Category Archives: personal development

Write for light

Write your way through the darkness, until a light begins to appear at the end, and you can feel that rush of returning home to yourself.

Write for your life, through the darkest moments, knowing that your words are read and received, and that it is always safe to acknowledge yourself and what you are feeling.

Write from a place of connection, or if you feel disconnected, write until the glimmer of connection begins to shine through.

Write until you are exhausted, or jot down a few choice words. Either way, you are a writer my dear.

Paint your nails and put your hoop earrings in, if it helps you to feel like the boss that you are, and to get the words you long to write down on paper.

Write in your pjs with greasy hair and a belly so full of tea you just know you’re going to need to make 100 more trips to the loo before the day is done.

Whatever it is that gets you in front of your computer or notepad, just do it.

Express yourself, and write your truth at every turn.

Don’t wait for anyone else’s invitation to begin writing your story, or sharing your ideas. Life is an open invitation to self expression, and the more of us who dare to show up and write from a place of authenticity, the better. The more we step into our own truth, the easier we make it for others to do the same.

Hey you – yes you, reading this!!! What is it that you long to write? Regardless of what you think your ‘audience’ may want to hear, or may bring the most hits to your blog. What issues are burning inside of you, just waiting for you to give them some air?

I don’t know why I’m writing this. I didn’t even realise I was going to write a blog post until I opened up my laptop and found myself tapping away. Maybe it’s a load of sh*t, or maybe it contains a nugget of wisdom that someone reading this will benefit from, in some small way.

Point is, I turned up, I wrote what seemed to want to be written, and I’d rather do that than wait for the perfect idea for a blog post to emerge. I’m not a creative genius (or at least I don’t think I am!). I’m just a woman who seems to want to write, and is fortunate that occasionally what I’ve written means something to someone else.

Who’s permission are we waiting for, anyway, when we’re pondering our worth as a writer? What human being was born into this world with credentials so great, and a talent for writing so enormous, that they can determine whether or not we are allowed to enter the fold and take to the keyboard? I’ll tell you who – no one!

So write! Write for freedom, write for joy, or write to get something off your chest. You are a part of this world, and this world needs you to show up as your true self. Writing is one way that you can do this.

Peace!

Kath Xxx

Learning to trust what arises

Let’s be honest, if we had the choice, we’d all want to be happy most, if not all of the time; we’re only human after all.¬†In reality, life is a little trickier than that.

The trouble with feeling low, sad or anxious is that they don’t feel like very friendly emotions! They feel, if anything, like some form of punishment for something we’ve done wrong. We judge the emotion, and we judge ourselves for feeling it, which in turn only makes us feel worse.

I’ve read before about diving into every moment in life, trusting that it is our friend and not our foe. Spiritual writers seem particularly keen for us to ‘trust what arises’, no matter how bad we may feel at times. If I happen to be in a difficult place when I come across these messages, my reaction is usually not a positive one!! “If only they knew how bad I feel and how hard I’ve been trying to stop feeling this way, they wouldn’t be encouraging me to dive in deep and accept what is!”

My go-to response to feeling a difficult emotion is often to look for the escape button, in whatever form that may take. Now please don’t misunderstand me here – I’m not in the least suggesting that you stop yourself from looking for support, guidance or comfort in your moments of darkness. I don’t know about you, but I’m becoming increasingly aware of the fact that I’m not in this life alone, and whereas I absolutely must take responsibility for my own emotions, that does not mean that I have to do it alone. In fact, seeking support and guidance isn’t hitting the escape button – it’s a way of making what you’re feeling manageable and ensuring that you feel heard, understand and held. This is ALL GOOD and extremely important. Hitting the escape button, on the other hand, may include something that will temporarily numb the pain, but in the process prevent you from really experiencing what it is that is wanting to be seen. Think along the lines of a glass or two of wine, asking for reassurance instead of trusting that you can handle whatever life throws your way, or reaching out to someone you know gives you that rush of acceptance and approval, when what you really need is to accept and approve of yourself.

