“The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am,
then I can change.” Carl Rogers
So Monday's post was all about letting our truths Shine, and how to do so you really need to let go of fear. A huge part of Shining is "not caring" (or worrying) about what others think. I also talked about how when we are connected to love it is much easier to move from judgement to compassion. Children are great at shining their truth. Probably because they have not learned to fear rejection. Kids will ask for what they need and tell you what they want all day long. They live in the moment and with a gusto we should all aim for.
It is true that I've grown and changed a lot these past few years. But it is also true that I'm still scared of sharing some things. And I still judge others. Judgment has to come from a place of fear. Why else would we judge others unless we were scared? Scared of what I'm not sure - of being judged ourselves? Because we are different? I guess it comes down to a fear of not being accepted - of not belonging. Which brings us back to love. When we are loved and loving we belong, and the need to judge fades.
When I judge, I feel a tightening inside and it doesn't feel good at all. Just this week I judged people because *I* thought they weren't being flexible enough, or open-minded (haha, ironic right?), or that they were being rude. I also judged people I don't even know because I read a blog and some comments that didn't fit in with my own personal world-view (If you clicked the link and read, you will see what I mean).
I don't have much more to add to what I've said so far. I still get scared. I still judge. But now when I get scared I think, I need to just do it! Whatever I'm scared of, I need to face it head on. Some of the best moments and experiences of my life have come about when I do so. Many times I'm scared of saying something to a loved one. When I finally say the words I'm fearful of saying I become closer to the person - every single time. As far as judging goes, I'm super-aware of it now (I love adding "super" to words - it's fun. Like telling Gerry his Lightning McQueen shirt will make him "super-fast" - ever since that day he's actually worn clothes! Now that was a "super-smart" move on my part!), as I was saying... when I judge, I notice it right away. I even try *not* to judge at first. And after I fall short of that goal, I try to reframe my thoughts. I try to put myself in the person's shoes who I am judging. I imagine possibly scenarios that might explain their beliefs or behaviors (realizing that I actually have no idea what their past experience is). I connect to their feelings - of frustration, embarrassment, hurt - whatever it might be. And that helps me remember that we are both human, both doing the best we can with the tools we have. Love feels good inside. It feels free and light and easy. Once I begin to shift my thoughts I begin to see again that really we are not all that different. That many times we are describing the same human experience, we are just using different words.
Part 2: Facing my Fear
So here comes the scary part. Writing about something that I'm fearful of sharing with the world at large. But I've seen how facing my fears is the right thing to do in the past. It helps me grow and it pays off in my life in ways that cannot be predicted, until you just go ahead and jump in. I feel a desire to say, "it's not the right time yet," or "I'm not ready," or even "I need to think this out better before I share," and of course there is, "it doesn't matter to others if I do share... what difference does it make?" But it does make a difference, if not to others then to me. So I'm pushing ahead through my discomfort and misgivings and I'm going to share something that I'm scared to share.
I'm going to hash out something here that I wrote in my journal a few weeks ago. The words came pouring out of me at the time - two pages worth of writing, thoughts, feelings, in the space of a few minutes. I believe that they came to the surface because of my new practice of meditation and also of using affirmations. Ever since setting my Lenten Intentions (which is about to seem really ironic!), things have been happening for me. I've definitely changed some things, well more accurately, added some things to my life and routines. Ok, well it seems I'm still beating around the bush, so here it goes!
I'm getting to a new place on my spiritual journey. And it is exhilarating and terrifying at the same time, as often new things are. And it is really quite simple. I've been raised Christian (Protestant). I converted to Catholicism one year after Mike and I got married. But recently an idea that is pretty central to Christianity is just not resonating with me at all. The idea of sin and of all of us being sinners. The biggest reason this isn't resonating with me anymore is that I'm noticing what is helping me make better decisions in my life, more loving choices, and treating myself and others more in a manner that reflects my ideals more closely.
Guilt or feeling bad about myself has never been as effective in creating change in myself or my life as this new way. And thinking of myself and others as sinners just doesn't feel good. What *is* helping me create change is meditation, breathing, being mindful and meeting my own needs every day. I've always been introspective, but I'm hitting a new level of "knowing myself". I'm recognizing my own needs on a new level and since I'm more mindful of myself I'm able to be more mindful of everyone else. Who can be thoughtful of others when they aren't taking care of their own basic needs? I really believe that we all want to be good and feel good.
The second reason that this idea of sin is just not working for me is the idea of being born a sinner. To me, babies are born perfect and innocent. As I parent and my children grow, I continue to see them as striving to do their best. They are learning how to live in our world and get their needs met. I just can't see them as sinners. Imperfect human beings, yes, sinners, no.
I *understand* the "sinner" perspective (after all I grew up with it!). This kind of guilt has no place for me anymore though. It is true that we are not perfect, that we make mistakes, and that we are all capable of hurtful, even terrible things. Also, as my ideals become clearer I repeatedly see how imperfect I am. This is similar to the Christian perspective that as one gets closer to God, the realization that one is a sinner becomes stronger (I've experienced this myself). BUT it is a very different perspective to believe that at our CORE we are LOVE, LIGHT, and GOODNESS. I truly believe that we need to LOVE ourselves unconditionally first before we can love others. Yes we must recognize our mistakes and weaknesses, and strive for improvement, but always love ourselves.
I have a feeling that some people may see this as "just" semantics. But for me, words are very important. A paradigm shift from the idea of sinner to imperfect but GOOD, is huge. It will manifest in so may ways. It affects your thoughts which in turn will have an effect on your feelings and actions. Which is the next shift. What do we do when we are faced with imperfection (aka our humanity, or "sin nature")? How we react and what actions we take when we find ourselves or others falling short of expectations is important. I find with my new mindset it is easier to embrace my belief that violence and punishment are not, indeed cannot be, the answer.
Why has this been so scary for me to write? Well, once again fear of what others might think rears its head. As much as I'm freeing myself from this beast, it will probably always be present. Maybe to some degree it is important to care what others think. For example, I do care what Mike thinks and I should! Today I nervously informed him of what I was writing about today. What followed was a great exchange between us and I feel closer to him now than ever. That is what I'm talking about. Facing fear in the eye and getting love back. It's still scary to feel like I'm rejecting something that is such a huge part of me and the community I grew up in (and still live in, to a large degree). Some people may worry for me - that I am straying. Others may think, "Hallelujah! What took her so long to get here!" And I'm sure there will be some reactions of wow, I have similar feelings or doubts.
It's good to change and evolve, especially if we can remember our former selves. It is another way to see that we are all the same at our core and makes it possible to connect with others who seem different on the outside. Sometimes it seems like our perspectives are different, but we are really saying the same thing in our own unique way. As our perspectives shift we create more points of commonality through our past and present truths. Even if we feel or think differently now, we can remember our old self and through our experience connect with more people. Compassion finds us from within. I was struck today by the thought that perhaps in the end it doesn't matter what I *believe*, but what really matters is what I *do*.