The Art of Getting What You Want

goal without plan is just wish

Hello, & happy Friday to you!

I thought I would begin this post with an apology for my sparse blog posting these days. I have been very busy lately with work and school, and have had very little extra time on my hands. The extra 30 minutes that I do find at 11:30 pm is spent indulging in the cooking channel shows I have grown to love (Beat Bobby Flay, Chopped, and Cake Hunters). Alas, I do try to make time occasionally to check-in and explore a topic of interest.

Today’s topic is: the art of getting what you want.

We all have things we would like to attain in our lives. Whether that is a new job, a stable and healthy relationship, sobriety, or self-love… it makes no difference. Anything that you want is fair game. So how the heck do you make this possible?

1. Define (very specifically) what you want. This is the hardest part of the entire process. We often aren’t sure what we truly want, and figuring it out is half the battle. Even once you think you’ve figured it out, it’s important to be able to specify your goal concretely.

Here is an example:

Let’s say you decide you want to be more happy. GREAT! That’s a nice goal to have. However, what does that mean exactly? What does that look like? What is making you unhappy right now? What would make you feel happier? If you could rate on a scale of 1-10 your happiness level, what would you rate it? Let’s say you answer with a “6”.

Okay, so you’re at a “6”. What would it take for you to be at a “7” in another 2 weeks? What would differentiate a “6” from a “7” on your scale. How would a “7” look different?

Let’s say you answer: Well, I think I would be happier if I made more time to go to the gym. I would jump to a “7” if I were able to commit to a 2-3 day work out regime per week.

Awesome! Now we’re getting somewhere. This is a great start to defining exactly what you feel is missing in your life and how you think you can begin to move higher up your happiness scale.

2. Prepare for Action. It’s not enough to just hope for something to occur. You can’t just say you wish you would go to the gym more often and then head back to the couch for a Netflix binge, hoping to feel accomplished and fit later on. If you really want something in life, you have to begin taking active steps toward achieving it. But this often brings us back to STEP 1. You might say you want to work out more, but not be willing or ready to give up your Netflix binges in your spare time. That’s fine then, keep doing what you’re doing. But if you truly want to move up a notch on your happiness scale, and you know what it will take to do so, then you need to ditch the couch and head for the weights. This is why defining what you want is the hardest part. If there’s a tangible way to get what you want, but you refuse to take the appropriate steps necessary to getting there, then are you sure you really want it at all? The most important thing you can do at this point is BE HONEST WITH YOURSELF. It’s okay to admit that you’re not ready, if you aren’t. Let’s explore that part then. Why aren’t you ready? What is stopping you? Are you fearful? What would make you feel ready? Are you waiting for something to feel differently? Are you waiting to feel desperate before putting in effort to change?

Work to understand your intentions. Work to understand your hesitations. Work to understand your fears. Once you’ve worked through all of this, you’re truly ready to prepare for action.

So you want to go to the gym more often, which you’ve concluded is a big factor to making you feel happier. Let’s do it then. Perhaps you’ll need to wake up an extra hour earlier on days you want to work out, so that you can fit your gym time in AND get your Netflix fix later. Set your alarm! Understandably, this might also mean that you should get to bed earlier the night before. If you’re drowsy all day from getting up early, you probably won’t feel motivated to work out or even continue with this new routine. FORESEE COMPLICATIONS, and PLAN AHEAD. Have the proper workout attire, eat the proper forms of energy before and after your exercise, etc. Try to make this new experience as pleasurable as possible for yourself, so that you’ll want to continue with it.

You’ll soon realize that it doesn’t take much to move up from a “6” to a “7”. All you had to do was define and conquer.

3. Remove Obstacles. If you are aware of your potential setbacks, do everything in your power to remove them from the equation. To allow the obstacles to get in the way of your goal (when you in fact have the ability to remove them) is a deliberate attempt at sabotaging any progress you’ve made. You need to realize the power that you, yourself have in making your goals a reality. It’s up to you whether you will make choices that will propel you in the direction of your goal. Reaching a goal is hard work, and honestly takes a lot of mindfulness. Unless you are ready to be mindful and dedicated, you will likely not succeed in getting what you say you want.

