This article really speaks to me.
On a deeply spiritual level, I believe in compassion for all beings. I believe in the right to rehabilitation. I believe that the entire universe benefits every time a heart is opened to true love. I believe these convictions so deeply that I believe that no matter how heinous the crime, that as long as the animal is safe, this cat program is good and right, not just as a reward for present good behavior, but because learning to love selflessly—even when the soul learning that love is about to be extinguished—the ability to experience that kind of love lightens the world. It makes the world a better place for everyone.
I write a lot about twin souls, and I’m aware that they are a highly contested topic, with many conflicting viewpoints floating around. That’s normal. That’s part of the human experience; we all have different perspectives. In fact, I feel that one of the key “points” of the whole twin flame journey is this: being brought, so many times, in so many ways, to turn back within to your own heart for answers… tune back into your own intuition… examine what your heart tells you about love and the soul. Because only in doing this do we find truth. The truth lies within. You will find it nowhere else.
If you want to get in touch with your own answers and work your way out of the confusion and the fear, I’d suggest starting with these questions:
About love and its role in the human experience:
Now, about the soul:
How this experience has been affecting you:
And now about surrender:
Hope that helps, everyone. Wishing you much love and light! :)
People have, on occasion, asked me to share their personal stories on Random Acts of Transit. I wanted to talk a little bit about why I generally don’t do this, even anonymously.
For the most part, in text posts inspired by asks, I only include very brief summaries of anything the asker might have shared with me, and only as a means of providing context for the explanation I’m about to give. I do this for readability’s sake, and so that other readers can see more easily how the content might be helpful for them as well. I avoid including the nitty gritty from very detailed asks— again, because I’m aiming for broad relevance.
If someone’s story involves the kind of life challenge about which a counselor is the best person to consult instead (e.g., self-harm, suicide, abuse), I suggest privately to that person that a counselor is the best resource for the matter. I mostly refrain from devoting public posts to these concerns. Why? Simply, I don’t want to give the impression that this blog is an appropriate substitute for counseling services from a professional; it isn’t.
I understand that, when we’re dealing with something difficult, we want to talk with somebody about it. Sometimes, we don’t even want to have a two-way conversation and talk with someone about it; we just want to be heard. But it’s a groundbreaking moment in our healing process when we find the courage within our hearts to share our own story, in our own lives.
Entrusting our story to a stranger and asking them to tell it for us is probably a sign that we’re getting ready to “own” our experiences and share ourselves without shame. But I still want to leave your narratives in your own hands; YOU can give these as gifts to the world, in all their exquisite detail, when YOU are ready to own them.
There are forums online (e.g., Post Secret) and in real life where people are able to submit their stories (for public posting) anonymously as part of their healing process. Random Acts of Transit, however, is primarily part- New Age-ish self-help and part-memoir; it’s not so much an anthology of personal healing journeys pulled from around the web.
When I have posted another person’s story (usually condensed, and with emphasis on the insights/advice I’m offering), I’ve generally only chosen to do so because:
Don’t feel hurt if I don’t share a story you’ve told me; it isn’t at ALL that I find your experiences or concerns trivial. It’s just that publishing readers’ narratives is not the focus of this blog. I want to encourage all of you — when you feel safe enough — to share your own, in a space you have created (e.g., your blog) or sought out (e.g., a Take Back the Night rally) for that sacred purpose. There IS liberation and transcendence in telling your truth.
Your. own. truth.
In your own voice.
You don’t need anybody else to tell it for you; your voice matters.
Here’s a song to get you PUMPED! =)
Wishing you peace, love, and healing,
I totally feel you on this. I used to do that all the time too. I thought other women were all goddesses and that I was a piece of genetic trash. And, as a result, I treated men with suspicion; if they approached me, I assumed they were players because I used to think, “Why would ANY guy want ME? This one’s just settling, and he will definitely be looking for somebody ‘better.’” I feel bad, actually, about how defensive I used to be with them, simply because I was so insecure. I never realized back then that they did want me, did not feel like they were settling, were genuinely happy to be with me.
I’m guessing you are experiencing some version of this too?
Rest assured, you CAN break out of it! The thing that did the trick for me? Re-training myself to see beauty in EVERYONE — no exceptions. When you remind yourself that beauty is a very subjective thing and is to be found everywhere, rather than in some people but not others, or some features but not others, you stop feeling inadequate. You recognize that you are just as — uniquely — breathtaking as anybody else.
