You do not love yourself for reasons – centuries old reasons. Let’s look at life and see where those came from. The first thing that happens is that life presents you with a situation (an opportunity), to move to greater compassion. Many times you will resist doing that because it conflicts with the way you see yourself. Stepping into this opportunity means becoming more open and vulnerable and sometimes that’s just too scary. So rather than take the chance of being hurt, you say no to the situation. You shut down, you close your heart. You blow it up, you walk away or you set it up to fail. Or, maybe instead of outright refusal, you step in only partway.
What is the inevitable result? Things don’t work. You acted, felt pain, you got hurt and the other person got hurt. You both ended up feeling unloved and unlovable. And then your internal voice starts that old familiar refrain: “There’s something wrong with me.” “Boy, did I screw that up.” “See! I really am (fill in the blank).” Sound familiar? Your unworthiness has been confirmed, and your self-condemning beliefs have been reinforced. You feel lousy but, and this is IMPORTANT, you’re going to be reluctant to become vulnerable again. In not exposing yourself, your vulnerability has been safely tucked away from yet another encounter with life. You’re isolated and alone, but “safe,” at least for the moment.
Repeat that pattern a thousand or more times in a lifetime and how do you think you’re going to feel about yourself? Then multiply that thousand by a hundred similar past lives, and you begin to see why you are having trouble opening your heart. You are afraid to be hurt (again). You’re anxious about other people and there’s a good chance that you are also pretty peeved at God for creating this whole mess in the first place, but at the core you have become convinced that you are little more than human garbage.
The thing is, God didn’t exactly create the mess. Each of us did, and at the same time everything is going just as it was designed to. Every life situation presents you with two choices. You either respond from love or you hold back. It’s that simple. The Universe is presenting you with opportunities to open your heart, and some of the time you are not able to do that. There is no judgment here, in fact, there is quite a lot of love. You will be given opportunity after opportunity as you need, and only one thing is important – that you eventually get it. You’re not screwed up, you just get scared. And the sooner you recognize the difference, the easier life becomes.
There is a very carefully crafted balance going on within you. You see, today if you were to see, to truly see, who you really were, it would overwhelm you. You would go into shock. So you have a dampening mechanism that allows you to function at a place of balance with your beliefs. That mechanism is called your ego. Your ego exists for basically two purposes. The first is to support you in having a sense of self. It is the “I am” part of you. But the ego also has another important function, and that is to create feelings of separation between you and a perceived threat. The ego shuts you down, makes you unaware, rationalizes situations, denies their existence and in a hundred other ways creates psychological distance between you and a perceived threat.
In this capacity the ego’s function is to protect you (your heart) from being hurt (at least in the moment). And that’s the thing, it never really works. You can get through the moment, but the hurt cannot ultimately be denied. And in a sense, that’s the beauty of the system. If you could really avoid the pain, there would be no reason to change!
Have you ever wondered why you criticize yourself for your failings? Probably the most effective part of the ego’s system is the way it gets us to avoid threatening situations before they even appear. It does this through self-degradation and self-condemnation. When things go “wrong” you beat yourself up for your “failings.” You do that today for events that happened years ago. Why?
This game serves no constructive purpose – except to keep you from putting your fragile ego at risk. And that’s the point. The ego makes you gun-shy. You become conditioned to not even show up.
The scared ego forces you to accept half-measures and make emotional compromises. You learn to accept crumbs by compromising out what you want, or worse, not even being aware of what you want. It is that effective. That is why you heap judgments on yourself. It has nothing to do with being unworthy. It has everything to do with believing that you are unworthy. By limiting risk in the moment, you avoid immediate pain, but it also keeps you from the real joys of life.
Eventually you will learn that you cannot be the being you make yourself out to be and that there is nothing to be afraid of. And when you do that, everything changes. But, the hurt, the price to be paid, will come later, it must. The Universe cannot allow disharmony to continue. You may ultimately feel very badly about yourself, but in the moment you never even really show up.
This ego-based part of you is a reflection of how you see yourself. Life may be empty and frustrating, but you find ways to cope. You can cover your fear with false courage. Some people spend most of their lives doing that. But The Universe will require that they eventually look into the mirror, too.
We see this dynamic played out in the choices people often make regarding their partners. Many people will actually turn away from relationships that offer a real heart connection in favor of something that can be built on half-measures. Because they chose badly, the relationship must sour, because The Universe will not tolerate disharmony. Most of the time these relationships end. Sometimes however, the crisis forces the couple to grow together and they actually develop love for each other.
