Last night I asked my husband/mindfulness teacher/former Buddhist monk/ghostwriter/all around thinker, ‘When did you first start liking yourself?’
He went silent, scratched his chin, looked at the ceiling and said, ‘No one ever asked me that before.’
I was intrigued to catch him off guard.
He may be one of the most skilled mindfulness teachers, with four decades of teaching/training/writing under his belt—but you don’t become a Buddhist monk for fun. He was in crisis when he got there. It saved his life!
Over our 20 years of conversations we’ve probed tough areas, shared our most vulnerable sides and grown. This ‘risk-taking’ is the foundation of our intimacy and trust. I knew that question would trigger something—and it did.
He realized that he started to like himself at age 13 and recalled the event that triggered it. He was delighted!
Then he asked me. When did I begin to like myself? It got me thinking. Did I ever not like myself?
I grew up painfully shy, self-conscious and uncomfortable. Maybe I didn't like myself but I didn’t look at it like that. I was just, me.
When I was fifteen, peers who struggled with family, friends or school, sought my advice. I was their safe place to vent and get a new perspective. This was different. I remember thinking, ‘Wow, what do they see that I'm not seeing?'
I think I started liking myself when I saw my value in the eyes of others.
Neat exercise, right? Positive thinking and all that. But the exercise didn’t stop on this pleasant thought. I next noticed deep anger at myself for making bad relationship choices. ‘Not liking’ myself was putting it mildly. Some decisions hurt others too.
Even after everyone else moved on, I was still holding onto anger and disappointment. I’d ‘fly off the handle’ over trivial things.
Intellectually I knew I had to forgive myself. But how?
The answer is: through conversations like this one with Stephen. Forgiveness and deeper insight don't come by talking once. ALL the conversations where I feel supported, not judged, enabled me to shed my burden. Even my body feels energized and stronger as I express myself.
One of the best results from all this is my ability to speak up guilt-free and without fear of hurting others or creating conflict. I take a ‘risk’ to express what matters, because I MATTER!
If you judge yourself this may be your starting point. If you’re hard on yourself, you’re not seeing the whole picture of who you are and who can you can become. Don't you owe it to yourself to find out?
If you are carrying anger, resentment, fear, what have you tried, to alleviate your discomfort? Maybe you're waiting for things to improve on their own.
How's that working for you?
There may be a better way. Call me for a free one hour conversation where you are completely safe to share whatever is on your mind and in your heart.
It would be my honour to serve you.