As I write this, I’m aware of how very hard it is to dive into the negative emotions that arise, and how much I still find myself wanting to fast-track my way to the good side of life. In fact, I’m writing this as an important reminder to myself, because it takes courage to sit with the ‘bad’ and trust that the ‘good’ will return. This stuff is hard guys! Like, super hard and gritty and painful and messy… It sucks, and I know it sucks, so please don’t think that I’m of the impression that any of this is easy.

It seems to me that there are a few key things to remember when it comes to navigating the darker side of life, and most of them have to do with trust… So get ready to learn how to trust, let go and allow life to unfold. It may seem scary, but it’s actually extremely empowering, and will help you to feel more connected with yourself and your fellow human beings. (Remember: no matter how alone you may feel, we are all in this together, and you are connected with every other living thing on the planet. The less ‘true’ this feels, the more you have to trust that it is).

  • Your life is not meaningless and random – it is VERY meaningful and everything is always exactly as it should be.
  • In every moment there are opportunities to trust more, let go of the need to control, and allow things to just ‘be’, knowing that life is always cheering you on and encouraging you to reach for joy.
  • Trust that you are worthy of joy and happiness. Often, when we feel particularly bad, joy can seem like it’s a very long way from us indeed. What I’ve come to realise is that joy is always present within us; it’s our ability to tap into it and get past our mental and emotional blocks that matters. If joy seems far from your reach, consider that it may actually be closer to you than you could ever have imagined, just waiting for you to give yourself a break, learn to love yourself or let go of the past…
  • Trust the journey that you are on. You know who you are, what phase of your life you are in, and what it is that you need to do to connect with that deep well of joy that exists inside you at all times. Don’t let the demons fool you into thinking that they know you better than you know yourself!! If anything, recognise that your fears are a natural part of being human, thank them for their concern, but ultimately remind them that they don’t get to call the shots. (NB: for more on living a more full and creative life in spite of the fear that arises for all of us, read ‘Big Magic’ by Elizabeth Gilbert – you won’t regret it!)
  • All of the above will help you to relax and breathe, anchoring you in the present moment, which ultimately is all that we ever have.
  • Remember that breathing through the pain doesn’t mean accepting that this is how you will always feel. It is absolutely possible for you to accept pain and anguish, whilst dreaming of and trusting in a joyful future ūüôā
  • Remember that you are ALWAYS loved. If you need a little encouragement with this one, please listen to ‘In Dreams’ by Jai-Jagdeesh. It’s a beautiful song to play just before bedtime.

As I move through my life, I am becoming increasingly aware that the only version of life that makes sense to me is a magical one, where we are all connected in a giant cosmic journey. The more magic I allow to be present in my life, the deeper my sense of trust and belonging. I’ve tried living in a mundane world-view, and it felt so far from the truth, and brought me so much pain, that I have no choice now but to dive in deep to the spiritual life I feel strongly is calling to me. If you too feel the call of the wild, please consider reading some of Martha Beck’s many wonderful books. She is one crazy lady, in the best and most wonderful way. There are days when just remembering that she exists brings me a sense of relief and belonging. I love you Martha!

Now go forth and allow yourself to begin trusting in yourself and your journey.

Much love,

Kath Xxx

 

Image courtesy of Terry Johnston via Flickr Creative Commons Attribution License

With great pain comes understanding and peace

When all is said and done, there is only love.

When all is said and done, connection and togetherness is all that really matters.

When all is said and done, what matters most about your life might have nothing to do with your external achievements or appearance.

What matters – the ONLY thing that matters – is how we feel.

Our connection to joy and inner-peace.

Our ability to sit with all of our emotions; not censoring them, but rather noticing and acknowledging them for what they are.

How we connect with the world around us and with the universe that exists within all of us is paramount to our happiness and well-being.

