don't be ashamed of yourself

Today we ask that you release your shame around “doing the wrong thing.”

Release your shame around “doing the wrong thing.”

Sometimes it is said that “Money is the root of all evil.”  But it is much truer to say that “Shame is the root of all evil.”

This may sound wrong.  Isn’t shame what keeps people moral?  Don’t we teach our children to feel shame in order to prevent wrongdoing?

This is perhaps the greatest misconception of all: that shaming ourselves and other people breeds morality.

In truth it does the opposite: shame breeds physical and mental illness, and leads directly to acts of human perversity and violence on a grand scale.

If you examine the majority of violent and criminal acts, at the root of these acts is some sort of shame.

Societies with high rates of violence and suicide are always heavily shame-oriented.

What is “shame”?

First of all, it is a learned phenomenon.  Babies are not born with a sense of shame.  It is something they pick up from the people around them — often while they are still pre-verbal.

Shame is the belief that you are bad, broken, or defective — either because you have done something wrong, or because there is something fundamentally wrong with you.

Often this feeling is so unbearable that the human ego responds to it by lashing out at other people, shaming and blaming them: “It’s not my fault, it’s his!”

And therein lies the root of much human violence: “It’s not my fault, it’s his!”

The Biblical myth of Cain and Abel captures it neatly: Cain feels existential shame because his brother Abel is praised and preferred over him.  If Abel is better, there must be something wrong with Cain.  He finds this feeling so unbearable that he kills his brother.

Much criminal behavior is rooted in such energy.  Most wars are started in this way.

Shame is everywhere.  It is like the air humans breathe.  Men and women are told how they should look, how much they should weigh, what clothes they should wear, what their partners should look like, how much money they should earn, how their children should do in school.  If they do not live up to these standards, they are taught that they should feel shame.

Since no one can live up to these standards, everyone feels ashamed.

It could be said that shame is the human condition.

Even “spiritually evolved” people are ashamed.  They do not meditate enough.  Their diet is not pure enough.  Perhaps they have bad karma from another lifetime.

This leads to all kinds of insane behavior.

Consider the problem:

Humans are taught that they ought to be perfect.  If they fall short of perfection, they should feel bad about themselves; they should feel ashamed.

Some pursue physical perfection, others pursue perfection through achievement, others through the acquisition of wealth, others by being perfect parents, others try to attain moral perfection according to their religion.

When they inevitably fall short, they feel ashamed.  And this feeling makes them angry and unhappy.  So — they attack other people, trying to make themselves feel better by pointing out the worthlessness of others.

It is all very crazy.

Some would say that it is important to teach shame because it is the basis of the social order.  Things would devolve into anarchy if it weren’t for shame.

This is partially true.  Often it is shame that keeps corrupt societies and systems going.  Slave-owning American Southerners believed that black people were intrinsically inferior; their children were taught that treating blacks as equals was shameful.  This kept their society going.  Germans in World War II were taught that feeling compassion for Jews, homosexuals  and other “undesirables” was shameful.  Hitler was trying to create a perfect society, you see.

As for morality: it is entirely possible to teach children not to behave destructively toward themselves or others without teaching them that they are “bad boys” or “bad girls.”  It is entirely possible to model healthy behavior for children, and not teach them that they are broken and defective if they do not meet certain standards according to their particular culture.

It is entirely possible to set boundaries and say “no” without shaming someone.

But what about “remorse”?  What about feeling bad when you have wronged someone?  Isn’t that feeling necessary?

The quality of compassion in humans arises naturally when people release destructive habits — including shame.  The more peaceful you are, the less likely you are to harm or attack others.  When compassion arises, it is natural to wish to acknowledge or make amends to those one has harmed in the past.  But this is different from what people normally associate with shameful remorse.  There is no sense of brokenness, defectiveness, or wrongness around this feeling.

