Give It to Yourself

A few days ago, I wrote on my bathroom mirror, “Love yourself the way you want to be loved. Give it to yourself.”

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The idea came to me after some deep reflection about a love I once had that was so beautiful. I remembered the many times that as I was talking to him, I’d notice the love beaming from him. I could see it in his eyes that he adored me. The intensity was distracting and would make me forget my words and smile back at him. As I thought of the beauty of that, I became sad for a second that he’s no longer in my life. That’s when my inner knowing reminded me that during that relationship I received guidance that the relationship would not last, and that I should treat the experience as a “tutorial in self-love.”

As I thought about how he loved me, I realized that I can give those things to myself. I am worthy of radiating that kind of love to myself. So I wrote the words on my bathroom mirror, to remind myself to use my mirror to love myself. I get to give myself the love I periodically miss as I remember what has been. I get to look in my own eyes with that deep adoring love. I get to see every inch of me as beautiful. I get to see my weirdness and awkwardness as adorable. I get to see the beauty of my scars, my resilience, my mind….

And then I get to add another layer of love. I get to love myself the way I love my loved ones. I get to show up for myself the way I show up for others. I get to believe in myself the way I believe in others. I get to go hard for myself the way I go hard for others….

We deserve the love we so readily give to others. When we long for connection externally, it’s an awesome time to check in with ourselves and see if we are giving ourselves that love. We get to connect with ourselves. We get to tap into the core of what we desire, ask ourselves, “What do I want to feel?” and find ways to give that to ourselves. In doing so we radiate the energy that we desire to draw to us.

Have you ever been in a really great mood and noticed that people were extra kind? They hold the elevator for you, they smile and say, “Good morning,” you get all the green lights, and the up front parking spaces. It’s the vibe. Your vibe attracts like energy.

Similarly, it has been my experience that when I am loving myself sincerely, when I’m feeling great about myself, when I’m enjoying my own company, that’s when aligned relationships float into my life… effortlessly. So rather than miss the love I once had, I choose to remember it, and find ways to give it to myself. As I love me, I radiate the vibe that will draw an even better love into my life. 🥰

Love yourself the way you want to be loved. Give it to yourself.

Know that you deserve it.

Blessings!

Marlene Dillon Empowerment Specialist

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Addressing the Shadow

“If you refuse to address your shadow, you will continue to meet your shadow in relationships.”

Image of a woman standing in profile partially out of frame with her shadow against the wall to her left. Text states  'Marlene Dillon Empowerment Specialist What if when we refuse to address our shadow, it shows up in our relationships. At some point our growth depends on embracing the parts we've tried to hide. mdillondesigns.com

These are the words that came to me. I’m calling it a thought because I can’t be for sure that it was intuitive. The idea came to me while I was recalling an incident…. It was a moment of
“Wait a minute?” 🤔 “I wonder if that happened because… “

Well, maybe it’ll be easier to just tell you the story….

I was standing in my room thinking about the recent shadow work I’ve started. To be honest, I am still learning all of what “shadow work” means, but for now, my definition of shadow work is addressing the painful and shameful stuff that we tuck away in the back of our minds so we can go on with life without crying all the time. 😆 That definition works for me. 😂

I’ve said for the longest time that “I don’t have time” to process painful stuff. I’ve got a child to raise.😆 Look, I’m just being honest. I am a single mother who has chosen entrepreneurship over employment, with no example to guide me through it. For the sake of my sanity—and so I could be present for my daughter—I chose to “suck it up” and deal with it later. I was kept that up for a while but you know the pandemic and all. I think we all needed a therapist. So I got me one, too. 🤣

Prior, however, my go-to coping mechanism was to just tuck that stuff into the overflowing storage closet of my mind, and periodically when the door creaked and a memory spilled out, I’d just tuck that stuff back in and force that door shut. I know I should not be proud of my chosen coping mechanism, given that I have a master’s in counseling. But I did what I thought would work to get through….

Well, as you may know, if you’ve ever discovered a slimy, gross, dripping, what-the-heck-is-this-color-and-what-is-that-smell nasty bag of uneaten salad in the back of your fridge….🤢, you know that ignoring a task doesn’t make it go away. Eventually, it demands your attention in ways that are grossly inconvenient and at times horribly pungent.

