For several years, meditation has been a popular topic of conversation due to more and more studies shedding light on its potential benefits to one’s physical, mental health, and overall wellness. Some even going to great lengths to prove that meditation could be a more potent solution to treating people with mental disorders, addictions, and even illnesses like arthritis. While none of it has been completely proven and other claims have been completely disproven, the fact that such a wide range of possible benefits have been attributed to such a common practice has made meditation a lot more popular, for good reason. Spiritual teachers, life coaches, and a plethora of celebrities are just a few people among the many have championed meditation for the life changing results it has shown for them.
Now, despite the appeal that meditation has garnered over the past few decades, for many it is still a bit of a new concept. Personally, I feel that in order to truly understand meditation’s cultural relevance, meaning, and its original purpose. We must first look back to its origins.
Some of the earliest records of meditation come from the hindu traditions of Vedantism(c.1500 BCE.). These records are known as The Vedas, a large volume of texts written in Vedic Sanskrit. The Vedas is believed to originate somewhere in the ancient indian subcontinent, and also serve as the oldest scriptures of Hinduism, as well as one of the oldest remaining texts of sanskrit literature. The Vedas introduces and discusses the meditative practice known as Dhyana. Dhyana is a practice(or term) used in Jainism, Buddhism, and Hinduism that translates to contemplation and meditation, each having their own contextual usage. Dhyana is typically used in yoga exercises and leads into Samadhi(also used in Jainism, Buddhism, and Hinduism. Generally referring to a state of meditative consciousness) and self knowledge. It is(in Hinduism) a part of a self directed awareness and unifying yoga process, by which the yogi(That’s you! Or….me, or whoever is doing it.) realizes who they are, their connection to other living beings, and achieve what the Hindus believe is a state of “Ultimate Reality.”. In Buddhism, Dhyana is believed to be a collection of cultivated states of mind that lead to “Perfect equanimity and awareness”. While each faith may have its own interpretations, practices, and etc., all of them share 1 common theme when it comes to the purpose of meditation. Which, frankly, is to become your best self through ascension by way of meditation. Self awareness, morality, self discipline, enlightened wisdom, and so on and so forth. All of these are common themes amongst the many forms of meditation that all modern practices originate from.
With so many different cultures practicing meditation and monks and even rabbis using meditative approaches to prayer, eventually meditation evolved to a point where it was taken out of the stapled “religious” context it had been placed in for so long and began to shift to where it is today. In the early 60’s and 70’s, celebrities such as The Beatles started practicing and endorsing TM, even going as far as traveling to india to study it. This sudden popularization of meditation came around the same time as studies on its health benefits were being disputed or completely disregarded in the modern medicine. In 1967, Harvard Medical School professor Dr. Herbert Benson, conducted a study on practitioners of TM. They were found to use 17% less oxygen, had lower heart rates, and produced more brain waves that could help with sleeping.
From this, even more studies on meditation were conducted and lead to the once solely religious practice of meditation becoming a bit more mainstream in western culture. Much like any other culture that adopted meditation, western society(in essence) developed its own techniques, thus bringing forth several practices with roots in the ancient traditions that were being made to fit different purposes. The most popular of these practices is what is known as transcendental meditation.
Transcendental meditation or TM was introduced by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. He introduced the TM technique in India and lead the Transcendental Meditation Movement during the 50’s. He taught thousands of people on several world tours from 1958 to1965. He at first, introduced his teachings in spiritual and religious terms, but as the TM movement became more popular, the Maharishi took a more “detached” or “non-religious” approach to teaching others his technique. Celebrities began to not only practice, but widely endorsed the teachings of the Maharishi and the use of the technique, leading thousands more to wish to learn it. At this point in time, he began training TM teachers and created specialized organizations to present TM to specific segments of the population such as business people and students. By the early 2000’s(shortly before the Maharishi’s death), TM had been taught to millions of people and the worldwide TM organization had went on to include educational programs, health products, and other services.