Compassion for others cannot arise without compassion for the self.  When someone carries around a lot of shame, usually that person is also very judging and blaming toward others.  Humans treat others at they treat themselves, you see.  Outward attacks always indicate inward attacks.

True compassion arises without attacking yourself inwardly.  It can involve clear-eyed observation of your behavior — seeing, perhaps, that you behaved destructively toward another because you were not in your right mind.  But clear-eyed observation of behavior is not the same as shame.

This is very challenging for humans to understand, because human society is so deeply rooted in shame.  A culture that is not based in shame may seem very alien to most humans — almost “inhuman.”

But it is very possible to live this way.

For example, take someone who wishes to lose weight.

Most people do this from a place of shame.  They are ashamed that they are overweight.  They attack themselves, and fear that others will attack and judge them.  They believe that something is wrong with them: either they are bad because they eat too much, or something is defective with their genes.

What if it were possible to approach one’s physical appearance without shame?  What would this look like?

It would look like the desire to be healthier.  A person just wants to feel good in his body, and do what is healthy for his body.  There is no shame here, just a clear-eyed observation of what feels good and healthy for the body, and what does not.

Someone who carries the simple desire to create greater health in his body will, over time, naturally adopt healthier habits.  Weight loss may occur as a result of this, but there is no shame here.  Rather, action is coming from a place of self-love.

Who do you think will be more successful at maintaining a healthy body weight?  Someone who is full of shame and self-loathing?  Or someone who loves himself and wants to be healthy?

This is true of all things — including morality and “knowing the difference between right and wrong.”  Who is more likely to treat his fellow man with kindness and compassion?  Someone who is full of shame and self-loathing?  Or someone who loves himself?

Herein lies the great fallacy of shame-based morality.

Teaching people that they ought to be ashamed of themselves when they do something wrong, according to their culture’s standards, does not make people more moral.

If it did, you would not have so many supposedly pious religious people committing so many destructive acts toward other humans.

Shame does not make people more moral.  It just makes them hate themselves, and in turn hate others.

Rather than focusing on what is right and wrong, good and bad — focus instead on what is healthy for you.  Ask, “Is this behavior healthy for me?  Is what I’m doing right now healthy?”  Try to observe the situation clearly, without listening to the internal voice of judgment, shame, and self-attack.

Do what is healthy, and you will naturally create greater well-being for yourself and others.  Shame has nothing to do with it.

distracted-brains_-_red_light

Today we ask that you minimize distraction.

Minimize distraction.

Modern humans exist in a reality defined by constant distraction.  Never in history have humans been so distracted.

Consider the majority of human history.  Until recently, in the greater scheme of things, humans did not have access to electricity.

Think about this.  No electricity.  Your days are defined by the rising and setting sun, by the seasons, the waxing and waning of the moon.  At night you see by candlelight, by torch, by fire.

Your entertainment is restricted to what can be performed by other humans in your presence: storytelling, playacting, theater, music.  Or else you read what’s written on paper — or, earlier, what’s on clay, or what’s on the walls.

Imagine what it would be like if you were plunged into a world without computers, phones, and televisions.  Without cars and subways and planes.  Without electric light.  Messages must be written on paper, sent by messenger — on horseback, by boat.  

Most modern people would go into withdrawal — for of course modern devices and distractions are not only convenient, they are highly addictive.  The silence would be overwhelming, threatening.

But after a while people would feel more peaceful and relaxed.  Modern life, with all its toys and distractions, its bright screens and chiming noises and instant messages, is very hard on the human nervous system.  Remember that the human nervous system evolved in a world without electricity.

The human nervous system is a finely tuned instrument, exquisitely sensitive to stimuli.  Modern devices and distractions have a way of “blowing out” the human nervous system — the way your hearing is blown out after sitting through a loud rock concert.  Imagine if your whole life was spent at a loud rock concert.  Your hearing would be dulled, damaged.  You’d go deaf.

