I have struggled with self-love on a daily basis for a lot of my life. I use the word struggle here specifically because it seems to be a word that is "bad," and associated with "blocks" and negative mindsets. Yet the inner conflict, the inner struggle, is quite real on an energetic, emotional level. For all of us.
I think we are allergic to talking about pain and inner struggle, relegating it somewhere behind closed doors, dirty little secrets or a thing we make bad or wrong. Like it is bad to be in pain; I am yet to meet a single person who is not in some kind of inner pain.
The only way out is to talk about it, metabolize it and work it through. With love.
We make pain wrong though. It's not wrong, we just don't like to be in pain. We fear if we go into it, we will drown in it forever,. But the ignoring of it actually keeps us oppressed by our own pain more than anyone or anything else.
Patriarchy doesn't like pain because healing pain awakens awareness, empathy, love and compassion which is the opposite of that gnawing emptiness inside that we search to fill with something while trying to paint perfect pictures of ourselves for each other.
We are taught that pain is a “selling point.” If we are in pain we will continue to need to buy stuff.
We long for connection. We long to be loved. We long to be free of pain.
The change of seasons brings up a lot of heaviness, the last of the Winter energies asking to be metabolized and released. This can feel like fatigue, exhaustion. It can feel like deep sadness. It can feel like depression. Depression, however, is not the same as feeling sadness, grief or tired unless you resist your experience.
Emotions are life force energy manifesting as a current of information to guide you in making decisions, in navigating life, as well as into a more conscious relationship with yourself and with Spirit. Emotions serve a lot of different functions, many of them are shut down in the same way life force energy is generally shut down, with several few acceptable expressions of it. As a consequence, many of us have come to believe that our emotional life is bad, that it isn't safe to have emotions (or be ourselves) or we fear our emotions because we do not know what to do with them.
What can happen is a shut down, which manifests as depression. All these emotions go inward because we don't know what to do with them. We turn in on ourselves. This is the birth of self-criticism, shame and self-loathing. Especially if we weren't held, seen or supported to understand our own inner experience.
Emotions are relational, they happen in response to our relationship with life. Healing relationships and cultivating a healing relationship with Spirit can be a relieving balm in our current emotionally neglectful (and abusive) society. One of the most potent ways to use ancient spiritual and soul technologies is to learn how to harness the wisdom of your emotional body to tap into the wisdom of your emotions, metabolize your emotions and experience the liberating quality of this connection with life force energy.
Shame is pain inside the heart; a deep hurt that feels like you aren't good enough, aren't worthy in some way, that something is deeply wrong, that you are deeply flawed or somehow missed the memo on humanning well. It's this emptiness that feels bottomless and disconnected.
It IS the soul wound.
Shame has taken up residence in the center of your original heartbreak, at the core of who you are. There are a million reasons we all experience soul wounding and soul loss. It's been said that this is such an endemic at this time.
It's this undefinable yet very alive experience that is constantly running in the background of our subconscious. It is the emptiness that our consumer culture thrives on. We live in a shame culture. A trauma culture. A money culture. These things are so intimately wound up together culturally, our nervous systems cannot quite tell it all apart. As long as it feels like there is never enough or that you aren't enough, you will continue to seek outside of yourself for an experience of wholeness that money cannot buy.
This is the place where wanting more and more becomes the addiction wearing the costume of perfection and abundance and attacking ones core self like a construction project in the hopes that personal enlightenment will bring all the things we've been promised. It just doesn't work this way. It's all perpetuating itself and making most of us feel crazy and desperate. So much so, we are then distracted by what is happening in the world and people are hurting other people. Aren't we perhaps the only species that turns on itself (each other and ourselves)?
This is one of the most important things to me that needs to change. I often wonder what the world would be like if no one ever felt like there was something wrong with them. If we want to change our culture or heal our planet, we simply must start to talk about this soul wound, this sense that somehow being human is bad, that we are flawed, that we need to try to attain some state of divine perfection to transcend it.
Yes, being human is fragile and painful at times, scary even. But, shame is NOT a natural part of our programming. No thing in nature experiences shame or thinks that there is something wrong with it. It is NOT normal to feel this way about ourselves. It is not the natural frequency of our soul.
Fear is afraid of fear because it is protecting something. It's become unsafe to feel fear, which is a little strange and funny at the same time. It seems really important to not throw the baby out with the bath water, which means that it feels vital to the health of our collective hearts to find a different way to navigate and understand our innately emotional experiences that naturally arise in the course of living life as a human being. I am reminded of that really old paradigm saying that children should be seen and not heard. I hate that saying, but I believe that this still pervades our collective unconscious as we have inherited and internalized these models of the patriarchy, which we use as inner models for relating to ourselves. This is our soul wound.
Children need to be heard in order to feel deeply seen. We, as adults, are absolutely no different. When we dismiss our fears as all the same, as "fear-based thinking" (which arises out of the body holding on to fear, which is real in the body) we try to rationalize away or use mind strategies to attack the body for trying to tell it's story. This is in fact not seeing or hearing the core of ourselves. In a sense, it is putting salt in the soul wound.
Our body stores every single experience we have ever had and, if uncomfortable, we try to get rid of it without understanding it. This is not healing or loving. Healing is creating a space of love for the meaning and understanding to arise. It is only in that meaning and understanding that what is needed informs how to transform this energy into wisdom and love. This is self-love. It is hard to understand this if we have never felt emotionally loved or held, which is more common than you think. Emotional neglect is far more common than the patriarchy and media and marketing and most people would like you to know. We think the way we treat ourselves and others emotionally is normal and health. Normal is not always healthy. (Like encouraging people to put themselves out and share their voice, and then tear them down when they do and accuse them of having too much fear based thinking to really put themselves out there....)
I have always seen and known things that other people haven't seen or known, or haven't wanted to acknowledge. Maybe that is special, or maybe it isn't, but I grew resenting the way I saw the world. It became a world I lived in alone, sometimes shared and then ignored or fought with or denied or avoided or rejected or punished. I've been cast out and judged and all kinds of things. None of these things ever had an impact on my truth or my view of the world, but they did have an impact on how I felt about myself.
It has cut deep, living in a world that basically wants individuality to fit into a box in order for us to belong, yet valuing the innovative thinking. If it fits and makes everyone comfortable. I started to think maybe I was crazy. I started drinking when I was 17 for a good 10 years. When I stopped, I just found other ways to drown out my knowing and punish myself for what I felt, getting into situations that didn't match my heart because that's what the world started to have me believe I needed to do.
It's my soul wound. It slices deep, to the bone marrow of my being. It's also my light, my power, my gift and the guiding light in my work. It got to the point where it was actually causing me tremendous pain and harm to not share my thoughts, to not speak my voice, to not do my work in the world. I have to. You have to. It's leaning into the pain and sharing the wisdom that comes from it. It's how we heal ourselves and each other whole. It's also a source of holy trembling, often I feel like I'm annihilating some part of myself every time I hit post. Not because it's super vulnerable or I care what other people thing, but because it's an act of rebellion against the fear I feel of loving my own genius.
We cannot hide our fear and our shame because then we hide our true strength, courage and light too. I know it's a real thing, being afraid of our own genius. It's the thing, the powerful way we see the world, create or feel called to speak, help others or move in the world to express what we want to express. Our culture is quite ill and honors some kind of false vulnerability that seeks validation and fears the kind that is truth and soul and courage and grit and grace. We are afraid of it because it touches that place in all of us, that soul wound that we don't know what to do with.