It was inevitable that the practices of inner focus essential to engaging in New Thought would experience some pushback. We were all trained to eschew “selfishness.” After all, isn’t making the world a better place about giving to others, not doing for yourself?
The first solution to this puzzle is of course, Love.
|(c) Mark & Linda|
Most of us at some point have experienced trying to relate, at some level and probably on both sides, to a person who lacked sufficient self-love. Sometimes there is the right chemistry so that we give each other not only the love we need to receive, but learn to love ourselves more -- I was blessed to experience this through Mark’s faith in me. We can outsource some of our healing in a good relationship if it is healthy for both parties. Even with the best intentions to put love out into the universe, can that work if you need to fill the same hole every day before you can begin? You can’t give what you don’t have.
ABUNDANCE. It’s essential to believe and participate fully in accepting that the universe has plenty for all and sharing that with others. So much of what plagues humanity derives from the sense that there is “not enough,” and reactions motivated by misconceptions from greed to entitled-ness to poverty consciousness, to ensure there is enough for “me.” Whether you feel you can never have enough, or are literally starving, you cannot feed anyone else or feel truly happy.
True self-love is also a taking of RESPONSIBILITY - for one’s own feelings and actions. You are the only one who can truly make yourself happy, and by accepting this you release others from feeling responsible for your feelings and, maybe most important, you are not responsible for theirs. Healthy boundaries work for everyone, the need to control does not. Quick check on this, since we all do it: the next time you feel annoyed, think of that person you would really like to see change to make you feel better in the moment; breathe in the way you want to feel, and breathe out releasing that thought of the other person. It feels great as long as you don’t go back to the thought. This can be learned… practice!
PEACE is another gift of being one’s own source of abundant love. Move away from leftover feelings of guilt, anger and fear, and our inner life is peaceful. Coming from that, it is also what we get to share with others - if you are not afraid or angry, you have no reason to act out to trigger those feelings in others. Fear coming from within never protects us, it is static that keeps us from receiving what we need to know to stay safe!
GRATITUDE is also a gift….Comparison inevitably eats away at our love and respect for ourselves. We are no longer in grade school, the only real standard we can apply to ourselves is the one that comes from inner guidance. Stop looking at what is not is there -- yet -- and you can appreciate the miracle of what is! That place of gratitude is where real progress in life is born.
RECEIVE LOVE! Early in my grief for Mark, I made the mistake of taking that path, throwing myself into working on everything we had done together as if I were 3 people, not one who really should have taken a break. A big part of me had fallen back to a child state where I was manipulated by alternating promises of acceptance and invitations to despise myself for not being enough - one such (unsolicited) statement,”You must have low self esteem! You don’t do anything to deserve any.” You can imagine how intimidating this was at the time, but I was blessed with sufficient self-esteem and support outside the home to survive this and share it now.
But we are permeable at a deep level to even ideas we know are false, which is one reason I always beg people to shut out abusive voices no matter how much they think they have it covered. Something about bereavement made me, and likely others, a target for similar energies even as an adult, within months I was compelled to deal with base criminal behavior and other abuse from all sides, and unable to work due to severe adrenal fatigue and a lot of “red alerts” sounding in my psyche (my life was actually in danger on a couple of levels, including violent menacing, and I still tried to push through.) Finally, I realized I had to run and pick up the pieces later, which led me to reach out for healing, where I was guided to look back to and expand my spiritual practices and studies of the human heart and mind and rediscover my own worthiness -- and a new path.
This is extreme but we have all had experiences where we give our all in context of need to receive from others only to be met for with demands for more (work, personal sacrifice) and less money, time, support, affection - in return. Withholding is a central dynamic of what psychologist Claude Steiner, in his writings on Transactional Analysis, refers to as the “Stroke Economy.” Using Eric Berne’s definition of a stroke as a unit of human recognition, Steiner points out unwritten “rules” by which we do not give others, or ourselves, the recognition we all need, may not ask for it, and only accept what we really do not want (ie, “You are such a hard worker.” from your boss when you want to hear, at least from yourself, “You’re a fucking genius and you know it!”) http://www.claudesteiner.com/economy.htm