalkers. Weirdos. Creeps. Lurking. Always. Out there. You never know how close they are. That thought never fully leaves you. Especially when your kids are with you.

People have no idea what it feels like to be one sole individual, no different from any other, made of flesh and blood, faith and fear — and to live at the mercy of millions. Naked and vulnerable. To enter any public space and have life freeze, people gawk and whisper. To be stared at is unnerving for most.

To have everyone stop and stare and keep staring, to have them assume that you in some way belong to them, that they have a right to you — is beyond unnerving. It strips you of a natural barrier that anonymity provides human beings. And that shifts your energy field.

~~~

Managing fame is all about managing energy. Yours and the masses. It’s about deciphering which energy belongs to you, which doesn’t. It’s being aware and perceptive to how energy flows, responds, and how you can shift it.

It’s about understanding your energy field and how you can expand or contract it, depending on what you need. It’s understanding how intrusion into your energy field — on a physical, emotional, psychic, or spiritual level — impacts your inherent sense of safety, and how prolonged exposure to intrusive energy can wreak havoc on your energy field.

In my healing work with combat veterans, my warfighters have had prolonged exposure to life-threatening environments. The sustained drain on their energy systems leaves them with energy fields that are quite literally riddled with holes. Permeable energy fields cause an inability to regain a sense of safety. Most don’t have a language to discuss this, but when we talk about it, it makes perfect sense to them and to how they feel.

Prolonged exposure to intrusive, threatening energy can leave your energy field in tatters.

Unlike warfighters, you already know how to focus your energy to perform. You know how to manage the energy on set/stage to deliver. You are already perceptive to intrusive energy from dealing with it day in and day out.

But you may not be making the connection between feeling drained, depleted, dizzy, lethargic, tense, sore, achy, “off”, moody, unmotivated, worried, unable to sleep, mentally cloudy, blocked, insecure, shaken — and the influence on you of the energy of your fans, followers, and haters.

~~~

The intrusive, threatening, persistent lack of privacy tends to shrink your life so that unless you are 100% alone in an unbugged, shade-drawn room, you are never free from it. (Kind of ironic that you spend so much time in hotel rooms, huh?)

What it does to your energy is keep you in a chronic low-grade state of anxiety –  even if you feel calm – your nerves, muscles, and spirit are in a constant state of tension. You are never fully allowed to be you, and this is crippling to the spirit.

Never having true privacy is just part of the cost of fame though, right?

Yes. But what you may not realize is that fame is traumatic.

Most people don’t truly grasp that because fame is supposed to be a positive thing, right? We don’t associate trauma with positive things, but it most definitely can be. When fame first hits you, it’s shocking, exhilarating, terrifying, alluring.

As with any prolonged exposure, after time you adapt and to some degree it becomes your normal state of being. But just because you get used to it, doesn’t mean it stops doing its damage. The fact that fame is supposed to be positive also makes it that much harder to confess that it’s suffocating you.

You may secretly struggle facing crowds, have anxiety when you leave your secure space, find yourself wanting to isolate or imbibe more. And, no doubt, try to hide all of this from those around you. If you are living in a quiet state of chronic desperation, you are not alone. And there’s nothing to be ashamed of.

Remember, it’s easy to fall prey to the illusions of fame that disallow you from struggling because everyone believes your life is too privileged for you to ever complain. Bullshit. Please don’t allow yourself to believe this.

How do you manage the intrusive energy of fame? How do you deal with the pressure of it? How do you not let fear make your choices for you? How do you deal with the way it has changed you?

~~~

Get clear on your calling. No matter where you are in your career, delve deep inside your soul and get clear on why your art is worth tolerating the intrusion and the security risks. You have to be grounded within yourself, certain of your calling and your purpose, in order to stand firm in facing this violent energy (and it is violent to the soul).

Let me tell you, it can’t be for the money and it can’t be because it’s what “they” expect of you. You have to be deeply rooted in your creative calling to justify these risks and costs to your soul. And that calling needs to be true and valid here and now. Not 20 years ago. Now. Dreams change. Creative callings change.

It’s important to know that at any point in your career you have the authority and the option to quit living your current story and change your life. You get to a point where quitting does not seem possible, the pressure so great, the expectations, the years of effort it took to get here, the sense that you’ve locked yourself in to something you can’t get out of, you can’t stop being your public persona, after all, fame will always identify your face.

But strip those thoughts away, all of them — and you are an individual with the right to choose how you will spend your time on this earth. You answer to no one but your Self. And yes, your soul and your life are worth forfeiting a career and fame and income if that’s what you need to do to reclaim your Self. So you can stop. It IS an option.

It would be a radical change, but don’t believe the lie that you are trapped. Contracts can be broken, income forfeited, marriages ended, lifestyles changed. You are the only one who can change your life.

~~~

Take care of your energy. The natural effect of intrusive energy is to confine, shrink, contract, make you smaller, cause you to hide. Your job entails that you step before the masses and be visible to millions. What you need to do, energetically, is visualize expanding your sense of Self so that you are vast and far-reaching. Imagine that your spirit reaches across continents, that you are not bound by time and space.

