I know I’m a little behind the times on this because this happened a few days ago, but I was on the phone with my friend and we were discussing religion.
I talked a bit about how my Mormon upbringing caused me to shame myself practically for existing, and he said that the way I was taught frankly terrified him. Christian doctrine is supposed to be about love, but so often it gets turned inwards in a negative way into shame, guilt, and fear. It also gets used as a weapon to hurt others. He said that he wished I could have been taught in a different way. I don’t know if it would have helped, though. I was deep in that mindset, and I don’t know what would have changed.
Something does ring true, though – the love of others, much like the religious testimony of others, cannot carry one through the hard times. That can only come from oneself. I’m not one to love myself unconditionally, but I’m working on it. It’s a slow process that partly comes down to fear – I fear that I will become vain and conceited if I learn to love myself. This is coupled with a mistaken belief that my self hatred is humility, that being teachable implies that I am inherently deserving of punishment and harsh treatment. All of this creates walls between me and the responsibility I hope to fulfill – loving myself for who I am, what I can do, and who I can become.
I know that we are loved by the divine, whatever it may be – God, universe, other deities, however that manifests for you – and that there are no accidents. These two principles, the first of which I refer to as the Great Constant, are what I would call eternal truths. They never will cease to be true, and never have ceased to be true. We are to love our neighbor as we love ourselves (that goes both ways, love yourself as you love your neighbor, as well) and love the divine with all we have. Too often are these truths warped and perverted into something that can be used as a weapon, but here’s some food for thought. In love, there is no room for fear. Not even fear as a tool. If we love perfectly, we will not succumb to fear.
This is something I need to work on. I’m very much a scaredy-human and I need to be more courageous. None of us can love perfectly and there are always things to improve on.
And the world would have us believe that we are without hope, that all is lost, that we have nothing left to live for. As a people, as a species, we have run ourselves so thoroughly into the ground that there is no escape. Christians use the term “fallen” to describe our world. I would say “broken.”
Everyone looks so hard for themselves in other things that are not where they should look. I’m guilty. We’re selfish, we’re greedy, we’re cruel, we fall short of the mark of love. But there are so many things you will find that we do accomplish as a people if you’re looking for the helpers. It’s easy to spot the horrors, the bad, the ugly in the world. That does not require much courage.
It is far more courageous to look at the world and see the goodness in it. Of course, there is bad to be acknowledged, but don’t let that be all you see. It’s more courageous to say to yourself, “I will do my best to be happy. Not for anyone else’s sake but my own. For my own sanity and mental clarity, I will feed my mind good things, I will do good things, I will care for myself and for the world.”
If you find yourself in a dark place, be kind to yourself. Do your best to see what it is you need and fulfill that need, caring for yourself as you would your neighbor and caring for your neighbor as yourself. Self care is preached far and wide these days, but it’s not always chocolate or a warm bath. Sometimes it’s getting out of the house, finally doing those chores, running that errand that’s bothering you, or even asking for help. Still others it’s getting out of your own head and helping another child of the universe. Look inside yourself and see what you need, not always what you want. Then, ask for what you need. You will be answered.
Self care looks different for everyone. My self care looks different from my friends’ who are overworked and overwhelmed. I need more on my mind sometimes, so I keep busy to the best of my ability. They need less on their plate, so they care for themselves in different ways. I think that self-care should be called by the name we should use if we are doing it properly: healing.
A broken leg requires time to heal. The loss of someone close to you requires time to heal. Sometimes we need to heal from our days, too. Sometimes we need to heal from stress and the effects that the every day has on us.
This is where I try to make room for spiritual things. This centers me and I feel at peace when I connect to something higher in a way that I would not normally. I write in my journal, I ask my spirit guide questions (more on her next time), I try and make sense of the world around me using a higher, more eternal perspective. I hate this cliche phrase, but it rings true – “this, too, shall pass.” The bad things will go away someday. I don’t know when. But good things are around the corner, too. This practice of meditative thinking is helping me stay sane and grounded even as I am surrounded by stress and despair.
In the end, all change starts with me, and if I want to help others like I want to, I must first make sure that I myself am okay. So I feed my soul good things.
What are you doing to feed your soul good things?
Let me know in the comments!