Have you ever been told spending time with yourself is selfish? Or that meditating is the equivalent of being lazy? It’s easy to internalize the belief – perpetuated by a success-driven society – that setting aside time for oneself to go within is superfluous, indulgent or even narcissistic. If it weren’t for this belief, there wouldn’t be so many campaigns encouraging people to take care of themselves. “Self-care” is now marketable concept.
In a culture where wisdom is given higher value than external “success,” everyone would simply be taking care of themselves without having to be told it’s okay to do so.
I remember how deeply frustrated I felt upon returning to the States in 2016. My life had just taken a tumultuous turn, and my trauma-induced state was in dire need of time alone. Time doing nothing. Time listening to the still, small voice of my soul.
Yet, someone I was close to kept commenting how selfish I was for taking space for myself. He viewed my time spent in introspection and meditation as lazy because I wasn’t “doing” anything. If I had been accomplishing something externally, he would have viewed my time as valuable. We live in such a productive-oriented society that it’s difficult to convince people otherwise.
Part of the problem was I felt the need to convince him. He clearly wasn’t receptive to what I had to say. My words were met with deaf ears because judgment limited his capacity to hear me. I took it personally. My own tendency toward shame and “not good enough” crept up. Was I selfish for needing so much time alone? Did it make me lazy to spend time journaling or doing self-inquiry? I felt anger and frustration because I felt so criticized and devalued.
“Didn’t he understand?” I wondered. “My ability to self-reflect was exactly what limited my judgment of others.” Aha. Then it dawned on me. I could judge him in response, or I could recognize: His judgment of me was a reflection of his own conditioning.
He would bend himself out of shape trying to do and achieve and be more because he needed that validation. He needed to prove his own worth by doing. Productivity was firmly equated with value in his mind, and I was not going to convince him otherwise. He had his own staunch belief systems, not to mention wounds that left him feeling anxious and in constant need of recognition.
Me? Clearly, I also needed his approval, or his judgment of my choices would not have angered me so. I was angry because I kept wanting his validation in order to validate myself.
Yikes. His comments also hit the doubt that still resided in me, which wondered whether all of that time sitting in silence was worth it. “Should I have been working harder, or accomplishing more?” I continued to harbor guilt for setting boundaries to care for myself. Yet, my soul urged me to take time to listen. She needed me to hear her, to honor her requests, to love her enough to be there with her alone.
Call it lazy. Call it selfish. Call it what you will. But I now firmly believe – without a doubt – that time I spend in self-reflection with my own mind, body and heart is the solution to all of our world’s problems. I know, it sounds like a tall order. It is.
When I connect with my own truth – with my own divinity – my own feelings – I stop projecting my wounds onto other people. I stop denying the existence of their truth. I stop needing external validation. I stop forcing others to fit into a mold. Compassion overflows from my heart.
There will still be pain and grief and occasional inner turmoil as I sort out thousands of years of conditioning. But at least I won’t forsake myself anymore. Every day, I close my eyes and say, “Show me what I need to see. Show me what I need to feel. Show me what I need to know.” Then, I listen. The answer doesn’t always come right away, but it will come in its own, divine timing.
My path isn’t perfect. Sometimes it’s full of more twists and turns than I care to admit. But at least the love at the source of my being is always here to guide me.
© Jessica Falcon.
Want to understand more about the Danger of Shame? It’s a heavy and broad topic. This Thursday, October 15th at 1:30 p.m., I’ll address how shame actually prohibits our ability to speak or live our deepest truth. Join me live on Facebook here.
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