“I don’t want to live this way anymore,” is something I have said to myself at certain points in my life. Many times, this is after a very long struggle of trying to make my internal world match the outer world. Essentially, trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. It doesn’t work. I have tried numerous times to ignore the dissonance. I have kept myself busy thinking the feeling will go away. I have moved away to another state. And, even now, I sometimes run away to disconnect from people because then I don’t need to hear their opinions, etc. Essentially, running from myself. I would find ways to detach from situations, keeping my mouth shut, nodding my head and smiling, even if I felt differently, so I wouldn’t jar a situation sharing how I felt, or asking for what I needed. I thought this is how it was supposed to be. Basically, I was suppressing myself to please other people. The result was always the same. Hold it in. Hold it in. Hold it in. This put me in a corner many times in my life feeling like a caged animal and my temper would flare. If this happened around people, eyes would widen, people would tell me I am scary, and I would walk away with my head down feeling awful about myself.
You know, part of self-awareness is about being honest with yourself. And, more than not, many of us are faced with similar experiences. This is not to discredit how we were brought up, who we live with now, who we spend time with, the religious path we walk…we are meant to live the life we have. However, if we are constantly trying to force the pieces together it normally doesn’t go over so smoothly. I have learned more times than not, that this dissonance, this longing, is a calling to do something different, a calling for transformation. The process, I feel, can be as volatile or as healthy as we want to make it. We do have choices.
This past year I have been trying to let myself walk the path of loving-kindness. It’s been hard. A daily struggle of allowing my inner child to feel the things it needs to feel, even from past experiences. To provide quiet to really listen to my heart and ask, “What is it I need right now?” To give myself permission to walk in different directions, more in an experiment to see, “What happens if I do this?” What happens instead if I am upset, hurt, feeling unloved or cared for, angry, unsettled, if I tell myself, “Of course you feel this way. It’s okay.” Many people might argue and ask, “Wait. You’re telling yourself it’s okay if you feel hateful or volatile?” Yes. Because, when I give myself space to be kind to myself for a moment, to be a friend to myself, to sit down and acknowledge how I am feeling, it gives me room in my body, heart, and mind to relax instead of fighting it, to soften so I have time to lean in and analyze, “What is this all about? What are other alternatives to a situation? Am I seeing this clearly?” To find where I am telling myself a storyline that might not be true, so I can lovingly say to myself, “Drop the storyline.” In turn, this gives me room to be patient and loving with myself. I then can be kinder to others because I have been kind to myself. This gives me a different response.
One of my favorite meditations is when you imagine yourself sitting knee to knee with someone who cares about you. To just be in their presence. Who looks at you with kind, considerate eyes, and provides a loving smile because they just love being with you. And then, you imagine them getting up, walking away, and in walks you, sits down in front of you, knee to knee, eye to eye, heart to heart with the same loving kind smile. I cried the first time I did this meditation because it’s the first time I really saw me. Hair pulled back after a canoe ride, brown plaid bandana on, wearing my light green Michael Ray tank top and shorts; wild, child-like, full of nature, goodness, and freedom. No expectations. Just me. I saw me. Didn’t matter what I did for a living. Just kind, caring, compassionate, sensitive me.
The path of loving-kindness is real. It is possible. It does exist. You can sit with yourself just like you can with a friend. It is essential to be you, love you, embrace who you were destined to be—loving, kind, compassionate you. I understand more now how this isn’t selfish, how important this is for growth. How rich life can be. Although not always easy, especially at first, it is possible to walk this path of loving-kindness. Sometimes it requires a release of pent up emotions to get to the other side. And, it’s okay. So, I ask, “What holds you back from treating yourself with loving-kindness?” We are love because we were made with love. While sometimes we need to walk this path on our own, in our own time, may we all continue to grow together. Knee to knee. Eye to eye. Heart to heart.
By Heidi Nehring © 2019