I am what I am… and I feel really good about it. Actually I feel really good about everything I’ve ever been! And that’s a change. A few years ago my inner voice would be chiming in about right now with some reminders of unfinished work in the ‘make me good’ project.
Sometimes, on the spiritual or consciousness trek, we can cram our heads a little too full and become a perpetually in need of fixing… as if a goal of ‘arrived’ is somewhere or somehow achievable and we have to just find the right practice or belief. I’ve been wondering, what is this thing that keeps us dissatisfied with ourselves, conjuring up more about me that is wrong?
I can actually recall little three year old me completely in love with my existence. I remember being happy, feeling perfect, with no inkling that there could be something wrong with what I am.
The notion that there is something wrong comes from outside of course, and what can we do… we take it in. We all go through this, some much more severely than others, but having judgments or conditions placed on the little light that we are, comes with being here, it seems.
The weight of it all settles in our hearts, experienced as a loss of innocence. And there begins a deep down disappointment. We eventually start to self-criticize, with an inner voice that tells us we’re not quite right, and we need to improve, or change, or hide who we are.
Project successful! Child is acclimating to ‘reality’. It’s called conditioning. And now that we’re acclimating, the broader society can tell us more about how to be: it is better to be like this than to be like that.
I can think back to the first time I observed my self-criticizing thoughts. I actually remember the thoughts and the feeling. I had read a magazine article about how a girl my age decorated her room so perfectly, all by herself. Oh how I wanted to do that, but I couldn’t make it happen… thus, a problem of not comparing well.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with comparison that leads to improved conditions, i.e. society ‘A’ suffers from a disease and notices that society ‘B’ does not suffer from that disease. Society ‘A’ takes up society ‘B’s cleanliness practices and much less disease is experienced.
Improvement that happens naturally with comparison is good and healthy, and it’s the way of civilization. But many of the messages we encounter are not about improving, but more about aligning to something restrictive, or consuming, competing, or fitting in to whatever look, action, behavior and so on, is approved of. We are actually inundated with this type of comparison dialogue, and we call it ‘programming’.
Conditioning and Programming bring about dissatisfaction with self, judgment of self and others, and insecurity. At least it worked that way on me.
What do we do about it? We try to live according to the rules. But… if we find it doesn’t go well and symptoms show up, and we can’t get over disappointment in life or the feeling of some kind of loss, we’ll eventually end up on the spiritual journey.
The desire to learn about spirituality, expanded consciousness, or metaphysical experiences leads us to a great deal of information and many wonderful teachers. And as we learn and shine the light on what happened to us, we uncover the truth… that we are much more than we had believed we were. And we begin to heal.
The ‘make me good’ projects that I mentioned in the first paragraphs are helpful methods and practices through which we tap back into our beauty and goodness, our nature of love and our inner power. How could it go wrong?
Well, there’s a rub: if the spiritual journey turns into another reason to beat ourselves up for being inadequate to the task, not diligent enough, and not comparing well with other ‘spiritual people’ and all of that, we still haven’t gained much liberation, have we.
We don’t return to our goodness by trading one self-critical voice for another. But if you’re anything like me, there is still that inner critic, and the interesting thing is, we think we need it – we think it’s a helpful way to make ourselves change.
How do we quiet that voice and still continue on the journey? I think we might be able to reclaim an answer that has been badly twisted.
We all know how misused ‘I love myself’ can be. Just today I saw a video in which Miley Cyrus was sadly exploiting herself, and her comment on the song and dance performance was… “I love myself.” So yes, we might tend to shy away, thinking that the self-criticism needs to keep going strong, or we’ll fall into loving our self-serving ego or a false construct of ourselves.
But… I suggest that’s not a legitimate fear. We can have enough faith in the work we’ve already done to love ourselves unconditionally.
To unconditionally love oneself is not a brainwash nor is it a huge indulgence. It’s a confirmation that the God Force, or the Light or whatever we want to call the primal Light energy… is within us.
Of course we’re not perfect, but we are polished enough to be able to intend the right thing. So it’s ok to stop the criticism and feel really good about who we are, and more importantly, to actually direct love toward ourselves.
Directing Love: this means to have reverence for that Sacred Heart within, and to protect it with our choices and behaviors. We don’t need a self-critic for that, or an inner voice reminding us how we failed yesterday or ten years ago or might fail tomorrow or whatever. We just need to realize that our inner Light is real, and it has nothing to do with ego.
At some point the ‘make me good’ journey becomes the ‘love me’ journey, and maybe now is a good time to make the switch.