I’ve read and heard ideas like these for quite a few years now, but only in this moment can I say that I am finally beginning to fully understand the truth behind them. It has taken many a dark moment of fear and disconnection to finally allow my emotional blocks to begin dissolving away, giving way to a deep well of joy and peace I never knew I could experience.

I haven’t reached this point in my life in spite of the bad times, but rather because of them. They were my friend all along, and only ever wanted the best for me. My demons are my saviours, and for as long as I live, I will try to always listen to the dark moments of my life and hear what they are trying to tell me.

And for as long as I live, I will endeavour to let go of the need to control, or to always understand what a situation is about. I cannot comprehend a universe in which I am not in constant communication with some unseen, but oh so loving and friendly force. I have felt this connection from being a young woman, but I learnt to disconnect from it in favour of social norms and false ideas about what it means to be safe and loved in the world. It has been a long journey to come home to myself, and it has only just begun! I get the feeling that I have only glimpsed the very smallest portion of my potential.

I want so desperately to feel connected, and to help others do the same. I will no longer live in a world where we are all meaningless collections of atoms, because for me this no longer feels like the truth.

I occasionally come across bits of paper with scrawled notes or reminders written on them – I have an enormous collection of writing from the last few years, which has served to help guide me and remind me of what I already knew to be the truth. It’s not prize-winning stuff, but it was important at the time, and sometimes my own words reach out to me from the past and touch me in unexpected ways. This last happened just a few days ago now, and this is what I found:

Go find your joy

Go find your purpose

Go out into the world

Let it see you

And cast your eyes upon its magnificence

Don’t label yourself;

Be wild and free

Express yourself

And feel your connection to the rest of humanity

You’ve come so far

Know that nothing is outside of your reach

These were just the words I needed to read at that exact moment, so I guess I’m happy that I’ve kept all my scrappy bits of paper!

So, my lovely readers. What feels true for you? What do you ache to do or say, but daren’t because you fear ridicule, rejection or ruin?

What is it about your life that speaks to you the most, and what is missing?

Who do you most love to spend your time with, and who drains your energy and leaves you feeling hollow?

If you could trust that your life belongs to you, what would you do differently?

And if you feel a long way off from all of this very whimsical sounding self-help style material, then know that that too is OK. It’s all good, all of the time.

LOADS of love,

Kath

What made you happy yesterday might not make you happy today

Life is a journey, right? We are told this continuously throughout our lives, by friends and relatives hoping to provide some reassurance or insight. We too, have most likely bestowed this timeless phrase on our loved ones on many an occasion. But do we really know what this means in practice? Do we fully understand how to embrace the constant onward march of time, and the ever-changing circumstances we find ourselves faced with?

I can only speak for myself when I say that I have not yet mastered this skill. I understand the theory behind the journey of life, and letting go of the idea that I was ever in control. I’m certainly much better at accepting the light and dark that enters our lives, and recognising that maybe, just maybe, the lights have gone out so that we may discover something new about ourselves. But change I find tricky, and my skill-set in dealing with life often falls short when it comes to uncertainty and periods of transition. And there definitely is a skill-set involved, without which it’s logical that we may falter and struggle against reality.

There was a lot of change for me growing up, but this doesn’t mean that I know how to handle it. In fact, I’d say I’m less well-equipped than someone who has had a relatively stable upbringing, because our goal as a family was to run away from the problems, and wherever possible, pretend that they didn’t exist. This is perfectly understandable, given that my parents didn’t have the know-how to help us deal with what was going on. That’s not to say that they didn’t do lots of lovely things to soothe and comfort us, or that they didn’t desperately want for us to be happy and well-adjusted. Their love and adoration is not in question here.¬†I think perhaps one of the difficulties with a highly changeable upbringing is that you find yourself always looking for something permanent; something solid to hold onto in a seemingly unfriendly world. But by doing this, you overlook the importance of letting go and of going with the flow of life. And there most definitely is a flow to life, isn’t there? We’ve all experienced that delicious feeling of being on the right path, or of just knowing somehow that life is supporting you in your endeavours.