The TM technique is fairly simple, it involves the use of a sound or mantra. While i would absolutely love to go into the history of the mantra and etc., I’m choosing to save the topic for its own future article. I know, it seems a bit backwards, but so is using something to help deal with how insecure you are about how you look, that does nothing but make it ten times worse by creating a false self image presented through the frequent use of the app.(Lookin’ at you, Snapchat.) Anyways, before I start ranting about that for 15th time this week. Mantras in TM are essentially words or phrases used to help center your mind during meditation. TM is supposed to be done twice a day for about 15-20 minutes in order to have an effect on one’s mind and body. While some benefits of TM are a bit hard to believe(besides the fact that they haven’t been proven to be true), a lot of its benefits sort of revolve around the fact that it has been proven to reduce stress, sharpen the mind and ability to focus, and if practiced correctly, allow the practitioner to enter a state of pure consciousness. While TM can, and is used to calm the mind, its benefits, as well as its usage(Theoretically) expand a bit farther than meditation used to simply calm the mind. TM has been said to help with several diseases, with some studies emphasizing on its benefits shown in the treatment of those with cardiovascular diseases. Research has shown that it has helped to lower blood sugar, increased insulin resistance, and a slowing of biological aging. In 2013, The American Heart Association released a statement saying that decades of research indicate that TM lowers blood pressure and may be considered by clinicians to treat patients with high blood pressure. Along with its physical health benefits, TM has been said to help with treating patients with anxiety and neuroticism. Regardless of whether or not you believe that meditation of any kind will be a cornerstone of western culture or modern medicine, I think it is important to be open to the experience and to see if it works for you. Meditation has been in practice for thousands of years by many different people and will remain one of the many things that ties us all together regardless of what we choose to believe and hope to gain from doing it.
A Guide to Identifying, Recognizing, and Changing Negative Patterns
For every action, there is a reaction. For every choice made, there is a proper consequence that will follow. What seems to be the issue these days is everyone trying to dodge the piercing arrow of blame by avoiding unwanted fault in different situations. This is usually done by developing excuses for our actions which stem from fear and insecurities and are typically in the form of a lie. When it’s done continuously it becomes a habit where negative patterns are formed and apparent throughout our lives. These negative patterns are learned at an early age and built upon until they are a part of our personality which can not only cause the inability to have healthy relationships but completely stunt our own personal, spiritual, and even professional growth. This typically happens because of three main reasons: A) being unaware of the continuous cycle of excuses because it has become the norm; B) the inability to be accountable or responsible for anything in our lives because of A ,and; C) being a perpetual victim and having the inability to ever empower ourselves because of A and B.
If you are human, then excuses have been used by you in your lifetime at some point and in some fashion. Whether it was during childhood, teen years, young adulthood, etc., everyone has taken this approach to problem solving before. How do we change these negative patterns you ask? Well first the patterns must be recognized and identified by retracing our experiences analytically. This involves thinking critically and from another party’s perspective. Basically, questioning how our actions affected someone else at the time; what were our thoughts, and how could we have reacted differently? I like to call this process ‘Knowing the Y’ (purpose) because it helps make sense of the ‘what’ (initial action that was taken). In fact, here are several significant examples from my own personal experiences to help you with this process.
Example 1: Childhood
I remember a time in my life when I was in middle school and I was called upon by the teacher to lead a group project. I remember looking around at my classmates and seeing them immediately get to work with their group members to accomplish the assignment. I then looked at my group members and in that moment I said, “You guys get started while I go to the restroom.” Because I made the choice to leave, I left them with the responsibility of getting the job done without me.
Example 2: Teen Years
Fast forward to high school where I was chosen to be a part of a community play given by a local holistic urban outreach program where, by chance, I had become a peer mentor. Originally I was chosen to play a small supporting role where I only had two or three lines, however one of my fellow thespians dropped out because of personal reasons and I was chosen to take on a lead part in the play, given that we only had a week left to rehearse before opening night. Everyone congratulated me and all of my friends believed that I was perfect for the part. All I can remember is immediately feeling afraid because I didn’t want the responsibility of having a lead part, I didn’t want to mess up and I also didn’t want to take the time it took to perfect the art because I knew in my mind that I couldn’t do it. All I could think of was “I’m no lead, they must be crazy because I know that I can’t do this.” Because of these negative thoughts, I made up an excuse about me falling behind in school work which caused me to have to sit out of the play and eventually quit working with the outreach program altogether . I retreated and left my team hanging yet again.
