If you’ve been able to strut through life with unyielding confidence, impervious to criticism, don’t read this. If, instead, you’ve allowed damaging messages to occupy your head, hear me out.
I believe in original innocence, not sin. In ways that matter most, each of us is born a tabula rasa, a fresh soul launched, as Lao Tzu says, into this world of “ten thousand things.” And some of these teeming influences are destructive.
We get placed on a social pyramid based on our looks, intelligence, or aptitude. We may have parents who project their untamed demons onto us. We may become the target of bullies. We may possess a tender spirit that observes the evils of this world and recoils into self-defeating isolation. We may struggle with depression, addiction, or some other malady that makes each day unduly burdensome.
If you, like me, have ever wrestled with doubt, self-judgment, or limiting thoughts, my heart goes out to you. I ask you to whisper a simple prayer with me: “May 2016 be a year in which we learn to be gracious to ourselves.”
This isn’t a new sentiment. It’s just hard to make it real.
I heard a woman teach about “the two great commandments,” Jesus’ summation of the copious Hebrew laws. One, love God will all your heart, mind, soul and strength. Two, love your neighbor as yourself. She focused on that kicker at the end. If we have not learned to love ourselves, our treatment of others will mutate. Our inner incrimination spills over like poisoned wine from a dirty cup.
“By learning to love ourselves,” she said, “I don’t mean pride, egotism, self-flattery, or insistence on our own way. And we can love others even when we don’t treat ourselves kindly. But let me ask you? Do you believe love is our highest calling? (Everyone nodded). Do you believe that grace and forgiveness are a needed balm in this world? (Again, unison nods). Now, do you consistently apply this love, grace and forgiveness to your own soul?” (A deep silence).
While in treatment for alcoholism, I met a cadre of broken men still fighting this disease that doesn’t discriminate. Like flowers in the dustbin, not all their suffering was wasted.
One of them, a prominent lawyer, said to me: “Krin, every day it comes down to this: Who do we let have the microphone in our head? Will it be the Critic, the Doubter, the Deceiver, the Comparer? Or will it be the Encourager, the Affirmer, the Gracious and Loving Voice of our Creator that lives inside ALL of us? Take back the mic!”
Do you still cling to regrets, nurse resentments, or allow the limiting voices of others to rent space in your brain? Are you still unconvinced of your splendid and unique beauty?
If so, may you find the disciplines to dispel these self-defeating lies. Call it the power of positive thinking, Rational-Emotive Therapy, or self-talk. Whatever method you use, take back the mic this year! Let your Original Self/God/the Creator’s Presence speak healing words into your spirit!
If you are reading this, I love you. Please whisper this prayer with me one more time: “May 2016 be a year in which we learn to be gracious to ourselves.”