From this vast You, there is room within your sense of Self for millions of people AND for the real You AND room to spare for newness. By broadening the energetic borders of your Self, you give yourself more space and room to be. Try it. See how it feels.

Secondly, your tattered energy field can be smoothed and healed and repaired as a protective force field around you. Imagine that your energy field is a second skin that hovers about six inches away from your physical body.

Visualize calm healing energy gently pouring over your head and down toward your feet (think of it like a bucket of thick paint). As it moves toward your feet, it fills and repairs all the rips and tears and holes in your field, leaving your energy field whole, complete, and strong. Leaving you feeling calm and protected.

You can do this anytime you feel you are getting pulled off-center, or worn down.

You can also “zip-up” your energy field to close out the energy of others and protect your own. Imagine a zipper from your genitals extending to the crown of your head. Mentally or with your hand, “zip up” this force field to block others’ energy from entering your main energy centers (chakras). I am hypersensitive to others’ energy, to the point where even spending too much time in an antique or vintage retailer will overwhelm me. I zip up my energy and it prevents me from picking up the energy of the hundreds of people who owned the antiques.

Cut energetic cords. You have hundreds of thousands of people interacting with your energy whenever your work or presence connects to them. You also have a smaller group of fans fixated on you. All of their energy will congest yours and can make you feel dizzy, nauseous, “thick”, worn out, insecure, fearful, on edge, bothered by something you can’t pinpoint.

Be aware of the energetic influence on you and cut the cords from all the energy that is not yours. I take my hands and literally make chopping sweeps from head to toe about six inches from my body, and do this on all sides of me. You can do it mentally, the main point is to remember to do it.

Breaking these energy cords helps you reclaim your own energetic space. Be mindful of this especially during press tours, premieres, and anytime there’s spikes in publicity.

~~~

Ask yourself “whose feelings are these?” When you have the collective energy of millions impacting your energy, you will run into feeling emotions that aren’t yours. If you’re an actor, you also have the emotions of characters impacting you. Get into a habit of asking yourself “whose feelings are these?” when you’re upset, down, sad, angry, irritable, apathetic, discouraged, fearful.

Start separating out what you own from what you don’t.

A good portion of what you pick up emotionally is not going to belong to you. Recognizing that gives you back your power. Let go of what is not yours. Disown it. Refuse to carry what is not yours to carry. This can be incredibly liberating, especially when crowd sentiment is negative. You can do this with your characters, too, when they linger or when you’re disengaging from them.

~~~

Mindfully decide what fame is and isn’t allowed to take from you. I know you’ve tried fighting and resisting and have ended up battered and bruised and defeated. Fame is not an energy that you can overpower.

Do not try to fight fame. Instead, fight for your beliefs about who You are as someone entrusted with fame.

Fight for the small wins, the little ways that you decide you won’t let fame take control. Begin with your own mind. Where can you gain control by changing how you think about things? Start there.

~~~

Honor your wounds. This is something I teach my warfighters and it applies to you as well. It’s too easy to dismiss the reality of invisible wounds. It’s too easy to turn the true anger and pain and loss caused by the energy of fame into abusive, cruel, and incessant self-hatred, inferiority or rudeness to others.

It’s easier to berate yourself for resenting your fans, or fall into depression because you can’t reveal how vulnerable you feel, or be mean to people, than it is to squarely face the reality that fame has wounded you… and that you feel hurt.

There is no shame in feeling hurt and in being wounded. It is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign that you have been dead center in the midst of battle and you’re still in the fight. When you begin to accept the fact that you ARE wounded, and you avoid self-pitying narratives, you start to shift your energy back to a place of empowerment, and that opens you toward healing paths.

All he ever wanted…

I see a tender, compassionate boy who feels things deeply
And all this boy ever wanted was to tell stories on film
To be an actor. It lit him up inside.
So he gave himself to the world, open, daring, trusting
And they trampled him and tore him apart
and, laughing, left him to die.

But he didn’t die.

He got up and he fought
And he fought and he fought and he fought
Harder and stronger and more defiantly
Until fighting was all they knew him to be.
The people who said they loved him, hated him
The people who said they hated him, loved him
Soon, there was no one left
Safe enough to trust.
No one left
To see, that
He was just a boy who became a man
And all he ever wanted to do
was make art.

How to get your power back from fans and paparazzi

You lost your power to fans and paparazzi a long time ago. It may seem as if you’ll never get it back. But there’s a way to do so.

Your relationship with your fans is one of the most complex you’ll ever navigate. On one hand, these are the people who make your career possible. On the other hand, they are the people who make your life impossible. Fans adore you, fall in love with your persona, appreciate your work.

They also use you to fantasize, consider you public property, and are so blinded by the illusions of fame that they never see You at all.

Their presence sustains your career and intrudes on your most intimate relationships. You love your fans and are grateful for them, the best of them offer kindness, appreciation, and support. You love them, despite the way they back your life into a corner. Or, at least, you know that’s how you should feel.

What if all you really feel is hidden anxiety and underlying resentment?

The paparazzi lie in wait and hunt you down whenever they smell blood. They pursue you, trap you, chase you, harass you, and steal every moment possible. They threaten you and seem to have no limits or morality. They keep your image in the public’s eye and feed the insatiable tabloid industry. They watch you constantly and yet, they too, do not see You.

When you’re prey hunted by bounty hunters, and they intrude in the most personally meaningful moments of your life, expose your kids, threaten your family, and fabricate lies about you that everyone swallows as truth, how can you not feel anything but defensive, angry, outraged?

These people make you an idol and a target. They run you over emotionally. They take no responsibility for their actions or for how their actions impact your life. You are a commodity to them.