Example 3: Young Adulthood
In my early twenties my entire world was rocked by the cutest, wittiest, most brilliant person I had ever met in my life. It all started with a Facebook message that was sent my way that expressed his interest in me. Of course, I bit the bait and blissfully fell in love. We eventually moved in with each other and for the next year of my life no one else mattered because I was the happiest that I had ever been. By year two things began to take a turn for the worst and although we both played a part in what was known then as the breakup, it took me a few years later to fully understand my role and responsibility in what happened. What I concluded after truly reflecting on this experience, was that throughout the ups and downs of this relationship I was a runner when things got hard, never wanting to take responsibility for anything, forcing my partner to be in an uncomfortable parental position which ultimately was the poison that killed US.
Example 4: Adulthood
A couple of years ago, some close family members and I decided to create a wonderful business opportunity for ourselves by becoming entrepreneurs. This was the most exciting venture of my life, that couldn’t have come around at a more perfect time for me because I was approaching a time of change in all aspects. My constant laziness, complaining, and lack of motivation caused me to fall behind and because of my own constant insecurities, not only did I fail to get any of my duties done as the appointed COO of the company, which caused for the developmental process to be delayed, but most of all I failed to support my family members as a partner. While feeling shameful of my actions or lack thereof, because of the continuous excuses I had put on replay in my head, I ultimately decided to back out and completely drop the ball which costed me my position and future within the company because of the trust issues I have created. Today, I can only take full responsibility for my actions and learn from my mistakes. Only by the grace of God do I still have the opportunity to be affiliated with the company on a probationary period until I rebuild the trust again I once had.
Throughout these times in my life one thing always remained constant, my fear of responsibility which fueled my lack of ability to commit to anything but making excuses. This is the thing that has always stopped me from accomplishing my goals or even living a fulfilling life. There are so many things that I’ve never experienced because of living in fear, one being having a healthy relationship by being able to make meaningful connections, which in my opinion represents success. I’m 29 years old now and I have realized that I am of stunted growth because I never allowed myself to be truly empowered.
With that being said I plan to use my “Knowing the Y” findings to make changes where necessary in order to be my best self and live my most abundant life and I hope this guide will help you along your journey as well.
Unfortunately, these days it seems like the world has become the craziest place. There is nowhere to hide from the madness, no refuge or sanctuary from the immense corruption, the senseless violence and the terror that humans seem to be obsessed with unleashing on one another. Every day, you open your eyes and the nightmare continues.You get up, you go about your day and try to make the best of things. But let’s face it, you’re human, the stress, the trauma is enough to drive anyone over the edge.
Why is the world so chaotic? Why is there so much violence?
Since the dawn of humanity, the world hasn’t been the easiest place to live. Much of our existence has been focused on taming nature and bending it to our will, fighting every day for survival. This need to survive, made humans obsessed with control. Sometimes this need for control has spilled over into the need to control other humans. This obsession with control over the others stems from fear. Fear alone is not unhealthy, it keeps us safe. Fear and the human imagination is another story.
Our own imagination tends to be our worst enemy. It will create some to the worst narratives if you allow it. This is fear unchecked. The thoughts are completely irrational and have no basis in reality, yet we entertain them. They cause us to miscommunicate, be suspicious of others, and in some cases cause harm. We have lost control of ourselves trying to gain control of everything and everyone else.
What is Mindfulness?
How can mindfulness help me gain control?
Mindfulness by definition is the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something. It can also be described as a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while consciously accepting one’s thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations.
Mindfulness promotes a state of well-being by bringing the focus within, back to the self. It gives you a sense of control, understanding that YOU being the conscious being existing in this moment in time, YOU are constant. That is reassuring, to know that everything around you WILL CHANGE, but, YOU are constant. It gives you permission to live in the moment, it releases you from the burden of being a part of the busyness that is our lives, and gives you the freedom of being apart, separate, in but not of.
Being in the stillness gives you a clarity you wouldn’t otherwise have, your mind is steady and clear, your problems suddenly become less important, and the solutions come, like magic.
You will never have control over everything your life, you were never meant to. Your only mission is to master yourself, to take full responsibility for yourself, your thoughts, your feelings, your emotions, your life.
