“A moment of self-compassion can change your entire day. A string of such moments can change the course of your life.” ― Christopher K. Germer
Do you ever wake startled out of a dream? Your heart racing, mind blurry and confused, and it feels like your whole body is flailing about in your bed. When your mind is dragged into the present you open your eyes, the room is filled with early morning light filtered through the curtains. Your loved one is sleeping next to you, his mouth slightly open making small noises with each breath. The cat is curled into a small ball at the foot the bed between your feet and his feet. It takes you a moment to realize you did not leave your wallet on the side of the road next to a prostitute who was selling her little girl to another woman dressed in rags who only wanted to throw the little girl away. That was only a dream.
It seems almost every morning this past week I have woken from intense disturbing dreams. I wake startled, confused and scared. I go to my notebook and write these dreams out, trying to capture the images, the feelings, so that I might be able to untangle what my unconscious mind is telling me. I have always had intense vivid dreams. I still remember dreams from when I was little girl. I believe dreams are messages from our inner wisdom and can help us take better care of ourselves if we listen.
I know I am getting closer to a truth or my life is shifting in a big way, which usually means an inner shift rather than external one but not always, when I start to have intense dreams like I had in the last week. When I woke from the dream about the prostitute selling her daughter to another woman who was only going to use the little girl and then throw her away I was shaken for days.
I spent hours writing about the feelings, the images, following little trails of thought around my life, trying to find a place for this dream to settled or fit. Rarely will this process make literal sense. Rational thought is not involved, rather it is me feeling my way around things. It is me writing streams of concrete images on the page and paying attention to how I feel when I write them.
On the page I poked my relationship with my mother. I pried my relationships with men who objectified me over the years. I peered under the shame of growing up in poverty. Page after page of seemingly unrelated images, feelings and meanings something began to take shape and fit. I began to feel settled. The murky feeling of disconnection faded.
I realized the prostitute symbolized me, a part of me that sells myself, my dreams, my time, my energy and resources—and worst, my authenticity, to being good enough. Striving to be good enough uses everything I have and throws me away. Good enough objectified me. My quest to be good enough is more than a subtle form of aggression, it is a direct assault on my heart and my well-being.
So now what? What do I do with this knowledge? Why am I dreaming about how I sell myself? The quest to be good enough is so deeply ingrained in my cells and modes of operation it is not something I simply become aware of and poof it dissipates.
To be honest I don’t know how to stop striving. This is not the first time this awareness of how striving to be good enough hurts me and robs me of peace. I have learned to release the quest at times. But often, I am unaware I am being motivated to be good enough until something like a dream I had the other night wakes me up and reminds me of what I am doing. Sometimes I get sick or my hormones flare and I scorch the earth around me.
Learning how to let go of being good enough can be tricky because inherent in the letting go is notion I can do it perfectly—therefore good enough. There is a lot of seeking, learning and striving I can engage in to figure out how to let go of being good enough and that generally leads to more feelings of not doing it right or simply more I am not good enough feelings. A terrible vicious cycle.
The only thing I know that helps me is a gentle practice of loving kindness. This is the hardest practice for me to engage with on a consistent basis. Learning to develop self-compassion for all of me as I am—striving and all—dismantles the walls around my heart. Loving kindness breaks the cycle of getting better and being better. There is no destination with self-compassion, it is seeing things as they are and allowing space for them to exist. It is the intention for peace and love but not making peace and love.
Loving kindness is the antidote to the aggression of trying to be good enough. Loving kindness shows me I am good enough already there is nothing else to do. Loving kindness lets me sit, breathe, and be without striving. And this is the hardest, most uncomfortable place for me to be.
Even though I get startled and disturbed by my dreams. My dreams of good enough remind me that my wisdom comes from inside and my heart knows the way. Loving kindness is wraps it warmth around the prostitute in me, the little girl and the woman who buys her to throw the child way. When I allow myself to practice loving kindness consistently I know I am enough and I can trust myself.
Here is this week’s Inspiration to Open Your Heart
The Art of Being You by Caroline McHugh- This is an amazing and powerful TED Talk. I am simply speechless about how much this talk wove it’s way into my heart and exploded. I have watched it several times and I can assure you it is on my list to watch again—especially when I am feeling beat up by the world and wanting to shrink in the corner. I think this is one of the best talks I have ever heard about the power of being yourself. Watch it.
A Christian Gives Thanks for an America that is Not a Christian Nation by Parker Palmer- I normally don’t share links I think are polarizing or political but this one I had to share. Just the fact I think it is polarizing says a lot. It is vitally important we as Americans don’t forget the freedom of thought our country affords us. I know take for granted the freedom offered me to explore the bigger questions of life and what is right for me. This post reminds of that freedom and why it is so important. Let me not forget or feel intimidated because I find my answers in a different way than my neighbors or others in my community.
Mary Karr- Don’t Compare your Twisted Up Insides to Others Blow-Dried Outsides– Here is a transcript of a commencement speech given to Syracuse University graduates. Mary Karr shares her best tricks for dealing with fear and overwhelming anxiety. If you have not read any of Mary Karr’s work, I highly suggest it. She is a master poet and her memoir’s are beautifully written.
5 Tips for Taking a Work-Life Sabbatical by Bethany Butzer, PH.D- I have often dreamed of taking months off to recluse myself to the woods. I have also wondered how on earth do people just pick up and leave. The reality is they don’t. They plan.
And finally, It Turns Out My Anxiety Means I’m a Genius by Erin Blakeley- It is hard to admit that I too worry about all these little things. Danger is around every corner and I am constantly scanning for disaster so I can be ready for the blow. I attribute this level of worry to my upbringing, which was chaotic at best. I have never thought of the gift my anxiety offers me. By the way, this predilection of scanning for danger is one of the main reasons I meditate regularly. Enlightenment is good but not as sweet as the relief I get from my anxiety, but then again, maybe that is enlightenment.
I still have 3 spots open in the summer session of Writing to Open Your Heart Creative Writing Workshop. We start Wednesday May 20th. We are only meeting once a month instead of weekly. This is a great way to maintain connection with your writing this summer. Register Now!