~~~

Yeah, but it’s just a part of my life…

When fame overruns your life, it’s easy to assume you have to be whoever your fans say you are. That effort to conform to their expectations, to live up to their image of you, wreaks havoc on your sense of Self. And it does more than that, it traps you in a prison that feels inescapable. Desperation sets in. You start to resent your life, but worse, you start to doubt your Self. Your right to be your Self.

And pretty soon you start losing sight of who you are versus who they have made you out to be. (We all know artists who, once lost, never found themselves again. Please know, if you’re reading this, it’s not too late.)

This turmoil can last years or a lifetime. Some people crash and burn with addictions. Others tenaciously endure and time creates some sense of equilibrium. A few find ways to make peace with having millions follow them. But for the most part, you resign to the fact that this is what life has delivered to you.

Accepting the fact that fans and paparazzi are part of your life is not the same as finding healing for the effects the tension, intrusion, threat, and resentment has on you.

~~~

You are worth more than what it costs you.

Here is where spirituality comes into play. And some would say that forgiveness is the solution. (Don’t click away yet.)

I know. The idea of someone suggesting you forgive them feels a lot like asking a rape victim to forgive his attacker. It just doesn’t seem right. Or just. Or fair. I get it.

I’m not asking you to forgive. In fact, I don’t believe in forgiveness as most people define it. It too easily dismisses the validity of the wound, the true depth of how a heart and soul and life were hurt. The old adage that “God won’t forgive you unless you forgive those who’ve sinned against you” just sets you up for depression. So, forgiveness is not something I will ever ask you to do. Don’t even try.

What I am interested in, is helping you get your power back. We are beings of power and love. Anytime someone hurts you, you lose a sense of personal power, of sovereignty. Revenge is often more about regaining that sense of power and self-determination than justice.

When I talk about power, I’m not talking about the desire to dominate or rule over others. I’m talking about your natural sense of authority over owning and directing your own life.

Underneath it all lies a sense of having been made powerless.

~~~

Getting your power back is about taking back control of your energy. 

You start by looking at who owns what in all of this. Fans and paparazzi are responsible for the energy of their behavior and the words they use. They don’t take responsibility and they most likely never will. Your legal team can attempt to help you regain control, but that’s not the kind of solution that is going to give you back your power.

What do you own? Your energy. And the right to choose how you will bring that energy to this world. Anger naturally makes you want to lash out and destroy those who destroy you. But you own how you respond. More importantly, you own how your response effects others and the ripple effect it has.

You consciously choose the energy that will guide your way of being in this world. 

And this is where, if you choose to be someone who lives your life predominantly empowered by the energy of Love, you change the game.

I’m not saying you need to feel love for these motherfuckers. No. Getting your power back is not about being nice or just taking it. It’s not about giving up more power and letting them thrash you to death. No. This is about you stepping fully into your power as a being of Love and Light to make conscious choices about how you will respond.

Before you start to think that “love and light” is way too mushy, consider this: every warrior that goes into battle goes into battle for one thing: love. Not love for his country, not love for freedom. Love for his fellow soldiers. That caliber of Love compels men to die for their brothers.

This is the kind of Love that is stronger than Death. And while you’re not going to die for your brothers, if your life is led by the energy of Love, you will kill the lies and limiting beliefs that need to die in you so that Life can flow, and the Light can return to your eyes. And you will live.

~~~

When you change your energy, you disrupt the cycle.

You start to live from a sense of compassion and generosity, you let go of scarcity beliefs and fear. You settle down into a truth that assures you that the integrity of how you present your energy to the world is more important than the quick satisfaction of lashing back or exacting vengeance. Your way of being in this world becomes more important than how they hurt you.

You may even get to a place where, without denying how they have hurt you, you change your side of the relationship.

I know… you don’t give a shit about the paparazzi’s lives. And there’s no way in hell you’re going to love them. But what if you broke the cycle of not seeing people for who they are, and you stopped and really thought about them as people? Photographers and reporters, right? They’re creatives. Fucking assholes, I know…but still… do you really think this is what they dreamed for themselves back when all they wanted to do was make art or show the world truth?

What if you meet them as human beings and turn the whole game upside down so disruptively that they forget they are being paid to get a shot at you, and remember the dreams they used to have for themselves?

I’m veering off, I know… but I want you to see that when you shift your energy there are new perspectives and new ways of being that can change the game entirely. Even if the only game that changes is inside your head.

When you move from an energy of Love, you reach beneath the surface and get real with people, you meet them at the soul level and THAT is where transformation happens.

And you have the power to do this.