Abuse is defined as a misuse or mistreatment of a person or a thing; to intentionally use someone or something for a bad purpose; to cause harm to a person, animal, or environment, with the intent to demean, undermine, cause fear or control.
Abuse, as you can see, is easily defined. However, most people are guilty of abuse without ever realizing. It is almost always excused as the abuser,having been abused or as the abuser having mental issues that caused them to be abusive. But, that is for the noticeable patterns of abuse, what about the less noticeable ones?
The purpose of this piece is to clearly and intentionally label and define the many aspects of abuse. I pray that this allows us all to be more aware of our actions and how they affect those around us.
This form of abuse is always violent in nature. It consists of causing physical harm to another person, animal or the environment around them. This explicitly means; hitting, kicking, punching, pushing, slapping, biting,stomping, grabbing, making threats to cause bodily harm, or destroying their personal property. It is the act of forcing, by physical means, or coercing someone to do something against their will. It is usually a last resort as an abuser, if all other forms of manipulation and control has failed or to further solidify their hold on the victim.
There are many misconceptions about what constitutes emotional abuse. It is the use of someone’s emotions to manipulate and control them, the abuser uses blame and guilt to intentionally force the victim to do their will. If the victim does not comply, they intentionally cause pain as a way of penalizing the victim. It can be as subtle as constantly bringing up past grievances in arguments, or using a past trauma to manipulate their victims, to causing emotional traumas; such as destroying something that the victim enjoyed, ruining friendships to isolate the victim and saying that it is the victim’s fault or that the friend “was a bad friend”.
This is the most damaging form of abuse because it consists of so many aspects of abuse. It is the systematic breakdown of a person or persons mental state. This is necessary for the abuser to (A) isolate the victim and (B) gain complete control over the victim. It involves the abuser, playing mind games with the victim, toying with their emotions, starting fights and blaming the victim. These arguments will continue until the victim relents and takes all the blame. This is repeated over and over again.The victim is constantly questioning themselves and their behavior, often justifying that of the abuser. The victim is often told that they misunderstood the intentions of the abuser or that the victim is “making it all up” in their heads. The abuser, constantly cast themselves in the role of victim, to escape any ownership of their role in an incident or to completely excuse their behavior. This is the vicious cycle of mental abuse, the effects of mental abuse often last a lifetime. The victim even after leaving the relationship is unable to develop trust, and without trust, no serious bond can be developed between two people.
Verbal Abuse is the most common form of abuse. Everyone has been verbally abused by someone at some point in their lives. Be it an employer, a parent, an educator, etc. Verbal abuse is the use of words with the intent to cause harm. Verbal abusers use words as a weapon to demean and undermine their victims self-esteem and self-worth. They justify their behavior as “constructive criticism” or that the victim needs to toughen up. But the truth is, words really matter and you cannot use fear and intimidation as a substitute for an inability to communicate effectively.
Sexual abuse usually gets overlooked simply because of how we as a society view sex. Sexual abuse is any form of sex that is not considered to be a full, pleasurable experience between two consenting adults. Now with that being said, there are two types of sexual abuse that we all find repulsive:
The sexual experience was meant to be a sacred one. It was meant to be a pleasurable, beautiful experience, that promotes healthy self-esteem, because of the connection established between two or more people exploring this experience and the extent of their personal connection. It was to be an experience that promoted life(obviously) and healing of the mind, body and spirit.
This form of abuse often gets missed. Because it involves a person’s view of the use of money. It is often done unintentionally, without malice. Economic abuse is the improper use of money or resources. This can be a spouse that overspends, which puts a strain on the entire household, to a spouse so concerned with the possibility of misuse that they control all the income and allows little to no input from the other spouse about finances.
It becomes malicious when whole demographics of the population decide to exclude other demographics from participation in the financial system, based on race, sex, religion,or sexual orientation. Abuse on this scale not only paralyzes whole demographics of people from ever improving their quality of life. But this type of abuse, cripples all of us. It diminishes the value of humanity itself, it states that their isn’t enough for us all and that we are not intelligent or mature enough to share. This must not persist, it is unacceptable.
