I've been thinking a lot lately about something Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love said, "Life begins the day you drop the knife that you are holding to your own neck."
With so many options and examples in the world today of who we think we should be and how we should act, we sometimes find ourselves in a swirl of uncertainty that leaves us far from resembling the person we were born to be. Media, in all its splendor, brings us examples of people living extraordinary lives and doing extraordinary things and in comparison we feel relatively insignificant. It's that "Aha" moment that would mortify Oprah when we judge ourselves lacking in comparison to others. When we "compare and despair." Anne Lamott, author and speaker, calls it "psychic Spanx." We squeeze ourselves into these molds that keep us smaller and more contained in our attempt to people please and gain affection, happiness, power and everything we deem important in this life. We tend to lose ourselves for those things that we want. It's faulty problem solving, at best.
It's time to shed the Spanx like our grandmother's did their girdles and realize how precious and amazing we are. We must silence that critical voice in our heads, or at least send it to it's room for more extended periods of time. We tend to look at our circumstances and the lessons that we are going through and judge them, or ourselves harshly. We forget that it is those circumstances that help us become more of who we are. They help us uncover our divinity and bring more love and happiness to our lives, which in turn allows us to bestow to others.
It's time to stop berating ourselves so harshly. The self criticism must be replaced with self forgiveness. We must begin to understand and accept the perfection of the things that we are going through and know that each and every day we are doing our best. Each challenge that we encounter helps us reveal more of our own divinity. And right there in the center of your spiritual identity is you. In all your quirky idiosyncrasies there is no one like you. You were born uniquely qualified to bring your gift into this world. No one can take your place.
We must begin to honor ourselves as much as we would a best friend, or a lover, or the ones we idolize who we think are doing so much better than we are. When my best friend is going through a difficult time I suggest that he look at himself through my eyes for the truth. Or as Ann Lamott so succinctly puts it, "The self that is reflected in the love of your very best friends' eyes."
We are given opportunities to shed the skins that cover our true divinity every day. Or as the Buddhists say, opportunities to polish the diamond of our own enlightenment. But what does that mean? It means we get to look at our anger or resentments that we hold. We get to look at our beliefs, those thoughts that we keep on thinking, that no longer serve us. Thoughts that we hold as true but don't examine where they came from. We get to look at that anger that might reveal itself as an addiction or compulsive dieting or binging or shopping, smoking, drugs or the bitter mind chatter that has us arguing for our limitations.
They come up in our reality so we can see that they are no longer needed for our protection. They come to pass, not to stay. Or as my friend Jacob would say, "When you are going through hell, KEEP GOING - do not sit down and languish in the misery of it all." Do not stay and criticize and demean yourself. Drop the knife that you are holding to your own neck and realize that these circumstances have come into your life to help you become more of your magnificent self. It's time to turn the love hose back onto ourselves. It's the only way we can extend it to others. A starving man can never offer food to another. It's the only thing that will bring peace - peace to our own hearts and peace to a world that is too harshly extending its own judgment outwardly.
We hold all the power in our hands and hearts. Dare to think differently when a self loathing thought crosses your mind. You are standing up in the midst of a storm with all the courage you can muster, in order to reveal your divinity. It is brave and noble stance and it is worth your self approval. Love yourself where you are right now.
I leave you with a quote from Henry Miller who said, "If we have not found heaven within, it is a certainty we will not find it without."