Becoming deeply acquainted with oneself is no small task. And the truth is, connecting to one’s inner workings is an ongoing, lifelong process. What makes this endeavor a slow but rich experience is that one’s “inner gold” is often buried under many layers of the personality. So, getting past the encrusted layers to connect with the precious, authentic core can be… quite an excavation process.
Similar to a real geological excavation, chipping away at our outer (hardened) rock formations to get to the GOLD beneath can take perseverance and patience. In my book, Stress Reduction Journal, I share that for me, letting go of harsh judgments toward some of the vulnerable, “less-than-perfect” parts of myself is an ongoing process requiring periodic updates.
To see myself through compassionate, loving eyes, I find that I first need to identify, and then remove, my judgmental glasses.
In my early excavation work I began to see that the prescription glasses through which I harshly viewed myself, dated back to early childhood. These distorted lenses belonged to family members who were projecting their pain and frustrations onto me. Bless their hearts, they too inherited the “distorted lenses” that they wore and then unconsciously passed the glasses on to me.
It was painful to one day realize that I had inadvertently “renewed the prescription” for these glasses… year after year.
By no coincidence, a rich experience came my way that increased my ability to look upon all of myself more compassionately. It happened while I was attending a daylong workshop about speaking from the “Authentic Self.” The purpose of this seminar was to create a safe container from which to access one’s authentic voice and share it with others.
In preparation for the first exercise, the workshop facilitator paired us up with someone we didn’t know. We were asked to face each other and then:
~Take turns speaking from our hearts~
As you might imagine, this was initially quite scary. However, as the day went on, defenses melted and many people began to truly enjoy the experience. Many of the participants discovered that hearing others and being heard by soulful, safe strangers could feel wonderful.
For the final exercise of the day, our facilitator asked us not to speak at all, but just hold a partner’s hands and experience being authentic without words. He instructed us to:
“Let the body and the eyes do the speaking this time”
I was paired with a fellow in his mid-forties named Anthony. His arms and hands appeared severely deformed. I nervously began thinking about how Anthony must be struggling with this new version of the exercise. A heavy sadness filled my chest as I looked at his hands and connected with parts of myself that sometimes feel different from, and less than, others.
SHAME began bubbling up… from the center of my being.
Thank God this painful spiral was interrupted when the facilitator signaled for us to begin.
Anthony reached toward me first and offered his warm, misshapen fingers. As I reached back and looked into his eyes, I saw a loving, compassionate confidence I had never seen before—from anyone. He extended his fingers with such exquisite grace that I, too, was able to experience and feel their beauty. Clearly, Anthony was much more at peace in his own skin, than I was in mine.
This realization sent a wave of sadness through me. I breathed into my vulnerability while continuing to look into Anthony’s gentle blue eyes. The pale blue reminded me of a quiet pool of water—a still and smooth surface, yet deep. As I continued gazing, my sad feelings began to melt and the muscles around my eyes started to soften. Anthony and I smiled at one another.
In that SACRED moment
I joined him
in the PRECIOUS SILENCE
of simply being.
Graciously, Anthony shared his authentic core with me. He turned his flashlight in my direction and modeled compassionate, confident, SELF-LOVE. Anthony was a fellow excavator offering me a priceless GIFT. What a blessing I received that day.
Finally, if you carry harsh judgments toward yourself, then consider peering below your topsoil to unearth the weeds. Mindfully learning to look at ourselves (and the world) through more compassionate eyes is the KEY to transforming SHAME into LOVE… starting from the inside out.