Spiritual abuse is a very old form of abuse. It involves manipulating and controlling someone with religion. Any religious organization that does not encourage free thinking, and freedom of choice is committing abuse. Spirituality is to bring freedom of expression and thought. The way in which a person or persons worship, can only be determined by the individual. For one religion, or religious organization to believe or imply or enforce a monopoly on God, is in fact abuse. We are endowed by our Creator, the right to believe or to not believe in Him. We also have the right to connect with this Creator in whatever way is most innate to us. To place prohibitions or judgements on how others connect with God is abuse.
Abuse Of Status or Position
If one uses his or her position, status, or influence to manipulate and control another person or persons, it is abuse. People are placed in the position of leadership to be of service to those around them not “tell them what to do” or take advantage of them financially, emotionally, mentally or physically. It does not give the person of authority or privilege, the power, to cause harm, to antagonize, or bully his or her subordinates. This is the definition of a tyrant!
Whether this person is the leader of a family, a business, religious organization, etc. They do not have the authority to abuse, and should not be condoned in any way.
Food abuse is not as clear cut as it may seem. Food abuse is the over consumption, or the act of being wasteful in terms of food use. It is using food as a means of soothing and comforting oneself. It is the act of using food to control those around them. Food abuse is prevalent throughout the developed world. In the United States alone, we throw away a whopping 40% of all the food we buy. It is truly a global problem and we are all participants, if we are willing to acknowledge this, we can make much needed changes.
The lack of connection, disconnection from ourselves and one another, for the sake of protecting our fragile egos, has caused us to perpetuate a system of abuse and misuse. We have no sense of value or self-worth and because of it, the value of everyone around us is diminished. We must learn to truly love who we are, any religion, culture or school of thought that does not assist us with this, is not adhering to our highest call, the most important of all commandments, which is; “ To love one another as we love ourselves.” To do anything less, is only aiding in continuing the cycle.Love yourself. You are a priceless, treasure. Treat yourself that way, first. Love others. They are priceless, treasures. Treat each other that way!
What does it mean to truly “do you”? In today’s society the “doing me” movement is looked at as something positive in terms of taking care of one’s self by only thinking of one’s self in the process. The term “self-made” is one that is often used by society to further imply how “doing me” is the smart thing to do to avoid being taken advantage of or giving unnecessary credit to others. These terms are loosely used in everyday life by individuals through casual conversation, social media, TV, movies, etc. to represent strength and power when in reality they are driven by both ego and selfishness. “Doing me” implies that no one else matters; the betterment of the collective group should be over looked; and that one only needs themselves to accomplish any and everything they put their mind to. This however is a fallacy and goes against the nature of human beings in terms of origin and purpose.
In school we are taught in order to solve a problem we must first identify and understand its origin, no matter the subject, the bottom line is one can never know where they are going if they don’t know where they come from.
Truthfully the term “doing me” almost always arises from one’s own insecurities and the feelings of inadequacy and disappointment in what one perceives as their inability to have a healthy relationship, whether it be with family, friends, romantically ,a business partnership, etc. These feelings of inadequacy stem from one’s own image of self in terms of unhealthy self-esteem, self-doubt, and unworthiness. Because of one’s low self-worth and feelings of inadequacy they continuously spew the toxic venom of selfishness in all relationships of importance and significance. Eventually these relationships wither away as a result of the toxins, forcing the starving half to choose between continuing to self-sacrifice in an unhealthy existence that will end in the inevitable OR saving themselves by making an active choice to deaden the unhealthy relationship. This is quite unfortunate because both choices result in separation and isolation and because of the pain, the concept of “doing me” is born into existence for the toxic and selfish individual.
It has been proven that children are taught social skills in the home, meaning ones first encounters of how to treat others come from their relationships with their parents. If this is known to be true and if God is the father then this means we are the children and our relationship to him is parallel to that of a parent and a child. Therefore we must seek a heathy relationship with him first as our relationships with others reflect this. So although the term “doing me” sounds empowering, in reality this current movement negates a natural process by continuously perpetuating the inability to connect with others and have healthy relationships. We need to live our lives in truth by understanding that we are all connected and we cannot exist or survive without each other because of our origin and connection to Him. Because we were manifested in love, it is only natural that we act in the love from which we were created and any resistance to this is self-destruction.