That is the predicament many modern humans are in.  Because external stimuli is so loud, so blaring — human nervous systems have essentially “gone deaf.”  This is both painful — like the ringing in the ears after a loud rock concert — and desensitizing.

The answer is simple, yet difficult for many people to implement.

Minimize distraction.  Reduce external stimulation.

In an ideal world, all people would spend time in “retreat” every year.  Just as health-oriented individuals sometimes go on a fast or juice diet to give their digestive systems a rest, people would go on a fast from electronic devices to give their nervous systems a rest.  People might go to the woods, or the countryside.  No phones, no computers, no televisions. Minimal distraction.  Many mental and physical issues would be healed in this way.

For many, this is not practical.  Yet it is important to be aware that a life of constant distraction and stimulation takes a toll on one’s health and well-being.

There are some simple steps one can take.

It is good to spend time outdoors, with electronic devices shut off, or at least silenced.  It is good to take time every day to see the sky and the trees.

It is good to carve out distraction-free time.  Some people have reclaimed the Biblical concept of the Sabbath, instituting a day of rest from the burden of constant distraction, turning off electronic devices for the duration of the day.  This is very wise.

Some people make their meal times or dinner tables free from electronic devices, reclaiming the time for basic human connection and conversation.

Parents are wise to make their time with their children distraction-free, especially if they work and are often away their children.  But even a stay-at-home parent would be wise to minimize electronic distraction when in the presence of a child.

It is good to put boundaries around distraction.  To set a timer when you surf the internet or look at social media.  To place healthy filters around what you take into your consciousness, and when.

Imagine two laboratory rats tasked with finding a piece of cheese hidden in a maze.

One rat just has to find the cheese.

The other rat has to find the cheese, but also has loud noises blaring in its ears, and bright lights flashed in its eyes.

Which rat do you think finds the cheese?  And which rat is more stressed out?  

So: if you wish to accomplish your goals, and reduce stress — do whatever you can to minimize distraction.  

don't do things because you should

Today we ask that you release the compulsion to do things because you “should.”

Don’t do things because you think you “should.”

When you do things half-heartedly, out of a sense of obligation or guilt, when you do things with fear as your primary motivation — you are acting from a place of “should.”

Many people live their whole lives this way.  They do everything because they believe they “should.”

If you want to be unhappy and frustrated, living from “should” is the most direct way to go about it.

The world is full of people who will tell you what you “should” do.  Parents, teachers, bosses, peers, religious officials, pundits, people on the internet and TV.  Everyone is going to tell you what you “should” do.

In general, when someone tells you what you “should” do, it is wise to take a good, long, clear look at that person.

Is this a happy, fulfilled person who is telling you what to do?  Is this person living in a way that you find inspiring?

Usually happy, fulfilled, inspiring people aren’t the kind of people who are going to lecture you on what you “should” do with your life.  Such people understand that all beings must be free to make their own choices.

Usually the loudest “should” voices come from people who are unfulfilled.  Usually it is the most miserable people who are going to give you advice about what you “should” be doing.

Please remember that life is precious, and briefer than you think.  Many times it takes a brush with life-threatening illness in order for people to drop their “shoulds.”

Why not take a look at your “shoulds” without the prompt of a major illness?

What are you doing in life from a place of “should”?

Most often the “shoulds” overlap with those parts of your life in which you experience the most unhappiness and conflict.

Many people stay in relationships because they believe they “should.”  But if you don’t love — or even like — the person you are with, how does that benefit anyone?  Your partner would potentially be much happier in a genuinely loving relationship, not stuck with someone who remains in the bond out of “should.”

Many people stay in jobs they do not like out of “should.”  Such people don’t really help anyone, for they are not effective workers.  A company full of employees who genuinely want to be working there is obviously a far more productive company than one full of half-hearted employees who go to work only because they “should.”

Often people object that if no one did things out of obligation and “should,” then society would break down.  No one would do anything.  Everyone would be lazy, and sit on the couch all day doing nothing.

