If you are struggling to see past the red crosses you have drawn all over yourself and self-love is this mysterious thing other people seem able to adopt and then apply but which you (no matter how hard you try – and you really do try hard) just can’t seem to be able to implement…
It’s not something that happens overnight.
Neither is it something that comes from a place of punishment and guilt. So…
Stop beating yourself up.
And stop judging your insides against the outsides of others. Their insides are mixed up too. And most of them have issues with their outsides, no matter what you in your ‘not knowing’, in your ‘separateness’ from them, perceive. They’re only together, ‘fixed’, ‘sussed’, on the right spiritual/life path… because you, in your ignorance of their authentic truth, their blueprint reality, are attributing that quality to them. You’ve literally shone a halo over their head. And it’s beautiful and it’s bright. But in their mind’s eye (and that’s the eye that’s important), it’s not there, it’s not even remotely visible. In fact, if you were to ask them and find them willing to share, they would tell you that actually they’re scared, they’re stressed; they’re angry, depressed, sick, aching, damaged, battered and bruised. Because viewed in that light, none of us escape unscathed.
But who says injury is a bad thing?
And why does an outbreak of eczema or acne, a large birthmark, a scar, a burn, etc., make us any the less beautiful, any the less acceptable to the world?
And do we have to wear make-up; have clean, styled, freshly-washed hair, don tight bodies and fashionable clothes, in order to be deemed worthy to ourselves and our colleagues, our friends and family? No, it’s ridiculous.
Animals love themselves exactly as they are. They don’t even question it.
Babies and children too.
Watch a child. See how they treat themselves, the love they demonstrate.
They don’t see faults, flaws. They don’t look in the mirror and grimace, turn from their reflection when passing shop windows, apologise hundreds of times each day for their behaviour, their lack.
When they are in pain, they demand immediate attention.
And when they play, there’s no “you go first” or “it’s ok you hurt me… I don’t mind”. They protest. They stand up for their rights. They know who is supposed to come first and they make sure that in every given moment, encountered situation, received experience, that that person does.
Now, I’m not suggesting that we all start acting like two-year-olds or that we forget about kindness to others and consideration and care. These are important too.
What I’m saying is that somewhere in the process of growing up, we sort of lost ourselves and forgot that we need to be treated with respect. And that that respect ought to come from inside first before we even attempt to find it outside of ourselves. Because outside is, essentially, external, separate; subject to mood, location, season and whim. We need to have a firm, stable centre; foundations to draw from, to act from, to sit upon… before we start collecting people and things, adding them to what lights us up.
Acceptance and compassion (i.e. self-love) are all about learning to hold the space and to embrace yourself exactly as you are in any given moment or situation. Yes, that means loving the lesser as much as the better hair days. And treating the belly aches, back aches, headaches, foot aches, arm aches, breaks and sprains; psoriasis, eczema, acne, dry patches, wrinkles, shadows, creases and lines, and all of the other various nefarious illnesses, ailments, injuries and perceived misdemeanours – that, irritatingly (although I won’t judge), seem to multiply over the years – with care. By this, I mean tuning into the body-part or area in which we are experiencing discomfort: feeling it, seeing it, sensing it from inside. And then attempting to commune with it, striking up a conversation, building a relationship.
• What does it look like?
• What does it sound like?
• What does it want to say?
Finding out as much as we can so that we can get to know it, not just as a part of ourselves, but as a part in its own right.
For example: a spot might be telling us numerous things. That we are allergic to something in our diet or environment. That we need a good night’s sleep. That we would benefit from more exercise. That we are unhappy in our relationship. That we are stressed at work, etc.
And what about neck pain? What are we refusing to see? What won’t we turn and look at – thereby avoiding and, knowingly or unknowingly, allowing to dominate our lives…?
Every perceived problem is actually a communication, a message from our bodies, begging us to slow down, go inside, stop and listen.
And by learning to listen, we not only develop a much better relationship to ourselves; we improve all of our other relationships too. Our relationship to our life. Our relationship to the people around us. Our relationship to our job…
So, next time you’re beating yourself up:
• take a moment to stop and listen
• find a quiet space
• close your eyes
• put on some relaxing music
• hold where it hurts
– or where you think it (the discomfort, the thing you are ‘right-now’ hating, resisting in the moment; the thing that is perceived as a burden) is coming from.
• sense it
• see it
• feel it
And as you are listening, ask not “why are you doing this to me?” but “why are you doing this for me?”, “what do you have to say?”. And know that the answer is important, no matter what it is.
Because the truth is that:
Your insides can’t lie to you like your outside can.
Be brave. Be strong. Be reliable.
Instead of rejecting yourself, show up.
And when you do, be accepting and compassionate. Treat yourself as you would treat a plant or a small child. Get to know yourself all over again. And from that place plant many seeds that – with love and attention, with kindness and consideration – will grow.
Open. Unfold. Spread out and unpack. Expand, develop and communicate. Commence. Initiate. Set in motion. Set up. Raise the curtain and – when you are good and ready but not when you are too late, when you are in the here and now not in the goodbye – proudly step out to embrace and meet.
by Rebecca L. Atherton
To be healed is having an awareness that you were never broken
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