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Until now, I always thought that my intrinsic value as a human being was determined by my opinions of and treatment of other living things. So I’ve spent 30 years worrying about being kind to others, and being extremely receptive to their opinions, behaviors, thoughts and actions.

At age 30, I learn that I was wrong. My value as a human being is not dependent upon any external force or being and how they view me. It’s entirely about how I feel about myself.

The struggle is never about being loved by others. The struggle is being loved by ourselves. The reasons for undervaluing oneself, or not feeling like we’re enough or worthy of love could be many. Perhaps a parent who deprived love and affection, perhaps a teacher who was highly critical. The reasons do not matter. It’s not too difficult to find reasons if that’s what we seek to do. But if we don’t fight this, if we don’t learn to accept ourselves just the way we are; if we don’t learn to stop judging ourselves, of deliberating over every mistake and worrying about other’s perceptions of us, we can never be happy and at peace.

It’s not easy. It’s not going to happen overnight. You are fighting a life-long established pattern, an enforced mechanism that has become so natural to you that you don’t even realize that you are doing it. This is going to take deliberation. This is going to take hard work. You’re going to have to de-program the way you think and feel about things. You’re going to have to think about it and mindfully practice it. But it’s possible.

I don’t know you and I don’t need to. I just want you to know that this battle exists in everyone, and I’m fighting it, just as you are. I want you to have confidence in yourself.

People often talk about life changes…about accomplishing things, about success. But you don’t need to change your life. You need to change your thinking. Change it by accepting yourself, with all of your perceived “shortcomings,” “faults,” “mistakes,” “foolishness.” Which by the way, they are not.

Right now, this moment, I want you to accept that there is nothing wrong with you. You are perfect just as you are. You are wonderful. You are beautiful. You are the most beautiful being that anyone can ever encounter. You are complete.

As much as we try to love and accept others, if we put that much effort into loving and accepting ourselves….what would happen?

Everything else that you think you want right now– whether it is to be loved or to be loving towards others, to be successful, to be content, all of this will follow when you are at peace with yourself. These other things are not the destination, they are the side effects of the actual goal– loving yourself. So don’t concentrate on the side effects, focus on the source. Love yourself.

Start now.

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Letting Yourself Be Vulnerable

I’ve been listening to many Tara Brach podcasts in the past few days. I find her descriptions of the inner workings of people extremely insightful and true. She uses ideas of Buddhism to understand and explain human emotion and action, and how we can relate to ourselves and one another.

One very interesting thing that she talks about is how we all build scales, to protect ourselves. And it all comes from vulnerabilities and fears — the fear of not being accepted, not being loved, not feeling worthy or deserving of love, etc. And she talks about how we do not allow the love of others to come in because of these fears.

With inspiration of her discussions, I tried to open myself up to someone recently. I definitely did. I was able to go one layer down and reveal the first layer of my vulnerabilities, which I have never done before. But I also realized that there were other layers that I had not reached and had not opened up.

It’s shocking to me how even at times where we have the intention to be very direct, open and honest with someone, we actually are not 100% honest. We still do not reveal the very, very deep workings of our psyche. The very deep and sometimes shameful vulnerabilities that we ourselves have difficulty facing. Even my most honest self, is still withdrawn and scared.

What is it that we’re so scared of? Why is the fear of being rejected and unloved so frightening and powerful? Why do we allow these emotions to control us so? And how can we ever establish truly meaningful relationships if everyone is always pretending that they are stronger and better than they really are? Don’t we all have to let go a little?

Something else I struggle with is what I actually touched upon in a previous post, the struggle of knowing that something is wrong, analyzing it correctly, and expressing it as such, only to later fear that I may have made a mistake or that I have been hurtful. Although my desire to never hurt anyone’s feelings is very strong, I also know that my assessments of and feelings about situations are fairly accurate. And if something doesn’t feel right to me, it probably isn’t right. And that is not something I should regret. I think this mainly has to do with self-confidence and having the assurance of knowing that what I feel, cannot be wrong. Ideas can be wrong. Judgements can be wrong. But feelings, no. You can never tell yourself that what you are feeling is unreal or insignificant. If it exists, if it’s there, there is a reason for it and we have to learn to trust that.

What I do based upon those feelings are still open to discussion. How we react to situations is definitely something that we all can work on. But I think how we feel about them should not be questioned.