But this is a lie.

The fantasy of “sitting on the couch doing nothing” goes hand in hand with living a life of “shoulds.”

People who actually want to be doing what they are doing are highly motivated.  While everyone needs downtime, people who want to be doing what they do have no problem getting off the couch.  They find their work fulfilling.

You see, living a life of “should” is like being a slave.

Slaves are people who, by definition, don’t want to be doing what they are doing.  But they are trapped.  Everything they do lacks motivation.  They want only to escape — to rest, to sleep, to drown their troubles in drink or drugs or entertainment.  All slaves have been like this since antiquity.  The slaves of Egypt and Rome were like this.

When you live life from a place of “should,” it does not matter if you drive a nice car or live in a nice house.  It does not matter if your children attend a nice school.  You are a slave, like all the slaves of human history.  There have been countless slaves who dwelled in gilded cages — this is so commonplace as to be a cliche.

Slaves in ancient Rome were allowed to cut loose once a year at the Saturnalia Festival, where they drank and debauched themselves like college students on “spring break.”  This yearly “vacation” from slavery made them more complacent slaves, as their masters well understood.

A modern slave is someone who dreads the alarm clock, who wearily slogs through his days, who constantly dreams of escape, who drowns his troubles in drink or substance abuse, who feels always frustrated and exhausted.  Who lives, always, from “should.”

People argue that if they didn’t live this way, their lives would fall apart.  Bills wouldn’t be paid.  They would wind up on the street.

Often this isn’t really true.

It is one thing to remain in an unsatisfying job because it is temporary, because it is a step on the path to something more fulfilling.

It is another to remain in an unsatisfying job — or series of jobs — until you retire, always complaining, but never taking action.

One person is free.  The other a slave.

In general, what keeps modern slaves enslaved is the fear of going against their culture, their tribe, their family, their society.  The human fear of becoming an outcast runs so deep that it is strong enough to keep countless people stuck in miserable lives.

Consider adolescents, who are so preoccupied with being socially accepted by their peers that they do all kinds of things they don’t really want to do.

Most people never outgrow that phase.  They are still in “high school” — still so preoccupied with social acceptance and status-seeking that they spend their whole lives doing things they don’t really want to do.

The mark of a true grown-up is that he does what he does from a place of true desire, true intention.  When he makes a compromise, it is with the understanding that what he does serves his greater purpose in the long run.

There are very few true adults in this world.

So look at your life.  See if what you do comes from a place of “should.”  Notice the places in which you feel trapped and enslaved.  Are you taking action to liberate yourself, or are you complacent and complaining?

Are you free?  Or are you a slave?

Do not listen to people who tell you what you “should” do.   A loving parent instructs a teenaged son or daughter not to cave into peer pressure and do things he doesn’t want to do because he thinks he “should.”  Yet how many adults are capable of this?

Follow your heart.  Follow your soul.  That way lies freedom.

apple

Today we ask that you focus on what is conducive to your health.

Focus on what is conducive to your health.

What does this mean?

Most of you who are open to reading this message have a basic sense of what is healthy for you, and what is not.

You know what kinds of foods are healthy.  You know that it is good for you to exercise your body, and so forth.

You know the difference between an apple and “junk food.”

What is “junk food”?  It is food that lacks nutritive value, often involves chemical processing,  and contains unhealthy sugars and fats.  While its flavors may satisfy an addictive craving — and it may offer a cheap, quick fix — usually it does not sit particularly well in your body.  If your lifestyle involves a great deal of “junk food” consumption, your physical health will deteriorate.  You will gain weight, and be prone to diseases.

This is how you know that junk food is not conducive to your health.  Because it makes you sick.

In general it is not all that hard to determine what is unhealthy.  Usually the pattern is similar to junk food: while the unhealthy behavior or substance may satisfy a craving and offer a quick fix, repeated indulgence deteriorates your health.

