Today, we're going to keep diving deep into the super imprinted and likely subconscious reasons we all have a resistance to self love, and why we feel on a deep level that self love will lead to chaos and destruction.
The more we understand WHY we believe these things, the more we can counter the narratives with new, better stories.
The fact that we’ve been indoctrinated to believe that change/success HAS to come from hate/disdain/looking at all the negatives instead of looking for the positives and supporting growth. Most self help, spirituality, personal growth and religions material tells us that the ONLY way to change, to move forward, to make any improvements in our lives, is to get 'honest' about the pain, suffering and shamefulness of what we’re currently in. We’re taught over and over again that change comes from focusing on what’s WRONG with us, so that we can FIX it. There's a lot of pushing around the idea that we are an ignorant species that is lazy, weak and desires to do the 'wrong' things, and that in order to improve an any way, we have to resist all of our natural impulses via a strong focus on all of our failings. We're told that we're unconscious, that our minds are broken, that we can't be trusted to take care of ourselves lest we spend a lot of time being 'on top of' ourselves.
We’re told over and over again that any negative habit, any pain, any suffering, any lack in our lives is coming from a deep flaw in us, and that if we don’t LOOK AT THAT FLAW with 'honesty' in the sense that we ruminate on all the harm and damage being caused by this flaw, and then resolve to DO something about it - that we will be deluding ourselves and forcing ourselves into a life of pain and suffering where we never change again. That it's directly due to our 'honesty' around our deep flaws that we will find the ability to change.
We’re told that if we’re not focusing on fixing and changing ourselves that this means we’re being lazy, in denial and allowing ourselves to succumb to our lower nature and instincts. We’re told that if we WERE to love ourselves, to accept ourselves, to look for any innocence or goodness, that this would make us just like everyone else - unmotivated to change anything for the positive. That feeling bad, feeling guilt, feeling shame, feeling like we're ruining our own lives and the lives of others IS the thing that will motivate us to make positive changes.
Basically, we're told that in order to grow we have to be deeply feeling the pain of our current state and looking for how this pain is our fault so we can fix it.
Then on top of that, we’re told that in order to grow, to change, to become more and achieve more, to get out of pain and to have pleasure, that we HAVE to suffer.
We HAVE to work hard.
We HAVE to sacrifice pleasure.
That the only way to a better place is through some challenging, painful, and otherwise against what we would naturally want to do.
The emphases on the idea that change only comes through struggle and that anything of value is achieved through suffering leads so many of us to follow paths that are never going to get us where we want to go. Paths that leave us constantly in a state of feeling unworthy, unlovable, not good enough and otherwise like we're failing - while also believing that whatever we're doing is 'right' so long as it's hard, painful and involves us focusing on all that's 'wrong' with us.
There's no focus on what's already good about who we are so we can build on that. There's no understanding that when we are truly on a path of life generation there will be pleasure - even within the challenge. There's no internal guidance that draws us to really consider who we are and what we want - it's all about how we fit into the world and how we need to be living up to cultural expectation. Even in the spiritual communities - we're not looking to awaken and transcend for ourselves - it's all about doing so so that we can fit into the group, be seen as people who 'get it' and are therefore rewarded with praise and community and coming across as being pain free so that others will look at us and have hope that they too can one day stop being human in many ways. It's not actually about changing the world or having a good life - it's about being what the group expects us to be/wants for themselves within the fantasy world of spiritual transcendence.
