Let me ask you a question. Do you think it is okay to be angry and impatient with a baby for just lying around all day? For not learning to walk or talk quick enough? She doesn’t offer the world anything of value. She isn’t the director of a successful company or the top student in her class. She isn’t a world-class athlete, a wonderful cook, a loving parent, or a talented professional. She chews on things, gurgles and cries. She observes life with awe. She just is. Why shouldn’t I be angry and impatient with her? She hasn’t done anything to deserve my love!
You probably think that’s crazy talk. Of course you should love a baby! Just because! Now, how about turning some of that unconditional love towards yourself? You are okay. You are magic and magnificence. You are okay even when you do nothing. When you just are. Like an infant, who is perfect in the simplicity of their presence. However, from the moment you learned to do, you’ve been expected to continue doing, and you will keep on doing until you leave your body through death. What a relief!
We are led to believe that our bodies, our actions, and our achievements are more important than our souls. It is more acceptable to constantly work and push ourselves, to endlessly strive for perfection, for more and for better, than to accept ourselves exactly as we are. We have fallen into the trap of believing that we are our work, our relationships, our abilities. However, if any of these self-constructed identities are whipped from us, if we become sick or unmotivated or depressed, if we suffer a loss or a bereavement, and we are no longer strong enough to live up to our self-imposed potential, we feel worthless. We are nothing.
But let me tell you something. It takes a much, much stronger person to be able to do nothing and to still love and accept themselves. To think enough of themselves to value their own health, happiness, and sanity, and to allow themselves to rest, to heal, and to nurture their injured spirits.
I am writing this blog because it’s helping me to make sense of all of this. It’s enabling my own growth and development. And, ideally, some of what I’m writing will register with you too. But though I grasp these insights and spill them onto this page, it’s very easy to lose sight of them. It’s like trying to bottle a cloud or a warm summer breeze. I know it’s there and what it looks and feels like, but I have to experience it again and again before it can become part of me.
I am not what others think of me. This is something I still struggle with. I catch myself when I glow with pride at a compliment or shrink with shame when I’ve been criticised. I am also beginning to understand that the writing that I so love and enjoy is not my worth. Otherwise, it will no longer come from the heart. It will become just another distraction, another addiction to that drug of approval. A number of hits on my page or a handful of praise from friends and colleagues does not make me who I am. My ability to write is not why anybody should love me, and it’s certainly not why I should love myself. It is not why I deserve my space on this planet. The fact that I am here is reason enough.
I have had these realisations before but, like the morning dew on the petal of a flower, they evaporate all too quickly. So, this morning, when I really sat still with them and didn’t run from them, I thought my world was crashing around my ears. I am okay, exactly as I am. I felt totally lost in the forest of my confusion. Where does that leave me? What do I do? How can I just be? I don’t think I can love myself just because… I made eye contact with this panicked stranger in the mirror and cried like the child I had never allowed myself to be.
“Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate, but that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us.” Marianne Williamson
You are okay just as you are. You are not your appearance or your talents or your work. You are not your role as mother or teacher or husband or healer. You are simply you. Unique and beautiful and miraculous. But none of this will mean anything until you’re strong enough to love yourself unconditionally. And when you reach that point, the power and light within you will be glorious.