Conversely, healthy behaviors and substances increase your health.  They make your mind and body healthier.  You feel better — not a quick fix, necessarily, but a lasting improvement, often one that occurs gradually.  Over time, you may even find that your habits change: you now crave apples more than candy bars.

And by the way, it is okay to have the occasional candy bar.  It’s just when you are eating candy bars every day, that the problems arise.  

Just as there are healthy and unhealthy foods and substances, there are healthy and unhealthy behaviors.

A healthy person is someone who generally does things that are harmonious for his well-being, and the well-being of others.

A healthy person tends to increase feelings of well-being — for himself, and others.

An unhealthy person tends to increase feelings of disharmony and dis-ease — for himself, and others.

In stories, heroes are generally individuals who increase harmony and well-being in the world, while villains are those who increase disharmony and dis-ease.  

That is how you can tell the difference.

Obviously there are a great deal of disharmony-increasing people and situations in your reality.

And the existence of those people and situations tends to be very upsetting for those of you who wish to increase health and well-being in the world.

However, focusing your attention and energy on disharmonious people and situations is, generally speaking, unhealthy for you.

For example: you are going about your business, and suddenly someone says something very rude to you.

Now your whole day is ruined.  You brood over this rude person, and what he said.

Doing this is an unhealthy habit.  It’s like eating junk food.  It may satisfy a craving — which is to get back at this rude person, to imagine all the remarks you might have made.

But the more you do this, the worse you will feel.

Likewise, when you spend all day brooding over distressing, fear-inducing news, you are not helping anyone or anything.  You are only increasing dis-ease.

You may say, “Well, I need to stay informed.”  But in truth, any information that you truly need to hear will find its way to you.  

However, stewing in a morass of fear-inducing news just puts you in a foul mood, making you more prone to lash out at your loved ones and those around you.  

So no one is being helped, and you are only increasing disharmony in the world.

That is why this behavior is unhealthy — like eating junk food.

If you really want to increase well-being in the world, you must learn to wrest your attention away from all the disharmonious people and the things they do that you don’t like — before you sink into a foul mood over it.  

You do that by choosing to focus your attention on that which increases your feelings of well-being.  Go for a walk, and look at the trees and the sky.  Cuddle an animal.  Meditate, do yoga, ride a bike, go for a swim.  Do something that is genuinely helpful for yourself or someone else.  Express appreciation for something good in your life.  That is the equivalent of “eating an apple.”

That is what it means to focus on what is conducive to your health.

Indulging in black feelings about this or that person, or this or that situation, really is like eating junk food.  It is okay to do once in a while, if you must — but do it every day, and you’ll get sick.

So if you are someone who wants to be healthy, and tries to maintain healthy habits — keep this in mind.

Everything you take in is “food.”

What you take in through your mouth, you digest in your intestines.  What you take in through your eyes and ears, you digest in your mind.

So eat good food, if you want to be healthy.  

Focus your attention on what is conducive to your health.

be patient

Today we ask that you be patient with the process.

Be patient with the process.

Modern humans tend to be very goal-oriented.  You want to get there now.  You cannot wait.  Everything needs to be done already.  It should have been done yesterday!  That package must be delivered today!

This is very destructive, and leads to a great deal of unnecessary stress, wasted energy, and exhaustion.

Good things in life cannot be rushed.  Everything takes its own time to properly grow and develop.

The seed becomes the plant in its own time.  It cannot be rushed in its process without being damaged.

The child grows into the adult in his own time.  He cannot be rushed in his process without being damaged.

If you wish to climb a mountain, you cannot rush to the summit.  You must ascend in gradual, measured stages.  You must make camps along the way, and acclimate to the altitude.  Those who do not proceed to the summit in gradual stages do so at great peril.

The Titanic was rushed in its voyage across the Atlantic.  What a waste that was.