Most of us never developed an actual connection to who we are and what we want. The parts of self that genuinely want to grow - because we were too afraid. We were too caught up in trying to fit in in order to survive, that we didn't have the time or space to really sink into our true nature so as to connect with what matters to US. We weren't taught to find what we value, what we're actually willing to work towards, what gives us a feeling of purpose and meaning - we were trained to find a track that matches what 'success' is in the system, and to hate any part of self that seems to get in our way of achieving that success. Whether that system be the systems of secular culture, new age circles, spiritual circles or whatever group you feel beholden too - it's never really about you growing into you. It's always about 'this is what we're supposed to be to be good, and if you don't fit that, fix it.' Remember, when we feel this threat, this rejection, this fear - our bodies and minds SHUT DOWN. They want to stay JUST as we are. All of our coping, self sabotage and inability to achieve what we want comes from our attempts at getting our needs met within a society that doesn't support our growth. It all comes from us trying to fit into a way of life that causes us pain. It all comes from being DISCONNECTED from ourselves. Thus, we don't want to change - not really. Our nervous systems want to keep us locked in our habits, because at least we've been SURVIVING. The body/mind feels constant threat and thus are in lockdown.
Thus, we don't want to grow, and we don't have connection to the growth that would be GENUINE to us.
We never learned about the joy of growth that comes from internal motivation when we're connected to something that matters to us.
We were never taught how to love and nourish all aspects of self to see that when they are SAFE - they grow. That any harmful part of self is just trying to survive. That any self sabotage is just a coping mechanism. We're trained to fight against ourselves in the name of growth, and to pursue what's dictated to us - then wonder why we don't want to grow and feel like we have to push ourselves constantly less we resign ourselves to whatever is easiest and most convenient.
The loved, safe, natural human WANTS to grow. The human trying to survive in a culture that's all about conformity is going to have a hard time connecting to their true motivation, and thus will have to use pain as their only growth stimulus.
All through our lives most of us experienced being reprimanded and chastised for our ‘bad behavior’ and were rarely celebrated for what we did well/what was approved of. Instead, what we did well and what was approved of simply became the new ‘bar’ for what was expected of us to avoid being rejected. We literally learned that the only motivation for growth was to escape or avoid pain - and were never shown that growth can come from a true desire for growth itself, or that growth can come from an EXPANSION upon what’s already working/good/the actual root desires we have in the core of our beings.
We were never taught to access TRUE motivation, true pleasure, true inspiration from the desire to blossom what we ARE. It’s all been a narrative that we are bad how we are and must constantly be changing/fixing. Never coming from a place of expanding that which is already good about us, or meeting the needs of the parts that are currently coping and hurting. There was never an awareness that any ‘bad’ parts aren’t bad, but simply parts that are doing their best in a world that hurts. Which leads me to my next point.
Most of us were raised in consensus reality, a reality where we had to be and do a whole bunch of things that felt TERRIBLE to us in order to fit in, and where we had to deny many aspects of self in order to fit in. We got convinced that pleasure from acceptance = survival, and that the pain that comes from being rejected was the same as death itself. We were raised to conform to a culture (familial and otherwise) that didn’t support and doesn’t support who we REALLY are but asks us to reject and deny who we really are in exchange for this approval - and thus we are constantly having to fight with our true nature to TRY to be what’s expected of us. In so doing, we have pain because again, we're not being our fullest selves. At the same time when we DO attempt to be our true selves there is often outright backlash from those around us OR there is a nervous system backlash from within us as our conditioning kicks in to save our lives - and this FEELS like death. We hurt if we align with consensus and we hurt if we align with our truth.
Due to this, most of us have developed a whole bunch of coping strategies to try to cover up the pain of needing to be what we aren’t/suppressing what we are - that are then labelled as MORE things we have to fix about ourselves.
We were never taught to figure out what actually works for us or for humans in general.
We got convinced that what was normal and expected was and is RIGHT and that any part of us that can’t be successful within the system or that has to COPE with what it takes to try to be successful within the system OR BOTH - is bad and in need of fixing.
Rather than seeing that we are ‘failing’ because the SYSTEM is messed up or because we simply don't fit into what we've been told we have to fit into, we think WE are failing.
We truly believe that which gives us acceptance from the outside world IS pleasure - life generation, survival, support - and believe that being rejected IS death and thus something we must resist. Even when that acceptance comes as a result of us rejecting a true part of ourselves or when that rejection comes from us stepping into who we really and growing authentically.
