It was on my heart to share from an incredible book called Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach because recently I had an experience that stirred up a lot of feelings of unworthiness in me. I originally read this book about 2 years ago when I was going through a really confusing hard time in my life and just wanted to feel better honestly, it helped a lot so naturally it made sense to remind myself how to better accept things happening in my life rather than over thinking the crap out of everything. A few weeks ago I experienced being rejected by someone I cared about and I obsessed over the part I played in that happening. I sat there for days trying to put the pieces together all while wondering “what’s wrong with me?!”. I tried to get to the root of it all which created more uncertainty and anxiety, and well truthfully likely made the situation worse. Part of me knew how important it was to allow myself to be vulnerable and another part of me just felt like I was trying to control or change the situation. What I came to realize was at the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter what happened because it happened and I can’t change that. What I did know was that I could learn and grow from it, that I could change how I moved forward from these feelings. I knew these were old deep wounds resurfacing so I jumped into reading Radical Acceptance again. One of my favorite quotes from the book is when Tara is discussing a conversation with a friend who says;
“Feeling that something is wrong with me is the invisible and toxic gas I am always breathing.”
I think a lot of people can relate to that feeling, I know I can. Most of us live our lives through the lens of personal insufficiency, it’s like putting yourself in this prison that creates what Tara Brach calls the trance of unworthiness. When we’re imprisoned in this trance, we’re unable to perceive the truth of who we really are. If you’re anything like me you have been living your life mostly from that trance, from that place of not good enough. What it breaks down to is this. We often live life through a lens of “there’s something wrong with me”, that we’re bad in some way or that we won’t be accepted if we show up as our authentic self.
Brach speaks about how the biggest tragedy of our lives is that personal freedom is possible, yet we often pass our years trapped in the same old patterns that don’t serve us in the now or our future selves. We have this desire to love other people without holding back, to feel fully authentic, to appreciate the beauty around us, to live life with an open heart. Yet each day we listen to that inner voice that keeps us small and hidden from the world.
When deep pain or rejection is felt it can be easy to drown out the noise in our head with food, alcohol, smoking or even binge watching Netflix. But if we hold back from any part of our experience, if our heart shuts out even small parts of who we are and what we feel, we just continue fueling the fire. Fueling fears and feelings of separation. All it does is create a vicious cycle that day after day puts us right back into the trance of unworthiness. From that place the emotion of fear is working overtime, even when there is no immediate threat. It’s like your chest has a weight sitting on it and your ankles have shackles with boulders attached to them. Even worse our minds are always looking for what might go wrong. Fear is a basic human survival instinct, however when we are in a constant state of worry and fear, it goes past the survival need. We end up being constantly reactive and drain our energy and time defending our life rather than fully living it.
Hear me when I say, pain is not wrong or bad, messing up or falling short is not wrong or bad! When we react to pain as wrong it puts us right into the trance of unworthiness. It can be so easy to lose ourselves in the effort to deal with that pain. We avoid, hide and self soothe instead of allowing the feelings to pass through. When we let ourselves feel the pain and actively work to move through the emotions, we process what has happened and can truly move the eff on.
So how do you take the shackles off and begin living your life in freedom rather than the trance of unworthiness?
The important thing to remember and what helped me so much was recognizing what feelings were happening inside me and welcoming what I found with an open, kind and loving heart. We so desperately need to have compassion for ourselves. Which sometimes is much easier said than done but it is what creates radical acceptance in our lives and allows you to start actually living all out. When painful feelings arise I encourage you to ask yourself how you would advise or speak to a close friend if they were going through the same thing. We tend to be much kinder to the people we love then to ourselves.
Know that perfection is an impossible standard and the lowest one you can have. It’s basically a big ol’ cop out. Change your standard to being a little better everyday, to moving the needle in your life just 1% every single day. Rather than striving for perfection, make it your goal to love yourself into wholeness, even when you fall short. No, especially when you fall short! That is the most important time to accept yourself and have compassion.
On your path to Radical Acceptance keep in mind that it is a path, a journey, it takes time to cultivate in your life so take it day by day. Be open and willing to experience yourself and your life just as it is.
My question for you is what would it be like if you could accept your life, accept this moment, exactly as it is? How would you be showing up in this world if you could accept yourself, exactly as you are?
“There is something wonderfully bold and liberating about saying yes to our entire imperfect and messy life.”