~~~

How?

Get clear on how you really feel. Write down how they’ve hurt you, how they’ve made you feel, how you feel now. Pour it out. Don’t hold back. Cough it up. Every last thing they said and did that cut deep. Wounds cannot heal until they are acknowledged as wounds. When you can verbalize the pain, you open the wounds to the air of New Insight.

Sit with this, but don’t wallow. Let yourself feel whatever comes up, but just sit with it. Let it move through you. Walk it off, ride your bike, hit the gym, cry, play music… but don’t turn to drink or drugs. Don’t numb out. The emotions will pass. Once they do, re-read what you wrote.

This time, read it as if the person who wrote it (you) was your child or someone you love very much. See that person (you) with compassion and empathy for how and why this has hurt so badly. Look at it again, and see the beauty, resilience, strength, humanity, and courage of the one (you) who has endured.

It’s okay if all you still really feel is anger and sadness.

~~~

Realize that you can shift this. I mentor a lot of Iraq and Afghanistan combat veterans who are deeply wounded and deeply angry, and anger is an energy that stays as long as it supports or preserves you in some way.

When I was healing my Self from the energy of war and death while living as an ex-pat in post-war Bosnia in the early 2000s, I came to a point where I realized my anger (ahem, rage) at those who had committed atrocities was masking an enormous sense of powerlessness within me.  And to some degree, a sense of guilt that goodhearted world citizens have from not being able to prevent such crimes.

Under my anger, was a sense of helplessness against the immutable energy of human brutality, war, and death. The epiphany came when I understood that my anger was not doing anyone any fucking good. It seemed right and just, but no amount of anger or outrage would change what had been done. It was only killing me, diminishing my light.

Which brought me to a point where I discovered that I could choose to let go of the anger. Or not. But the choice was mine.

Up until then, I wasn’t even aware that I had a choice.

I was angry and, well, I was angry. I realized that I could make a conscious choice to let go of it. And that is what I did. Being a writer, I wrote a poem to myself, asserting my new choice, and read it over and over, for months. Willing myself to make that choice. Making the choice over and over. Opening my heart to life and healing. I kept at it. Until I lived myself into a new state of being.

The anger lost its power when I realized the purpose it had been serving. But the feeling of anger did not go away until I had re-trained my brain to not go there, to let it go, to choose a different way. It was like rehab for my soul (it was actually only a start, it would take years of wading blind through the darkness before I fully shifted my energy and found my Light again).

I realize that anger and resentment against fans and paparazzi is not comparable to anger and resentment against humans who use four-year-olds as human shields, throw their bullet-riddled bodies in muddy pits, then bulldoze them up and dump them somewhere else a few years later to hide the evidence. I get it.

But you know what? It kinda is.

Anger at those who have made us feel powerless to defend innocence (our own or others) is anger. The reasons why differ, but the way anger eats at the soul is the same.

You have a right to be angry.

You have a right to be free.

The choice is yours.

Yours. Not theirs.

Yours.

~~~

As long as you remain in anger, they hold energetic and emotional power over you.

When you hate, you give your power to the object of your hate. They grow stronger, you grow weaker, consumed by bitterness and resentment. It can feel like a trap that you can’t get yourself out of, a reflex that you can’t stop. But you can. It will take time, but you can reclaim the part of yourself that has a right to be at peace and move from a sense of expansion and generosity.

And it is critically important that you do. Not just for yourself, but for your kids, your relationships, your work. Your energy in this world matters, and when you are entrusted with being observed by millions, it matters even more.

Recognize though, gently, that anger is a sign of grief.

We focus our anger on whatever has taken something from us — our privacy, our honor, our dignity, our freedom, our beliefs, our sense of safety, our plans, our dreams, our relationships, our love, our trust — it’s always about loss. Anger is a safer emotion to feel than actually feeling the ache of loss.

So, we go there and we stay there. We fixate on the aggressor, on what they did/do, and what we really need is to crumple into tears and grieve what we’ve lost. To be held by someone who will hold us sacred. Because the pain is real. And pain has to be respected in order to be lived through and eased. Fixating on anger denies the true depth and reality of our pain. It keeps the soul stuck.

But you are the only one who keeps your soul stuck.