For example, if you know that a cold house will be an obstacle to you getting out of your warm bed earlier in the morning, then set your heater for a few minutes before you wake up. Remove that obstacle. If you know that you’ll be scrambling to make it to the gym in time once you wake up, set your clothes out the night before. Plan on eating a quick breakfast, and have a quick breakfast at-the-ready. Give yourself no excuse for failing.

4. Follow Through. The last phase to most great things, is always a “follow through”. By this we mean, keep on keeping on. You made the first 3 steps, and you’re killing it so far. DON’T STOP! Do not try to rationalize why slacking off is now acceptable. Unless you are ready to move from a “7” back down to a “6” on your happiness scale, then “slacking off” should not be in your vocabulary Does this mean that you’ll never have a week where you don’t make it into the gym? NO. Of course you will falter from time to time (since you’re human)…but at the end of the day, the objective is still the same. Don’t lose sight of your direction. As they say, ‘relapse’ is a necessary step to ‘recovery’. It’s okay to falter. Don’t be too hard on yourself. But get back on track as soon as you can, and remember why you began this change in the first place. It’s what you wanted. It’s what you chose.

The only thing in the way of getting what you want in life is you. If it’s possible, then make it a reality. Your decisions and behaviors can catapult you there, if that is what you choose.

 xx allie


The AA Movement


As most of you might already know, I am in graduate school studying to earn my MS in Counseling Psychology with an emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy. As part of my program, I am enrolled in a Substance Abuse and Dependency course that requires me to attend at least one Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meeting and one Narcotics Anonymous (NA) meeting.

In the past week, I have attended two AA meetings and one NA meeting.

While I walked away from each meeting feeling like a better person than I did when I entered, the Friday night meeting felt the most impactful to me. This meeting was an AA open speaker meeting, scheduled for 8pm this past Friday. Coincidentally, 8pm on a Friday night is a typical hour for people to begin to ‘turn up’ and pre-game before hitting the bars and clubs. But not here. Not at this church. A community of over 200 people joined on this night to celebrate the ‘birthdays’ of alcoholics.

What is a birthday of an alcoholic? It is another year of sobriety. It is another year of willpower, temptation, good days, bad days, cravings, and mastery. Mastery of another year without a sip of alcohol. Mastery of sobriety.

At the beginning of the meeting, the speaker asked all alcoholics to raise their hands. Every person in every pew raised their hand. You wonder, how do all of these beautiful humans walk among us and work beside us, without us having any knowledge of their membership to the AA program and the insane struggles that they have faced? There is an entire community of alcoholics that are a large part of every city, and the average person exists entirely devoid of this knowledge. We are naive to it. We are ignorant.

I was moved as I watched individuals of all ages, ethnicities, and professions blow out the candles on their cakes and proceed to tell their stories. These people were mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, uncles, aunts, grandparents, etc. Drug dependency is no respecter of peoples. It can affect anyone, at any time.

But what was amazing to me was the camaraderie that had been formed amongst all of these people with a common desire: the desire to live. The desire to gain their lives back. Here they had come to make, quite possibly, the toughest decision of their lives. The decision to abstain from a substance that had succeeded at running (and ruining) their lives. Here they had come to gain control back. To take the control away from the substance and to work hard to live a clean and sober life that at first felt unfamiliar, vulnerable, and scary. Here they had gained the support that they lacked, when they lost all of their family and friends from their addictions.

One of the hardest things that all AA members must come to accept is the notion that “once an addict, always an addict”. An older gentleman was 33 years sober, and yet still an addict. One lady said in her speech–“I will be an addict until the day they lower me into my grave…but the one thing I will not be, is a drunk”.

One addict explained how, even after 9 years of sobriety, every time he walks through the liquor aisle in a grocery store it feels like he is walking through an aisle of explosives. He then went on to say that he fears the day it ceases to feel that way, as he knows it will be a very bad sign for him.

He mentioned that alcohol continues to come up in a number of life scenarios. People cook with alcohol. There is alcohol in medicines. Do these things count for the alcoholic? It’s a fine line, but it’s questionable. Addicts must be mindful and wise in their decision-making if they do not want to relapse.

It felt ironic that alcohol could be the absolute enemy for all of these people in the church that night, while at the exact same time, hundreds of other people would turn to it as a way to unwind from the week and let loose. Alcohol is powerful. As one alcoholic put it, “choosing to drink is like playing with fire”. It’s never a problem at first, but eventually things can get out of hand. Before you know it, you hit bottom and lose everything that matters.

