In 2013, I learned my most important lesson.
It’s not unusual that you will hear people talk about their “journey.” Maybe it’s their journey to get sober, to fight cancer, to survive the loss of a loved one, to get back their voice in their marriage, to become more self-confident, to be a better parent, to find themselves, to build a career, to leave an abusive marriage, and on and on.
But in the end, it all comes down to one thing. I believe that sharing this one lesson I learned will change your life.
First, I want to explain what I think the “journey” is. Even if a person is not fully aware, the journey we are being called to is always the journey back home to our Selves. It’s that simple, but it is never easy.
Simply put, we have an essence, our Truth (with a capital “T”). That is who we are at our core. Over many years of life, we have learned how to survive in this world, to protect ourselves, to do what we need to do to get what we want/need, etc. We have developed our personality, our defenses, our egos. None of that is bad, it’s an important developmental stage in life to do just that. But at some point, we get called to go on this journey back to ourselves, to our Truth, to our essence. That means we need to go through that mucky, sticky, icky stuff – the darkness, the pain, the struggles, the defenses, the judgments – to reveal who we really are.
We spend years and years resisting and trying to hide all that we don’t like about ourselves (our neediness, our behaviors we don’t like, decisions we made, our need for validation, our bodies, our failures, our pasts, our pain, our quirks, our fears). We criticize ourselves (and others). We push ourselves to do better, faster, and more. We don’t cut ourselves slack for fear that we will do nothing or be nothing. We get busy so we don’t have to pay attention to the things we don’t like about ourselves or the emptiness we feel inside.
And then, we get called back to our core, to our essence. Whether we get called by a crisis or just a gentle whisper, we eventually realize we are being called on this journey back home to ourselves. Sometimes we spend years resisting that calling. We get busier. We may even engage in self-sabotaging behaviors (drinking, eating, working too much, over-analyzing, etc.) just to avoid this journey. Some people complain that something is just not right, that they feel a hole in their heart, or some emptiness that they are trying to fill. That, my friend, is the whisper to go back home to your Self.
The secret to getting back home to your Self is what I want to share with you today – this is the most important lesson I have learned. It’s very, very important because it will make this journey much easier than it may sound when you imagine it.
That’s it, that’s the secret key. Self-acceptance is the only path to sustainable happiness, the only path back home to yourself.
Ultimately, self-acceptance leads to self-love which opens the door to deep, unconditional love and connection with others.
“No amount of self-improvement can make up for any lack of self-acceptance.” ~ Robert Holden
Each and every thing that you resist about yourself, the things you want to hide from others, the things about you that you can’t even admit to yourself…those things are the very things that I am encouraging you to notice and accept about yourself. That’s the key to you being truly FREE in life. The freedom to be YOU! The truest freedom you can have.
Over the years, you learned to BE certain ways and to NOT be other ways. You created a whole bunch of stories about what you believe keeps people loving you and what will cause people to abandon you. Those things became your playbook for life. But can you see that they are all based on your wounds? They are just a bunch of made-up stories (yes, admittedly they served you well at other points in your life). Now, it’s time to challenge those stories, to poke holes in them. Because I want to get through those stories to your Truth.
There is no one way or right way to be in life (silly that we have oversimplified life to imply that there is such a thing), there is only YOU and your own unique awesomeness that is NOT shining through because it has been covered up by defenses, false beliefs, stories, and facades.
“The worst loneliness is to not be comfortable with yourself.” ~ Mark Twain
It’s time to get to know yourself better. And then, to learn to accept yourself exactly as you are – the perfectly imperfect human being that you are. And begin to peel back all of those layers of defenses and armor that you, your parents, and society have put on you over the years (it’s no wonder why life feels so heavy to most of us), and reveal your essence – the pure love that you are made of, all of your potential that you don’t even know you have, and the Truth of who you really are. (Can I just tell you how much I look forward to the day when my essence meets your essence? …now THAT sounds like a true heart connection and my heart longs for more of those connections in our largely superficial world.)
When you hide and resist parts of yourself, you become broken, you are no longer whole because whole implies that you know and integrate ALL of something. And if you don’t know and don’t accept (and love) all pieces of yourself, you simply are NOT whole. We get whole when we lean into those areas that we wish we could push away.