Let that sink in.

~~~

You are the only one who can be the hero of your own life.

You can’t change the actions of others.

You can change your response, but even more so, you can change your beliefs about your Self and life so that you are anchored in Something Greater Than You that holds you firm when others attack and battle against you. You can shift your energy to be predominantly led by Love.

This is how you get your power back. This is how you heal your relationship with your fans and paparazzi. This is how you heal everything.

You have to become very grounded in yourself, and yet, you don’t have to wait for that to happen to begin to shift your relationship with paparazzi and fans.

Begin by seeing them as human beings who weren’t always scavengers and shitbags. Open your mind and take a closer look.

They get a high and paid off of hunting you, baiting you, forcing a reaction from you. But if you look close enough with your heart you’re going to see them through the lens of compassion and empathy. Not because they deserve it, but because you can own compassion and empathy, you can choose to make that your dominant energy.

You may even see a version of your self that could have become reality if your life had taken different turns. You remember what it was like when all you had was faith in your Self, and how tired you got of getting knocked down and being the only one there to pick yourself up? (yeah, I know, that’s still you) What if you had given up? What if you had turned bitter at rejection? Hmmm?

See what I mean? Now,  what if you started meeting them as humans? I know, they won’t allow it and any attempts you make would just land you in some cruel headline. But this is about You. Not them.

When you start to do things because your soul needs to do them to Live, you take your power back and you reclaim your Self. 

What if instead of acting like prey — getting cornered, snapping, or hiding — you turned the tables and showed up as a human being who looks beneath their surface? What if you found such groundedness in your Self that you made it your mission to make a difference in the lives of these individuals?

Whenever you strip an enemy of their ability to dehumanize you in their mind, you weaken them. There are, of course, people so consumed by hate and the need to destroy in order to sustain their denial of their self-worth that they will never change. In war, those are the ones we take out first.

But, we’re not talking about war. We’re talking photographers and tabloid reporters. People who started out with some creative dreams.

You may very well be too hurt and too defensive to even give their souls a second thought. And it’s not your responsibility to save these people from themselves.

But it IS your responsibility to save You.

When you’re betrayed within your circle of trust

The larger your life, the bigger your influence, the more people the scope of your life encompasses, the smaller your circle of trust becomes.

I believe most people are good-hearted, well-intentioned, and don’t mean to hurt others. I also believe that money is energy and fame is energy. Combined, they create a magnet for those who lack enough faith in them Selves to create their own success — and so they are willing to take it from those who “have more than they deserve.”

Jealousy, envy, small-mindedness, lack of knowing how to own their own power, and entrenched beliefs in scarcity (there’s only so much to go around, I must take what is mine before there’s none left) drive people to target people in positions of power and affluence for their own gain.

As you’ve painfully learned.

The fantasy of fame and fortune lures lazy people who have no clue how much back-breaking work it takes to succeed in the industry. Perhaps if the public was made to sit through the endless hushed hours on set or the time spent in rehearsal, they’d think twice about envying a “star.” But, they don’t know that side of it. All they know is what they read in the tabloids and see in photo-shopped features.

The moment you achieve success, wannabes start targeting you. It isn’t necessarily fame that does this, but success. In any business context, it’s often who you know that gets you your next promotion or gig. Key phrase: who you know. Fame creates the perception among strangers that they know you, and for some odd reason they assume you owe them a favor.

I don’t think there is harm in being bold enough to put yourself forward and ask someone of influence to consider the merits of your work (as long as your work actually has merit). Boldness and authenticity are often what land people in the right place at the right time.

I also know that most highly visible creatives want to help authentic, aspiring artists find their way, when they can. There is, after all, a certain amount of karmic good you want to pass along for all the help and breaks you were given. That’s good. That’s necessary. Keep doing that.

But there’s a big difference between those who respect and honor you and those who merely intend to use you.

It seems when you’re famous, everyone wants to use you.

You learn to deal with the nature of this, figuring out which agents and executives you can work with, the coworkers you build rapport with; if you’re lucky, a few decent staff. And you live with the reality that people are always looking out for their own interests and wellbeing – it’s human nature.

Fame necessitates that you never fully trust anyone who has any financial interest in you or who stands to gain by you financially. Staff get enticed by paparazzi, cave to pressure, etc. Promises and contracts get broken.

What you don’t learn to deal with is the betrayal by people who are supposed to be your true friends, family, and lovers. People who are in your circle of trust.

~~~

Don’t get me wrong, people of all walks of life are betrayed by those they never thought would do so. It’s just that the consequences don’t become headlines. In most people’s lives, if a friend betrays their trust, or a spouse cheats on them — they can confide and vent to their colleagues, friends, family — hell, even Facebook.

The fact of being betrayed is not the issue here.

It’s what the lack of privacy and not being able to discuss how it impacts you does to your spirit.

Yes, you could pay a therapist and that might be wise if you find a wise one. But usually, you have to keep it all to yourself and what happens? It eats away at you. You depress your feelings, hide, put a smile on, and tuck that wound deep down with the others.

It never gets vented, it never gets expressed, you never get to talk about it over again and again until your mind can make some peace with it… it just gets stuck in you.

And your heart bolts the door.

Trusting someone who knocks on that door becomes scary. Perhaps even forbidden.