It is because of programs like AA and NA that people get their lives back. Alcoholics Anonymous instills hope. It brings about change, and positivity. It is a catalyst for miracles to occur. AA is a community of love, faith, non-judgment, and friendship. AA meetings can be found in every 5 mile radius, nearly every hour of the day. It is ALL OVER, and widely available. These meetings will gladly welcome anyone, and everyone. It is a movement…and an absolute beautiful one at that.

Although I am not an alcoholic myself, I have been able to gain a great deal of insight and perspective from the meetings that I have attended. And even though I have fulfilled my requirement for my course, I intend to continue attending meetings. They make me want to strive to be a better person. They put life into perspective, and remind you just how fragile it can be. These meetings give us reasons to be thankful for wherever we are at in our lives. I think that if more people (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic alike) were to attend these meetings, the world would undoubtedly be a better place.

I encourage you to step out of your comfort zone, and attend one. You will be surprised what you can learn from others.

xx allie

Temptations, Declined

Addiction Journal Entry #2


What’s up guys?! Here’s a little update on how my abstinence from chocolate is going thus far:

It’s been since January 1st (with one slip on my 25th birthday party) that I’ve abstained from eating all forms and amounts of chocolate. And although I slipped on one day, I feel rather proud of myself so far. The day that I slipped, I indulged in a small portion of chocolate (a small M&M/Oreo McFlurry from McDonalds, a literal sip of hot chocolate, and about half of a small slice of marble cake). I wouldn’t even consider it a “relapse”. Since then (which was January 6th), I’ve been exceptional about refraining from chocolate [if I do say so myself].

Since I am so in love with chocolate, a sugary sweet that does not include any chocolate is barely worth my time; I hardly have any trouble rejecting offers of other types of sweets. Because of this, there are many things that I’ve been able to reject effortlessly, including but not limited to ice cream, pastries at the office, rich Jamba Juice shake flavors, and carrot cake cookies brought into my Diagnostic & Therapeutic Interviewing class. Overall, my diet has improved substantially since I’ve begun to restrict chocolate, and (surprisingly) most other sweets as a result.

I have, however, been satisfying my sweet tooth in SOME ways. Let us count them:

Jamoca flavored ice cream from Baskin Robbins–Noteworthy is the fact that I visit Baskin Robbins now WAY less often than I used to. Before committing to this assignment, I would generally visit the ice cream store 2-3 times per week. Now I go about once every 2-3 weeks. I also used to order at least a single scoop (sometimes a double), but now I only go for the kids scoop, since Jamoca isn’t tantalizingly good enough to eat more than that.

Baklava—Random, I know. Guess I’ve tapped into my middle eastern roots a bit with this one. I really love the spices and flavors of baklava, and I’m able to buy it fresh from our local Persian market. I only have a bite in order to satisfy my sweet tooth, and it works every time.

Iced dirty chai from Starbucks, only half the normal pumps of chai, nonfat milk, and EZ ice—To be honest, I don’t feel too guilty ordering this drink. I used to indulge in salted caramel mochas…so this is a much better option.

Medjool Dates—I consider these God’s candy. They are the sweetest, most naturally sweet and organic thing I’ve eaten. One date gives me all of the satisfaction that I need.

Blueberry Muffins—I hardly count this, as I’ve only eaten a total of 2 in this time-frame. But since I had never chosen blueberry muffins prior to this assignment, I figured it was worth mentioning. The blueberry muffin option is a fast way for me to grab breakfast from Starbucks in the morning, while satisfying my early craving for sugar and adhering to my disciplined chocolate detox.

Overall, chocolate has been less pervasive on my thoughts, and the cravings for it have begun to diminish (except, of course, during my time of the month) —-the struggle was real, as I’m sure you could imagine.

Well, that’s all I have for today! Hope you enjoyed this follow-up.

xx allie

Mind the Grey

dead flower

We broke new ground in my therapy session yesterday. For the first time ever, I was given a homework assignment at the conclusion of my hour: write a blog post on “the grey area of life”. Upon receiving this instruction, I beamed with excitement. Finally, the perfect opportunity to demonstrate what I’ve learned from the session and how I can apply it to my life. Any homework assignment that involves personal reflection and self-expression is one that I will readily take on with open arms. I have always loved to write, as I find it therapeutic and insightful. This assignment proved to be no exception.