Check out the post I’ve put up recently about this. It offers some tips. I’m not assuming you’re viciously criticizing other women inside your head as well, but the truth is that having a narrow set of standards by which you measure “beauty” is going to continue to hurt you. As long as beauty exists within your mind as a binary, you will experience “competition.” When you see beauty — perfection — as a universal and a default feature in everyone?
You’re free. :)
Peace and love,
Someone recently asked: how can I stop comparing myself to others and stop feeling inadequate?
The critic inside your head — the voice which eviscerates you — is the same voice that rips into others. Whatever part of you has been trained to critique other people will always come back and snipe at you. Always. And depending on how loud that voice is, you may waste a lot of energy striving for unrealistic standards, just to try to rise above the negativity you’ve trained yourself to believe in (except, in this striving, you’ve become a slave to it).
How to escape this? It’s actually very easy: the moment you stop judging others, that black cloud of self-reproach (and fear of being “imperfect” or “inadequate” and all the ways in which that fear controls your life) begins to lift.
I know because I’ve been there. Into my early-twenties, as a result of the combined poisonous influences of women’s magazines and an ex who was always telling me what was “wrong” with various other women’s bodies and faces, I was constantly worrying about how I didn’t measure up. My hips were too wide, my hair was too curly, my nose wasn’t small enough, my breasts were uneven, my belly was only flat sometimes, my ribcage was (legitimately) deformed, my thighs were too thick, my eyes squinted a lot when I smiled, my skin wasn’t dark enough.
It never ended.
Not until you stop seeing flaws in ANYONE.
Entire PROFESSIONS exist for the purpose of identifying the “what’s not good enough” and then making those flaws a prime focus. The way you create, the way you look, the way you move, the way you work, the way you think, the way that you express it, etc. — all subject to negative evaluation — and we don’t question these judgments most of the time. Yet look what those jobs sometimes do to the people who fill them: art critics who are paralyzed artists themselves; fitness coaches with eating disorders; aestheticians with magazine-flawless faces who will swear to you (truly believing) that their skin is “horrible.” Some of the people I’ve known to be most wracked by self-disapproval, pained at not being “perfect?” Teachers! Think about it; they spend countless hours hunting for mistakes. There’s only so much time ANYONE can devote to picking out other people’s flaws — for any reason, in any kind of situation — before they’re finding fault with everything. Including themselves.
The inner critic starts young. We’ve all been raised to internalize a sense of “right and wrong” ways to behave and we’ve all grown up around — and internalized — images of physical “perfection” as well. The only way to rise above this? Stop. criticizing. altogether.
In my own life, once I stopped scanning other women for “flaws,” I started noticing my own “flaws” felt less like flaws in the first place. The moment I started actually looking at people with the aim of seeing *beauty* rather than “problems?” I started noticing I was seeing beauty in all. And what a delight to walk through the world, attuned to the breathtaking uniqueness of everyone’s features, an appreciative curiosity for everyone’s sense of style! It was liberating. I even started feeling sympathetic for people who seemed to be suffering to “look good.”
I’ll never forget the time I sat in a bar sipping a cocktail, comfortably and confidently alone in casual attire while I waited for my friends, and I glanced at a woman in a vulva-length tube dress, tottering stiffly around on heels. My first thoughts weren’t, “Wow, she’s beautiful!” (She was.) but rather, “Wow, it’s sad she feels a need to freeze her ass off in February… or wear anything that makes her look borderline-distressed.” My reaction was one of compassion. I was 27 by then, but that was the moment I realized how far I’d come; seven years earlier or so and I would’ve been scanning her body for flab or feeling self-satisfied when I caught any spots that looked less curvy than I thought they “should” be. The old me might’ve been silently vicious. And most of all, about myself.
I am so grateful I’m not that person anymore. Nowadays, I genuinely see beauty in everyone, in the way an artist notices what is exquisite about her every subject. I even find myself mesmerized by others’ frizzy hair, squinty eyes, huge hips, ethereally pale skin, and so on — all the features I used to despise about myself. I see them, in anyone, as genuinely beautiful now. (Here’s an exciting secret: the moment you finally see your previously-detested features as awesome? You naturally slip into feeling more comfortable with rocking them, and people start being absolutely enchanted. Yes — you may even find other people complimenting you on those exact same features you always hated. And you know what? You will see those traits as gifts.)
How about when it comes to my sex life? I don’t even have a physical “type” anymore that I find “most” attractive, really. The whole idea of limiting my bedroom roster to one or two stock “looks” just feels like absurdity. And it is. There are countless flavors of jaw-droppingly hot.
It’s not that “perfection” doesn’t exist; rather, it exists all around us, and within us, expressing in a divine infinitude of ways. And true perfection? True perfection is dependent upon absolutely NOTHING. Recognizing this — and being able to see it everywhere — makes life a lot richer.
