A large part of my healing journey has been focused on the hall marks of the third chakara – self-love, self-worth, self-value, self-esteem, self-confidence and self-assurance. I seemed to have a deficit of them all. I have been lacking these qualities, in fact, as far back as I can remember. Even as a child I remember comparing myself with others and coming up lacking; always feeling that I was somehow ‘less than…’ and ‘not as good as…’ As so many of us do I pushed myself to excel in the one area I was good at – academic studies – to make up for my perceived deficit and prove to the world, but most of all to myself, that I was good enough, I did have value, I was worthy of love… And way into my thirties all I’d been doing was repeating that pattern over and over; locating my self-worth in my achievements rather than having a sense of my intrinsic worth as a human ‘being,’ not a human ‘doing.’
Then events in my personal life propelled me slap bam wallop into the world of healing and the notion that love for myself – far from being selfish – was, in fact, nourishing, self-honoring, self-respecting, and the only way I could hope to create both a rounded sense of self and a fulfilling life, as well as being an essential waypoint on the route to learning how to truly love another. I came to the awareness that I am not lacking in any way – just ‘in process’ as all of us are. That I don’t need to compare myself to anyone else, for each of us is here on our own journey. And that I am perfect just as I am even with all my imperfections – ‘perfectly imperfect’ as my friend Jeremiah would say. To realize that by sheer dint of being born I have as much right to be here as every one else and am equally worthy – neither more so or less so. That I have the right to take up space and to fill that space being uniquely and beautifully me, and to feel comfortable with and good about doing that even when that ‘me’ doesn’t conform to other people’s ideas of who or what I should be. In essence, I learned that I am free to be me.
Knowing something in your head and being able to apply it in your experience of the world are two very different things, but after an intense immersion in various seminars and healing processes I have definitely made progress. I no longer constrict my body and try to make myself as small as possible to avoid standing out when I walk into the supermarket, (standing out and feeling like you have to moderate yourself and your behaviour as a result is one of the few disadvantages of being a ‘foreigner’ in rural Japan); consciously releasing the tension from my shoulders and reminding myself that I have as much right to be there in the supermarket, to be here on this planet, as everyone else. I have stopped comparing myself to others as much, and learned instead to put the focus on self-growth and self-expansion. I have made lists of all the things I like about myself and realized that most of them are related to my qualities as a human being rather than my achievements, upping my self-worth and value in the process. In short, I’ve become much more comfortable in my skin and with who I am, my persona here on Earth, the whole beautiful and contradictory mishmash of humanness that that is.
There are, however, still some gaping holes in the foundations of my carefully constructed castle of self, as a recent experience with a guided meditation revealed…
“I love myself fully. I trust myself fully. I am uniquely self-expressed,” was the particular phrase that provoked a pantomime-like call of “Oh no you don’t” to echo through the caves of my mind.
To the credit of all the healing work, I didn’t actually have a problem with the first or last sentences. It was that little one about self-trust in the middle that set the doubts to reverberating around my head.
And to be honest it surprised me a little… Granted, I don’t think we are brought up to trust ourselves. If we have a question of any kind; be it medical, financial, spiritual or personal, we are more often than not directed to seek the advice of an expert exterior to ourselves. It is also true that during the course of fifteen and a half years of living in a culture so different to my own, and one that has so many social customs and conventions to follow at that, I have often located my decision-making power outside of myself, born of a desire to do the ‘right thing’ for the culture I’m living in but resulting in a serious depletion of my sense of having any self-power. I also can’t deny that my ‘go with the flow’ kind of personality hasn’t really helped – nine times out of ten I’m content to go where the other person wants and do what they want to do without offering a suggestion because, to be honest, I’m pretty much happy enough anywhere doing anything (within limits of course).
But during the last year and a half or so I thought I had made progress in this area as well as others. I’ve actively started to take responsibility for making more decisions about my life – starting with the little things to be sure, but in the process I have gradually built up a certain degree of confidence in my ability to make choices that support me and the type of person I want to be. I’ve also made a conscious effort to kick my habit of being over-dependent on others, and to try to build healthy interdependent relationships instead. I’ve slowly but surely been pulling back little pieces of my power, and, while I know I still have a long way to go and want to become more pro-active about making decisions and changes in my life, if you had of asked me I would have said that my self-trust was at a higher level than it had been for a long while.
And yet… that one little phrase opened up the floodgates for an almighty wave of resistance to come crashing through…
And what did I do? I rode on through the wave and thanked it.
For our resistance is like a spotlight showing us where we still need to work on ourselves to help us return to wholeness. And so, with grateful thanks to my latest wave of resistance, my next inquiry on my journey back to wholeness will be into the nature of self-trust and how I can cultivate more of it.
My intention is to lean to trust myself so fully that I know, were I to take a big leap into the unknown like a trapeze artist, I would be there on the other side to catch myself. This is the level of trust in self I would like to see in my life; and this is what I shall move towards one small step at a time, however long a process it may be.
At the same time, it doesn’t mean that I think I have to do everything by and for myself. It’s more a case of knowing that I will always be there for myself – that I will get better at making choices that honor and support myself as well as others; that I will do what I can but recognize my limits and know when to ask for help; that I will start to assert my right to be my own person and the creator of my own life; that I will start to believe in my ability to do the things I dream of; that I will start to listen to my own knowings and to do what feels right for me; that I will no longer allow people to trample all over me without a word of protest on my part; that I will let myself release from my life the people who bring or put me down without feeling unnecessary guilt about doing so; and that I will put myself and my happiness first, whilst at the same time always holding the intention of showing kindness, consideration and compassion to others.
And so, at the start of this new year, my new affirmation is: I am learning to trust myself more and more each day.
This rings true for me. And, in speaking it aloud daily, I will consolidate its truth and help to make it so.