All this rushing and impatience is a sign of collective anxiety.  People rush when they are nervous, edgy, and insecure.  

Often people who rush around in life pretend that they do so out of a kind of confidence — “Look at how fast I do things, see how powerful I am!”

But the teenager who speeds in his car says the same thing.  

Rushing is not a sign of confidence.  It is a sign of anxious insecurity.

Truly confident humans are generally quite measured and deliberate in their actions.  They do not waste energy.  When it is absolutely necessary to move with speed, they do so.  But only when it is necessary.  Truly secure people do not need to rush around all the time in order to prove that they’re worth something.

Secure people take their time.

This is evident in the act of lovemaking.  A good lover does not rush.  That is a sign of insecurity and immaturity.  A confident, experienced lover allows the process to take time.

So it is in life.

People who constantly rush and push and force their way in life are like unskilled lovers — insecure and immature.  Don’t mistake all that rushing and pushing as a mark of confidence. The rushing is an act, a front — as with the speeding teenager.  

People who allow things to take time, who are comfortable letting the process unfold naturally — they are good lovers of life.  They can enjoy the cup of coffee, the blooming flower, the sunset, the baby’s smile.  

That is the secure person.  Not the one who screams because his package is late.  

So keep this in mind.  Notice your level of patience — and impatience — around the process.

The Titanic did not sink because of any defect in its design.  It did not sink because of the iceberg.  It sank because it was rushed.

 

do less

Today we ask you to do less.

Do less.

The time in which you live is in many ways defined by constant activity. 

Not long ago, work in an office ended when you stepped out the door.  People had evenings and weekends truly away from work.  Now work is continuous, because people are constantly accessible via electronic devices.  And expectations are higher than ever.

So people today do more and more and more, and still never get enough done.  Lives are spent in a constant flurry of hectic activity, multitasking, overscheduling.  Caffeine and other stimulants are imbibed in order to keep up with the relentless pace.  Naturally, people are so overstimulated during the day that they cannot get to sleep at night, so drugs are required to help people go to sleep.

And yet for all this doing, are people really getting more done?  Are they more productive?

Or is there a lot of wasted energy?  A lot of storm and fury, signifying nothing.  People sitting at desks, texting and playing games, pretending that they are very busy.  Or busy people who are so exhausted that they cannot think straight or remember things.  

Consider that it will take an exhausted, distracted person at least twice as long to accomplish a task as it would a clear-headed, well-rested, focused person.  Can you see the problem?

So: if you feel like you don’t do enough, even though you’re exhausting yourself trying — and you still want to do more — the answer is simple:

Do less.

If you want to do more, start by doing less.

That is why meditation is a useful tool.  Meditation is an act of “doing nothing.”  You sit and stare at a wall.  You listen to your breathing, and observe your thoughts.  

And yet anyone who engages in the practice can tell you that a lot happens in the midst of all this sitting about, doing nothing.

Reducing activity and stimuli is a form of mental decluttering.

Think about a cluttered work space.  It takes you at least twice as long to find anything in the mess.  And the mess is so daunting that you tend to avoid it — procrastinating just to get away from the wretched pile of things to do.  

But a clean work space is inviting.  It’s no problem to find anything you might look for or need.  Good ideas come easily in an uncluttered space, because there is room for them.

So: if you want to do more, do less.

That doesn’t mean go completely slack in life and turn into a vegetative person who watches TV all day.

It just means, slow down.  Declutter.  Give yourself more space, more room to breathe, to look around and see the sky and trees.

It means, all this constant activity isn’t getting you want you really want.  Multitasking just means you are paying a little bit of attention to a lot of things.  Imagine how far you might go if you gave all your attention to one thing for an hour.

That is why if you want to do more, you must start by doing less.

Many people are afraid to do this because they think it will look bad.  They are afraid they will be judged for not appearing to be busy enough.  So they must keep up the appearance of being constantly busy.  If you ask them how they are, they will always tell you how exhausted and overworked they are.  Then you cannot judge them.

