It seems that we've been taught to reject painful feelings and do everything we can to either reduce or get rid of them. At times, it works, although in some instances it is only temporary and in others it can be destructive. I have a habit of making myself feel better whenever I'm in emotional pain. I read, I eat, I distract myself, I talk to someone. After all, why wallow in this misery if I can do something about it? Besides, it doesn't feel good anyway. However, recently I tried a different approach because my usual remedial tactics didn't seem to work. I noticed that while I'm in pain, I fail to be fully present in the process. So, I took the most basic step and kept saying to myself out loud, "I'm in pain, I'm in pain." Weird as it seems, the pain became more real and intense, yet there was a part of me that felt relieved. That's because I temporarily let go of my defenses and admitted to the profoundness of my experience without trying to alleviate it, ignore it, modify it, or otherwise "deal" with it. The process of it was excruciating and torturous and the reality of pain lasted for a long time. But in the end, the monster in the closet started to lose its threatening grip. Although fully admitting to pain and sitting with it isn't enough to move on with and incorporate the experience into our lives, it's an essential first step.
Since I was a child, I've been unintentionally taught to judge and criticize myself. I was taught to find flaws and feel that I'm not good enough. The result was the development of my inner critic that called me "stupid," "idiot," "retarded," or some other epithet, when I made a mistake or failed to do or be something that I expected myself to do or be. I have noticed that for the past few years I began to feel odd listening to my inner critic. It seems more and more ruthless and unfounded. Perhaps, it is because I began to see myself from a different perspective - a perspective that holds me as sacred and valuable, no matter what I do. I'm human after all and humans come here to experiment and learn. How would we do that without mistakes, detours, and failures? A few days ago, I forgot to do something simple. My inner critic didn't call me anything. I was merely trying to figure out how come I forgot. I remembered that there were days, when I would call myself "stupid" for that. I said it out loud, just for the heck of it, and cringed. I noticed that I had an adverse reaction. Then I smiled, because I felt the extent to which I have grown to accept myself, even though there's much more room for further growth.
It doesn't work for everyone, but it did work for me. I guess I just reached my boiling point of anger at everything that Life has been throwing my way for a long time. I've been down and depressed and I've also been up and hopeful. The yo-yoing turned to be too exhausting. For a while now, I've started to retain more and more hope in the face of all kinds of adversity. However, the more hope I retained, the more adversity Life gave me, as if to mock me, "Go ahead, let's see how far I can take you to finally break your hope!" I am now pushed over the line that says "logic" on one side and "faith" on the other. Something deep within me decided that brooding and pessimism is no longer applicable, even when Logic is screaming into my ear. The invisible doors that were long closed within me were opened by Anger, taking me to a whole another level. I'm too angry to be discouraged, too angry to give up and brood. I'm way too angry to accept my current situation, because I deserve so much better. By serendipity, a song came along to exemplify exactly where I stand. The lyrics are amplified by the music, which make the song even more powerful. From now on, the statement, "Shoot me down, but I won't fall - I am titanium" is my response to Life.
Lately, life has given me situations from which there was seemingly no escape. I felt doomed one instance after another. I felt how my faith in life started to dwindle and the more load was put on my back, the more I hunched over to the ground. I've been down to the ground before, but something new was happening this time. I noticed how I actively refused to give up. I just couldn't afford it. It was very clear - the situation was really bad and the usual voice told me, "Pfft, what's there to hope for? It's not gonna happen. There's no light at the end of the tunnel." But then there was another voice that said, "No, no, it doesn't matter how bad it is, push through because you have no other acceptable choice." Indeed, the choice to give up was not acceptable. What would I gain? I believe I'd gain an even worse situation. Do I want it? No. So, I forced myself to have faith and then I noticed that it wasn't really that hard. How do I know that tomorrow or even today things will not change for the better? How do I know that the next moment life will not resolve itself? I don't. Therefore, I consciously chose faith and it didn't let me down. Over and over, it didn't let me down. I kept the doors open and let life do its thing. As a result I feel empowered. I wonder if it becomes a habit, how my life would truly change...
There are times, when no matter what I do, it's never enough for others. The world and people in it exert certain expectations on me that I've learned to desperately meet. Trying to be perfect is what has propelled me forward in many life endeavors. However, there are times, when, according to objective standards, I was perfect, yet some people didn't consider me such. Could I get more perfect? Should I try harder and harder to obtain approval and appease my sense of anxiety? I have. And it turned to be exhausting. Eventually, the reward of being perfect has too high of a price. At some point I have to deal with the fact that no matter what I do, I won't be approved by everyone. For some, I'll be flawed, not intelligent enough, not insightful enough, not articulate enough, or not creative enough. Either I keep running like a squirrel in a wheel or I abandon this ridiculous and self-harming quest. Jumping off the wheel still hurts and the critical feedback from others after I've worked so hard still exerts its power on me, but it doesn't have to overpower me. Slowly moving forward and allowing myself to be disapproved by others is what the journey is truly about. This is another road toward freedom.
Fears have gotten me nowhere in this life so far. Fears have made me suffer, cry, and regret every time I succumbed to them. Fears have stifled my potential and prevented me from experiencing my true self and showing my true self to others. It's not that I have a fake self, but rather a limited self, who wears grey and black, rather than purple, pink, and green. Fears have worsened my emotional and physical health, like strong bleach that gradually erodes everything it comes in touch with. I know that many useful resources are floating around me, like bubbles in the air, but fears don't allow me to do anything but observe them. Fears have guided me to the safest place, called Perfect Vacuum, where no matter exists. It's a great place of no threat. It's predictable and controllable. But deep down I feel restless. Why? Am I meant to reside in a Perfect Vacuum? What's the point in it anyway? Is this why I came here on Earth? No. But it feels safe to be there though, I don't have to worry. What helps me to gradually turn my head toward fears is the fact that I will never be happy in a Perfect Vacuum. To me, happiness means freedom, including freedom from the fatal grip of fears. I guess now, years later, I can begin to take one fear at a time and look it into the eye, while coping with the excess of adrenalin in my system. I don't know what awaits me in the future, but this simple decision already makes me feel better (and fearful).
It's often tempting to think of myself as not enough or not worthy. Something more like an average. There are days when I doubt myself, the things I do, and the things I aspire for. It's easy to downplay myself and underestimate my abilities and my characteristics as a person. Even though I receive various feedback, positive feedback is included. Then why do I not consider it important enough? Why do I not take it seriously? Why, when I'm being told that I'm beautiful and talented inside and out, do I tend to put a barrier between the words and myself? What does it give me to reject positive feedback? More dejection and disillusionment. This is not the way to go for me. I'm tired of rejecting compliments, especially when I deserve them. Compliments are others' opinions and I can't tell others that their opinions are wrong. But it's in my power to not accept their opinions. I have, for the longest. No more. I'm gradually learning how to choose to say thank you and tell myself, "This is nice that someone took time to tell me how they feel about me." I'm more beautiful and talented than I think I am and maybe it's a good idea to learn to see myself through the eyes of others. Maybe I can learn to pay attention to all those times that I'm being sincerely complimented and realize that these times are quite plentiful.