Note: it’s been important for me to realise that life is always supporting me, even when it feels as though everything is falling apart.

One of my biggest frustrations in life is that what made me happy yesterday might not make me happy today. I can be sailing along, having a perfectly wonderful week, then suddenly everything looks very different. “But wait! I was happy and content before – what’s happened to change how I feel? Why can’t I find that feeling again by doing the same things as before?” It’s a very disheartening experience, and one that can make you feel very powerless and out of control if you let it. The only answer I have come up with so far is to let go and let happiness reveal itself to you in its own time. As tempting as it is to keep looking in the same places, perhaps you need to take a big step back and view life from a different perspective? The truth is that life may look the same as it did yesterday or last year, but we are never the same person, from one day to the next. We are older, wiser, and hopefully have a little more clarity about how we wish to spend our time on this planet. Perhaps the previous year was spent making important discoveries about yourself and/or your relationships, but now the time has come to utilise that knowledge and express more of yourself to the world? Continuing to delve into your inner-psyche might not have the same impact as before because, well, you’re in a different phase of your life, and the nature of life’s journey requires that you move on from where you were before.

This is tough, and often requires patience, support from others, and at times, huge leaps of faith that will leave you wondering what on earth just happened. These are the moments in life where we must gather as much courage as possible, and maybe take things a little less seriously. I know how serious and dark life can feel at times, as I’m sure you do. But survivors of serious illness and near-death experiences will tell you how liberating it is to live for the moment and enjoy each day for what it is, instead of getting so bogged down in worry and negativity.

And let’s not forget that we are all connected in this journey of life. We cannot do this alone, and will never have to, no matter how alone we may feel at times. Being strong and independent doesn’t mean not needing anyone else for support and guidance, and in fact it is a sign of maturity to be able to reach out to others, and recognise when we don’t have the know-how to keep moving in the right direction. Life¬†will keep moving; it’s how we handle it that counts.

Much love,

Kath

 

p.s. I always want to apologise at the end of my blog posts: “Sorry it was so wordy and long, or that it didn’t sound intelligent enough or have enough content”. Well today I will not apologise. If you didn’t like what you read, I salute you for having your own ideas and preferences. If you did like it, well how very exciting!

Image courtesy of WILL POWER via Flickr Creative Commons Attribution License

Shadows and stars

There are so many hidden parts of me, just waiting to get out. I see now, after so many years of anxiety and sadness, that I have been living in the shadows, unaware of what was waiting for me in the light. Like a long dark tunnel, it is necessary to keep moving forwards in order to reach the light. It’s terrifying – truly terrifying. But oh… once you’ve glimpsed the light which lies beyond that dark and confined space, you will know in your heart that there is no turning back.

It’s a strange thing to awaken to your true self. The truth of who I am has always been there, but I have been so very oblivious to it I can hardly believe it. I have been afraid, but I see now that I am brave – courageous beyond my wildest dreams. Where once I felt ashamed, I am beginning to feel a joy in letting it all hang-out. This is me, and there won’t ever be another one of me. Similar, yes. Kindred spirits – definitely. But an exact copy? Nope. I am a part of the universe that has never existed before, and will never exist again. And the same is true for you, whoever you are. A friend of mine called me a ‘star’ the other day, and I liked how it reminded me that I am a part of a much bigger picture. As Gill Edwards put it: “We are all pieces in a giant cosmic jigsaw” (I’m paraphrasing as I don’t remember the exact quote). Needless to say that when I first encountered this quote in Gill’s writings, I felt a sense of belonging and of family that I have spent my life searching for.

I realise that this post makes it sound like I’m close to having all the answers, which is far from the truth. I believe I have a lot more to learn about myself, and I hope many more adventures to go on. But for the first time in my 35 years on this planet, the longing to be my true self is greater than any anxiety about what people may think of me.

So much life to be lived. So many parts of myself to explore and express. So many lovely people to connect and share experiences with.