This brings me to my ex…. 🤣🤣🤣

You may, or may not, know this, but I’m a “pk.” PK stands for “preacher’s kid.” Despite the belief that many hold that the pastor’s kids are usually the worst ones (I’ve heard that a million times 🙄), I was a people pleaser. I work very hard to do the right thing, keep my business to myself, and not “bring shame on the family.”

There are so many things that I wanted to do that I didn’t allow myself to do because I didn’t want to bring shame on the family. There are so many parts of my story that I do not share, because I don’t want to bring shame on the family. There are so many projects I’ve avoided bringing to life to avoid bringing shame on the family. For decades, I have had this duality within, that I was ignoring due to a sense of obligation.

Well, remember how I told you when you don’t address the internal, it presents itself externally? Well, that happened to me in April. On Easter Sunday, of this year, my ex showed up, stood in front of my house, and at the top of his lungs, for about 15 minutes straight, yelled my personal business, my family’s personal business, lies about me and my family and some misconceptions, for the entire neighborhood to hear. When I say “yelled,” I mean hollered with a barreling voice, so loudly that if you were within 3 blocks you could hear him from any direction, and if you were within a block and a half you could hear EVERY word. He walked back and forth in front of my house yelling lies, secrets, mental health diagnoses, and so much more with increasing volume, right as the neighborhood church dismissed it’s Easter Sunday parishioners. It was a HUGE scene, with LOTS of witnesses. It was humiliating.

It was the worst day of my life, and I was nearly shot and killed while I was pregnant. I have slept in my car with my newborn. I have been through all kinds of “you’ve got to be lying” experiences, and this was the WORST day of my life.

I am an introvert. I don’t argue in public. I barely discuss personal matters in private. And this…. individual…. put all my business in the street….

It took the wind out of me. It was beyond unsettling. He was out of control, but at the same time—because he took mine—he was in control. There was nothing I could do to stop it. I wasn’t gonna call the police, because he wasn’t being physically threatening and I wasn’t about to be responsible for the next police shooting. He wasn’t going to stop until he was done. I wasn’t even engaging him. I went inside and locked my door after the first minute of trying to get him to calm down and discuss things respectfully.

Eventually, he stopped. Someone calmed him. They left. And I locked the door, collapsed on the couch, pulled knees to my chest and wept. I mean graveside at a dear loved one’s funeral bawled, inconsolably….

Later, that day, when I was calm, I began to process what happened. And being me, forever the one who finds the bright side, I thought, “Well, I guess now I don’t have to worry about that tell-all I’ve been wanting to write. He just freed me.” 😂

Being “nice” is now out the window. Whatever details are necessary to have most powerful impact for my readers will be shared… with ease. 🤣

This is the story that came to me as I thought about the shadow work I am now doing. I’ve been wanting to tell my story for a long time, now. I was afraid to do it because I didn’t want parts of my story to “cause shame to the family,” AND I didn’t want to upset some of the other characters by letting people know the truth about them. What I realized is that because I was too terrified to tell my story, this blankety blank individual 🙄 showed up to tell it for me. And his version wasn’t fully factual.

The blessing in this is that his irrational behavior actually helped me, although, he was trying to hurt me. I believe “ALL things work together for good.” To me, that means that even if in the moments it doesn’t feel like it, nothings happens TO me, everything happens FOR me.

What he attempted to do to me, is now going to work for me. I had things that I wanted to share, but refused to because of a ridiculous sense of loyalty. I didn’t want to make him and others look bad. I was helping them keep up appearances. However, thank you my dear ex for freeing me to share my story. I no longer need to feel obligated to protect the image of people who repeatedly and consistently treat me like 💩.

I am so grateful for that horrible experience. I no longer have to fear the worst case scenario. I experienced it. So any fear I have now of telling my story is purely out of habit. I get to tell it. I get to heal those places where I feel inadequate—those aspects of me I try to hide with accomplishments. I get to have honest conversations about my life, and my past, with those who matter most. And I get to take these lessons and moments and use them to help others feel less alone and see a path for navigating tough stuff.

I get to stop being afraid of what’s tucked away in my mental storage closet. I get to reframe stories for my inner child. I get to heal myself in a new way—through working with my shadow—and as you know, when I learn, I teach. We all get to grow.

Thanks for listening. I hope you found something inspiring in my venting. 😘

Blessings!

Marlene Dillon Empowerment Specialist

Opinions Are Like….

A lot of people hold their parents’ opinions of life, how things work, and of themselves, as complete facts, without ever questioning them… especially opinions toward the negative.

