This has been a tough week for all sorts of reasons. But, because of the school holidays, it’s coincided with more time to think and to feel. I have had the opportunity to step back from the normal routine of life and take stock.
It’s scary stepping back from routine. I can hide in routine, in activities that feel purposeful simply because they continue driving and directing my energies. And it’s blissful stepping back from routine. I can feel suffocated by the unthinking automation of it all. But then I have to think.
Thinking about all the ways I stockpile my own worth – in my achievements, in my relationships, in my behaviours.
Thinking about the ways I justify my own worth – through my perfectionism, through sheer effort, through the testimony of those who seem to value me.
Thinking about letting the striving go. Feeling the weight of Self lifting.
But what is underneath?
Feelings that now resist my attempts to package them into acceptable boxes. Preferences that seem irrational or pointless. Flow that defies my sense of what hard work should look like. Careless words and spontaneity, and their counterpart of Grace. Errors that do not end in despair. Unrepentant awkwardness. Freedom. Peaceful Confusion. A Glorious Mess.
We often talk about loving our Selves. Self Care. Nurturing our Selves. But which Self? The one that tries to earn its own worth? The one that fears failure so so much? The one that is undisputedly worthy? We focus our energies on the face that we make up, expertly hiding imperfections and flaws we feel would offend the world.
Some of us are such chameleons that we wouldn’t recognise our face without the disguise. We have made ourselves up through fear; fear that without our amendments we simply wouldn’t ‘pass’ in the world. We fear our original faces would deny us love and acceptance. So we deny ourselves; an ultimate betrayal that beats the world in the race to reject those ‘unacceptable’ elements of ourselves.
And what if we accepted them instead?
What if we loved that unacceptable Self? What if self-love could reach this far? Into our raw-ness and our incompleteness…
I used to approach meditation as a mechanism that would help me still whirling thoughts and help me find ways of resolving them. I was wrong. This week has introduced me to meditation that stills the whirling, notices it and lets it be. The noticing it is the power, of course. Noticing ourselves is what gives us the power to change. But change is no longer obligatory for me. Because maybe, just maybe, I can accept myself as I am.
Dr. Rachel, you’ve reminded me of an American host of a TV program for children, Fred Rogers, a really nice guy. He would end his program by saying, ‘You’ve made this day a special day, by just your being you. There’s no person in the whole world like you; and I like you just the way you are.’
As you’ve said (in some other words), it’s a whole ‘nuther thing to be able to say that to yourself.
Thanks for reading, Dan! That sounds like a wonderful message to give children… one for all of us.