I still have days where I struggle to feel connected to myself and others, but I know now to let these days pass me by, trusting that they will give way to something more joyful and more true. My disconnected state isn’t my true self, but rather a state of being that masks my true self. This is different to the concept of light and dark existing alongside one another; there will always be good and bad times in our lives, just like the sky can’t always be filled with sunshine. But our true selves remain constant, even if they are hidden away, and even if it’s grey outside and everything in our lives seems to be falling to pieces.

So, I put this to you, my lovely readers. You are a star, shining brightly in an ever-unfolding universe. You are part of something wonderful, but you yourself are wonderful, just as you are. So make like those cheesy slogans we see all over mugs and tote bags, and shine bright for all the world to see.

And one last thing: if you’re only just entering the dark tunnel of your life, be kind and patient with yourself. Keep moving forwards, bit by bit, and when you least expect it, a small amount of light will begin to appear at the other side. Whatever you do, don’t look back.

Love,

Kath

Don’t judge me, I’m only human.

Please don’t judge me – you know nothing of what I’ve been through.

You may think you know, just as I may think that I understand you.

But how can we? How can we really understand what it’s like to walk in each other’s shoes?

I see the way you look at me – constantly assessing my character.

You’ve been doing it since the day we first met, and even now, after all these years, you can’t seem to just let me be.

I know you love me, as I love you.

I try not to judge you, and to let you be. But I do judge your judgement of me.

I have felt judged my whole life, and the last thing I need is to feel that I am under your scrutiny.

You don’t mean to, I know, but I always feel so belittled, so inferior under your watchful gaze.

You can’t know that this is the story of my life – feeling that I’m constantly falling short.

Never belonging

Never fitting in

How could you know? You have never asked, and I have never told you.

In any case, I know how you’d react.

You’d be full of judgements and opinions on that too:

“Oh there’s no point holding onto the past! You’ve got to let these things go like I have”

“You’re too much of a worrier, that’s your problem”

“Stop procrastinating and live for the moment! Enjoy life – it’s wonderful!”

But I see how much the past troubles you

You mention it all the time

You protest too loudly for me to believe you when you say that you have moved on

And as for my worrying… well, there was plenty to worry about growing up, and no one who could really help me to get a handle on life; to manage my emotions and feel safe in the world.

Under these circumstances, most people would become prone to anxiety and worry.

So don’t judge me or make me feel that I’ve somehow got it all wrong. I’ve judged and chastised myself enough over the years.

What I need now is love and acceptance

To feel deep down inside my bones that I belong and that I am connected to the world around me

Your judgements do not serve me, but your love means the world.

 

Image courtesy of Johnny Lai via Flickr Creative Commons Attribution licence

Is it any wonder?

Is it any wonder that I failed to speak my truth growing up?

So much to say, but no one to hear me – including myself.

I learnt to be silent

I learnt to value the opinions of others above my own

I never learnt how to be an ‘I’

No sense of self

No space to freely explore and express who I am

And oh so much fear

Insecurity reigned, like an evil queen.

Always too scared to discover what’s on the inside

Too frightened to let anyone in

Have I ever truly let someone in?

And felt that true connection with someone I love?

There have definitely been moments: tiny sparks that burned bright but fizzled out all too soon.

But that inner-wiring exists nonetheless

I am hardwired for connection; we all are.

But first I must connect with myself, daring to lift the lid and see what’s inside.

I’m sure that what I see won’t all be good or perfect

But who wants to be good and perfect anyway?!

I will see – have seen – kindness, that’s for sure.

Oh yes, there is a giant heart beating inside my chest.

A heart that so desperately wants to reach out and touch the hearts of others

But first I must heal my relationship with my self

Then I will have much to share with the world

Then I will feel peace and joy

Then I will know that I have found my way home

 

Image courtesy of Ghost of Kuji via Flickr Creative Commons Attribution Licence

Do you hear me?