So far, I’ve just talked about criticizing others’ bodies, faces, and work. But what about their sex lives, their morals, their measure of “success,” and so on?
Works exactly the same way. Negativity — directed at anyone — is how we spiral into feeling hopeless, ugly, stupid, unworthy, untalented, irredeemably “bad.”
So, here are some tips for you to rescue yourself from it:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
— from A Return to Love, by Marianne Williamson
Now apply the same way of thinking to everybody else.
That’s how you will learn to love yourself again; that’s how you will learn that you are perfect.
Somebody submitted this awesome question:
What do you think self-love actually is in practice? How does it manifest itself? It might sound like a silly question, but while I can recognise loving feelings when inspired by others I’m never sure that I’m directing similar love back towards myself.
Excellent, excellent question, and it does not sound silly at all! Took me some time to reflect on this. Here’s a personal, practical “guide” to how I experience it. May you find it useful!
For me, self-love is less about feeling “in love” with myself than it is about total self-acceptance. I agree with you that it’s hard to feel that overflowing love feeling about yourself. Totally simple with other people, harder with the self. Why? I’m not sure, but we’ll get to that.
I used to think “self-love” was about eliminating from my life the things that depleted me in some way or another. And that’s part of it, I still think — because doing so shows great self-respect, a willingness to honor ourselves so far as to stop forcing upon ourselves situations that don’t feel like they serve our highest good.
But that wasn’t sufficient; I was still unhappy.
The next logical step after that, I assumed, was that self-love would entail adding to my life whatever stirred my spirit and made me feel inspired, secure, etc. Except this was impossible for me to do because, by the point in time when I’d been hoping to live this way, I had no money and, hence, no stability or opportunities to make these kinds of investments in myself. Basically, I’d had this idea that self-love as a practice involved “taking out the trash” — and then filling your life up with things you liked. THINGS (and “things” here includes “activities”) you liked.
Notice the problem?
That’s clearly not quite the answer either. What I’ve just talked about are self-loving behaviors — and self-loving behaviors can very much involve our interactions with the external world — but they’re not the core of self-love itself.
Finally I realized that self-love had less to do with removing anything or adding anything and had more to do with taking the compassionate, gentle approach with myself in all circumstances. For example, it was okay to be frustrated about being broke, but I would no longer tell myself I was a failure or an idiot for finding myself in poverty (I wouldn’t think anybody else was a “failure” or “idiot” for being poor, so why was I being so harsh with me?). It was okay to be frustrated about having panic attacks, but I would no longer criticize or be ashamed of myself for having them (I wouldn’t think less of anyone else for having panic attacks, so why should I do that to me?). Little by little, I stopped the self-sniping. I started looking at (and talking to) myself in the same way I’d be inclined to look at my own best friends, my own greatest loves: that is, with unconditional compassion, patience, and acceptance. I reminded myself of that quote that was supposedly by Buddha but isn’t (and is of uncertain origin) but is still quite awesome:
“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe deserve your love and affection.”
Radical self-acceptance can be hard because I’d say the vast majority of us naturally reflect on our decisions and criticize here and there.
Examples: Was that the right thing to say? How could I be so careless? If I do X, and it turns out Y, that will have been irresponsible, and, furthermore, it will have meant that I’m a failure. I’m such an idiot; I still haven’t learned the lesson. I’m so mad at myself for being mad at myself. I’m so ashamed of having this fear because this fear is so stupid and I’m not supposed to HAVE fears; fear is illusionl!!! I feel so INADEQUATE for feeling INADEQUATE, I’ll NEVER get this self-love thing right, I’m SO FLAWED/STUPID/HOPELESS, GAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHH!
And so on, ad infinitum — unless we make a conscious effort to stop the self-judgment. This doesn’t mean we don’t course-correct or that we don’t consciously strive to be kinder; rather, it means we don’t beat ourselves up over the times when we haven’t lived by those ideals. The aim is unconditional self-acceptance. For what is love, in its truest form, other than a pure, unconditional acceptance of being?
Even when we think that we “f*ck up,” self-love recognizes that we are still not undeserving: of unconditional love (from others); of opportunities (and support) to be engaged in work (formal or informal) that we find meaningful; of the space, time, and other resources that will assist us in feeding our souls and maintaining a feeling of wellness (e.g., healthy food, adequate sleep, “me time,” the occasional indulgence simply because it brightens our day, and so on). (FYI, I think it was Sonia Choquette whose books introduced me to the phrase “feed your spirit.” Gotta give her props.)