So our pain and pleasure wires got crossed - that which feels genuinely GOOD for us got programmed into our bodies as being BAD and something we have to fight against due to it getting us rejected, and that which feels terrible got programmed in as ‘the right way’ because it was the road to success. That which gets us approval from the outside world gives us a hit of pleasure we may mistake for guidance - when in reality it only feels good because to our nervous systems acceptance = survival and vice versa.
Thus we now believe that that which gets us approved of IS pleasure - and so when we do things that aren’t in alignment with real reality or ourselves but that get us LOVE - we are going to experience the natural pain that comes along with doing so, without really seeing or knowing why, as it gets muddled by the hit of survival pleasure that comes with being approved of.
When we get rejected for something that’s true to us, we are going to perceive this as being truly BAD and WRONG - even as there’s true pleasure - because to our nervous systems this means we're going to die. When we have needs we don’t understand or are coping with this jumbled mess of pain/pleasure - again we aren’t seen in this at all. Rather we’re just assumed to be choosing to be destructive and are either told we need to fix ourselves OR we’re looked at as broken and weak.
We're trying SO hard to find pleasure, to find survival and growth - but we have two warring parts - the part that believes this is achieved through conforming and being approved of/following what we were told and shown that's familiar and the part that wants to follow what's true to us even when it takes us into unfamiliar territory that leads others not to understand us.
Consensus vs. true reality having a battle in our bodies and minds.
Most of us were forced to do many things that didn’t feel good, that weren’t fun, that we weren’t good at or that simply HURT because they weren’t things that actually aligned with our nature/human nature (think sitting at a desk all day in school, having to be social when we needed time to rest, having to ‘be nice’ to people we felt uncomfortable around, having to conform to social expectations when our inner selves wanted to be truthful etc) - and were told that being able to do these things well is what success is. This is what’s expected of us. This is what we HAVE to do and be in order to be GOOD. We got our pain and pleasure wires totally crossed - being trained to believe that that which was the most uncomfortable, the most unfulfilling in the moment, what was the hardest and most painful thing was the RIGHT thing. That that which felt fun, free and easy was wrong, bad, shameful or otherwise unimportant - as we were being rejected, reprimanded or invalidated in all that came naturally to us/that we wanted to pursue because it was actually good for us in REAL reality. Thus, most of us have developed coping strategies to help us do what we need to do to fit in, and to suppress what would make us weird while tolerating or numbing out the pain of doing so.
We weren’t shown how to connect with that which ACTUALLY feels good for us, and rather were given the option to either do a bunch of things that hurt in order to fit into society and to escape the pain of that via addictions, numbing behaviors, scapegoats and other coping strategies to help us turn OFF the pain of living a consensus reality life. We ping-pong between believing that the ONLY good things in life are those things that we have to fight for, that we have to push through, that we have to deny our pain in order to carry out and that the only escape from the pain of trying to be successful in a system that hurts is to be numb/addicted/distracted/stimulated in some way so that we can avoid the pain.
With this, we've learned that 'pleasure' is all the stuff we use to cope, numb and sabotage ourselves. We don't know TRUE pleasure - the pleasure of growth or doing what's actually good for us. We only know the pleasure of STOPPING the pain of consensus reality - and thus we think that if we surrender to what feels good, if we only do what we want to do, if we follow pleasure - we're going to walk ourselves into a life of total self destruction. For most of us the ONLY sense of pleasure we know is consensus pleasure of approval or coping/numbing/stimulating to distract from the pain of consensus reality. We don't know what it feels like to follow actual growth, actual passion, actual alignment.