“To me, wholeness is the key to aliveness. It is more than just physical vitality, it is radiance, coming from being at one with yourself and your experience. Life then flows through you and radiates from you.” ~ Richard Moss
Now, you wonder, how in the heck can I do this self-acceptance thing? Here is how you can get started:
First, in 2014, vow to get quiet. Don’t busy yourself all the time and take 5 minutes, then 10, then 20 and maybe even up to an hour to be quiet (I know you are busy, but it’s no longer an excuse, if you want to have an amazing life, you need to make the time). Sit in silence (not necessarily “meditating”), in nature if you can, observing, not judging, just quietly being (not doing – we are human beings, right?). Try to quiet your mind, not by criticizing yourself for having monkey mind, but rather by noticing and allowing thoughts to move in and out of your mind. When you notice you have been thinking, gently move yourself back to the moment you are in right now. It’s all good and it’s time to welcome everything – sad feelings, happy feelings, good and bad, pain and joy, and all other polarities that you can imagine. It all just IS. It is part of life. Accept that life is messy and it’s exactly as it is supposed to be rather than spending so much time trying to change it. It’s all okay. For some specific techniques, check out Jenai Lane’s Spirit Led Instead (a Type A person’s guide to getting back to your essence).
“We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves.” ~ Dalai Lama XIV
Second, notice and be grateful for your judgments. Judgments are merely a reflection of what is going on in your inside world. Each judgment you make of another is a part of you that you have resisted or have banished into hiding (at some point in your life you were given the impression that it was a part of you that was not safe to reveal to others). In the beginning you may disagree with me. But one day you will notice you are welcoming judgments on your path to getting whole…your journey back home to yourself. You will realize that it is your judgments that help you to see where you still are not whole. Trust me on this. To learn more, read Byron Katie’s Loving What Is (an inquiry process to help you learn from your stories and judgments).
Third, cut yourself and others slack. When you notice you are being tough on others or yourself, breathe, and then cut them and yourself slack. You may think that high expectations, willfulness, and “getting shit done” is your path to happiness. It’s not true, I used to believe that too. It’s in cutting yourself slack, accepting yourself for who you are, empathically connecting to others, and “being” rather than relentlessly “doing” that is the path to true happiness. To learn more about this, read and listen to Brene Brown’s work. To begin, watch her TedTalk.
So, as this year comes to an end, let’s say goodbye to self-criticism and hiding and say hello to self-awareness and self-acceptance. Make 2014 the year you are going to journey back home to your Self – the year where you are going to be gentle to yourself and others, accept all of yourself (even those places you try to keep in the darkness), and learn from your judgments (rather than believing them to be true about others and therefore disconnecting from others). Darkness only persists where there is no light. The simple act of shining light on darkness makes it go away. Shine a light on all of your dark corners so you can learn, heal, grow, and become whole.
Each time you pass through a dark time, remind yourself that “this too shall pass” and that the light you shine on that darkness will turn into lightness of heart and a brighter life.
We all deserve to feel more whole, to know ourselves, and to shine our own light brightly upon this world. You were born as a unique being with a unique purpose in this lifetime. I believe that the only way to truly live your life is to reveal your Truth and to live your Truth. That means that you can no longer compare yourself to anyone because no one will be like you (think of yourself like a fingerprint). There literally is no comparison. You. Are. One-of-a-Kind.
Can you please consider using 2014 as your year to find YOU?
Believe it or not, it’s much harder work to live life with all of the social personas and false selves we put out there than to live from our essence. Yes, I admit that the journey can be a bit difficult at times. Sometimes it might feel too dark, you might wonder if you are entitled to or deserving of happiness and that you are somehow different and destined to stay in this darkness. It’s simply not true. Ask for help from someone who can guide you back to the light. And as you get closer to your Self, I promise you will feel better, lighter, and more whole and there will come a point where you will be deeply grateful for the journey, the struggle, and even the waves of darkness.
I am sending you blessings and loving support as you journey back home to your Self. I hope you have love-filled holidays and that your 2014 is the year you begin to learn to accept and love all of you. I’d love to learn more about your journey in the comments below! Or reach out to me personally. I’d love to connect with you.
Much love my friends! Happy Holidays!