If you’ve ever known a perfectionist, or if you consider yourself to be one, then you are probably aware of how invasive the desire for ‘perfection’ can be.  It has the potential to penetrate any number of areas of your life, whether it be your career, your education, your family life, or your romantic relationships. You start to notice distinct black & white thinking. If something isn’t perfect, then it’s no good at all. You choose to remove it from your life as best you can. But herein lies the problem. Nothing in life is perfect. Life is messy and unpredictable. Expectations are not always met, and disappointment is inevitable. When you limit yourself to accepting nothing but perfection, you limit your life to few possibilities. And of those possibilities, the options become even more obscure as life continues to muddy the waters further. Even if something appears to be ‘perfect’, it may not always exist in a perfect state. The perfect person makes mistakes. The perfect flower ultimately shrivels and dies. The perfect day turns into night and then vanishes forever. Perfect is not a reasonable standard. There is room for imperfection. There is room for the grey.

If you begin to compartmentalize the world according to black & white, you’ll soon find that many things do not fit well into either category. A third category begins to outweigh the other two: the grey category. Life isn’t as concrete as we hope it to be, and sometimes all we can do is accept it. I don’t believe in standards being too high, but I do believe that standards can be too extreme. And unfortunately, I’m beginning to think that I’ve set too extreme of standards with little room for imperfection. Maybe it’s in my nature…or maybe it’s from my upbringing.

I remember when I was little (and even to this day), being limited to the types of trash that I could throw in my father’s waste basket in his room. No food, no crumbs, no dirty tissues, and no crumbled up papers. All disposables for that trash had to be neatly folded papers. He was anal, and had extreme expectations for perfection. I remember being warned not to eat a tic tac even 2 hours before dinner since it would “ruin my appetite”. I remember being scolded for trying to draw lines free-handedly on my projects. “Don’t you want it to look nice and neat? Don’t you want it to look like you spent time on it? You need to use a ruler”. I remember being forbidden to ride on a school bus in the rain (on account of the danger), causing me to miss out on class field trips with my friends. I remember coming home from school, excited to share a “B+” grade, only to be asked why it wasn’t an “A”. So maybe it is a bit of nature…but my suspicions tell me it’s nurture.

I have been programmed to strive for perfection, and to look for perfection in everything I do and in everyone I know. And while in many ways this is a blessing, it has also doubled as a curse. I have scared away many good people from my rigid judgements and extreme expectations. I have discounted the good because it wasn’t good enough. I have allowed myself to feel disappointed from people and things that have not even truly been disappointing. I have allowed myself to dwell on the future and fear imperfection, rather than revel in the present and appreciate the now.

So I challenge myself to mind the grey; to accept the fact that the world is imperfect, and that many things in life will not be black or white. I challenge myself to get comfortable with grey areas in my life, and to find the good in even the things that aren’t the exact way I wish them to be. I challenge myself to be mindful, and to seize the moment without the mistake of tainting it with flawed and senseless suppositions of the future. A friend at work once told me of her favorite quote, which resonates nicely with the theme of this post: “Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good”. I challenge myself not to.

xx allie





Bad Days

bad day 2

Humans are not infallible. That’s what makes us human. We have bad days. There are days that we wish we could quit. Forgo all of our responsibilities, retreat back to our bed, pull the covers over our heads and press “reset”. But life doesn’t work that way.

So instead, we do our best to pull through. To continue to do everything we planned on, despite the dull feeling in our chest and our sudden onset of demotivation. Despite the starkly opposing good moods we come across during our day, and our intense effort to tiptoe around them without causing harm.

On these days, antidepressants don’t seem to do the trick. The dosage hasn’t changed, but yet something seems off. You recall once again what it feels like to feel. What it feels like to hurt. These are the days that the medication ceases to matter, and we are put to the test. It can’t take away reality, or even diminish your experience of it. It just sits dormant in your system–as if every active particle running through your veins slows to a halt and descends to the bottom-most layer of your being. Maybe tomorrow they’ll pick back up again. Maybe.