I have recently become involved with a local Deaf and Hearing Support charity, as a volunteer and attendee of their free weekly sign language classes. As I’m in the UK, the language we are learning is British Sign Language (I’m told it’s VERY different from American Sign Language, plus the numerous other sign languages that exist – in fact, even within the UK there are many regional differences, making it just as complex to learn and understand as any spoken language).

You may be wondering by now why I’m writing about sign language, so I’ll crack on and cut to the chase. All of this has got me thinking about how we communicate with each other, and indeed with ourselves. I am only just now beginning to understand the devastating impact of having not felt ‘heard’ as a child and a teenager, and possibly also as an adult. We may be sounding out words, but whether or not they are being fully received and really listened to is another matter.

Let’s be honest, there are a whole host of reasons why we may feel unheard. Perhaps we struggle to communicate what we need, struggling even to formulate our emotions and experiences into sentences the other person can understand, or shying away from what we want to say because we fear being judged. Perhaps the person we’re speaking to can’t understand our point of view, or is too wrapped up in their own issues to fully empathise with us in the way we want them to. Or perhaps they are literally not listening to us, but rather coasting through the conversation with a series of words and noises which sound good enough, but our gut tells us that they’re just not interested. Whatever the reason, the effects can feel really devastating, especially if we’re talking to someone we feel really ought to understand, and whose opinion and understanding are important to us.

So why is this so important? Why do we need to feel heard in the first place? I’m sure most of you already know the answer: it’s simply part of the human experience to need to communicate the way we feel, and to thereby feel supported and part of a bigger whole. No man (or woman) is an island, and trying to operate alone is a very lonely and depressing experience.

I often find that I’m so frustrated with someone who isn’t meeting my conversational expectations, that I don’t realise I’m doing the same thing in return. I was talking with a family member earlier today, and because I was frustrated with them for not acknowledging what I had been saying, I started to lose interest in the conversation and give very minimal responses. “Listen to me!” I wanted to say. “Stop talking about yourself and listen to what I have to say”. It’s a vicious circle of people not feeling heard or acknowledged, often resulting in the individuals coming away feeling frustrated and depressed.

So what can we do to make sure that we’re really heard, and also that we’re aware of our own emotional and conversational needs?

  • Make time to do nothing. Carve out some time every day, no matter how small, just to take a breather, get some perspective and check in with your feelings. Keep a diary/journal if you want to. This can take any form you like – from a stream of consciousness to a bullet list of things to ask yourself, such as ‘how am I feeling?’ and ‘what do I need in this moment?’.
  • Develop an awareness of who amongst your friends and family is good to talk to, and who isn’t! Like it or not, there are often people in our lives we wish would really listen to us and provide that support and comfort we all crave, but for some reason they just aren’t able to give us what we need. Whilst this can really hurt, continuing to return to this person in the hopes that something will have changed is a recipe for heartache, frustration and a whole host of other emotions we’d rather not be feeling! Being realistic about what people have to offer means that you can ensure you seek support from the right places, and come away feeling lighter, not weighed down by additional worries.
  • Share how you feel. If you feel like someone in your life, such as your partner, isn’t listening to you in the way you’d like them to, consider letting them know. There’s no need to go in all guns blazing and blame them for not making enough effort – although obviously this might be the case! The best thing in my experience is to open up a conversation about what’s going on, what isn’t working for you, and how the other person feels about what you’re saying. Basically, just open up the line of communication and put your heads together to troubleshoot how you can both make sure you’re getting what you need. Consider carving out some time to get away from your routine, so that there’s enough mental space for you to really listen and be heard.
  • Cultivate friendships which feel good, with people who encourage you to express yourself and to become more and more of who you are. Some people drain our energy, whilst others build us up and help us to feel lighter. Once you’re aware of this, it’s easier to choose who to spend time with, when and how often. It’s not that there’s anything bad or wrong with people who drain your energy, or that by choosing not to spend time with them you are being disloyal to someone you love or care about as a friend. It’s just about being honest with yourself, knowing that if you take care of your needs, you will inevitably have more energy to give to everyone in your life.
  • Get creative!¬†Your emotions don’t always need to be expressed as spoken or written words. Why not listen to some emotive music and do some freestyle dancing around the kitchen? Or if that’s a bit too out-there for you, maybe just get out some colouring pens and pencils and a blank sheet of paper and see what happens. I love to doodle and not put pressure on myself to create an artistic masterpiece – although sometimes I’m surprised by how much I like what I’ve drawn!