Many other couples remain together and endure a half-relationship because they feel like that is all they deserve. Then there is another group of people who never get into relationship at all, or having failed at it, shut themselves away emotionally. They are threatened by the prospect of actually being loved, so they create an ongoing series of conflicts that keeps everyone off balance and without the hope of ever really enjoying life. There is one other group who run at a breakneck pace, avoiding the hangman as it were, by never having to look back.
The Universe cannot permit people to hold negative images of themselves without challenging them. This happens through the creation of problems. When you have a problem it means that you are running up against some aspect of yourself that does not move with compassion. If it did, you wouldn’t have a problem. Creating a problem works sometimes, and sometimes not. We focus on our pain and being hurt or embarrassed and are usually unwilling to look at what is being asked of us.
Remember that you have free will and we humans can cling to our beliefs and fears pretty tenaciously. When The Universe has been unsuccessful in getting a person to look at their resistance through its normal process, it will force them into a larger learning opportunity. The more a person resists, the more pressure the universe applies and the more the person will suffer and hurt. Something has to eventually give, and it isn’t going to be The Universe. If they persist, the pressure will grow until they collapse, unable to continue in the old way. We call this a crisis. The crisis may be a disease, a serious accident or the loss of someone close; but some way or other, The Universe will find a way to significantly up the ante.
And that brings us to the subject of suffering. God does not want you to suffer. If you look into any crisis, you will find a potent opportunity contained in it for the people involved to change the way they see themselves. No one comes out of these situations the same as they went in. But, you will also see someone resistant to change, unwilling to give up the unworthy image they hold of themselves. But, a long time ago you decided that you were going to come home, and that decision means that you are going to have to give up your fear and self-doubt. The conflict between your rigidly held beliefs (fears) and pressure from The Universe to move to greater harmony is what creates your pain and suffering.
It isn’t pretty to see someone suffer, but the transformation that occurs when a person finally gives up and surrenders to the greater truth of The Universe is something to behold. It can be a truly magical time.
At some point in this discussion you are probably going to say, “Well, what’s the sense of all that?” And, “Does it really have to be so difficult?” I will tell you up front that you are not going to like the answer. It has to do with the power of opposites. If you want to experience something deeply, go to it’s opposite for a while. If you want to learn to appreciate life, have a near death experience. Do you appreciate freedom? Spend a month in prison. Talk with someone who used to live in the former Soviet Union about freedom. Priests and rabbis will tell you that the most passionately faithful of their parishioners are always converts from other faiths.
So, what does that have to do with you not loving yourself? Put yourself in God’s place. There are billions of souls who do not yet live in the magnificence and grace of their beingness. If you just gave them Grace they wouldn’t really appreciate it; and besides, they have free will anyway, so you can’t. So what would be the most powerful way to get them to know and deeply hold the truth about themselves?
You set up a way for them to believe for a time that they are unlovable and unworthy. They are bound to be dissatisfied with that prospect and their frustration will provide impetus for them to move to the truth. They must, for untruths (disharmonies or imbalances) in The Universe cannot be sustained. When that transformation happens, these billions of souls, having lived in untruth, will hold the magnificence of their beingness not possible by any other means. Is the process difficult? Yes. It is uncomfortable? You bet. Does it feel unfair? Yes. Is it worth it? Absolutely.
I’m not asking you to like the process. You’re not supposed to. But, once you understand what is going on, and can see the events of life from a larger perspective, everything becomes less personal. You are still not going to like it when someone does something unkind, but you begin to see things in a completely different context, and that is vital if you are to heal.
People sometimes ask me why a significant part of my work focuses on healing the wounded the inner child. The reason is that the inner child is the primary player in the process of self-love. The separation that exists between you and your inner child is a direct measure of your lack of love for yourself. The pain that you feel is your inner child trying to wake you up to that fact. Your relationship with her or him is vital to your healing and your eventual transformation. More about this in a minute.
Let me tell you a story: Bruce was a step-and-a-half away from living in the street. His health was in chronic jeopardy and he was in constant, often agonizing, pain. When I first met him, he could eat few foods and could barely take in enough nourishment to remain alive. He looked like a death camp survivor. He couldn’t work and had to live on demeaning disability income. His refusal to address his inner pain was so profound that his soul had brought him near death on several occasions in attempts to break the stranglehold his fear had on him. His case is extreme, but you will probably recognize some of his feelings. I suggested that he do some stream of consciousness writing, and he returned with these notes:
My God, I haven’t accomplished anything! My future looks dim. There is no way I can be secure and safe. I am frantic and terrified that I won’t have a home or food. This world is going crazy. There is no one out there I can depend on. I am fed up with this world! I want to leave it. Death is the only escape. Where is the comforter? I am so angry, I want to lash out but it doesn’t do any good. I don’t have a voice. I fear being reprimanded or harmed. No one hears my cries of plight.
