My mother once told me that I owed myself an education, to return to college and finish my degree. The implication was that without that degree I would not be enough, not well-equipped to encounter the rest of my life, and that I would suffer from that lack. Well, I got my degree and even a second degree, and I was still not enough, and I suffered.
After watching an admittedly very entertaining hour-long infomercial recently that was advertised on Facebook, promoting a $349, 7-week webinar on “energy medicine,” I decided that I had been sucked into a rabbit-hole of wasted time by my unconscious fear of not being enough (AAGAAIN!!!) and that in reality I am OK just the way that I am and need to be.
THAT kind of self-acceptance is the result of years of work and is absolutely priceless. I would give it away if I could, yet in our capitalistic culture, anything that is free must be worthless, so here’s my hype, offered to you tongue in cheek:
Most all human beings, like myself, have been seduced by the game of status: looking good, sounding good, doing good as if all those behaviors are somehow god-like and linked to an invincible protection and victory in all circumstances, which we know, if we were to search deep within ourselves, to be a complete fantasy. The cognitive dissonance inherent in this game produces a greatly underestimated stress on our bodies, hearts and minds.
This syndrome is at the core of the addiction to control, domination and violence which only temporarily destroys and denies our interdependence and belonging to vast social, natural and ontological systems. The result is endless war and oppression, repeated collapse of empires and ecosystems, as well as a constant struggle for simple personal happiness. If we would inventory all these consequences, we would plunge deep into despair and disillusionment, break our hearts open and allow space for a new way of experiencing right relationships and living in objective reality.
All through history there have been rare individuals who embodied a radically different faith in principles and values based in empathy, compassion and love which gave them enormous courage to transcend the game of status. The game no longer existed within them, it literally died. They lived the beloved community in the midst of hatred, jealousy and revenge. They saw interdependence and they became their own source of healing.
“To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest. To live fully is to be always in no-man’s-land, to experience each moment as completely new and fresh. To live is to be willing to die over and over again.” ~ Pema Chödrön
I’ve said this before, and I know it may sound harsh, and I will keep saying it: when we clean up our own tendencies to be better than anyone else and start to see how nakedly the same we are as everybody else — how broken, mentally ill, emotionally ill, and spiritually ill we are — BROKEN in our relationships to each other, the planet, and ourselves — when we can tell ourselves the truth about OURSELVES, then we will find the power to heal, and not until then, not until then.
We are embedded within a CULTURE that is MENTALLY ILL with an obsolete story about ourselves, that we are not, nor ever will be, good enough. Good enough for what? For other people who are somehow different, better, or worse than ourselves and therefore “other,” separate from us?
The disease of separation is a physical-mental-emotional-spiritual disease. The first step to healing is to admit we have the disease, and this is the one thing you can do for yourself that will turn your life downside up, literally, from down to up.
My golden retrievers have had a bizarre compulsion to anoint themselves with the feces of deer, turkeys, racoons and other animals by rolling in it. When I say “NO MORE rolling in the CRAP!” it goes not just for my dog, it’s for all of us. We have spent far too long being dishonest about how we really feel, in order to look good, sound good, act good and fit into the unspoken culture of competition, domination, and downright violence. The time has come to move beyond congenial people-pleasing, beyond cooperation only where it’s convenient, into giving up one’s treasured ego position in order to collaborate, work together, and CLEAN UP the crap.
It is extremely important for us to not adopt a victim identity in the midst of all this, and instead focus on what is working, what is growing, what is being transformed, and the things for which we are grateful. Otherwise, we risk getting sucked into the negative judgement that we are not doing or being “enough.”
I believe we will collectively say “enough” to our disease when there is:
- a tangible, measurable way out of this prison of endless cycles of trauma (there are many here now)
- when we are educated about the causes and effects of trauma (this movement is expanding rapidly)
- when we understand those we have refused to understand (empathy education is widely available)
- when conflict resolution skills are more important than life itself (because they end wars small and large)
- when punishment is no longer our way of life (the restorative justice movement)
- is replaced by restoration of the love of life (tribal festival culture in progress for over 50 years)
- when communication is not about blame but about connection (nonviolent communication, check it out)
- when we can forgive ourselves for our mistakes (best done in small mutual support groups)
- accept that we are accepted, nurtured, and encouraged by the life-force that is within us, between us, and all around us (an hypothesis for you to test)
It is time to offer the possible scenario of healing and reconciliation, a humble self-examination of how we have been complicit with our ancestry in setting the stage for this Armageddon of cascading, systemic breakdowns, and to offer our willingness to clean up the blood and excrement, to make amends. Massive social change occurs at the bottom level of the individual, in a shift of beliefs and attitudes, not at the top level of policy leaders or gurus. With all their best intentions for security, prosperity and quality of life, there have been many terrible mistakes. Perhaps the most difficult truth to accept is that we have personal responsibility for our complicity with the culture of violence, and it is up to us, personally, to step out of it. What are we willing to do to change ourselves, and when will we get started?
Our answers are already within us, we simply need to stop, look and listen before we get run over by the next crisis. We “un-wire” the rapid, reactive and chaotic fight/flight/freeze brain circuits by deliberately choosing to create new circuits of steady, calm observation and evaluation. It is actually more simple and easier than we might expect to include deep relaxation into our daily schedule, like taking a multivitamin every morning. Even if slowing down is very gradual, it is critical for our well-being. Almost any focused, relaxed right-brain activity will reduce the stress-related cortisol in our bloodstream. Examples are sitting or moving meditation, art, music, dance, yoga or simple, repetitive exercise, like swimming laps. However we choose to do it, the choice is ours.
Our choice is enough to catalyze both the unraveling of our addiction to looking good and the healing of all those who suffer from it. Our humility (self-acceptance), honesty and vulnerability are contagious because we create the space for others to also relax. Starting with any small change, feedback quickly improves our sensitivity to positive results. Like a tiny seed we begin to grow into an entirely new way of seeing the world, seeing others and seeing ourselves as totally and completely “enough.”
Finally, I want to add that the greatest and late-developing happiness in my life (yes, it took a long time) has been the discovery that the life-force I mention above in condition #9 is not only very real and tangible, it also makes so much sense, explains so much, that my cognitive dissonance about what is and is not “victory” has pretty much evaporated. I trust it because of the struggles throughout my life to disprove it which have failed. I know that verbal explanations of it are like moonlight in comparison to the sunshine of an experience of it.
Nevertheless, I encourage you to join me in the search, the journey, from death to life. HELP IS NOT COMING from conventional sources. This is totally a “do-it-ourselves” project to uncover the strengths we never knew we had within us, the strengths waiting for this time, this opportunity, this opening, this parting of the veil, to be embodied, made real, made practical. Please take advantage of the practical, tangible, do-able and easily understood self-examination process in this workbook which takes us through individually written answers to powerful questions, and if possible, self-disclosure in a regular meeting of trusted friends. To obtain a free PDF download, a softback copy, a Kindle, or just a “Look Inside”: http://www.lovealwayswins.us/p/the-next-boo.html