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The reality is that giving birth, co-creating a child, conception, adoption, fostering—whatever you want to call it—does not automatically endow parents with knowledge and wisdom of all things… not even when it comes to their kids.

Parents are human. Parents get stuff wrong. Parents have opinions formulated by their consumption of other people’s opinions. Parents have perspectives skewed by what they’ve seen, heard, experienced, and imagined. Parents don’t automatically hold the keys to all things factual.

If my momma told me, “You’ll never amount to anything,” that’s not a fact. That’s her opinion. She hasn’t been to the future. How does she know? I could make choices that same day that completely shift the trajectory of my life. (My momma never said that to me, by the way, so don’t be calling my momma. I’m just making a point. 😂)

Sometimes it’s not even what they said about us, it could be something that was a rule in their house, or a belief that they preached. I was watching a man in his upper 60s, struggling to finish his meal. It was clear that he was already full, but he was still forcing in those last forkfuls. Being me (always perceptive and occasionally slightly too honest 😅), I looked at him and said, “You know your momma’s not here? You don’t have to clean your plate. You’re grown.”🤣 (Lawd, help me. I was born this way. 😂) The look of initial surprise on his face, followed by a wave of relief, was priceless. He took a second, scooted his chair back, and went to scrape out that plate. He didn’t want that food. That moment freed him.

So much of what we do, and so much of what we think, has nothing to do with us! It’s from old stuff someone taught us, old standards we were conditioned to abide by, and old beliefs we were exposed to. Periodically, we have to check in with ourselves and ask questions like: “Is that a fact, or an opinion? If it’s an opinion, do I agree with it? Should I live my life based on this? What do I CHOOSE to believe about this?” And then we get to go on with our lives CHOOSING to be guided by aligned beliefs. We get to believe and evaluate things by what works for us.

There are some things we’ve thought or believed our whole lives that hurt or hinder us—things that someone else said or taught us. Consider that maybe what they thought was just their opinion, and not a fact. And if it’s an opinion, we can question it. Maybe you can be successful at that. Maybe you can be the exception to that rule. Maybe doing it your way works out just fine.

Another important thing to realize is that just because you can see evidence to support someone’s opinion, doesn’t automatically make it a fact. It’s possible that if you observe the same thing from a different perspective, or hear of another person’s experience, you’ll be able to formulate a completely opposite opinion. I mean, from the back, an elephant doesn’t even have a trunk….

Let’s begin to question our habits of thought, beliefs, and behaviors that work against us. Let’s recognize that negative opinions are, just that, opinions. We can let them go and CHOOSE to guide our lives by what we prefer to believe.

Blessings!

Marlene Dillon Empowerment Specialist

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Stepping Into Fear

Want to know what’s holding you back? Do something that you’ve been scared to do, and see what comes up. 😱

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There are messages in our fears. Let's step forward and listen. mdillondesigns.com"

This morning I decided to do something I’ve never done. I periodically (multiple times per week) receive songs intuitively throughout the day, or in my dreams. A few years ago, I downloaded an app to my phone that allows me to record and compose music. When these songs come to me, I just open the app, press record, and sing the melody or parts with my scratchy morning voice and send the file to my songwriting folder on Google Drive. Today, I decided to do something different.

After I recorded the vocals, and my random instructions to myself, I tapped the share link in the app. And this time, I thought, “I should just share it to SoundCloud.” I sat there for a while with my finger over the SoundCloud icon debating it, then I tapped the logo. 😬

Luckily, it didn’t immediately share the file. I had to complete a short form before submitting. First, I named the file. That wasn’t too hard. (The title of the song is “I Can Be More Than This.”) Then it asked for a description. I was very honest (just in case I had the nerve to actually post it). I shared that it was just rough vocals of a melody, and the parts, and I even noted that there may be some ramblings of random instructions.

Then, my eyes skipped downward and saw the option to share it publicly, and it was set to public by default. 😳

That’s when I started to panic, wondering “What was I thinking? I can’t share this publicly. It’s not even composed. I have my random notes in it. There isn’t any music. No one does this. The end isn’t in rhythm because I was still thinking it through. I CANNOT post this publicly.”

