LIVING THE SOULFUL LIFE
By Scott Kalechstein
From The Stage To The Garden
I am an entertainer. Performing for people is very fulfilling work, especially when I remember to get off the stage when the show is over. Becoming an entertainer was, in part, a strategy to overcompensate for the belief that I’m unworthy of love simply being who I am. If I performed, my young mind reasoned, I would be able to charm others into loving me. Being myself didn’t work all that well in my family unit, so I learned other ways to get my needs met. Performance, which started as a childhood coping mechanism, evolved into a successful career. I have seen it time and time again in others as well . . . our wounds are the doorway for our gifts to emerge.
The name of the game for me these days is authenticity, both on and off the stage. It is pretty scary stuff. Transparency is quite the opposite of all the tools in my toolbag that I’ve accumulated while living in this culture. A few weeks ago I was talking to a new friend, and she asked me what it was in my relationship history that women haven’t ‘gotten’ about me. I had trouble answering, and after watching me squirm for a few moments she volunteered a guess. “Scott, you lead with your sensitivity, and all the men I’ve ever met who do that have some rage in their shadow. I think that what women haven’t understood is that you can be a real angry son-of-a-bitch sometimes.” I laughed uproariously, and told her she was right-on. It felt so freeing — and frightening! — to know that someone could see past my New Age facade, and was inviting me to acknowledge a wider range of expression than what I usually put out to others.
Trying to be nice and gentle all the time (a New Age guy) is like stocking your kitchen just with sweets. What about cooking spicy once in a while? The last romantic relationship I was in offered a series of lessons in being more and more authentic. Often my fears of loss and abandonment were stronger than my commitment to expressing my truth and taking care of myself. I put my partner’s feelings before my own, and we both suffered from it.
Yes, there are ways of being spicy that can damage the delicate thread of intimate relationships, but there are also ways that are likely to contribute to your connection. Marshall Rosenberg’s “Nonviolent Communication” is helping me learn both the consciousness and the language of self-responsibility, emotional honesty, and compassion. More information about his work can be found by visiting www.cnvc.org
Lately I have been observing how much seeking approval and validation from others has cost me in my life. I have kept my need pretty hidden from people, including myself, because I was embarrassed to be wanting something I judged as so unspiritual. My evolution requires bringing my feelings and needs out of the dark and asking people for what I want openly instead of manipulatively. I am also learning to look at my thirst for external acceptance as a signal it is time for some internal loving, a time to flood my inner landscape with positive self-talk. Instead of judging myself for being needy, I am practicing meeting my needs by appreciating myself from within.
Pretending to be someone I’m not in order to be accepted and liked by others has been a full time job and most of my life I was not even conscious I was working at it. Now I am at a place where I can see what I am doing when hiding behind a facade, seducing others with talent or charm, or withholding a truth to not rock the boat. Like dolphins in captivity, I learned to pass through hoops to get the fish. Only I’m beginning to realize I’m not in captivity. And the first step towards claiming my freedom is awareness.
When I become aware that I’m acting out an old pattern, I celebrate. I can get excited about the evolution taking place within me. What was once unconscious is becoming conscious. Soon, in God’s perfect timing, the inspiration will arise to leave behind the old and step into something new. If I beat myself up, I slow the process down and suffer my guilt. But if I simply observe the pattern from a detached place, the light of my non-judgmental awareness begins to transform it. Modern physics has rediscovered that the observer changes the observed just by witnessing it. This is also the alchemical solution to dissolving old, unwanted beliefs and behaviors: observation without the judgment.
In addition to celebration, I grieve what the lack of authenticity has been costing me . . . loss of self-esteem, loss of connection with others, and being out of harmony with my own values. I give myself compassion for my deep longing to be liked by others, to avoid being criticized and abandoned. And I affirm in gentle tones that I no longer have to perform to be loved, that I am worthy of love just for who I am. In other words, I stop abandoning myself. Unworthiness has to be the ultimate state of pretending. When I believe there is something about me that renders me unlovable, I am suffering from a profound case of mistaken identity. We are all innocent children of God. Part of what makes children so pure is that they are transparent, with no hidden agendas. Authenticity, then, is a pathway back to our true identity. We take the fig leaf off that we put on ages ago when we allowed the serpent (shame) to convince us we had something to hide, and we journey together, back to the garden.
“Truth first, love second, for the truth
is love’s doorway.”
— Kyle King
Scott Kalechstein wears many hats. He is a counselor, coach, minister, inspirational speaker, recording artist and modern day troubadour. He travels through the United States, Canada and Europe giving concerts, talks and workshops, as well as presenting at conferences. Scott can be reached at (760) 753-2359; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org His website www.scottsongs.com is an inspiring and playful place to visit.
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