Thus we've never experienced joy on the path, or even true joy in accomplishing anything. We only know that growth is something we have to grunt our way through because growth is taking us towards something we 'should' do by consensus vs. something we actually CARE to do, and often times the growth we're pursuing is AGAINST our true nature and what we really want and need. Then we believe that we have to let go of all the ways we're COPING with this pain to be good - which actually just makes life feel WORSE. When we try to get rid of our addictions, coping, scapegoating and stimulating - we don't feel better. Now we just feel the pain of consensus reality more, and lose the bits of self care we were getting through our 'negative' behaviors. We stop meeting the needs those behaviors were meeting, and we're just left with pain.
So is it any wonder we all think that if we followed pleasure we'd lose ourselves?
We deeply believe that the only progress is progress through pain, so that we can align with what’s expected of us, and the only way to get through that pain is to numb/stimulate ourselves - and then we chastise ourselves for quitting, giving up, crumbling under the weight of the pain and for turning to addictions/scapegoats/numbing/stimulating behaviors - as though we’re engaging in them because we’re weak and just needlessly self destructive.
Is it any wonder that we all believe change has to be hard?
That we have to reject and deny ourselves and what we actually think and feel?
We were never supported in growing that which actually WANTS to grow in us. We were never supported in finding a path of growth that’s truly sustainable and - while challenging at times - still feels GOOD overall because it’s TRUE to us. All we know is the pain of consensus reality growth which often is us being forced to be and do things that don’t align with us, and the pain of coping/numbing/stimulating/trying to escape the pain of fitting in.
Most of us can’t even conceptualize a growth that feels good WHILE we’re doing it - we can only understand growth in terms of fighting THROUGH a hard thing to win the goal at the end. Retirement. The promotion. The degree. The relationship. The perfect body. Along with this comes the fact that most of us have never understood what it means to feel joy ON the path.
Again, for us growth is all pain till you get to the perfect after, or we get caught in coping that leaves us stagnant and in self destruction. Pleasurable growth is a totally foreign concept, because we’ve never been taught how to connect with our TRUE selves, so that we can expand upon what’s actually there to be expanded upon.
We yearn for a perfect after that comes from all our hard work and sacrifice, because we have no idea that there’s a possibility of a never ending journey that feels GOOD along the WAY - where we don’t have to wait until the ‘after’ to feel the benefits of the path. Consensus reality growth always looks like 100% or mostly pain until we GET THERE - and that any falling off path/having to cope or stimulate to drown out the pain is a weakness. We believe our coping IS the problem, and that if we could just fix our coping behaviors we would be HAPPILY getting our lives. For most of us, nothing could be farther from the truth. We’re coping because the path we’re on isn’t the path for us! But it’s the path we’ve been conditioned to believe we must be on, and that’s all we see.
We tend to have this belief that again is fed to us in our culture from all sides, that love and acceptance means complacency and stagnation/giving up and surrendering to what is being what is forever and ever. As I stated above, most of us associate loving ourselves/giving ourselves a break/giving ourselves permission to be where we are with all of our coping, numbing and self sabotaging behaviors. We tend to believe that the ways we COPE with the pain of life ARE self loving modalities that clearly lead to self destruction. We look at our coping, numbing and self sabotage and don't see them as ways we're getting needs met we know no other way to meet or as ways we're managing the pain of the rest of our lives. Which is what they are. We see them as our only sources of pleasure and in this we believe that pleasure INHERENTLY causes pain. We start to believe that if we just got rid of these behaviors we would have happiness (not true because they are meeting a need on some level) or that if we got rid of these things we would fix the problems they cause but we would also then have nothing else that brings us joy.
Most of us are genuinely SO exhausted from fighting to try to be something we aren’t/to align ourselves with a system of chaos and harm for so long, that when we DO give ourselves permission to rest - of COURSE we’re not all ampt up and ready to grow and expand and discover who and what we really are!
We’re too tired, confused and twisted in knots. We’re sad. We’re hurt.
Many of us, when we first start the practice of self love and giving ourselves permission to admit what we don’t like and what hurts - we’re not going to see who we WANT to become. We’re not going to have a grand vision. We’re not going to see joy and freedom in this.
