Remember when you were a kid and you were going along, perfectly content about yourself and your life, and suddenly somebody, (maybe that mean kid in grade school), pointed out that you have big ears, or a crooked nose, or a weird laugh, or…fill in the blank. And suddenly, you’re mortified to find out that you DO have big ears or a crooked nose or a weird laugh, and based on the way the information was delivered to you, you recognize that apparently it is not a good thing?
And so it begins…your perception shifts to see yourself as ‘less than’, ‘too much,’ or ‘not enough’ and this perception makes you think you aren’t worthy of love or attention, or praise.
And so perhaps you went on thinking this way for a while; but hopefully, at some point during all of those years you started to realize that while your ears may be big, they’re really unique and beautiful, and that your nose may be crooked but it’s just like your grandmother’s, so you love it anyway; and your laughter is contagious so everyone around you finds joy in it also.
Hopefully, you have come to realize that these qualities are what make you beautiful.
Yet, sometimes it doesn’t work that way; sometimes old wounds get buried under new ones, and before you know it the wounds run so deep that it requires some real effort to heal what hurts.
You might resist a certain part of yourself or your life because it hurts, but it hurts because it needs to heal. When you have an injury your body lets you know about it through physical pain. The pain reminds you that you need to nurture the wound until it heals. It’s the same thing with emotional or psychological pain. You can’t ignore the pain and expect the wound to heal. You may even go so far as reopen the wound again and again by replaying the scenario or repeating the same cruel inner dialogue again and again. It’s pretty hard to heal when you’re constantly being reinjured.
You can’t ignore it, and you definitely can’t keep opening the wound, so what do you do?
You’ve got to nurture it back to health.
First of all, you’ve got to stop the offensive dialogue or events from invading your head space. Police your own mind. If the thought doesn’t serve you, tears you down, or makes you feel like crap, then Get.It.Out. Replace the image or the thought with something else—a song, a mantra, or a kind thought would be nice. If that doesn’t work, sit with the feeling of it. How is the thought showing up in your body? Where can you feel it? Can you sit and hold the feeling of it in your body or surround the sensation with space and light?
Old habits die hard, and acceptance doesn’t happen in one day. This is a process, so be patient with it. Especially if it’s an old wound—it may have been there for years—so give yourself time to really let it heal. Recognize that you’re going to have good days and bad days. Sometimes you’ll be strong and resilient against any negative attacks, but sometimes you’ll crumble at the slightest hint of negativity. Don’t let those days derail you. The fact that you can hold awareness of the good days and the bad days is a very powerful practice, and a sign that you’re on the right track. Being able to look at yourself and observe that you’re really feeling hurt, sensitive or raw at any given time is a sign that you’re slipping into a more expansive state of consciousness. Recognizing that you’re experiencing pain is different from being completely, unconsciously devoured by it. The difference is that you either hold the experience of pain, or it holds you.
Here’s the thing; life is full of people and experiences that will shake you up, tear you down, and break your heart. Don’t let those experiences be what defines you. Allow your response to those experiences be what defines you. Ultimately, you are in control—maybe not in control of what life throws at you—but you’re definitely in control of how you respond.
Be courageous. Nurture. Heal.
Then go out and shine even brighter.
This post originally appeared on my first blog, www.emilyparkinsonperry.com on February 18, 2015.