It is a recipe to heal many wounds.
In particular, in this moment, wounds flowing from the corruption of our democratic process through the daily inhalation of lies. Not the lies that absorb our time in furious fact checking on the internet, but the kind of lies that lead us to question ourselves, our connection to others, and our effectiveness in pursuit of our common goals.
In opposition, we need strength for the road. Internal self-fortification based on accurate self-assessment. It will bring us closer to the sustaining truth.
We begin by reviewing and reorienting our self-talk.
Negativity at the highest level has the power to infect us at the most personal level. We diminish our effectiveness when we stud our stories with self- deprecatory comments and the endless tape loop of our mistakes and misadventures.
Truth about Ourselves
We’ve had mean thoughts, been jealous, greedy, thought-less. And? We make mistakes. Learn from them.
The precondition for reevaluation is that we reject absolutely all judgments. Judgment stops exploration. It derails the search for what lies beneath our puzzling encounters.
Curiosity, on the other hand, is our friend. It allows us to be interested in our experiences. And as we track our stories in the spirit of friendly inquiry, it allows us to release the vitality trapped in our painful memories.
The painful incidents that haunt us and cause us to label ourselves, or to accept labels from others, can be clarified and integrated within us, if we take into account all the circumstances involved in the moment.
How were you defining yourself at that time, according to your age, gender role, family or work circumstances: Were you a rebel, a solid citizen, a clown?
What was the emotional and social context, of the incident? Were you scared, angry? Were you by yourself or were others witnessing what was happening?
What were your previous experiences of this kind of situation? (A fight, literal or metaphoric, an injury, ditto, a potential or actual sexual assault?)
Who was there to support and appreciate what you were going through?
Don’t forget your physical state of being. Were you hungry, exhausted, harassed?
Truth about Others
We contribute even more to accurate self assessment as we understand that except for physical pain, all pain is caused by separation. Separation from ourselves, our reality, our goals, dreams, hopes, gifts. Separation blocks our inborn desire to connect, to belong to each other. Self-trust allows us to trust others. Together, we can unfold truth.
Science helps: infant research shows that at the age of two months a baby can tell the difference between a still face, and an engaged, relational face. They recognize truth: with only their feelings, instincts, and physical sensations to guide them. As adults, we have language, information, education, and still we’ve been fooled. What to do?
Truth about Our Bodies
After we review and reorient our self- talk, we review and reorient our relationship to our bodies. We stop, look, and listen. We start to focus on our energetic core.
In theory, our bodies offer us no end of information: the jiggling foot, the clenched jaw, the pit in the stomach, the shallow breath….
Let’s choose our point of view. Blame and shame keep us isolated and self absorbed, rigid, and lacking emotional nuance and color.
If we have failed to live up to our own standards, maybe we should shift our standards. Maybe we should realize we learn better in an atmosphere of encouragement, and learning from our mistakes is what matters.
That’s the theory, the practice is, for many of us, ignore it all. Unless we become so uncomfortable we decide to take a pill. But in ignoring our physical signals, we ignore our emotional signals: feelings are physical.
It seems there is much we don’t want to know. Why? The implications are too …radical? Too frightening? We don’t have time for all that touchy feely?
Experiment: make a list: five things that you know but wish you didn’t, five things you don’t know, but wish you did.
What surprised you?
We are meaning making people: Begin by making metaphor. We can use our physical anomalies to help heal our mental dislocations. Then, make stories: do you curl your shoulders inward to protect your heart? Does your back hold your anger? What happened, when, where, how, what surprised you in your story? Give yourself a variety of happy endings. What is your intention now?
Our bodies are friends: listen to your friend.
Everything we think and feel can be expressed, and that makes a frame of joy for the release of action.
We don’t become lie resistant, we are born that way.
Strength for the road long-term comes as we claim that gift. As we commit to the unassailable beauty of truth, to the beautiful hopefulness of meaningful work, to the reengagement of all of our senses, body, mind, and spirit.
As the poet David Whyte points out: “The world is waiting for you.”