A few weeks ago, I was looking through my collection of old pictures. I have always loved printing them out, filling up photo albums, and revisiting them from time to time. It truly fills me with gratitude that I have been lucky enough to have such amazing people in my life. I love remembering the seemingly insignificant places where the pictures were taken and being brought back to that moment in time. Pictures allow me to reminisce fantastic memories that would otherwise be lost in the past.
However, half way through this trip down memory lane, I was struck by a wave of deep sadness and regret. As I turned the pages I saw myself at all different ages and I remembered how mean I was to myself. I remember being 17 and thinking I was fat and ugly. I thought that I wasn’t good enough and that I hated school because I thought I wasn’t smart. I saw me at 24, broken hearted by my college boyfriend, feeling like I would never find love again. Then there was my 32-year-old self that never gave me enough credit, always wishing I were somewhere else in life and of course, still thinking I was fat and needed to change. The pain of wasted energy spent on negative self-talk flooded me as I looked at my image and finally saw the light that I have had all along. I saw my bright smiles and the heartfelt joy that I had experienced in the million moments that fill every day.
As I sat there, I brought my awareness to the feeling I had in the pit of my stomach and listened to my inner self that had this epiphany. I let myself experience the range of emotions that had come forward, and then I decided it was time to let all of them go. I don’t want to look in the mirror in 10 years and still be comparing myself to everyone else. I couldn’t bear the thought of living my life wishing I were different, because the truth is that I am perfect the way I am. Right now. My imperfections serve me in ways that I may not understand, and they make up the recipe of who I am.
I’m certain that I am not the only person out there who has had this experience. So, for those of you who are reading this and wondering what you can do to move into a space of greater self-acceptance, here are a few steps to take.
First, think about an age(s) that you were particularly hard on yourself. Find a picture from that time and place it some place where you can see it daily. Look at it every day for a week and recall what it felt like to be you during that period. How were you thinking about yourself? How were you showing up in your life? Then on the seventh day, carve out a window of time to do some excavation. You can do this by meditating, journaling, or walking in nature. Go to that part inside and ask your younger self questions such as, “Who did you think you needed to BE to receive love?” and “What belief about yourself can you let go?” Most importantly give your former self some love, compassion and understanding. Remind that part that they were just trying to do the best that they could in this life.
By completing the exercise above, it begins the process of healing past hurts. The human spirit reminds me of a Russian stacking doll, where each one of our ages are stacked within one another. Each layer holds onto thoughts, feelings, and patterns that occurred during that time. When you shed light onto a certain age, you can understand things about yourself that may have eluded you for years. When you complete the exercise, check back in with yourself to see if there is another age that might need to be heard.
Spiritual Seed: Let love heal you.
Note: I feel called to acknowledge the horrific events that occurred last Friday at The Veterans Home in Yountville. I contemplated writing this article about those devastating incidents, but it was too soon to find the words. The pain that has reverberated throughout the community, and the immeasurable grief that is being experienced by all of those involved is inconceivable. For now, I feel that it’s important to recognize that gun violence and mental health issues are demanding our attention.