Greater Gentleness and Generosity (toward the Self)
or, Whatever You Do, Don't Do It Right
"You can safely assume you've created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.”
Once upon a time, not so long ago, I had an epiphany about something that was troubling me. I wish I could tell you the story. It's so juicy. It has such a great villain, with big awful teeth. It's set in such a gorgeous little valley, with grape-growing hills containing it on three sides and a lovely lake lapping in on the fourth. Ah, but I must protect the innocent. So I'll withhold the story and tell the epiphany, as you might make use of it for yourself.
The problem I got into in this secret scenario, besides hating someone, is that I was applying all I knew to apply as often as I could, which was pretty damned often, and I still wasn't free. I know better than to believe I have to do it perfectly to get (or even deserve) results. (That one took years.) Part of what I exhort others to do, which I was applying, is not to believe you have to stay in anything. You just need to keep coming back, just as you come back to the breath in meditation after going off on a thought, and another thought, and another, maybe a million times. Finding myself back in hate again and again, I did keep coming back to all I knew—to release, forgiveness, minding the pain body, tending the mind, returning to my business, which in turn allowed me to let go of outcome and timing and come back to NOW. … I even dabbled with nonresistance, simply accepting that this was all just as it was, possibly unbudgeable, at least for now … and I still kept cycling back to feeling stuck in stuckness (not to mention hate) and not okay with being stuck (especially in hate).
And in all of that, it never occurred to me not to try to do it right at all. It didn't dawn on me to let myself be bad, unevolved, immature, spiritually delinquent, just plain wrong.
Until it did! And then a new expansion came in that made and still makes me want to laugh and dance and sing. Maybe if enough Certain People die before I do, I'll get to tell the story after all, and I just might make it a musical.
During the very period I was grappling with all of this, no surprise, someone wrote me asking about how to deal with the appalling discovery of hate inside oneself. I always feel such compassion when people are appalled at themselves. (It's the worst, like an existential auto-immune disorder.) Whatever they've got that they don't want, I invite them to make room for it. I ask a simple question: Is there room for x in your world? Finding yourself slothful, for example, accusing yourself of sloth, you might ask yourself, Is there room for sloth in my world? Then you can mesmerize yourself with visions of that wacky creature hanging from trees in the Amazon, mosses growing in its fur and little critters moving in and crawling about—sloth as entire ecosystem in itself. Of course there's room for sloth.
Is there room for hate? There'd better be, because apparently it exists. I'm not advocating for hate or suggesting anyone hold on to hate. I'm saying that if it's here, here it is: be willing to meet it. Can you really move it along if you don't acknowledge it's here and clearly take in its parameters? Think of moving a piece of furniture: once you really know the size of it, you can work out how to get it through the door.
In response to the question that landed in my email, I made a longer-than-usual post on my Jaya the Trust Coach Facebook page. Here's the first part:
Is it alarming to find yourself so far out of love that it looks like hate? We tend to have such discomfort with this that we just want to push it away, or justify—review what it is about the other to confirm that the hate makes sense. Better to bring it close. Start with just being with the feeling where it lodges in your body (mind the pain body). Give it your awareness and breath, allowing it to be here. Since it showed up, just let it stay awhile, and have a good look at it while it's here. (Wow, here's hate. I'm capable of hate. How 'bout that?)
Heeding my own advice, I started letting myself slow down with that part about feeling the hate in the pain body. Whenever it activated, I felt it. I felt it fully, in all its gritty breadth and depth, in all the places it stung and flared in my chest and gut. I swear there were some old-fashioned dirty-faced 10-year-old boys in there sneaking around with cherry bombs and firecrackers, like in my dad's black-and-white stories from his childhood; they had matches and weren't afraid to use them. I gave it all my full awareness. I did this while riding my bike, sweeping my house, walking to my in-town mailbox. I didn't rush it away, didn't tell myself I shouldn't be feeling it.
I did seek to feel it without story. This is minding the pain body: without reference to story, just bring awareness to the place in your body that's screaming or moaning or prickling or contracting with pain. Give it breath—the only balm you can apply from within. Witness it to teach yourself it's not who you are. Bring in the compassionate, dispassionate witness, if you can consciously do that, or just scooch that way if you find you're witnessing with any modicum of judgment or distaste.
All I was doing in what I described above was practicing the pain-body work that I guide others through because it's so effective. Byron Katie teaches people to question their thoughts with no motive but for the love of truth, so I've applied this to the pain body: don't give it your awareness-and-breath to make the pain go away, to fix it, to feel better, to have a breakthrough; just mind the pain body to accept that it's there (nonresistance) and to create spaciousness around it with awareness and breath. And more often than not, I personally find that it does feel better to witness the pain rather than get sucked into believing that all that buzzing and burning inside is the truth of the situation or the truth of who I am.