There is an almost indescribable aloneness that comes from this sense that no one ever wants you just for You.

How do you trust again?

~~~

When someone was inside your circle and that person betrayed you, or the spouse who has known you best leaves, how do you pry open the doors of your heart to open again?

You need to move the energy of the betrayal out of yourself, so it can air, and you can start to see the whole thing with a bit of objectivity. Journal about it, talk with your closest spiritual advisor, find a way to vent.

Two things happen if you don’t:

  1. One, your anger and resentment build and that person is given too much power in your life and mind.
  2. You turn on your Self and all that anger and resentment gets projected on You. It’s critical to lance a festering wound to relieve the pressure, get the toxins out, and allow healing to happen. Your spirit is no different.

So, start by moving that energy out of you. Get some perspective. Find someone who will help you see it with new eyes.

Then, realize that whether or not you open your heart and life again is a conscious decision only you can make. But you do need to make it. It doesn’t happen spontaneously. You can’t just wait for it to happen on its own. You have to decide. You can stay closed. Or you can open.

Obviously, opening involves risk. It’s scary. You fear getting hurt again. And it really is your choice whether or not to open your heart and life again. This is YOUR life. Staying closed is a valid choice, despite how everyone will push you to “move on.”

You need to move at the pace of your own soul’s creation. Part of reclaiming your Self is taking back the right to move through life at your own pace.

So, don’t rush. Don’t fear being by your Self. Let time unfold life for awhile. Let time unfold you.

And when you start to sense a longing to experience true intimacy (not just sex) and you start to get a sense that perhaps you could experience something deeper and better than anything you ever have before (no matter how good it once was)… that’s when you know that your heart is beginning to open to your brightest future.

~~~

Be brave enough to break your heart open and keep it open.

No one will be able to tell you if your heart is ready to trust again. And no one but you can fight your fears the way they need to be fought.

The moment you begin to contemplate opening your heart again, fear is going to disguise itself with predictable objections:

“You can’t trust anyone. This is the price you have to pay for this life. You were such an idiot. Don’t even think about trying because it’s pointless. You’re going to get hurt again. You were a fool, you got used, you were too kind/generous/believed too much in the good in others, failed to see the warning signs. Why didn’t you see the warning signs? What the fuck was wrong with you? How could you have trusted this person? You should have known.” 

You get the point. You berate yourself for being a fool and vow to never trust again, as if your vow can keep you from the humiliation and pain you have already been dealt. It can’t – let me tell you why. Because you were a good person being a good person and the OTHER PERSON chose to do wrong.

“He/she was the only person who knew me. I really thought he/she was the One. I will never find another who can carry the weight of who I am now, of what my life entails.”

If your spouse/partner was with you as you grew into your career, he/she was a witness to your journey, and he/she also grew into your life of fame. But now? Now you bring the full weight of fame with you wherever you are.

It’s hard to imagine finding someone real who would be willing and capable to shoulder that enormous weight, to have their life disrupted and intruded upon, to accommodate all that your public persona entails — and still be someone you deeply connect with and can confide in.

It just doesn’t seem possible and it doesn’t seem right to expect that of someone. Yes, you could go out with someone in the industry, they know the ropes and how the game is rigged, but your industry is small. The dating pool is limited. So you believe it’s impossible and so, it is.

Don’t get stuck in these limiting beliefs. One of the most beautiful aspects of being human is that we have the capacity to change our beliefs, our perspectives, our relationships. The spirit itself is malleable. It’s thoughts that become rigid. You can change your thoughts.

~~~

“God will break your heart open over and over and over again until it stays open.”

It may not be God, but life certainly seems to do that.

There is no doubt that when relationships end, it hurts. Even when you are the one to end it, and you know the decision is right for you, it’s still a challenging emotional journey to rebuild your sense of self apart from the relationship. It is an opportunity to find a deeper way of being in this world. And a deeper way of relating to your Self.

Endings are hard because they toss you into uncertainty,  shake you out of the trance of routine and give you the choice to open your life to someone new.

If you are telling yourself that your life is too big and heavy for someone to see and know the real you, to shoulder that weight with you, to be a partner who isn’t after your money or status, stop.

This world is full of incredible, amazing people. Open your mind to the possibility that that person may exist for you. It is entirely possible you haven’t experienced how good it can actually get.

Trust after betrayal comes down to making a conscious decision to reclaim your Self and make decisions that are for your own highest good and blessing. You have the power and the right to do that.

~~~

But what if the fear or risk just feels too overwhelming?

Let’s take a look at what happens when your heart is betrayed.

You go through shock and disbelief, anger and humiliation, and take action to ensure it never happens to you again. This action is usually some form of closing your heart, denying your Self its need for trust and connection, and a vow to never make the mistake of trusting again.

But here is where we confuse protecting ourselves with the fear of admitting we are, ultimately, vulnerable beings.

We deny our vulnerability by vowing to protect ourselves. We believe a vow or promise to never let it happen again gives us back some power and control. And, it feels like that. At first.