In conclusion, there’s a definite difference between hearing the words coming from someone’s mouth, and truly listening to what they’re saying/being emotionally available for them. And there is soooooo much to gain from listening to ourselves, and making sure we nurture and take care of ourselves the way we’d like others to take care of us. I often find myself feeling frustrated by how low I feel, when in theory I’m doing all the right things. But there’s a massive difference between what’s right on paper and what truly feels right for us. This has been a hard lesson for me to learn, and whilst I still wish that there was a set of precise instructions for me to follow as I go through life, I’m starting to see that I am a unique piece of a greater jigsaw puzzle, and that the world needs me – and all of us – to show up as the people we truly are underneath all the social norms, peer pressure and family expectations.

P.S. I really love writing to you, whoever you are. I’m really trying my hardest to be more motivated, because I really do want to share as much as I can about what I’ve learned – mostly as a result of my less than smooth path in life thus far! Or maybe I’ll write a few more blog posts and realise I’m out of ideas…! Joking aside, it’s hard to believe in yourself (or in my case, myself) enough to keep writing a blog, especially living in the UK where we’re not supposed to promote ourselves or talk confidently about our skills or talents! Persevere I shall, and if you’ve taken the tiniest nugget of wisdom from this post, then I’m a happy English bunny.

Peace be with you, my fellow earth dwellers.

Bye for now x

To feel loved, first love yourself.

If you drop something on the floor, I will pick it up for you.

If you need a shoulder to cry on, I will offer you two.

If you just don’t understand, I will provide as many answers as I can.

If you are sad and lonely, I will hold your hand until you feel strong again.

Whatever you need, I will do everything I can to be there for you.

I do this with an open heart and a true desire to see you through the difficult and dark times in life.

You are stronger than you know.

You’ve got this, but know that I’ve got you too.

But if you think I’m a kind person, you should hear how I talk to myself…

I berate myself at every opportunity, and call myself names like ‘lazy good for nothing’ and ‘ugly cow’.

I do not like myself, and do not care for my own needs.

I think people are wonderful, but I am the one exception to this rule.

I don’t know how to comfort myself, having never bothered to learn.

I have failed myself and my family, by simply not being good enough.

So why should I be nice to myself?

Why waste my time on me, when I could be watching out for you?

The trouble is…

I realise, after much suffering and heartache, that I don’t really know how to let love in.

I tend to your needs because it makes me feel lovable, but I never let your praise or affection sink through to where it matters.

Like trying to swim upstream, I fail to make progress on my journey towards love and acceptance.

I have come to the devastating realisation that this love and acceptance can only come from one place: me.

If I can’t love myself, how can I expect to trust that others love me too?

If I can’t trust myself, how can I expect to trust that others love me too?

I want to love myself.

I’d love to love myself.

But I don’t really want to see all of me.

The imperfect parts.

The shadow that follows me around wherever I go.

I only ever wanted to see a perfect light shining within me.

I see now that this light does indeed shine bright, but to reach it I must first delve into the darkness.

Remove the mask I’ve been wearing my entire life, and truly look myself in the eye.

You may already know from experience that this process does not feel good.

It is not a place I wish to stay in for any longer than is necessary.

But I see now that it is necessary.

Because I do want to love myself, and to see the light not only in others, but inside of myself.