But today, you go back to feeling. The pain a band aid makes after it’s been ripped off your supple flesh. Not the immediate sting, but the throb that follows it. The throb that withstands, until it finally diminishes to nothing but a memory. A memory you hope to never relive.

Depression is the ugliest monster I know. It lurks and taunts you from time to time, just to remind you that you are not infallible. That you are human. And while sometimes I loathe its existence, other times I take a moment to cherish the ability to feel so strongly. To relish the very assets that make me feel alive. Because good days cannot truly exist without the occasional bad day. Because the range of human emotion is what makes the experience of living so intimate and formidable. And because perhaps my appraisal of this experience means more holistically than the experience itself.

xx allie

Predicting the End.


Oftentimes, relationships last in what people call “the honeymoon stage” for 6 months to a year (in my experience). When the excitement wears off however, the relationship can often turn sour rather quickly.

As an undergrad that double majored in Psychology and Communication, I spent a good deal of time studying relationships, and the ways individuals communicate to effectively (or in many cases, ineffectively) get their messages across to their partner. One of the most monumental researchers I learned about in school, Dr. John Gottman, has been of particular interest to me both within the realm of academia and in my own personal experiences or observations of others. Dr. Gottman has an approach to describe communication styles that can predict the end of a relationship. According to his research, there are four telling communication patterns that, when combined, lend themselves to what he calls the “Apocalypse of” the relationship.

Let’s look more closely at these 4 patterns:

  1. Criticism

Criticism is not the same thing as simply voicing a complaint. It is a personal attack that is not necessarily specific to a thing/behavior that your partner has done, or a mistake that they’ve made. Criticism of this sort involves dismantling your partner at their core, aggressively speaking to their character, or personality as a whole.

  1. Contempt

Contempt is an extremely volatile way of speaking to someone you care about. People that speak with contempt mock their partners, ridicule them, call them names, mimick them, eye-roll, or display other degrading body language to make their point. When people speak with contempt, they undermine any efforts they have previously made with their partner to show respect. Contempt is the ultimate way to degrade a person, thereby bringing their spirits down. Believe it or not, couples that are contemptuous of each other are more likely to experience illness as a result of a lowered immune system. So not only is contempt emotionally painful, but it also doubles as a hazard to your health. According to Gottman’s research, contempt is the greatest predictor of divorce in a relationship. If you are experiencing contempt in a relationship, it is important to recognize this pattern and communicate to your partner about the danger of continuing to argue in this way. If the contempt continues for much longer, it can only further erode at the relationship and wither any chances for improvement.

  1. Defensiveness

It’s safe to say that we’ve all been defensive at some point in our lives. However, this begins to be a problem when you are confronted with a form of defensiveness any time you try to voice your frustration, make a complaint, or describe your feelings about something. When people make excuses for their behavior, they are unwilling to take responsibility for something they may have been able to handle better. They are not validating their partner’s concerns or emotions, and find a way to turn the tables and blame them instead. Defensiveness is a roadblock for making progress. No progress can ever be made when someone is not willing to admit there was a problem that could have been avoided or diminished, and therefore not open to making changes for a better result in the future.

  1. Stonewalling

Last but not least is stonewalling. This phenomenon occurs when one partner decides to suddenly withdraw from the interaction. They shut down and close themselves off from the other partner. They refuse to answer or respond to anything that is said to them. It is as if a stone wall is standing between the couple. Obviously, this is not an effective way to communicate, as it disallows the couple to engage in a conversation that is validating and effective to fixing the problems at hand.

Why am I bringing this up? When we notice that a relationship is starting to veer off course and go downhill, we often panic and scramble to fix things at all costs. Our desperate attempt to ameliorate our issues immediately may result in worse problems. Patterns don’t fix themselves over night. Big changes take time, patience, and persistence. But, if you are able to notice negative relationship patterns ahead of time (and possibly before they become damaging enough), you may still have time to stop them in their tracks. Being knowledgeable and informed about these styles of communicating can help you when you’re confronted with a difficult situation and just want to feel heard. The most important thing to remember is to speak to others the way you would want to be spoken to. It may sound intuitive, be we often forget about this simple notion when we are in the heat of the moment. Have respect for people, and show your respect through your actions and behaviors. Thinking before you speak can only ever result in a better interaction. If you work on your patience, and will power to refrain from saying hurtful things while feeling worked up, you will notice your relationships drastically improving over time.