What happens is after some time, we realize that our vows have shut our hearts down, and in doing so, shut out Life. We’re safe, but untouched. We’re safe, but lonely. We’re safe, but unable to move past the pain.

We’re safe, but terrified.

I want to remind you, love, that in this life, you never have what you won’t lose.

~~~

The pain we fear feels so terrifying because we try to be strong enough here and now to carry something we imagine in the future.

We are never given strength for the future ahead of time, we are only given strength for this moment, now upon now.

But the fear can feel as solid as a stone wall. It can feel greater than us. The risk of getting hurt scares us so we disallow ourselves from trusting that blessings and good can exist for us out there. We forget about grace.

We forget that Something Greater Than Us has the ability to add compassion to the equation and lead us down paths that hold incredible gifts for us. We forget that we can choose faith over fear.

We forget, quite simply, that it is our choice to stay closed and fearful or to open up and choose faith in the Universe’s ability to lead us to our brightest future.

~~~

When you are betrayed, a sense of worthlessness seeps in, you lose perspective on your true value as a human being.

Too often, our stories that define us become rigid and absolute. If you’re not careful, the story you tell yourself around the betrayal will solidify into limiting beliefs. Your life will become smaller. What is possible for you will become less possible.

You will say No when your soul needs you to say Yes.

I know this fear, love, I know that when you have all eyes on you, your freedom to make mistakes diminishes. I know that a heart that is shut down withers, and that hearts that have been shut down can be revived.

Choosing to open your self, to risk appearing a fool, to risk getting it wrong again — this is a conscious choice. One you have the power to make for your Self. One that only you can make.

Don’t allow what the other person did rob you of your right to fling yourself at Life and trust that Something Greater Than You will catch you if you fall.

We are beings of Love and Power. We are tender and vulnerable. We get hurt and we hurt others. We are continually presented with the choice to open to life or shut it out. We open and close and open again.

Betrayal is all about the other person’s values; how you choose to let it shape you is all about yours.

Value your right to trust Life to hold you.

When you can’t get over what they say about your body

People who love you tell you not to let it bother you. But it does.

It can’t not. We’re wired to judge ourselves based on how other people respond to us. And when they criticize our bodies, we take it to heart. We are all judged for how our bodies fail to align to cultural norms of what’s attractive and sexy.

But you are expected to set that norm.

And when you don’t, or when your creative talent is dismissed because you are five pounds too heavy or too light, or when you struggle just as much as anyone else with post-baby belly or middle-age spread… it’s hard not to let that judgment turn into self-rejection.

There’s no doubt that the fantasy of eternal youth and virility is alive and well. And normal body changes and aging become reasons for all kinds of rejection. People laugh at you. The public loves to gossip about your appearance. And most of them are far from kind.

You need to realize (and I so hope you already do, love) that you will never look good enough so that all people think you do. People will always judge you by their own narrow definition of attractiveness. Always. Trying to be skinny enough, tone enough, buff enough, wrinkle-free enough, to keep people from laughing at you simply is a waste of your energy.

Your brain knows this.

Your heart does not.

~~~

The things said about you get to you. And you know what? They should.

Words are powerful and they hurt.  It’s dismissive of people to gloss over something that truly wounds the spirit by telling you not to let it bother you. Far better for them to ask you how does this make you feel and let you move that energy out of you, then remind you of your inner truths.

The reality is though that people are always going to talk about your appearance. You can’t stop people from making fun of you, judging you, or deciding that you do or do not fit their image of what’s attractive.

You can decide how much of your energy you are going to spend letting their opinions matter.

Being made fun of and getting the message that there’s something wrong with your body makes you reject yourself. It makes you feel unlovable. Undesirable. Oh yes, some of the most attractive men and women feel undesirable. Criticism makes you feel as if there’s something intrinsically wrong with you.

If you base your self-worth on other people’s acceptance of you, and they reject your body, it drives a deep wound into your spirit. Being rejected for not being sexy enough, or thin enough, or muscular enough, or anything-enough makes you feel humiliated and ashamed. It’s really hard to recover from that depth of injury.

But here’s the thing. When someone laughs at, judges, or rejects us, it only bothers us if deep down we believe them.

If we allow their opinion to define us. Unfortunately, most of us do. Especially when we’re young. I know from painful personal experience, how easy it is to swallow someone else’s opinion of your body as the truth about yourself.

At the same time, most of us are never satisfied with our appearance. Most of us zero in on the one or two things we can’t stand about our bodies and, really, often see very little else about ourselves in the mirror.

We have our own inner critic who is incredibly cruel.

The only hope of moving beyond what people say about our bodies and the beliefs they’ve buried us under, is to take a good look and see if we really believe those things ourselves.

If we do, do we keep believing them or do we try self-compassion and accept our bodies the way we do those of our dearest friends?

~~~

“God is in you, as you

We are all so much more than the sum of our bodies, and yet, our bodies are us. Someone said that “God is in you, as you.” As YOU.