Instead, we’re just going to see all of our pain. All of our exhaustion. All the places where we got wounded and exploited by a system not set up for us. We’re going to come face to face with the fact that in the beginning, we don’t know who we are or what we want or what would make us happy. We’re just tired and hurt and scared and confused. We have all this consensus reality messaging that we can’t tease apart from what’s true to us or true to reality. We have all these expectations that have been placed upon us that may have nothing to do with us. We have all this guilt and shame we really THINK is real and that we have to feel badly about. We have parts that want SO BADLY to rebel from the systems we were taught but that are being held back by the fear of being cast out of the web. We don't know how to make ourselves safe so we can determine the needs we're getting met through our 'bad' behavior and how we can meet those same needs in new, better ways. We're not aware of how to love ourselves safe enough to do what's truly real for us even in the face of rejection. We don't know how to shift our nervous systems to find true pain and pleasure.
We’re mixed up and hurting inside.
We aren’t going to have a clear view of who we really are or what a real growth path would look like for us for a while.
And that is horrifying!
Again this crash, this comedown from consensus reality can really FEEL like we’re losing all direction, identity, awareness of what’s up from down - and this can feel so discombobulating. Then again, that which we have been doing to cope - our self sabotaging, addictive behaviors, our stimulating, our distracting - all of this is going to feel like the ONLY pleasure we know. It’s going to feel like on the one hand we really WANT to get RID of these parts of self and behaviors because we can see the harm they are causing, and on the other hand any time we TRY to get rid of these behaviors or parts we find we feel WORSE because now we don’t have a coping mechanism anymore.
Again we’re not jumping straight into clarity on who we are and what we want - what’s consensus and what’s true - and then just gracefully being capable of going after what’s true without feeling the fear of abandonment or rejection. Not at all. Figuring that out takes TIME. So we are going to be in a place in the beginning where the only pleasure we think is available are the pleasures of these semi-harmful behaviors. So how do we find REAL pleasure, or even believe that real pleasure exists? The kind of pleasure that’s actually self nourishing and doesn’t lead to a backlash later? Most of us won’t believe in that, because again, we’ve never seen it.
We so deeply identify with these coping parts as being part of us, and bad parts of us.
Parts of us that are holding us back from the joyous life we could be having if we could just get them under control.
Thus, when we hear the concept of ‘accepting ourselves’ we perceive that this means giving into these parts, and dooming ourselves to suffer forever.
We aren’t seeing that these coping parts aren’t ‘us’ in the sense that when we REALLY love these parts, when we really see them for what they are, they’re going to lead us to what we ACTUALLY want and need, and we will slowly learn how to give that to ourselves.
We will slowly work with our nervous systems to shift our conditioning to support a life that genuinely feels good for us. We aren’t ‘giving in’ to being addicted or to continually being in cycles of numbing and self sabotage forever. We are surrendering fighting with these parts as BAD PARTS OR giving into them mindlessly, so that we can start to figure out WHY we are engaging in these behaviors. So we can start to identify what’s HURTING about our lives that we’re using these tools to cope. To start to figure out what we actually want and need so we can get those needs met in new and different ways. We’re going to slowly learn how to be rejected and misunderstood while realizing that we’re still safe and able to be ok.
THAT’S what actual self acceptance is.
It’s not a surrendering to our worst habits forever. It’s getting curious and compassionate about these things, so they can lead us to what’s REALLY going on. None of these parts are bad, none of our behaviors are actually signs that we are inadequate or in need of fixing. Nothing that we do is ACTUALLY done with the pure intention to harm. We are always coping the best we know how to cope, in a world where we never got to learn what was best for ourselves. THIS is the real issue.
But again, we don’t see this because of course we don’t. So we keep fighting - fighting to achieve that which actually destroys us but is approved of by culture, and fighting against that which would nourish us because it leads to rejection and abandonment.
Alright my love! Celebrating you for making it through all of that!
Let's take a break and come back next week for the final installment 🙂