Words can be like daggers. You can really hurt a person by the things you choose to say. Some words leave scars, which may take a very long time to heal. Before leaving those scars on another, take a moment to consider whether your word choice is carefully selected, accurately portrays how you feel about someone, and is what you are trying to say. Will your message come across effectively? Do you think you will be heard? Will you be deliberately hurting someone in speaking your mind? There are many things to consider, and often not a lot of time to do so. So be careful what you choose to say. Your diction and delivery are everything.


xx allie

Life on Life’s Terms


God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;

courage to change the things I can;

and the wisdom to know the difference.

The serenity prayer has helped millions of recovering alcoholics to accept life on life’s terms, and cope with the everyday struggles that are sometimes out of our control. Whether you are an alcoholic or not, chances are that you could also benefit from the teachings of the 12 Step Program. I am lucky to say that I have never struggled with having a problem relating to alcohol, but I have a whole heart of compassion for the people who have. I honestly believe that the 12 step recovery process is a life changer for anyone (alcoholic or not) who commits to the principles and seeks to live a satisfying, honest, and accepting life.

Undoubtedly one of the most difficult things to accept in life is that there are many things that we have absolutely no control over. It is important to recognize those things, and learn to accept our powerlessness over them. We should expend our efforts and energy towards the things that are within our control, allowing us to reach a greater level of satisfaction, pride, and meaning once our influence has proved successful. Learning to live life on life’s terms means that you are willing to accept the ups and downs that the universe delivers, without putting up resistance or acting out as a means of coping.

I recently starting reading the NY Times Bestseller, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck by Mark Manson, and despite what you may think from the title, it’s actually been a pretty eye-opening read. The premise of the book is that life sucks sometimes, but it’s better to just admit it, shrug your shoulders and get over it. Manson says that we should really stop kidding ourselves and acting as though nothing but positivity surrounds us. He says we should just honor the fact that the world is shitty, and then make the most of what’s left of it. In other words, accept life on life’s terms. It’s important to remain level-headed through all of life’s shitty, unfair moments, and continue to give fucks about only the things that truly matter. Be honest with whatever your situation, and be honest with yourself. Life gets better once you accept the things you cannot change.

xx allie

You Look Tired Today


You hit the snooze button for the third time this morning, and roll out of bed. You forgo your eye shadow for today,  scarf down your half toasted bagel, and run out the front door leaving your packed lunch behind absentmindedly. Despite the struggle being real this morning, you make it to work on time. As you are about to pat yourself on the back in your mind, your coworker leans over your desk and says, “You look tired today”.

If you’ve ever be told this line, then I feel your pain. WHAT? I am sorry to say that unfortunately this blog post is going to be somewhat of a rant. Personally, I feel that this comment is entirely inappropriate for a number of reasons. Let us count the ways.

  1. Excuse me, but did I ask you for your opinion on how I look today? Was your feedback welcomed in any way? If I didn’t ask, then maybe it’s because I don’t care to know. And who made you the expert on what I should look like, and whether I’m up to par with your expectations?
  2. I look tired, you say? Oh really? What gave it away today? Was it the bags under my eyes? My messy, half put together hair? My outfit choice? Am I pale? Do I look sick? Do I look like shit? Thank you for noticing. Something about me is not right, which is why I look tired today according to you. Well, out with it! What are you trying to tell me exactly?
  3. Okay, so I look tired. Is there something you want me to do about it? What’s the point of telling me this, other than to make me also FEEL like crap in addition to looking like it?
  4. How am I expected to respond? I immediately feel awful now that you think I look tired. Should I make up an excuse for a reason why? Should I agree that I put little effort into my appearance today? Should I go in the bathroom to reapply my makeup? What is the proper response? TELL ME.

Okay so basically, a word to the wise: DON’T ASK THIS QUESTION TO ANYONE. It’s just not nice, and doesn’t come across well. If you think a person looks tired, maybe just keep that thought to yourself. Save your personal feedback for positive affirmations and compliments. Build the world up, don’t knock it down. The world is tough enough without you telling people that they look tired. End rant.

xx allie

On Integrity




noun: the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness.