You can replace God with the Sacred, the point is that we are each creative expressions of the Divine, and we are meant to be uniquely us.

The other reality here is that, at the end of the day, no one really gives a shit what our bodies look like.

They either like you as a person or they don’t. Obviously, if you’re an actor you may not get the part because you don’t fit the physical image of the character — but that’s part of business.

At the end of the day, though, your body is your body. You can craft, mold, alter it, enhance it, lose weight, gain weight, get work done — and it still won’t be good enough to make everyone approve of you.

So, the bottom line is this: who gets to decide at what point your body is acceptable? 

If you choose to alter it, who gets to decide when your alterations are finished?

When is being the shape, size, and weight that you are, good enough?

When is your current age the age you should look?

At what point, do you stop striving to look 20?

And, who gets to decide all of this?

What would it mean if you lived fully in the body you have now?

What would it feel like to just be you?

~~~

The amazing thing is that when people see others who reflect what they look like, they feel better about themselves. When audiences see “stars” who look like most people look, they feel connected to that star’s humanity.

And, more importantly, they see your talent instead of a “perfect” body.

The more real you can show up in your life, the more real your work becomes, the more impact you have.

Like everything else discussed here, reclaiming your Self is something only You can decide to do. No one else can do it for you.

Be brave enough to show up just as you are.

We need You, not a perfect body.

When you’re far away from your kids

Your creative calling claimed you before your children did.

But when that calling takes you away from your kids, you never feel quite right about it. No matter how much your head convinces you that your work is right, your heart cracks a little bit more each time you say goodbye.

There is no easy answer to this.

When doing your creative work means being away for long periods of time, it challenges so many perceptions and beliefs we have about parenting, children, about what matters most: quantity vs quality, etc.

And you never get used to your kids crying and begging you not to go.

But you have to go.

Not because you don’t have a choice, but because you won’t be you if you don’t live out your creative calling.

~~~

There are things we teach our children that are more important than the comfort of our presence.

Chiefly, how to honor their own callings in life. How to be true to themselves, even when it means leaving people they love.

Children grow up fast. And as parents, we tend to focus on the childhood with a deadline of 18 for us to teach our kids what they need to know. But the reality is your children and you have the span of your lifetimes to be in relationship. And relationships evolve. We need to remember that it doesn’t end when they turn 18. There is grace in that.

There is no getting around the truth that we choose our callings over our children. It sounds horrible, but most creatives are not themselves unless they are creating. And that calling runs deep and is insistent. It’s pervasive. You are compelled to create. It’s Something Greater Than You. Living out your expression of creativity is the expression of your existence in this lifetime.

If you’re like most creatives, you were already well into your career when you had kids.

There is cultural pressure that makes parents feel guilty if anything else in this world takes precedence over their kids. But I think we have to be true to ourselves before we can be good parents.

I think kids need to see their parents making art, being creative, earning an income based on creative talent, doing the things that make them come alive. I think kids need to know that the world does not evolve around them and neither do their parents. Children will by nature consume every part of you. But they grow up to be individuals who need to know how to be individuals in this world.

~~~

We also need to remember that in any relationship, it’s how someone feels when they are with you that matters most.

There are plenty of stay-at-home or work-from-home parents who are physically present with their kids, but create a stressful or negative environment. Being physically present does not guarantee that your kids are getting what they need from you.

Being a wise, mindful, caring parent from any distance does.

As parents, we live with a constant fear that we’re failing, that we’re not doing good enough. And this fear can leave you feeling defeated.

When I start feeling like this, I ask myself: Are my kids happy? Are they healthy? Are they learning how to be true to their own talents and interests? Do they speak their minds? Are they showing compassion and understanding for the world around them? If yes, then what I’m doing is good enough.

“Good enough” is key. To be better than good enough, to be great at parenting, we’d have to drop everything else we do and devote ourselves entirely to our children. Even then, it would not guarantee that we’d win best parent of the year award.

Furthermore, creatives are driven to create and we get pretty depressed and crabby when we deny that core part of us. What good would it do your kids if you were with them all the time, but hell to live with?

~~~

There is no right or wrong here. We each have to honor our own sense of who we need to be as parents and who we need to be as creatives.

But I do think we need to not let fear drive us or guilt us into thinking we’re horrible parents when our callings demand more of us than parenting does.

There are things on this earth that only you can do. Your creative work is one of them. And so is being a parent to your kids.

But being a parent doesn’t mean your kids get all of you.

You belong to many. Your presence on this earth is meant to bless many.

Children need to know that a life well lived is a life that stays true to its calling. Nothing short of that will satisfy. Nothing short of that is enough.

~~~

I know some of this comforts and some can be well argued. None of it makes your heart hurt less from missing your kids. They are a part of you and being apart from them is hard.

Not living out your creative calling would be harder.

Kids adapt. Ever notice that when you finally get home after being away, within 10 minutes it’s as if you never left? Your kids just carry on with their lives.

It’s who you are to them, rather than where you are, that matters most.