For an exercise, here’s what you can try: try doing at least one thing a day to feed your soul. How do we identify the things that feed our soul? I like to ask myself this: What does my soul want right now? The less “practical” your answer is, quite often, the better. For me, it could be anything from a night to catch up on sleep, to a bar of halvah from the International Market, to an afternoon of absorbing nature, to a moonlight stroll, to a whole day devoted to writing, to — you get the picture. Tune into the little course-corrections and simple indulgences that bring your life back into balance and keep you joyful and inspired — and recognize that there’s no reason why you don’t deserve to ENJOY this day that you’re living. Treat yourself well. If your soul was a beloved child, or a beloved partner, what would you be giving it to make it smile and keep it loving life? Give that to yourself. Who else will? Who else ought to?
The Golden Rule is to “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” But try doing unto yourself as your own highest principles would have you do unto others. We might feel more of a “reward” within ourselves when we show love to others, simply because of the two-way nature of the interaction, seeing the love within our hearts reflected back at us through the existence of this “other” human being. But to practice the same lovingkindness when there is no mirror, no external object of this blessing of compassion — that’s self-love.
As Zen Mister astutely observes, self-love is a PRACTICE. Not so much a feeling, but the attitude and the practice of lovingkindness, directed within.
By the way — everything I’ve said here pales in comparison to his take on it. Please, do yourself a huge favor, and read his post about what self-love is! It is PHENOMENAL. I couldn’t say it any better, and he’s absolutely spot-on. :)
Peace and love,
Chatting with a friend recently, and she expressed to me a fear regarding her own healing process. I think a lot of us can relate:
I’m just afraid of what I’ll find. If I explore this further and stop using (X behavior) to fill that hole… then how am I going to be able to fill it?
Without even thinking, I replied, “Maybe you’ll find that there’s no hole.”
Then we both sort of giggled at the truth of it.
This is the entire point of the healing process: realizing that you were whole and perfect and unconditionally deserving of love all along. Healing is not about about filling the “hole” — it’s about filling the “whole” with unconditional love. It’s not about becoming whole — it’s about recognizing that you already are, you always were, and nothing could ever make you not be.
First of all, recognize that anger is a natural emotion, and it reflects — when it is justified — a form of self-love. I’m not sure where your anger comes from, so it may be that you (as some people do) default to “anger” when what you really feel is fear, sadness, etc. (i.e., that anger isn’t what you’re feeling at all). But I’m going to assume you’re emotionally aware enough to know what it is you’re actually feeling, so I’ll say that if you’re feeling genuine anger, that’s okay.
Sometimes we’re angry over things that other people have done or not done. Sometimes we’re just angry at general life circumstances (e.g., “WHY did we have to meet if it was going to be so hard? It’s not fair!”). Either way, it’s alright. I say that it reflects a form of self-love in the sense that anger is the emotion that teaches us that something isn’t “right,” and that our standards (for ourselves, for a partner or a partnership, for how we believe we deserve to be treated) are higher than what we’re currently getting. It’s okay to think that you deserved all the kindness, affection, time, respect, or any other goodness that you did not receive. You do deserve these good things.
The point though is to let your anger speak — to you — and then let it go. That is, “let it go” not even in the sense of “open your hands and let go of it,” but rather “let it go” away, all by itself; it will. See, anger and all our other unpleasant emotions will keep coming back to us unless we acknowledge them and ask them what they’re trying to tell us. In other words, we would do well to reflect on them so they can be fully processed. We can delve into them, crack them open, discover whatever wounds or outmoded beliefs had seeded them and address these underlying causes — and then the uncomfortable emotions will release us.
Meditating, compassion, actively sending thoughts of love — all of these help. Another thing I’d recommend you try (which may or may not work for you but has always worked wonders for me) is writing “meditation.” Some say that writing is a form of meditation. For me, it certainly works that way; writing allows you to empty out the mind (in the sense that you can empty it all out onto a page), train your awareness to stop running haphazardly from one random train of thought to another (in the sense that you have to focus on ONE thing at a time while your pen is moving across the page), and explore your emotions in depth (you decide how deep this goes).
You can try, first, writing down a list of ALL the things you’re mad about from your relationship. Don’t worry if they sound stupid; if they’re bothering you, they’re worthy of being addressed, and you deserve to make peace with them.
Once you’ve written them all down, try to pinpoint the core wound or the core fearful thought that allowed that anger to grow. For any fearful thoughts you identify, you can chase those down further with a list of “why?” statements.
- I’m angry he never followed through on that promise.
- I’m afraid I don’t deserve for people to keep their promises to me in the first place.
