“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built up against it.”
Fear is a liar.
Not exactly the statement you thought I’d start off this newsletter with, right? But, given that we have, on average, 50,000 thoughts each day, and given that most of these thoughts are directed at ourselves and our lives, AND, given that roughly 80% of these thoughts are negative…I think it’s time to pull the plug on fear, don’t you?
Our lives are directed by our thoughts. And those thoughts can either come from fear or they can come from love. Starting early in life, we project a belief system based on grades, cliques, success, and societal standards of beauty. We desire belonging and love but pick up fear around us: what if we’re not not-good-enough-as her or we are lesser-than him? What starts as one tiny fear spreads like a virus. As adults, this thinking can keep us playing small.
Fear is a liar.
Fear will tell you that you aren’t good enough. Fear will convince it’s better to not even try because you’ll likely fail. Fear will leave you feeling self-conscious. Fear will keep you playing small. Fear will promise you safety and security but only if you play by its rules. And so we buy in. We play small. We live our lives full of doubt, anger, resentment, guilt. We live lives fraught with addictions and try to numb away the half-life we’re living. We know there’s more to this whole life experience, but we’re afraid we don’t have what it takes.
It wasn’t long ago that I was living a completely different life. Two years ago, I was staring at rock-bottom. I had recently had an “interview” with Renfrew eating disorder clinic and had spent two days in Friends Hospital for depression. I lost sight of who I was, what made me happy, what made me feel alive. But I wanted more. I knew there simply had to BE more to all of this. I wasn’t even sure how to get to the “more” of life, but when I signed myself out of Friends I made a declaration: I want to be happy, living a life I love in a body I love. Period.
Often times we need to hit a hard enough bottom to actually hear the voice of our authentic self within us, the voice we have silenced for so long, the voice of who we really are. And, a funny thing happens when you make a radical declaration to experience self-love and happiness: you create an open spot-a doorway. And that doorway is an invitation. All you need to do is accept it.
Acceptance is a bit of all or nothing. There really isn’t a gray area here. You’re either fully living in acceptance of what life presents to you, no matter how uncomfortable it might be; or you’re not. Accepting the task to overcome my eating disorder and to fully step into a place of self-love and acceptance was a mighty hard invitation to accept at first. Addiction recovery is like plugging the holes of a sinking ship. As soon as you plug one hole, another one appears. This was the case for me. I’d give up counting the calories I burned on various cardio machines for taking back-to-back classes and wonder why I wasn’t happy yet. I’d give up diet pills for laxatives, laxatives for weight loss drink packets and wonder why I wasn’t living a life I loved. I’d swap out one fix for another thinking that what was standing in my way of living a life I loved was some simple mechanic outside myself. As I went through my healing journey, I began to notice a familiar theme: the majority of my beliefs were rooted in fear.
- If you’re not perfect, you won’t be enough and no one will love you. Don’t you want to be loved?
- If you stray from your rigorous routine or caloric intake, others will see you as fat. Do you really want to be fat? Right. I didn’t think so.
- You don’t even have a “real job.” You’re not even using the degree you earned at college. What a waste! And now others will think you’re stupid. Not like they thought otherwise.
- And now you want to attempt to teach others about living a life they love? You’re not even living it! You’re a fraud. Just give up. You’ll never get there.
Fear is a liar.
But it wasn’t until I hit my hardest bottom, it wasn’t until I completely fell apart, that I was willing to surrender to the voice that said: I want to be happy. I want to live a life I love. In a body I love. Period. And, it wasn’t until I started to wake up to this voice that I started to understand that this voice was different from the voices in my head, the ones that convinced me I wasn’t enough. This voice was from my heart. That same heart that was once intent on living within boundaries and numbers and limitations was quietly guiding me to a new reality, one of endless possibility and full of bright freedom.
Love is our power. Love is the quiet voice that whispers in our heart center, the one that doesn’t clamor to be heard, but keeps whispering us gently back to the truth of who we are. The truth of who we are, that love, is our power.
No one can bring this love to you. No one can see it for you. It’s not made to order. It’s not something you seek. It’s something to which you return. Over and over again. It takes looking at all the thoughts that don’t work and one by one refuting them. It takes listening to the limiting beliefs and acknowledging, “This didn’t come from love, and so it is not real.” It takes calling out the excuses for what they are. And it takes replacing them all-all the thoughts that do not work, all the limiting beliefs, all the excuses-with the gorgeous truth. This truth is love. This love is your power. And this love is already within you. You just have to make your radical declaration, open the doorway and accept your invitation. Until you accept the invitation to enter into a self-love affair with what’s right about you, you can’t share that love with others. Full radical acceptance doesn’t hold out for some improvement in your character, ability or appearance. Full radical acceptance celebrates the gift you are to the world. Right now.
I know now that love is my power. But I also know that power comes from what I give my attention to and I can either give my attention to thoughts of love or thoughts of fear. Every day is a practice to cultivate Maitre, a Sanskrit word for loving-kindness extended toward ourselves. Every day I soften my heart a little bit more, celebrating what is right about me. Each day I find a little more to be grateful for. Each day I stand at the mirror scrutinizing perceived flaws a little less. Each day I find my whole being smiling more. And so even though I’m not fully there yet (and who of us truly is?), one day at a time I am changing my mind and opening up my heart to radical love.
How will you open the doorway to radical love today? How can you narrate your day with kindness toward yourself? What will you celebrate about YOU? I encourage you to start your day by offering loving words toward yourself or by celebrating something amazing about yourself. Even better, I challenge you to choose one loving, positive thing to say to yourself and to say it out loud EVERY hour during the day. It’s estimated that on average women have 13 negative body thoughts daily-that’s one for each waking hour! Why not plants seeds of Maitre in its place and plant the seeds for the best day ever today? This is your year to have the #bestyearever… make it a year full of radical love!
May love guide you and surround you and lead you to your truth. Love is YOUR power. Welcome home.