My mind doesn’t have the answers. It only creates more problems and more dilemmas. I wait in silence. Something has to come in and guide me through this awful, painful maze of existence. Where is Love? All I want is love, intimacy, connectedness with someone but I am afraid to trust another for fear of being hurt. Why am I so afraid to give up control to the unknown?
I am exhausted from not sleeping, of not being able to fall into sleep and from the pain. I feel displaced. Nothing on the outside will fulfill me. I feel so disconnected from everything – so distanced from the world. There is no security and a lot of anxiety. Where are the angels people talk about? I can’t feel them. I can’t even feel me.
Almost magically in the middle of his agony, Bruce’s inner child burst through his writing and said to him:
When will you pay attention to me? When will you listen to me? When will you face me squarely and see me for what I am? I bring you the gift of pain to awaken you. I am underneath all your pain. When will you give me your time, your attention? You make a big deal out of suffering and then miss me. Please acknowledge me. Please find me before it is too late. Accept what comes fully and then you will locate me. Do not cover up the pain. I will only magnify it, and then you will feel tortured by your body even more. Be in the silence with love and wait with inner ears open to receive what I am. Give up the search for a solution to your dilemmas. It will only cause more pain. Bear witness to simplicity for it will guide you home. Your mind cannot take you home to peace. The mind must be a disciple of the heart to know peace. Your concerns are getting in the way of your being at peace. I wish to emerge and be free again – to just Be.
I will test you to see if you are really wanting to connect with me. Stay connected to your body and your surroundings and don’t freak out and space out. Ignore your mind and all of its stories and judgments. Be not afraid of the pains you carry on the surface of your heart. They are the shields that keep you from coming home. Arise with courage and determination to finish the journey.
Feel your heart. Open your heart. When it closes, it is because of fear. Sit with that fear and love it with all of your heart. And then once again, you will be open and be filled again with love.
Nothing I could have said to Bruce would have had the force of that message, and yet, he was so entrenched in his process that even after that, it was still difficult to get him to join with his inner child. His pain and his conditioning were that extreme.
It is very difficult to sit there and watch someone you care about self-destruct. It tests the limits of your own faith. And that is the wonderful thing about crises; everyone gets an opportunity to grow from it. By going out as far as he did, Bruce now has a knowledge and experience that will allow him to help other troubled souls in a way no one else could. He paid a great price for that gift, but that was the path his soul had chosen for him.
I have written at length about healing the relationship with your inner child or in other words, learning to love yourself, in both Healing The Shadow and in Truth. I encourage you to spend some time with those pages. They are vital for your peace of mind as well as your health and well-being.
When Bruce brought his writing to me I was reminded of something that Clarissa Pinkola Estes, who wrote Women Who Run With The Wolves, had written:
Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach. Any small, calm thing that one soul can do to help another soul, to assist some portion of this poor suffering world, will help immensely. It is not given to us to know which acts or by whom, will cause the critical mass to tip toward an enduring good.
What is needed for dramatic change is an accumulation of acts, adding, adding to, adding more, continuing. We know that it does not take everyone on Earth to bring justice and peace, but only a small, determined group who will not give up during the first, second, or hundredth gale.
One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Soul on deck shines like gold in dark times. The light of the soul throws sparks, can send up flares, builds signal fires, causes proper matters to catch fire. To display the lantern of soul in shadowy times like these – to be fierce and to show mercy toward others; both are acts of immense bravery and greatest necessity.
Struggling souls catch light from other souls who are fully lit and willing to show it. If you would help to calm the tumult, this is one of the strongest things you can do.
There will always be times when you feel discouraged. I too have felt despair many times in my life, but I do not keep a chair for it. I will not entertain it. It is not allowed to eat from my plate.
The reason is this: In my uttermost bones I know something, as do you. It is that there can be no despair when you remember why you came to Earth, who you serve, and who sent you here. The good words we say and the good deeds we do are not ours. They are the words and deeds of the One who brought us here. In that spirit, I hope you will write this on your wall: When a great ship is in harbor and moored, it is safe, there can be no doubt. But that is not what great ships are built for.
copyright©Blue Lotus Press 2016