- I’m afraid maybe I don’t deserve for people to do this for me because maybe I’m afraid I’m “not good enough.”
- I’m afraid I’m not good enough because…
(and you just keep taking it from here, peeling off the layers of the fear; you start seeing how wrong you are in all of your self-criticisms, and it’s easier then just to laugh them off and let them fall away.)
If you want to balance out the anger and root yourself in love again, just reflect on memories of things that make you grateful about him and your connection with him. Allow yourself to smile. Allow yourself to be grateful to him. It’s harder to stay angry when we’re filled with feelings of love.
Alternatively, if you want to balance out the anger, don’t even vex yourself over the past at all; sometimes you’ll just feel better if you find things to be grateful and happy about in the moment.
And some would say that living in the now is the answer. Others would say that it’s important to look at the “past” long enough to understand it so we can break its hold on us. For me, it tends to be a combination of both, but you simply need to do whatever feels the most right to you.
The anger will go away once it teaches you whatever it’s trying to help you realize. Anger is natural. Feeling angry feels crappy enough. The last thing you need to do is add self-reproach to that. ;)
Remember that healing is a process, and it takes its own time. Your own loving intention will take you a very long way.
Peace and love, Anon!
Somebody recently wrote to me with a question along these lines:
I’ve felt unhappy for such a long time. I’ve tried to make myself feel gratitude for the good things I do have in my life, but that’s not working. Any advice?
Interestingly enough, I was just having this same conversation with a friend a few weeks ago; she felt like she didn’t know what she was doing “wrong” because she was making an effort to feel gratitude for things in her life and yet was still depressed. Somewhere along the way, she’d received the erroneous message (from society? from a self-help book? I don’t know.) that gratitude is a cure for depression. So let me make this very clear for you: gratitude is not a cure for depression. You say you’ve felt down for a long time; that’s depression. That’s more than a blue mood. Gratitude can sometimes lift us out of a temporary sadness, as we redirect our focus to the things that make us happy and to all that is well with our world, but having depressive thoughts on a long-term, consistent basis creates and is furthered by biochemical reactions in the body, and it takes more than “be grateful!” to reverse that.
For me, crucial elements in healing my depression (which had been so long-term that I didn’t even realize I was depressed; I just thought that was the normal way to feel and that happiness was an emotional “event” in life rather than a state of being) involved seeing a counselor and making big, liberating life changes. Yes, the counselor helped even though I didn’t believe I was depressed for most of the while I was seeing her. Remember, emotional work is spiritual work. Never be ashamed of talking to a counselor to sort out and elevate your emotional landscape. There are a million reasons why this is not a shameful thing, and one reason I’d like to emphasize right now is that this sort of self-inquiry and exploration and the self-love that the process furthers are SPIRITUAL PURSUITS. Life is a complicated business. Healing anything tends to take a multi-faceted approach. E.g., medicine and rest; meditation and counseling; healthy diet and physical activity; energy healing sessions and efforts to break unhealthy cycles.
So maybe you want to talk to a counselor about the fact that you’ve been feeling so unhappy for so long. Unless you already see one — in which case, awesome!
The other thing that helped me pull myself out of my depression was… following my intuition. But not just that; I was also following my passions. Following my joy.
Yes. Following my joy seemed to help guide me out of my depression. Wonder of wonders! ;)
I took a good hard look at my entire life and all the things within it that were not only failing to satisfy me but were actively dragging me down — and then I decided to take steps to move away from them. I started honoring the things I felt would make my spirits soar, would add sparkle to life, would prevent me from death-bed “Why did I never try that?” regrets. And, unsurprisingly, this new approach to life gave me more energy, greater self-esteem, and more to be thankful for.
Depression is NOT a gratitude fail, or a punishment for a gratitude “fail,” so please don’t be down on yourself about that! Remember, when we’re depressed, we’re often not making choices in our highest good so, in some ways, there is less in our lives for which we would be naturally inclined to feel grateful. And sometimes our lack of satisfaction — in a lifestyle, in a relationship, in a job, in a health/financial/social circumstance — is a sign of healthy self-regard; perhaps you have higher standards for yourself and want something better than what you’re currently living. Never feel guilty for your own unhappiness; don’t blame others either, of course, but just remind yourself that emotions are messengers rather than punishments. Listen to what your unhappiness is telling you. Make your emotions your friend. They’re much easier to work with that way.
Finally, I’m adding here a link to an old ask I answered on pulling oneself out of depression. There are even still MORE links with other goodies embedded therein! :)
I hope that something herein has been able to help you.
Peace and love,