Despite having spent years as a dancer and working towards being a dancer, there is a huge part of me that feels uncomfortable having people look at or watch me. It’s not that I want people to acknowledge my presence, it’s more that there is this fear that such acknowledgement will expose my “weaknesses” or “flaws,” which will generate shame and possible exclusion or expulsion from the group in question.
Accordingly, I often find that I will hold my tongue in certain situations, underperform in others, or even avoid certain interactions all together. All because a tiny voice in my head continues to tell me I am unworthy, inadequate, less than, greater than, or in some way different from, separate from the present moment and the people involved in a particular situation.
While coming to this awareness has caused a bit of pain, I am reminded of the words of Sally Kempton who argues that although pain is an unavoidable part of life, suffering is a choice. Thus, while my journey towards acknowledging the divine that lives within me may take some time, I know that as I continue to discover the parts of myself that feel unloveable and unworthy and learn to love them unconditionally, I can choose to allow the pain of this lack of self-love be present without inflicting additional suffering in my life.
After all, this additional suffering that we occasionally inflict upon ourselves as a form of punishment, doesn’t help one move forward. Nor do the borage of thoughts that continually ask, “What is wrong with you for not loving yourself more? It’s not that difficult! Buddha said, ‘You, above all others, are worthy and deserving of your unconditional love and affection,’ so why can’t you commit?”
Such thoughts are not only helpful in terms of one’s recovery, but also may prove to be masked reinforcers of one’s feelings of unworthiness – even though they could be perceived as “motivators” to “help” “correct” “one’s flaws.”
Siting the work of Jugian psychologist and Buddhit meditator Polly Young- Eisenstadt, Kempton writes: “We become truly resilient when we commit ourselves to dealing with pain—which is inevitable and unavoidable in human life—without getting caught in suffering—the state in which our fear of pain and our desire to avoid it close us off to the possibilities inherent in every situation. This, of course, is the art that yoga is meant to teach us.”
So in short, while all of us may experience some pain in this life, suffering – those self defeating thoughts about a particular part of life – closes one off from the possibilities of a given situation.
The question I have for you, the question I continue to ask myself, is where in your own life might you attempt to hide from the realities of a present moment? How is this action, this avoidance, causing you to suffer in ways that are unnecessary? And how can you begin to let yourself become more present to the pain without making yourself suffer? How can you let yourself be more fully seen in all areas of your life, without getting too caught up in the myriad of debilitating thoughts about things that may or may not happen?