At the beginning of a new year, we tend to get on the bandwagon of making ourselves be better or different than what we are. And yet the statistics show that this doesn’t work. People decide they’re going to lose weight, only to discover that they gain the weight back plus some. Gym memberships are up dramatically at the first of the year. And yet eventually most people stop going to the gym.
It is fascinating to me that in all our wanting ourselves to be better or different than what we are, we lose sight of the most powerful healing we can give ourselves: to accept our own selves as we are. Your mind may be resisting this because you, like most people, have been trained to live on the treadmill of feeling that you will be okay when you lose weight, or make more money, or find the perfect mate, and on and on and on.
Elizabeth Kubler Ross, author of the groundbreaking book on death and dying, once had a T-shirt made that said, “I’m not okay. You’re not okay. And that’s 0K!” What would happen if you understood that accepting yourself as you are is not a powerless place? In fact, it is one of the most empowering gifts you can give to yourself. And it is definitely not selfish, it is self-full.
What would happen if you understood that falling in love with yourself will not only bring more joy into your life, but also it will help heal the world? Or, as I said in a quote I posted on Facebook “Be kind with all that is unkind inside of you. This will help heal you, your loved ones and the world.”
We all long to come home to our hearts; to touch every single part of ourselves with kindness. This may seem unimaginable to you right now, but I’m speaking to you from the experience of having disowned so many parts of myself that the only option left, I thought, was to kill myself. And now I live from an open and aware heart.
The third time I tried to kill myself, I was slitting my wrists in a windowless bedroom in a basement apartment. I can still remember the waves of disgust that moved through me because I was even a failure at suicide. In my despair, I asked my first open-ended question, “If I can’t get out of this, what is it all about?” At that time, I had no idea of the power of asking a question without looking for an answer. I just asked that question out of desperation. And without even noticing it, that question set things in motion in my life that slowly and surely opened my heart again, a heart that had formerly been turned to stone.
One day a teacher said to me, “Mary, with all the mistakes you have made, you have never made a mistake.” That statement was like a ray of light in a dark, dark land. It gave me a little bit of space so that I could begin to meet my fear, my extreme self-hatred, my anger, my mean judgment, and most importantly my helpless, hopeless despair. Slowly and surely, I began to befriend all these formerly rejected parts of myself. As my heart began to open a little more, and then a little more, I began to be able to keep company with even the most disliked and scary parts of myself.
On this path back to my heart, Stephen Levine helped me immensely when he said during an event I attended, “I want to create a hat and when you put it on your head it instantaneously broadcasts over a loudspeaker all of your thoughts.” There was a collective groan in the room, but Stephen invited us all to see that this would bring us so much freedom because we would finally see we were all thinking the same things and trying to hide this from ourselves and others.
The more my heart opened, I saw that there wasn’t anything inside of me – my compulsion, my so-called selfishness and stupidity, my anxiousness, my judgment, and even my not enoughness – that didn’t deserve to come home to my heart. Did this happen overnight? No. But in those moments of clarity where my mind was quiet and my heart was open, I saw that the path to freedom was in the ground beneath my feet. In other words, what’s in the way is the way!
What I am offering you is the invitation to come home to your heart. What would happen in your life if you understood that you are made of dark and light. What would happen if, rather than trying to hide from yourself and from others the parts of you that you deem not okay, you began to acknowledge them and touch them with kindness? What would happen if you knew, even in the darkest of times, that you are okay as you are. This is what we long for, to be whole – to move beyond the idea that wholeness is achieved by getting rid of all the so-called unacceptable parts of ourselves and instead weaving them back into our hearts.
I leave you with a quote from the Manitoba Indian medicine woman, Agnes Whistling Elk, that I have kept close as I been journeying from a completely closed heart to an open heart:
“If you look at something carefully, you will always be able to see its dark side. One cannot exist without the other. And yet we choose never to look into the shadows. Understand that it is what you choose not to observe in your life that controls your life. Everything begins with a circle of motion, without the positive and negative poles there would be no movement, no creation. Without the dark side, your beauty would not exist. Don’t be afraid to look at both sides. You need them both. You must honor all as part of the great spirit.”
If exploring this further interests you, I am offering a free teleconference on January 22nd at 5:00 PM Pacific Time and a class following on What’s In the Way Is the Way. For more details and to sign-up, please go to http://www.maryomalley.com/events-calendar