When it comes to life, the best you can do is try to keep your side of the street clean; that’s plenty of work for any of us. The first step in that process is just to know yourself, that’s a huge and necessary thing if you want to be at peace. When I say know yourself, I mean don’t be afraid to embrace and examine all aspects of who you are and what makes you tick. Don’t reject anything or look away because it’s too painful or you think some facet of yourself is ugly or unacceptable. Look at it all, hold it up to the light, take a deep breath, and understand we all have our pain. Anything you reject causes a war within you and gives power to that voice of “Not good enough. Not worthy of love.” You become the architect of your own heartache and your own suffering. Shame is a strangler.
You are not your thoughts and you are not your feelings. Your actions are the thing and even then, every single one of us has made mistakes. Maybe you’re in the process of making one right now, and you know it but you’re doing it anyway because you feel powerless to stop yourself. It’s okay, it’s called being human. Mistakes are there to help us learn and grow. Obviously you do your best not to hurt other people. You won’t always succeed with that because we are all changing all the time, and sometimes people grow apart or recognize they never really grew together. Or they come together for all the wrong reasons and at the wrong time because they’re both in pain. Knowing yourself is step one because without that, you’re working without a compass or a sense of where you need to watch your step, have extra compassion for yourself, or recognize when you’re about to repeat a pattern that causes you pain.
Feelings are not facts, and not every feeling deserves or demands our action. In fact, there are many feelings we’ll all have that we’d do best to sit with and breathe through. Sometimes someone will tell me they had to honor their truth in a particular moment. You don’t have to do anything. A lot of crappy behavior can be excused under that umbrella. Better to sit in the rain instead, because it won’t last forever, and if the feeling you’re having will cause pain to someone else you’re really better off letting it wash over you. You’ll be grateful you did. Those are the moments we build character, integrity and self-esteem. When you act instead, look at it and grow from it. Apologize when appropriate, and hope for forgiveness. Eventually, you have to forgive yourself. Guilt travels with shame, and if you host them for too long, you won’t get very far. Forgive other people their humanness, too when you can, and at a certain point you’ll look around and realize you have a group of amazing friends who really see you and truly love you.
You can do your best to be accountable for the energy you’re spreading. After doing the work to heal what needs to be healed so that your pain isn’t ruling your life (because it really doesn’t need to be that way), then you can speak and act in alignment with what’s in your heart. Keeping your word becomes easy because you won’t need to lie. You won’t be covering anything up, and you also won’t be willing to betray yourself. Once you get ahold of that one, trusting yourself, taking care of yourself, and being kind to other people is a lot easier.
Having said all of that, realize you can do all that work, heal yourself and create a loving world within you and life will still be messy because we are all complex and life brings its everything at every one of us, some more than others. Not everyone will be thinking about how to keep their side of the street clean and even if you think about it quite a lot, sometimes you’ll blow it. We will all create situations we’d never have dreamed of, because life keeps unfolding, and one choice leads to another, and suddenly you realize this is your life.
It’s full of every color and every feeling and every sorrow and joy and laughter and heartache and beauty and devastation and full moons and tornados and teenage boys who slipped through the cracks, and teenage boys who thought of something no one else ever saw and grew up to be Albert Einstein, or Jaques Cousteau and millipedes and rain forests and skyscrapers and the chair you’re sitting on. Your first love and your first broken heart and your first really bad scrape and the first time you felt ashamed and the first time you felt understood, and the last time you saw that person. Your mother, who gave birth to you, and that girl in the first grade who had a smile like the sun. Maybe she grew up and lost someone so close to her the world collapsed on that smile for a time, or maybe she’s somewhere, right now, saving the world in her own particular way like Marie Curie or Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Life is full of everything. It’s incredibly gorgeous sometimes, and other times it will break your heart in ways you never thought possible. It’s amazing, but it is not clean and you can’t tie it up in a neat little box with a ribbon on top, and aren’t you really grateful for that? I am.
Sending you love,