Sadly lately I have been seeing where my own hurt and fear has taken me in the past. I see where and when I started to isolate and to enter into a place of solitude haunted by ghosts of the past. And then sadly rather than seek comfort with loving people I kept myself alone. Part of the problem was as a highly sensitive person who was recently sober I found the world a very harsh, hard and cutting place. I remember being at one Christmas celebration with family members who were judging and shaming a well known public figure who I knew was in recovery for addiction. The person had been gaining a lot of weight after letting his primary addiction go and that was making them a great target for ridicule. I spoke my mind to the people in question then left the family dinner. I went back a while later and then burst into floods of tears.
When we are sensitive or have known trauma it makes it much harder for us to be a part of certain things. We carry a lot of inner knowing or inner pain inside. Paradoxically we may have a lot to give to an often insensitive or uncaring world, but the mere nature of our sensitivity or trauma makes it hard to give this and even harder to be received. And so we look for a place of retreat and protection. What I am seeing lately is that inside my own consciousness a judging part of me has been shaming me for years for the fact I actually am trying to do positive and consciousness growing things. Instead of supporting me this inner devaluing voice tries to tear thing to shreds. When I read post of others who self harm in more overt ways I feel so sad, but I can also see myself. My self harm doesn’t come from cutting though on some days I wage a battle with my own body not fully realising at that time I am being besieged with negative voices.
Why is it so hard to be kind to ourselves? To be loving and accepting of ourselves? Is it true that we now live in a culture where self rejection and shame so often dominate? I started Brene Brown’s book on vulnerability Daring Greatly yesterday and she makes the point that narcissism comes from the now widespread notion that to be important or of value we have to ‘be a someone’. Its not okay just to be an ordinary person with foibles, needs or insecurities. We are meant to ‘get it together’ or ‘have it together’. To prove something. This makes sense to me of why people who suffer panic or anxiety are actually those who are more prone to be lacking in self acceptance, self soothing and self love, a point which is covered in the book Power over Panic.
If we love and accept ourselves as we are we don’t end up shaming ourselves. We also don’t end up shaming others. We accept that life is full of imperfection. We may not like it but we accept it. Coming from this premise when we see others shaming in order to feel one up we would probably let it roll off of our backs. I think the incident I referred to above triggered me because at that point I was in addiction recovery for about 9 years and so I felt defensive of someone on the same path. It was good for me to stand up against that shame and to make my voice known though but a part of me also knows that there will always be unconscious, insensitive people in this world who in lacking empathy are more than willing to try to put others down.
Once we are aware that our value in fact does not rest on outward acclaim or acceptance but instead on a solid bedrock of inner acceptance then we are less likely to feel anxious and panicky. I have noticed lately that often my panic attacks come when an unconscious part of me is forcing me on to do something I feel that ‘I should” rather than what my soul really wants to do. And so I am self divided. Panic also comes when I give something far more importance or urgency than it really requires. Self awareness of these kind of things takes time. I am seeing for a lot of my life I was conditioned to self reject rather than self accept. I also rejected and failed to accept difficult things that were really none of my business or outside of my control. The early death of my father and my sister’s illness gave me the illusion I had to be there when really what I needed most to do was take care of myself.
I am beginning to see it is very hard to live a happy life when we are conditioned to self reject the entire time. In so doing we live outside of ourselves or leave our selves behind in some way all of the time and it gets harder and harder to just find peace in the present moment and in the pure simplicity of being. Going outside of myself means I forget to breathe. It means I retreat to my mind and thinking and away from my body. It means I withdraw from life when I really want to reach out at times and actively engage. Or it makes me reach out when I really would rather just stay home and read a poem or a good book.
Giving up patterns of self rejection does take awareness. It may be so hard for us to see how, when and why we are self rejecting. Learning to seek our value from within instead of without may be a pattern that for some of us is deeply ingrained. We do need others support at times but this is also usually easier to come by if we are self accepting. We are then less likely to attract those who reject who we really are or at least set boundaries with them. We learn that we are worthy of good things and of love. If that isn’t forthcoming from the world we let go and turn back within to find the love and goodness that we need to feel at peace.