By Deb Avery
I have had times in the past when I allowed others views and actions to influence my own thoughts about myself and others.
It has taken many years of deep inner work, meditation and letting go of preconceived notions, for me to understand that what anyone else says or does has no bearing on my worth or my journey. Yet it has everything to do with theirs.
Our childhood shapes and molds us from the very beginning. Some of us have awesome childhood memories and were well cared for and supported. We went on to see the best in ourselves and others and to become strong, kind and caring adults. Others of us were not so fortunate. Although they may have had the best of intentions, some of us were raised in a way that has left us overly critical and judgmental of ourselves and others. We never seemed to be good enough no matter what we did and we grew up to feel inferior.
Then there are those of us who formed very hateful and hurtful attitudes based on abuse, either physical, verbal or mental, that we received during our most formative years. This left us confused, hurt and perhaps resentful, unable to have normal relationships with ourselves and others.
The experiences of our childhood can form a vicious cycle of harmful actions and thoughts that can span not only our own lives but passed along like a contagion from one generation to another.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Every adult has a choice and we can still break free from the cycle.
It all begins with learning to awaken to ourselves and who we truly are versus what we were taught to believe. Only then can we progress forward to others and the world around us, as they truly are, versus how we were taught to see them. Our thoughts about ourselves shape our whole world. There is no greater power in the world than the power of loving oneself. If we truly love and understand ourselves and our actions, we can truly love and understand anyone.
How can this be achieved? There are different methods and ways that work for everyone, but some of my favorites are spending time alone in meditation and delving deeply within my own heart and mind, actions and motivation. This is how I began to understand how events, actions and attitudes shaped me into who I am today.
Unraveling our past takes time. It doesn’t come in a flash of enlightenment. It comes with hard work, patience and the willingness to search deeply into all the areas of our life. Once we come to understand ourselves and our own actions, learning to forgive ourselves and knowing that we did the best we could with the information and maturity we had at the time, we awaken to a whole knew way of seeing ourselves and others.
While everyone is on their own journey, and we cannot compare our journey to the journeys of those around us; we can only develop the perception and wisdom needed to understand and forgive the actions of others—and ourselves. With a deep commitment to understanding our own true nature, we develop the ability to love ourselves even when we make mistakes and do things we know better than to do.
This brings about a deep respect and love of ourselves. And when this love lives in our own hearts, it is now possible to learn to love and respect others in the same way.
Sounds so easy, doesn’t it? It’s not. Time and again we will fall back into self-blame, self-criticism and feeling like we are not enough. This in turn will trickle down into our everyday perceptions and ways of life. This in turn, will trickle down into the way we treat others.
But the good news is—it does get easier the longer we practice.
After awhile harmful words and actions of others don’t bother us as they did before. We find ourselves in slow motion in that nanosecond between action and reaction. And what we find there, poised in that suspended space, is the ability to stop and think with love and understanding in our hearts.
We see the hurt, self-hate and criticism the other feels towards themselves and the world around them and we realize that it isn’t about us. None of it is about us. And this gives us the ability to let it go.
That doesn’t mean people should allow themselves to be harmed by others. We can be kind and strong. What it means is that we learn to simply let it go, walk away or react with kindness when we would be justified to react with harmful words or actions.
Love yourself. Understand your own heart and mind. The rest comes naturally.
This is how we change hate to love. This is how we change the world.
Editor: Dana Gornall
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