And this time, while I was practicing this with hate (of all things), something unexpected happened. I somehow dropped into a whole new level of experience, but not, as you might want to hear, with a blinding suffusion of love. It was more like reaching hate saturation before I could start draining the stuff out. I somehow really truly dropped all secret motive to get rid of hate.
(Yeah, my inner Goody Two-Shoes tried to run in and grab the ball again, but I dodged her.)
It turns out what I needed was to stay put for a while, a longer while than I expected, where I didn't want to be. And besides experiencing hate at a level that felt uncomfortable (but I've had my foot crushed before, and I know that extreme discomfort is okay, and I know it can turn out okay), I also landed in a new level of self-acceptance.
Could self-love really be unconditional? Wow, maybe. At least right now, for a moment, like when you first find your balance when learning how to water ski, or walk a tightrope, or do an advanced yoga pose—even just for one brief, inspired, look-at-me moment before you fall. Unconditional self-love: am I really worthy, in my own estimation, just because I'm here? That is, not because I'm good and true and loving and strong and smart and happy and peaceful and responsible and successful and, in the end, perfect?
I'm still not sure what happened, exactly. Maybe all I did was to stop judging myself for something I truly found unacceptable. The stop part was key: you can't rush yourself forward when you're staying put. I stopped believing I should be beyond this. Have you felt the tyranny of this belief? In self-judgment, you wedge your righteous values between you and what you're actually feeling. You create contraction and density, heaviness, and there's no release there, no way out, no allowance for even a feeble movement toward how you want to be and behave. That's how you get stuck.
Ah, but you also create a big rift between who you are right now and who you believe you should be (that Idealized Self). Oh, the distance! Maybe that, more than the hate (or whatever hard emotion), lands you in that false sense of separateness, utter disconnection from Source and self and others. What's crazy is that the way you feel right now actually isn't who you really are, any more than the Idealized Self is who you really are (or ever should be). You really are a child of the Universe: you really are worthy just because you're here.
Being gentle and generous with whatever comes up for you (ay, even hate, even hate) allows you to have compassion for yourself and get curious about what's going on. You may actually have some insights in that spaciousness. You may see how to step forward differently.
Here's the second part of that post about hate:
But notice it's not who you are, and it doesn't negate all the love that is your essence. In fact, you can next connect to that love, extending it first to yourself as you welcome yourself to the human race. Then whatever thoughts you want to question about the object of your hatred, you can question. (The Work of Byron Katie is great for that.) You can also sit with what the hate object evokes for you and ask, Why would the face of God show up for me this way? You can be sure there's some weak muscle you've got that this person is helping you build, or some intention you're holding that this person is helping you fulfill, or something to heal inside you that can heal in how you meet that first response of hatred and move on from there.
So go ahead and do all the great work it's possible to do to consciously pursue your own evolution. But will you do that after a pause—or rather, include a pause in that work? (It might last longer than you wanted.) Will you do your work allowing anything to be there, opening at least to the possibility you might be able to love yourself in a hard place? Will you be still in the ugly when there's no hint of beauty in sight? And in that pause, whatever you do, don't try to do it all right. In the words of an old song, just let it be.
Love & blessings, Jaya
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For Facebook types, I post most days with an aim to support your growth and healing, inspire you, remind you of what you already know, keep you in touch with the magic, propose that you think big, and cast my vote for you to keep being ever kinder to yourself. Some popular posts from April:
Say it with me: I'M GIVING UP WORRY. There's no good reason to worry. Never worry again—that is, catch yourself in it and come back to all you know to be true about how you're protected, guided, inspired, directed, redirected. Don't give those you love your worry. Give them love and let them know you see their beauty and you know they're going to make it. Mirror their radiance back to them when they can't access it. As for your private worries for yourself, you only perpetuate them when you steep in them. Step outside, into the light, into fresh air. Say, Show me, to the Universe then go do something you love.
Sometimes you have the idea that a certain thing is happening or it's happening in a certain way or it's happening on a certain timeline, and life shows you, plain and simple, you're wrong: it's not happening, or not that way, or not then. Notice the suffering and discomfort you create (perhaps not just for yourself) when you resist what life shows you. Let life show you. Nonresistance is such a relief, and it places you right in the flow.
No matter how harsh the story or how hard the row before you to hoe, I hold a firm conviction that you, anyone, can be happy (or happier still). You can move from the life you have now into a life that's most fulfilling to you and offers your highest service to others, because all of life wants to support you in this. We're supposed to feel good and—it's really quite miraculous—life guides us by what feels good. There's not that much mystery in it: if in doubt or baffled by choices, go for what brings you joy.
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