For many years I suffered from an extreme behavior; that of beating myself up for things that I didn’t do or did do.
I never needed anyone to hold me up to any accountability or standards. I did that on my own and to such a high level that it was obvious that I had set myself up for failure.
At a certain point, things got so bad that I even imagined taking my own head and hitting it against a wall. My mind wanted me to pay for being stupid or for not being perfect.
It was then that I realized that the compassion I offered to others when they were less than perfect, I should also give myself before I crushed under the weight of my intolerance.
“If you hold back on the emotions–if you don’t allow yourself to go all the way through them–you can never get to being detached, you’re too busy being afraid. You’re afraid of the pain, you’re afraid of the grief. You’re afraid of the vulnerability that loving entails. But by throwing yourself into these emotions, by allowing yourself to dive in, all the way, over your heard even, you experience them fully and completely.” — Mitch Albom
There is a great difference between being tough and being strong. Tough is a posture. Strength is the result of lessons learned and wisdom acquired. Opening our hearts and being vulnerable is a consequence of being strong.
When we are afraid of emotions it is often because our core is not strong enough. We are afraid of life’s intensity. And we are afraid to feel hurt. When we feel stronger we can let go of our defense mechanisms and experience life in all its intensity.
But how do we get stronger? By creating an intimate relationship with our own selves. By learning to listen to our inner-voice. By trusting who we are and our abilities.
When we are stronger our emotions flow easily, because we know we don’t have to hide; we will not crumble. Our vulnerability becomes anchored in the wisdom we have gained from being open to life’s experiences. And life is richer for that.
I have just returned from Brazil where I was working for the last few weeks.
As it was a job, I flew business class and was privy to an interesting conversation when we finally landed. A group of people – dressed simply and in shorts – were dismayed how others during the flight had asked them what they were doing in business class. The question came as a result of this particular group not looking the part of what we imagine a successful group must look like.
In our pre-conceived minds someone who sits in that aircraft class must look and be a certain way. This group didn’t.
The conversation got me thinking how many times we judge others based on societal concepts. When we stereotype we put others in a box and miss opportunities to learn and relate in different ways. It is as if we are compelled to assign labels for easy processing. Unfortunately the results are often erroneous.
There is a lot of talk about finding our lives’ purposes so we can live with meaning. I think it is a noble undertaking except that I believe it makes a lot of people go searching for the holy grail of purposes. As if we all had one major purpose in life and until we found it we are unable to have a fulfilling life. I believe that is wrong.
More than a singular purpose in life, I believe we must find a way of being in the world. How we want to relate to others and how we want to conduct ourselves. Solidifying how we want others and ourselves to see who we are, will lead to meaning and thus contentment.
It is important, as we find our way in life, that we listen to our inner-voices. Unfortunately, our societies are set up to have us fit in and produce not find meaning. So it is up to each one of us to have the courage to be whom we truly are even if who we are and what we want doesn’t go accordingly to what our friends and families expect of us.
I just came across the below post and wanted to share with you. In the article Martha Beck talks about the inner struggle between the “social, logical, status quo” voice and the “liberating, innovative, spontaneous” voice. We all have at least those two voices.
The first voice we ever heard is the creative and innovative voice. That voice is uniquely ours. It is our own way of being and interpreting the world. Sometimes this voice jives with society and sometimes it doesn’t. But it is uniquely ours and it doesn’t care about being accepted. Its mission is our contentment and happiness.
The second voice – logical – we start acquiring as we grow. It is the voice we internalize from peers, teachers, parents, and relationships. It is the voice of our society. This voice is more concerned in fitting in and doing things by the book. Because most people listen mostly to this kind of voice we feel the pressure to join in and in the end we feel safe. The feeling of safety – even though when put to test proves not to be true – comes from us acting and being a member of a large group that obey and live by the same rules.
When you look back in your life, how often are you surprised by things you’ve done -which you didn’t understand at the time – but now you recognize as being the right actions?
How many times do you have a peculiar feeling inside when you meet someone or you are about to make a decision?
That’s your intuition, your inner-voice, your wise self letting you know the way to go. But how often do we turn a deaf ear to it?
I don’t know where our wise self comes from but I do know it gathers information and processes it in a different fashion than our minds do. I also know somehow that little voice knows what’s best for us every time.
We need to make friends with our wise self. We need to learn its language so we won’t get so confused when it speaks to us.
Spending time with ourselves is the only way to befriend our intuition because without it we are operating at half capacity. So if you like to meditate, that’s your time with yourself. If you don’t, make sure you carve out some time to be quiet. No phones, no computers, no talking. Just you and your within.