Karena Thomas – Behind the Mask
Are you hiding? Is the real you in there somewhere? The you who has the right to be happy, create your lifestyle and build a business that suits your needs and lifestyle? Well, time for us to stop playing ‘hide and seek’ because, in this episode of Cynspiration, we are going to fast forward counting to ten and shout ‘Found you!’
Karena Thomas is here to share what it means to give yourself permission to strive for you that is happier and more at peace with yourself and the choices you make.
With self-deprecating Aussie humour and gusto, Karena explains that she started as an actor after studying at drama school. Karena liked to make people laugh. She loved the connections she made with her audience, but she hated the shallow and ultra-competitive nature of the industry, not to mention the drudge jobs that all jobbing actors end up doing to pay the bills.
Doing a complete 180-degree turn, Karena left her thespian roots behind to take up steady employment at a large organisation. Sure, she enjoyed the regular money and had great colleagues, but she hated the bureaucracy and rigid structure. She needed to find a way to gain skills and give herself the freedom to create a way of life that meant she wasn’t tied to a salary or way of working that didn’t fit her ideals.
En route, she also gained a whole lot of insight and perspective that has helped her re-frame her life, reconnect to her spirit and show you that you can too!
The Hamster Wheel of Life
Like many people, Karena has endured her share of failures, hurts and not feeling as though she was enough or that she had enough. It hurts to feel as though there is a deficit inside us and to try to avoid these feelings; many people get stuck on the “hamster wheel” of life. An endless cycle of work, responsibilities and obligations. Seldom do they pause to reflect about who they are or why they do what they do? The lack of deeper meaning or connection to their work and life roles causes them to shift into autopilot, living in a state of unconsciousness and stagnation.
Karena explains that we spend our time wanting to feel safe, and we take the actions that we think will give us what we want. So we stick with that job that we hate because it pays the bills and enables us to have an enjoyable holiday once a year. We will cling to that relationship that we know isn’t working because we are scared to be alone or our lives have become so entwined it will take a massive effort to separate. We will continue to put a brave face on hurtful actions by others because we want to feel accepted.
The common denominator in these scenarios is that they require us to hide our true feelings and needs in order to feel ‘safe’ and project the image that we are doing well.
Karena says ‘We have 24 hours in a day and you spend half of that time hoping that something doesn’t happen or wishing that something would happen. That stops you from being present’. It leads us to move from one decision to another doing anything we can to feel safe, but we forget ourselves and move further away from our real needs in the process.
Keeping it Real
We all think that we don’t have much to bring to the table. Women especially suffer from the habit of downplaying their skills and achievements because we feel that our soft power skills are not valued in the wider world. What we often don’t acknowledge is how much those skills contribute to making the world a better place or the bravery we demonstrate when we expose our weak spots and vulnerabilities to others.
Every relationship, whether personal or business, can be revitalised by re-engaging with authenticity, compassion, empathy and vulnerability.
When you remove your mask, you allow others to remove theirs too. You grant each other to occupy a space without judgment fully, and this has a remarkable knock-on effect in terms of relating better to each other. By showing that you have experienced or are experiencing difficulties but are/were prepared to accept the outcome no matter if unfavourable because ‘Hey, you’ve got this!’ is a tremendous confidence builder for you and others.
They will look at you, learn and feel empowered to make choices and decisions they were afraid to make. That is what leaders do; they give others the confidence tools and space to learn and step out into new experiences by modelling the behaviour themselves. You are of the highest service to those you love when you are happy and well and you reach this state by being authentic not only with others but with yourself.
The world wants you to be joyous. Everyone who cares about you wants you to succeed. Your thoughts are what is limiting you, so how do you go about doing this?
We have nearly all come across the phenomenon that is Marie Kondo, the Japanese decluttering expert whose mantra is ‘Spark Joy!’ through her books or her series on Netflix. Her process is simple; she goes into the houses of people who are overwhelmed by clutter and asks them to go through their items, holding each one and asking if it sparks joy.
If the answer is no, then the item is either thrown away or passed onto someone it might benefit. If the answer is yes, then you get to keep it! So what do YOU need to keep hold of or release?
Ask yourself, What would I do if I were not afraid? What would I change? Are there some risks I am prepared to take to make the changes I want? (the fear of rejection is ego-based and limiting.) Are you giving yourself time to express your innate joy by singing, dancing, drawing and being creative in some way?
Are you starting to rely more on your intuition and less on your mind to guide you? Are you ready to let go of patterns and relationships that no longer serve you? Are you caring for yourself with great love by choosing good food, taking gentle exercise, exposing yourself to uplifting music or books or meditation, getting enough sleep, etc.? Are you allowing your mind to escape the shackles of conditioning and ego so that you can live free of judgement and exercise some self-compassion?
Life is a Game So Play it Well.
Those who seek shall always find. No need to stand and count to ten while covering your eyes, no need to hide in dark corners waiting for someone to see you. You were there to be discovered all along!
There are many ways that we can live a better, kinder, more meaningful life and that in turn has ripples that will expand outwards to touch those around us who in turn can be inspired and change their thoughts and behaviours. Those little ripples that you think barely disturb the surface expand out to join the collective experience and can turn into a tidal wave of positive change, whether in our relationships, careers, businesses or creative endeavours.
Karena explains that it takes effort to live authentically and to remember, we are all works in progress. It can be difficult at first to let down those walls that you thought were protecting you. They were, in fact, only limiting you and your connections with others so use those experiences to be a beacon of light for others and never forget how powerful sharing can be.
Karena’s podcast ‘The Most Human Podcast’ shares brave stories from real people to help encourage us to live more freely and to shake off those feelings of heaviness or shame that weigh us down and stop us from moving forward. You are always an example to someone, somewhere and your story can always inspire someone, somewhere.
So, strive each day to live consciously. You will reap huge rewards and blessings as you watch the unfolding of your best life in every area.
“Your work is to discover your world and then with all your heart give yourself to it.” Buddha