Shine light on your shadows to illuminate their gold
Hi friends, this has been a fruitful week so far!
Things I am learning from my self-led retreat for spiritual emergence (more about this here
Feeling like a child
I've been responding negatively, mostly with shame because shame is my default response, to "feeling like a child". This feeling comes up often, frequently when being instructed in various things by my beloved, but other times as well. I resist "feeling like a child". So I made a list of what "feeling like a child" really meant to me. It was eye-opening! Every quality of "feeling like a child" was negative — weakness, helplessness, inconsequential, unimportant.
Clearly my beliefs have been skewed regarding being childlike. So I researched. What did other people have to say about being childlike? I googled "benefits of being childlike" (I knew better than to term it "childish", because that's different thing entirely and certainly holds some negative judgment).
Lo and behold, there are lots of positive things about being childlike. Zen masters encourage a childlike state. Business leaders tout being childlike. Positive qualities of being childlike that I particularly resonate with are:
- fresh perspective
- lack of self-consciousness
This is a reframe for me. Reframing things is basically taking a familiar (and usually limiting) response to something and coming at the situation from a different (and usually more helpful) perspective.
Now, when someone instructs me on something, I can choose to remember the excitement I had a child when learning something new. I do not have to make it mean I am inferior in some way.
What makes me "bad"?
So many self-judgments! I'm full of them, it seems. One of the blanket, over-arching judgments I've carried since childhood is itself pretty childish: "I'm bad."
Note that GUILT is what we feel about something we DO, whereas SHAME is what we feel about who we ARE. So for me, "I'm bad" is directly connected to shame.
What does "bad" mean to me?
I reflected on all the times as a child when I was sent away from the dinner table for some minor infraction, to await a later spanking. I processed this as banishment, and to me banishment meant death. (We are hard wired to avoid being cast from the tribe, because in early human times, being alone and away from the protection of the tribe meant certain death.)
It turns out that for every type of infraction, I developed a corresponding belief about my behavior.
- If I shared my opinions too much, then I "should" keep my opinions to myself.
- If my energy was too exuberant, then I "should" keep my energy small.
- If I bounced around energetically, then I "should" keep my movements close.
The beliefs I developed served to keep me small, meek, and unnoticeable. For years I told myself I had a superpower of invisibility but it turns out that was just me trying to avoid ridicule = banishment = death.
The deliciousness of my deep inward quest is juxtaposed with the horrific, terrifying ridiculousness of what's going on in our world politically. I can't properly say "in our world", since the US political circus dominates all my news sources and crowds out news from the rest of the world. And it should, during this crisis. How we respond now will affect the entire globe in the future. The future of humanity and of the world is at stake. I have high hopes for us as a species. We humans are good at heart.
Much love, as always.