I propose that we as a collective change the meaning of the “doing me” movement because to truly do you is to continue to work towards being the absolute best you that you can be. This is done by purely living in our truth and purpose by seeking and trusting God. We must completely surrender and understand that his will is the true reality and that we are all created in his image. By doing this one will see their true self and will be unapologetic in accepting of such.
Today, everything moves at the speed of light. There are so many distractions! We are entertained and our minds occupied, which causes us to miss out on opportunities for the universe to commune with us and give us much needed guidance.
In times like these, we must lean closer to our inner wisdom. Wisdom that is vital to our well-being and overall success. When we are attuned to that inner wisdom (God’s voice), the divinity that is within you creates with you and brings about the outcomes necessary for our growth and development, as spirits first and as humans second.
But we must prepare ourselves to receive these blessings. In the process of co-creation, you first decide on what it is you want in your life, i.e. What direction would you like to see your life go in? Then, you must state your desires AND begin living your life as if it has already be performed. If you are wanting and asking for something, but still living as though it will never happen, it won’t. It is just that simple. Your outlook must be positive. Our Creator only sees the good; it is a skill that we must all develop, especially in times like these.
Use Your Blessings Wisely.
I cannot stress this enough. Opportunities to grow and change are always available. We must have the wisdom to perceive them and use them to our advantage. It may not always be anything of any monetary value, or that job that you really wanted. It is almost always knowledge. Knowledge is the most valuable thing you can possess. With the knowledge that we acquire, we are able to create better results in our lives, which contribute to our well-being.
All Are Worthy Of Respect and Love.
You remember the golden rule from preschool, right? Or maybe you heard it in Sunday School. Unfortunately, as adults, we often forget this simple and resounding truth. When we are afraid or stressed, we become those kids we used to be in preschool. We concern ourselves with only ourselves. We make decisions that we presume will only affect us but in turn forget about how far the ripple stretches. We deny our connection to one another and decide that, if it isn’t about us, it does not concern us.
But the truth is, it all concerns us. I don’t care if you live on Main Street, USA or Ferguson, Missouri, or Charlotte, North Carolina, or Tulsa, Oklahoma, or Israel, or Palestine, or Tibet, or anywhere else in the world. Hate, violence, racism, sexism, and discrimination, concern us all. Any abuse against a human being’s life or way of life concerns us all. Whether we like it or not, we are neighbors on this Earth. We are a part of the largest family in the universe, and love is our highest call.
Love is a flower.
Love is a being, a living breathing being. It is a spirit. It originates from the source of all love and all beauty, Our Creator. But sometimes we, as human beings, have a difficult time with love. We tend to complicate it and sometimes we (for lack of a better term) fuck it up! But the question is, why? Why do we fuck up something we obviously want in our lives?
Well, the answer is a lot easier than you think, but the journey getting to the answer is what is difficult. It is easy when it is open and shut. For instance, infidelity: pretty open and shut, right? Or is it? It would be if you know the reason for the indiscretion or maybe you don’t care and just don’t want to look stupid. I mean everyone else’s opinion is more important than the one who has showered with you, held you at night, and calmed your fears. (I know, enough with the sarcasm.) When you look at it that way, is it really easy? It really isn’t. It is complicated, but only because we put the needs of our own ego, above the needs of our hearts.
For love to grow, it must be nourished. It must be cared for very gently. Love must be given with abandon; without conditions, without restrictions, without ultimatums. Love is an infinite energy that must be allowed to flow. It requires time and energy, giving of one’s self and one’s energy, and the sharing of one’s life on the deepest of levels.
How do we complicate love?
We complicate love by allowing ourselves to get in the way of it. We complicate it by doubting it, and by believing we are unworthy. We love with conditions and restrictions, all designed to keep us from losing too much or to protect us, just in case it doesn’t work out.
We sabotage our love and forfeit our happiness when we choose ourselves over love. We do this because we do not have a true understanding of ourselves. When we begin to accept that we are love, because we are from love itself.
Love is powerful.
Love is a being, but it is also a force. Love is the muscle behind creation. Love is the energy that heals and restores. Love unites. Love will always endure until there is nothing else. At the very end, love will endure forever and ever.
Love does not have to be complicated because it is pure. We can all experience love in its fullness by accepting our origins. We must remember that not only are we worthy of love, but every living thing - everything that has breath - is worthy of love.