Synonyms: honesty, probity, rectitude, honor, good character, principles, ethics, morals, righteousness, morality, virtue, decency, fairness, sincerity, truthfulness, trustworthiness.

As I grow older, I am discovering the value of integrity in others. Not every person we meet has integrity. Not every person we meet is authentic, and true. There are many people who struggle with being honest and trustworthy. There are many people who feel a strong need to fabricate in order to win acceptance from others. Unfortunately, (or fortunately) the truth is often uncovered, making the acceptance and belonging that was so sought after, virtually unattainable.

As social media becomes more central to society, it seems that integrity as a trait is declining. Now I don’t have proof or statistics, but I’m just describing an overwhelming observation.  More and more people are beginning to obsess over how others see them. More important than the true nature of a person, seems to be the façade that they create for themselves and protect at whatever cost or expense.

What exactly is a façade?

Façade: an outward appearance that is maintained to conceal a less pleasant or creditable reality.

What’s more, they are more or less unaware of (or in denial about) how unauthentic they are being. Not only are they not being honest to others, but more importantly they are not being true to themselves. What happens as a result? They live an unfulfilling life. They cannot be wholehearted. They cannot be at peace within their soul. They will constantly work to uphold the image they’ve created, and a false one at that. It’s like running on a treadmill that never lets up. Running and running, but getting nowhere. Trying to catch up with their lies, but coming up short every time.

More than anything, I feel sorry for the people that don’t feel “good enough” to just be honestly themselves. They are afraid of criticism or rejection. They are afraid of judgment. But what is worse is that they are harvesting superficial relationships that are not built on a foundation of integrity. People like and accept them for the façade they are displaying, but not for the true person that they are. They are illusionists–sometimes so good at creating the illusion that they start to believe it themselves. That’s where the problem ensues. But deep down they don’t have a choice. They’ll do anything to feel accepted. They’ll do anything to feel belonging. They don’t realize that they are only hurting themselves. They are only sabotaging all that the universe provides to them.

To the outsiders that aren’t fooled by the façade, we get angry. We wonder how people can be so foolish and conniving. We wonder why they could lie to prop themselves up, at the expense of others. But instead of anger, it is best to harbor compassion. It’s time to notice their struggle and acknowledge their powerlessness in defeating it. Or moreover, their unwillingness or incapability to notice it themselves. They are afraid of being vulnerable. They are afraid to step out from under their veil. They are afraid to have integrity.

Be Honest. Be True. Be Humble.

xx allie

Being Real

the velveteen rabbit

As I was reading my book the other night (“Daring Greatly” by author/researcher Brene Brown), I came across a quote that I absolutely loved:

“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”
“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.
“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”
“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”
“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

*Excerpt from The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams

Although it has been quite a long time since I’ve read the story of The Velveteen Rabbit, this passage truly touched me. Growing up and even today, I’ve always had stuffed animals (even a blankey). I remember when I was little my mom would always say, “Allie, what are you going to do when you go to college? Bring your blankey with you?”. Well…that’s exactly what I did. I brought him along for the 4 year ride.

To me, this passage hits home. I have given my stuffed animals and blankey so much love and affection over the years, that they are worn, tattered, ripped, etc. One of their noses has fallen off, and of course I’ve taken the liberty to superglue it back on. Fact is, I’ll never give them up for as long as I live. And you can bet that no matter what, there will always be an animal of some sort in my bed that I sleep with.

But what makes this passage even more profound to me, is the fact that it also alludes to humans in love. Sometimes, it hurts to be loved. We are worn, tattered, and scarred from the love we’ve received, and in the end, it only makes us more real. It only makes us more beautiful. Not everybody can accept being loved. They are fragile and meek, and would prefer to be left unscathed. They may not look damaged or worn, but that is because they are not real. They have not gone through the one human experience that sets the real apart from the unreal. They are afraid to be vulnerable. They are afraid to be tossed around from the tempestuous emotion that is love. The incredibly sought after, yet infinitely feared emotion. They are not willing to be tattered from the wounds of love, and they’ll never understand the beauty inherent in feeling this sense of “realness”.

But those who are real don’t mind that it hurts. We are eager to be tattered and worn. We are eager to be shabby.

xx allie