Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Big Picture

Growing up I was often teased by my peers. To them I was horribly unattractive and they didn't hesitate to make their opinion of me known--DAILY.

As the years passed I continued viewing myself through their eyes, unable to see the beautiful person that lived in my skin. I couldn't see my own beauty because I was replaying those same criticisms in my mind as an adult. How could I let something that happened over 30 years ago continue to resonate with me and distort the image of the person in the mirror? Distort is a good word here. When I looked in the mirror I saw someone hideous, ugly, fat, too tall, frizzy hair, and horribly awkward. These are the things they told me. The sad part was that I believed them!

It wasn't until later in life, not so long ago that I became aware of my "self-talk." What a wake up! I was still replaying those same words in my head. I realized how I was still giving credit to those people who told me I wasn't good enough. The next thing to happen was fantastic! I pulled out pictures of myself  from my childhood. "What was wrong with those people?!" was the first thing to come to mind. I was a sweet, beautiful young lady. It suddenly occurred to me that those people who hurt me were hurting too. Who knows what they were going through at home. For the first time in my life I felt empathy for those "meanies."

Now when I look in the mirror, I see myself though the eyes of compassion and love. When I notice myself being too hard or negative I pause and ask myself, "Whose words are you speaking right now?" Then I take a moment to be kind to myself and feel gratitude for the tests that are presented to me. These tests are uncovering my truths. They are opening the old wounds to be cleansed and filled with love.

So maybe, just maybe, all the painful words were absolutely necessary to my transformation into the person I am now--to who I am becoming.  

For this I say thanks! 

You Get What You Give

Today I was walking down 11th Street on my way home from some Christmas shopping and the words you get what you give popped into my head. The last few weeks I’ve been thinking a lot about gratitude and giving back, particularly with regard to love. The term “unconditional love” was something I definitely had heard of but I never really saw that sort of love around me. To me, loving someone like that sounded co-dependant or an invitation to be taken for granted. How could anyone love someone and be okay with it not being returned? It occurred to me that I never really loved someone unconditionally. I can honestly say that in my past I always seemed to love people based on conditions. I never released control. I never allowed myself to let go and just love. If I was going to give my love to someone they had better be doing something for me too. Otherwise forget it. If they hurt me, then I would withdraw my love, return the pain, or give up. I wasn’t going to be made a fool of.

But I was a fool—an insecure, scared fool who time and time again, failed in my attempt to avoid heartbreak. It was a lesson I was faced with in every relationship. I had so much negativity, pain, anger, and a horrible fear of being abandoned. I thought that if I put on my armor and dominated an argument, I would win somehow. I wouldn’t be the fool. I feel sad when I look back on my behavior because I see how it was working against the very thing I wanted more than anything: to really be known by someone and to still be loved. Could someone accept my flaws and still love me?

I realize now it’s never been about someone else’s approval; it’s always been about whether or not I was capable of accepting my flaws and loving myself. The way I think it works is that if we shed all this baggage and rejection we’ve accumulated through the years, really strip it away, then connect to the being that exists under this armor, you will find nothing but love. You will find your beautiful self. When you connect to this core part of yourself you then are presented with the opportunity for your first unconditional love experience—YOU. Whoever thought a first love could be yourself? Why not? To love and honor yourself first and when the time is right, you can give your love to others.

Here’s the difference: when you have this sort of love and respect for yourself, it doesn’t matter if your love isn’t returned. You aren’t trying to fill a void. You’re not giving away love based on conditions any longer, you dismiss the “What’s in it for me?” attitude. Receiving love from another is the sugar in your coffee but it’s not necessary to be fulfilled because your cup is already full of your own self-love. In fact your cup is so full that you can’t help but share it with others. Isn’t that great? 

So how is this tied into you get what you give? Well there is a second part to what popped into my head as I walked home. Sometimes when you give love to someone they are not ready to receive it. They just aren’t there yet. Keep giving your love to those in need but don’t be tied to the outcome. Send love from your heart. In one way or another you WILL get what you give.

A Healing Meditation

After some time with myself--alone---I realized I was holding a lot of anger inside from childhood. It was manifesting itself in me in the form of anxiety, chest pains, and obsessive-compulsive behavior followed by various forms of escape (shopping, consuming, drinking, stress eating). This meditation initiated much self-awareness, acceptance, and forgiveness to myself. However, this is still a really good exercise for anyone:

Sit upright, legs crossed, in a dim room, one candle burning in front of you. Relax the eyes, concentrate on your breathing (which should be a relaxed yet deep breath), and focus your relaxed eyes on the flame of the candle (some people find that closing the eyes works best for the visualization).

As you are breathing, allow yourself to be fully present in your body, become aware of any aches or pains that you are feeling. Now allow yourself to feel your heart beating, visualize the energy it is creating, the power it possesses, how it radiates. Feel it radiating outward and reaching the areas in your body that feel pain. Allow our self to visualize what it looks like, the energy moving into the areas that are in pain. Feel the love radiating from your heart back into your own body so that you fill yourself completely with this love energy. Love energy is the strongest of all energies and has the ability to heal anything you allow it to. Continue allowing the energy to radiate from your heart, back into you, healing you.

If you choose, this is the where the instructions end, just keep generating the love from your heart back into you as long as you like. When out of the meditation, you can revisit this feeling whenever you feel pain, sadness, etc. and bring back that nurturing love from within yourself and give it back to yourself.

If you want to go further in the meditation, then visualize the face of your loved ones and transfer that energy to them, see the glow flowing to and around them, see them smiling, and see yourself smiling. You can actually smile here if you want to! Okay now here is the healing part: see the face of someone that causes you pain. Allow yourself to share your loving energy with them. Allow it to heal the wounds between you. Picture this person smiling, as you allow yourself to smile, surrounded in your love energy, allowing it to heal. Do this as long as necessary.

In your days when someone wrongs you or upsets you, take a moment to change what you are feeling by sending them a little shot of this love. You are replacing the negative feeling you are manifesting in yourself with love. You can let the anger burn you or you can replace it with love. Either way, it is you that exists in this feeling because it's your reality and it is all you are capable of actually experiencing.

Look in the Mirror. What Do You See?

An exercise:

What does your self talk sound like? Is it negative or positive? Does it shift depending on your mood? Think about this for a moment, open up to the awareness, and be honest with yourself. 

If your self talk is full of love, congratulations! That's fantastic! Keep it up!

If it's not then this post is dedicated to you:

Armed with the realization of  how you speak to yourself, I want you to take another look in the mirror but this time look through the eyes of compassion and love. It might not be easy at first. You may have some heavy negative wiring going on in there but try. It all starts there and in the trying you start to change.

So, looking through your "new set of eyes" that have been replaced with compassion and love lenses, I'll ask again, what do you see?