Above all else, love one another. It is our highest call.
What is the foundation for a healthy friendship?
Healthy friendships are built on the same structure as other relationships. The individuals in the relationship must first have healthy relationships with themselves. Both people must love and accept themselves completely. When both people have healthy self-esteem, that leaves little room for comparison. They can enjoy the things they have in common without feeling insecure or envious, and without the senseless need to be like the other individual.
How is this relationship obtained?
I know: it sounds like a mythical beast, or a unicorn in a beautiful meadow, right?
I mean, a friendship like this - in a world where most people carefully construct their social media pages, taking selfies at all sorts of weird angles and making cryptic post so that people will hopefully care? Yeah, I get it. I totally get it. But it is possible. Yes, my friends, there is hope. The truth is, most of the people that I just described are really seeking the same thing as you. They want a friendship that is based on love, support and enjoying the company of one another. The problem is we all have a terrible habit of placing conditions on how we love, who we love and when we feel it’s okay to do so. The constraints we place on loving others, we place on ourselves as well. By doing this, we assume that others have those same conditions in place and so we try to meet these conditions.
We must learn that love is only complete when it is allowed to just be. Love is a force - a living, breathing being - that only wishes to carry out its mission of unification. When we hinder that mission, we lose out on experiencing love in its true, unaltered form. Love, in its fullness, heals, unites, and transforms the beings that it is allowed to touch. A relationship - be it a friendship, a marriage, parent-child, human-animal, or human-Earth - when touched and influenced by love, is a relationship that carries out its own mission of revealing our true identities, the ones we were born with and lost over time. This is the point. This is why we need one another.
I hope that this series of articles will inspire a healthier approach to loving ourselves and each other. I look forward to hearing from each of you, leave a comment or email below.
Familial relationships are the foundation from which all other interactions and relationships are based on in life. They are the resource from which we draw information on how to handle conflict, love, honesty, our emotions and actions and how they affect ourselves and others.
We draw from each experience good and bad to create rules on how to interact with different people and personality types.
Unfortunately, more often than not, parents are completely unaware of the impact of their input in this process. I mean, sure, we teach our children to share, and to be kind, and to treat everyone the way we want to be treated. But, are we demonstrating these principles?
We must remember that demonstration is just as important at being told what to do. As children, we were blank slates, so to only be told to be kind without ever seeing what that looks like, is like telling a blind man that has never seen a bird, to draw that bird. It would be impossible! He can imitate the way the bird sounds, but he cannot draw the bird.
Familial relationships are also the relationships that help to determine who we are, how we view ourselves. In families, there tends to be a role assignment that happens, someone has to be the responsible one, the rock, and someone has to be the irresponsible one, that keeps up all the drama. Parents will devote countless hours of attention, time and resources trying to fix the one that is the screw up, while virtually ignoring the other and oftentimes relying on the responsible child to give advice about helping the sibling. While, it is unfortunate for the family to be in this predicament, the family is repeating themes from the families of the parents, or grandparents. This damaging pattern, not only damaged the self-images of the children in the present family but also the self-images of the parents.
In order to create happier outcomes in our families, we must start from scratch. We must start with ourselves. We must begin by understanding more about ourselves, who we are underneath it all. We must find out own personal truths and live them, they must be non-negotiable, and each member must do the same. We must learn to see our family members for who they are. We must love them completely and in truth as we love ourselves. As each member lives their own journey, each member can appreciate the other and their growth. The family will begin to heal each other and break unhealthy patterns, bringing happiness and peace for future generations.
It has been said, thousands of times that, if you love yourself, you can love others. The reason it is repeated so often is that it is true. I believe we all understand this concept, at least on the surface. The problem is the application of the concept. It is easy to be conceited, selfish, self-centered, self-absorbed (notice the pattern), self-aligned, etc. But, the thing is, none of those attributes or ideas are really about self-love. You can be concerned about the self, or even narcissistic, and still hate you. The roots of all of these ideas, or understandings, of the self are in self-hate, lack of confidence in one’s self, and low self-esteem.