I took a deep breath and calmed myself down. My inner panicking was premature. I wasn’t actually at that option yet. My next step was to choose what genre my song fits in. After scrolling the list twice… well, three times… I couldn’t find one that fit. Immediately that same inner catfish started talking. “See. It doesn’t even fit in a genre. Don’t post it. There isn’t even an inspirational option. No gospel either. Is this even gospel? Do you even know what genre this is? Just wait. You can post it later… privately… after you fix it.”

That’s when I realized, if I didn’t post it publicly right then, I was never gonna post it. The opportunity to do the same thing I always do was right in front of me, and I needed to make a choice. If I chose to share it privately, I was just going to keep it in my account forever and never go back and listen to it. I’ve done that so many times. At this point I likely have at least 100 songs in my Google Drive. But, I want to be a songwriter. I want people to hear my music. I want to make progress. So, you know what? I chose to do something different.

I ignored that voice that was rapid fire spewing excuses. I chose a random genre, quickly scrolled and found that share button. AND I HIT SHARE! 🎉

I didn’t even allow myself to overthink it. I got up to prepare my daughter’s breakfast and made her lunch for school. Luckily #ADHD kicked in, since I was so focused on other things, and I actually forgot I posted the song.😆 I heard an odd notification on my phone, but ignored it and kept working. (I assumed it was just CashApp telling me I needed to add funds to my account…. again. 🙄) I got her food packed, grabbed my phone and saw I had two notifications from SoundCloud! 😳

I glossed over the first one that said someone liked my track. It wasn’t that I was ungrateful. It was that I immediately saw the word “COMMENTED” in the second notification. 😱

Instantly, the flood of insecurities came rushing back in. “Why did they comment? Was it positive? Oh gawd was it a critique?! What if they hurt my feelings? What if they said the exact same things I knew I should’ve fixed? Why did I lose the rhythm on that last bar? I shouldn’t have posted it. What was I thinking? Wait…. What if it was good? What if they liked it? What if more people like it and it goes viral? Oh gawd, if it goes viral everyone will hear my random comments. What if they’re the only one who likes it? Oh gawd. What if I don’t get any more notifications? What if there are more comments? Why isn’t my phone making any noise? How do I turn these notifications off?! This is why I don’t do things like this.”

And that’s when I realized why I’ve been stuck all these years. I’ve been “trying to be a songwriter” for over a decade. I even followed inspiration, and went up to my pastor (Charles Jenkins), after service and told him that I’ve been songwriting and wasn’t sure why God was making me tell him.🙄He was so gracious and kind, and told me to simply put something on CD and let him hear it. 🥰 Being a perfectionist (someone who delays progress to avoid criticism, or at least that’s my definition) I figured all I had to do was learn how to play an instrument, purchase and learn Cubase, go to school for music production, or make a lot of money and pay someone to compose my music so I could get that to him. Simple, right? 😆 Yeah. I still haven’t gotten that CD to him… over 10 years later.

Anywho, as all those thoughts came rushing in, I realized that’s what’s been keeping me stuck. The reason I’m not songwriting is NOT because I don’t understand the software. It’s not because I still haven’t learned to play the piano in rhythm. It is simply that when I go to create I’m bringing all these “not enough” thoughts with me. I don’t believe I can succeed at it if anyone can find fault with it. I think that imperfections mean I’ll be boxed out. My inner voice is constantly criticizing me BEFORE I even get started. It has convinced me that all my efforts won’t be enough. That’s why I’m stuck and that’s probably why you’re stuck, too.

So here’s my recommendation, if you want it. If you want to dramatically move forward on that thing you were created to do—that thing that you know will be awesome and bring love and light to our world (or just yours)—take a step toward it. Then, see what objections come up.

Expose the critical voice in your mind. What is it saying to you? Why does it believe you can’t have it, be it, do it? Once you know the arguments, you can dismantle them and begin to make progress. That’s exactly what I plan to do.

I’m going to explain this further in my upcoming book, You’re Being Catfished: 7 Strategies for Overcoming Your Inner Critic. But for now, start thinking about a reasonable, scary-ish step forward… one that’s uncomfortable, but won’t ruin you. Take a step. See what comes up. Write down the criticism and reasons to retreat. Work through them in your journal, or with a friend, therapist, or mentor who empowers you.

We can do this. We can courageously step into our fears.

Blessings!

Marlene Dillon Empowerment Specialist #Proud2BNaturalMe

If you loved this post and want to support my work, you can buy me a matcha!

It’s the online version of, “Thanks! Here’s $5. Buy yourself a coffee.”

For other ways to support, please visit my Support Page.

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