"Most people on Earth have made a separation between the Spirit and the Will. They have felt their own Will was not acceptable; that to love the way God loves, they must eliminate their own feelings and opinions and do what they have imagined is the Will of God. An understanding is needed here: the Will of God is not in opposition to the Will of the individual." So says Ceanne Derohan in Right Use of Will (Four Winds Publications, 1984). She goes on to say that as we allow ourselves to fully feel feelings and to fully follow our closely held opinions, we embrace and accept what is there. It is in the embracing and accepting that we become clearer. This allows us to stop attracting uncomfortable and painful experiences to us. As our field clears, our human will then aligns perfectly with divine will.
Embracing and accepting what is within us clears our energetic field. Loving what is within us transforms us. Yet, as simple as that sounds, the process can be elusive and even hard work for those of us who have lived with and bought into the belief that to love ourselves equals arrogance. As don Miguel Ruiz has shown us in The Four Agreements, we have accepted beliefs, which became agreements to live life a certain way. In order to change the way we live, we have to change the inner agreements. In order to align our human will with divine will, it is necessary to change our life agreements. What would it take for us to agree to love ourselves?
Recently, I had a conversation with a conservative Christian. Every night, she reads from the Scripture and works to understand what is said there. Every night, she prays for guidance and for those who are hurting. Every day, she reaches out to others in need. When someone is lonely, she feels it. She is there to include them, making them feel comfortable and wanted. Yet, with her family especially, she holds people too close. She attempts to force the family to gather together. She feels hurt if others disagree with her or point out how they feel. In our conversation, I suggested that she turn her tremendous compassion in toward herself. I encouraged her to love the hurt little girl inside her as much as she loves others. There was silence on the phone for a few minutes.
Then she said, "But were supposed to be humble."
I responded, "If Jesus were standing next to you right now, what would he say?" Again there was silence.
In a subdued yet surprised voice, she answered, "He would tell me to love myself."
"Remember the saying, God doesnt make junk, " I continued. "You are Gods creation. If you dont love what God has created, isnt that dishonoring God?"
How is it that we have been taught thats its not okay to love ourselves? Isnt that at the core of codependency? If we arent allowed to love ourselves, we keep looking outside of ourselves for love and acceptance. When we do that, we are at the mercy of others who are also hurting and incomplete. They are also trying to find love. At some point, they will disappoint us, use us, turn on us, or abandon us simply because they are disappointed that we cannot fill their perceived needs.
How do we begin to love ourselves? Recently, I read a book that I have found helpful in this process, called Unconditional Bliss by Howard Raphael Cushnir (right). I marvel at the simple, yet profound, message it conveys. I find myself using Cushnirs techniques as I go about the business of life. "Living the questions" that Cushnir suggests helps me to shift emotions and thought patterns that have been draining my energy.
Two questions comprise the meat of this transformational process: 1) What is happening now? 2) Can I be with it? Answering the question, "What is happening now?" requires that you stop thinking the usual way and begin to feel what is happening in your body. This means being present with what your senses are telling you, what your emotions are communicating, and what your soul knows.
Trauma and drama in life tend to shut us down, narrow our focus, and limit our life scope. Cushnir calls this "contracting." Contracting is our reaction to fear. Fear is our response to whatever seems to threaten our sense of security, ease, and flow. Contracting within means that energy becomes trapped. Trapped energy stops the inner flow, which can sometimes lead to disease. This stagnated energy then seems to take on a life its own. Our world is then seen through the eyes of our stagnation and our contraction.
As long as we hold on (contract), we are stuck. Cushnirs simple method can break the logjam within us. Asking what is happening now means that we are listening to the stagnated energy that has become a separated part of us. This energy seems to have a voice of its own. We may not "hear" this voice in words, but we will still know what it is saying. As we ask the question, "What is happening now?" the answer might be, "I am feeling tight or uptight." Whatever small tidbit of information emerges in answer to the question begins the process.
Have you ever attempted to converse with an angry or very shy child? Finding the opening to begin the conversation is the key. Once the child looks you in the eyes or offers a word or two to you, no matter how brief, the ice is broken; the opportunity for conversation has been offered. However, if you proceed to do all the talking, you have just lost the opportunity for conversation. If you offer advice, you have also stopped the flow. The point here is to listen.
I had such an experience with my grandson. While I was helping him into bed one night, he asked me to check the closet. I could tell that he was scared. I wasnt sure what I was checking for, but I opened the closet and looked around. As I tucked him into bed, I didnt say much. I didnt ask him what was in the closet. He wasnt one to share his thoughts easily. Soon, I suggested that he look into the closet with his imagination and see what color was there. Immediately, he saw a rainbow of colors. Then, without any prompting from me, he offered his explanation for having me check the closet. By then, his fear had dissipated. There was no need to pump him for information. It came easily once the conversation had begun. In this case, the conversation came through imagining color. It could also have come through simply through my being with him and listening.
Once you have established what is happening, the second question is "Can I be with it?" Can I allow myself to feel what I have just uncovered? Can I allow myself to know what has just been revealed? Can I allow myself to just be with whatever has been offered?
Just as my grandson relaxed and very naturally poured out his fear, "being with" whatever your body communicates brings about what Cushnir calls "expansion." Expansion can only happen when one lets go. That means relaxing your hold, which in turn means relaxing the body. Bliss comes with the relaxation.
Loving ourselves may seem a simple task, yet when there are layers and layers of feelings and beliefs that say, "Im not worthy of being loved," the process can seem daunting. From my experience counseling others and working on myself, I find that there are times when we can work on that process alone; however, there are some feelings that are so intense that the person believes he or she will die if they are discovered and felt. We tend to create walls around such feelings. We will do everything in our power to hide them. However, when we are ready, when we have summoned the courage to face these feelings, we need to be with someone who becomes a loving, stabilizing force of protection for us. This person may guide us through the process, or this person may simply hold a place of love for us as we face our inner darkness.
If you feel so stuck and the emotions within you are so intense, ask your inner guidance to bring you the right person to help you through this process. Allow yourself to feel who is the right person to assist you. Trust your inner knowing to choose the right person, group, or experience to begin to tear down those walls that limit your life.
May you be free, free within your heart and soul, free from that which draws pain and difficult experiences to your life. May you allow yourself to soar as high and wide as you were meant to fly and, in the process, to discover how much you are loved.
Arlene Arnold, I.R.T., assists others in the process of claiming inner freedom through her counseling techniques called Inner Reality Therapy. She is also training others in this process, which means first transforming from within. Visit <http://www.arlenearnold.com/> or e-mail her at <Arlene@ArleneArnold.com>.
To learn more about Raphael Cushnirs techniques, visit <http://www.livingthequestions.org/> or attend one of his workshops this month.