To really love one’s self has nothing to do with the self, and everything to do with how one sees one’s self in relation to others. We erode our self-love with the constant comparison of ourselves to others - the envy, the jealousy, the inability to see the goodness of our own selves and our own lives, because we believe that the grass is greener on the other side; the idea that we do not deserve or are not as worthy as the next person of any good thing. We focus, and even to some degree obsess, over our flaws - we judge ourselves and torment ourselves because we fail to live up to a false sense of perfection.
How can we begin to understand what perfection is, when we are perceived as flawed?
Why do we believe we are flawed?
The perception that “something is wrong with me”, is not a perception that is rooted in truth. The self-image that we claim was, in truth, given to us by someone else. We concluded that, because this person did not see our beauty, we must be unattractive; because this other person failed to acknowledge our talents, we must lack talent; because this group of individuals did not value us, we must be devoid of value.
Our self-image is an image that is constructed from the time of childhood. It is comprised of the images we see in society, our parents own self-image, the role we assume in our families; it is based on the interactions with these key people and the opinions of other people that make us decide on who we are. We attach every experience to our self-image: every single mistake, every victory, every moment of embarrassment, becomes attached to our self-image.
What is our true self-image?
Who are we really?
I know these two questions seem like they are too complicated to answer. Philosophers since the beginning of time have been asking these questions and have come up with a variety of answers, some extremely convoluted and ridiculously long. I get it. Believe me, I do, but the problem with all their explanations is that they are approached from the wrong perspective: the self. They are approached from the perspective of the image of man as comprised by man. This idea is compiled of limited information, because man can only speak of what he can sense. He can only comprehend what he is able to see, touch, smell, taste, hear. His senses often limit his access to information that is around him in a complete sense, meaning he can sense what pertains to him, for his safety, for his survival, etc., but anything that is not within those parameters is often missed.
He must understand that basing the knowledge of himself on so little information will bring about a false image. The truth is, he was created to be complete and perfect, without blemish. There is no Higher Power or Universal Mind setting out to destroy him, secretly waiting for him to make a mistake so that It can judge him.
This Higher Power or Universal Mind has enough wisdom and intelligence to understand that one obtains knowledge by making errors. The Spirit that created man is fully aware of what man consists of and understands man’s true capabilities. We must understand that knowledge of ourselves has never been limited by the acknowledgment of God. It is, however, limited without it. By not understanding the origins of man, we are unable to fully embrace the truth of our identities. We are limitless! We are beautiful by design, each endowed with extraordinary gifts meant to be shared with one another, to increase and enrich the lives of one another. We are complete and unique, not to be defined by any one set of rules or any seemingly one-dimensional interpretation.
Love yourself! You are loved by a divine Universal Mind. You are thought about, rejoiced over, and smiled at often by this loving Spirit. If you have ever felt joy for no apparent reason, or happy over a random thought, it was this loving Energy setting Its thoughts upon you at that moment. Carry this knowledge about yourself everywhere you go. This same loving Energy will set Its thoughts on others as well. Understanding this, show them the joy you felt when you recalled those moments in your life. You can only love yourself when you accept your true origins; when you accept that you were wrong about your opinion of yourself; when you accept that you believed what others thought about you, others who were unaware of their own greatness.
When seeking ourselves, we must start at the beginning. You must remove the things you thought and are thinking and understand that they are not true. What is true, is that you are amazing! You have always been amazing! The perception of man does not, nor will it ever, outweigh the perception of man from the perspective of the Universal Mind.
You are loved! Deeply, deeply loved! You are special!
Love yourself! Love others! Love from this new understanding of yourself! Practice in love in truth.
Life is all about relationships. How we relate to the world, is a direct reflection of own self-image. If we have low self-esteem, we find ourselves constantly comparing ourselves to others. Because we have a false image of ourselves, we attach negative images and emotions to others, preventing ourselves from building healthy relationships. We cannot connect due to a lack of connection to ourselves.
Building a strong sense of self and understanding how we view ourselves, becoming aware of what we think about ourselves, is the key to helping us relate to the world in a more healthy manner.
In the coming weeks, we will begin exploring ourselves and taking stock of the most important relationship in our lives, our relationship with ourselves.
Gianni Pace is a life and spiritual guidance coach. She is married and proud mama to seven children. She currently resides in Atlanta, Georgia.