 

Image courtesy of Thad Zajdowicz via Flickr Creative Commons: https://tinyurl.com/yywhtyq7

Forgiveness is the path to freedom

When we love our past, we free ourselves from it. Believe me, I have had moments of sublime gratitude when thinking about my past and everything I’ve gained from simply walking the path that I’ve walked. Even at times when I’ve seen how much I still have to learn and grow, I’ve seen beyond the mundane world view of meaningless pain and suffering, to a world where everything I’ve experienced is some sort of mystical, magical unfolding of my destiny. Just the other day, stood in the kitchen on a drab day, slowly tackling the dirty pots and wading through the treacle of emotions I’m feeling at the moment, I felt how very much I love everyone in my life. It was a huge and unexpected surge of compassion – something I’d like to experience more of, please and thank you!

Sometimes though, it can feel hard to love where we’ve come from. Sometimes we have a feeling of discontent and disconnection in the pit of our stomachs, and we would like nothing more than to avoid thinking about our childhoods, or spending time with people who remind us of those difficult times. In these moments, we can feel far from love, and it’s hard to know where to look for that feeling of comfort and relief. Lost. Lonely. Unsure. Desperate.

So what’s the answer? How can we move beyond pain and reconnect with the love we know lives inside of us? Well, today I was reminded of the power and absolute necessity of forgiveness. And I’m not talking here about forgiving those we feel have wronged us, although that is also important. Usually at the top of the list of people who need our forgiveness is us. Forgiveness for having disconnected from love. Forgiveness for having stepped out of alignment by believing unloving and fear-based thoughts about ourselves. Forgiveness for having unknowingly or unintentionally hurt someone else, or for having believed that we were responsible for that person’s happiness. Perhaps our younger selves dreamt of putting certain things ‘right’ for ourselves and others, and it turned out not to be possible. Perhaps we dreamt of making someone proud by getting a degree in mathematics and landing a high earning job. And perhaps we even achieved these aspirations, only to discover that they didn’t fill the whole in our hearts we once believed they would. For all of these things, and more, we must forgive ourselves.

Of course there are many tools for forgiveness, which I won’t attempt to list here. But I have learned one tool this week which I would like to share with you here, and which I hope you will take up and experiment with. It’s called Ho’oponopono, and it’s based on an ancient spiritual practice from Hawaii. The practice centres around the following mantra:

I’m sorry

Forgive me

I love you

And thank you

The idea is that when we experience anything that results in negative emotion or a sense of disconnection, we must put it right by creating a sacred space in which to meet the person, object, place, memory etc. that has caused us to experience pain. When in the sacred place, we can invite the person forward and repeat the above mantra to them three times. The crucial thing to remember is that we aren’t forgiving from an ego place, but rather from a higher perspective. Nor are we actually asking anyone to forgive us. It’s more about reconnecting with our sense of inner peace, and asking our higher selves (or the universe – however you choose to describe your higher power) to help us erase the negative emotions we have experienced.

Now, to say that this has been a basic and whistle stop tour of Ho’oponopono by a person who has only just begun to practice it themselves would be an understatement. I believe I have understood the concept and have been using it to good effect, but I know there is a lot of guidance about it online, so if you like the sound of it, go take a look and see what you find.

My current mission on the path of personal growth is to understand and embrace who I truly am, and to do this, I realise I must first forgive my past, including the part I played in it. The sense of conflict and discontent I have been feeling is an unwillingness to truly let go, because part of me believes that I should have been able to do things better. Only when I forgive myself can I begin to see others through a more compassionate lens, because then I will be approaching them from a place of love, compassion and defencelessness. Yogi Bhajan is quoted as having said:

If you are willing to look at another person’s behaviour towards you as a reflection of their relationship with themselves rather than a statement of your value as a person, then you will, over a period of time, cease to react at all.

What a gorgeous and much needed quote in my life right now! If I can forgive myself, and begin to connect with the idea that my value as a person is never in question, I will open the doors to compassion and a sense of emotional freedom. Huzzah!

And remember, forgiveness is a choice. So choose to forgive yourself as often as you can, each and every day, and see what doors begin to open for you.

Love to you all, my spectacular fellow human beings.

Kath Xxx