This leads to a very crazy “Alice in Wonderland” reality, in which people are pretending to be very busy in order to maintain an appropriate image, while in reality they are just checking their electronic devices.   

In truth, if you become a more focused and effective person, an attentive and deliberate person, don’t you think people will be attracted to that?  They might wonder what your secret is.  

Your secret is that you do less.  You do more by doing less.  You might even sit staring at a wall for twenty minutes, appearing to be doing nothing at all.

Life gets much easier, when you stop worrying about what other people think of you.  Just because everyone else is constantly crazed and exhausted doesn’t mean you have to be like that, too.  Everyone used to smoke cigarettes.  Humans are notorious for doing things that are unhealthy and counterproductive.

You happen to live in the age of constant activity and stimuli.  It is not healthy.

Quit it, as you would any unhealthy habit.  

Do less, and you will accomplish more.

be friendly

Today we ask that you be friendly.

Be friendly.

What does this mean?

Really, it means be open, be trusting.  It means believing that life is essentially good, that it is good to be here in this life on Earth.  It means appreciating all that is good around you.

So you are friendly toward this new year.  You are friendly toward the day ahead of you, and what it brings.

You are friendly toward the people you may meet this day.  You are friendly toward the animals and the plants.

You are friendly with yourself.   You are friendly with your body.  You are friendly with the person you are today.

For many people, it is challenging to be friendly.

That is because they are wary and mistrustful.  They approach life like frightened animals — tense, vigilant, ready to fight or flee at the first provocation.

And it is understandable.  They may have been taught to be frightened of life, and may have had many bad experiences that have reinforced this fear.

Many people are like abused dogs.  It is a dog’s nature to be friendly, but if a dog has been mistreated, he will be defensive, frightened, aggressive.

How do you rehabilitate an abused animal?

Mainly by being friendly toward it.  You create a space in which the animal feels safe, and loved.  Slowly — sometimes very slowly — the animal gradually relaxes, and becomes friendly in return.

It is the same with humans.

If you want good relationships in life, it is wise to treat people the way you would treat an abused dog that you wish to rehabilitate.  Be friendly.  Be patient.  It may take a while, but eventually most people relax and become friendly in return.

You cannot really do this with other people, if you cannot do it with yourself.

You, too, may feel like an abused animal — scared, defensive, reactive.  Always on the verge of fight or flight.  Wary, mistrustful.  Growling at the world, hackles raised.

If that is the case, it is necessary for you to rehabilitate yourself.  To create a safe, loving space for yourself, in which you can relax and let your guard down.

But that space cannot exist if you are always judging and attacking yourself in your own mind.

Judging and attacking yourself in your own mind is a form of self-abuse.

Animals are not capable of self-abuse.  While animals can be traumatized, they are not capable of reinforcing the trauma through self-abuse in their thoughts.

That is why it is generally far easier to rehabilitate a scared, defensive animal, than a scared, defensive human.

But you have to start somewhere.

And the place to start is just by being friendly.

Can you just be friendly?  Can you adopt a basic attitude of friendliness?

As if you were gently holding out a treat to a scared animal.  “Come here.  You’re safe.  I won’t hurt you.”

Can you look at the ways in which you tend to be unfriendly — to yourself, and others?

Being friendly doesn’t mean: drop your healthy boundaries, and be a doormat.

It’s just an attitude.

Do you know the idea in the judicial system, that a person is innocent until proven guilty?

Being friendly assumes that life, reality, the universe — it is innocent until proven guilty.

It means assuming the people you meet today — they are innocent until proven guilty.

Be friendly, unless you are given true cause not to be.

You are also innocent.  And, in truth, nothing you have done or will do will make you guilty in the eyes of a loving reality.  You will never be “condemned for your sins.”  But that is another matter.

For now, just be friendly.

Friendly people generally find that life is friendly in return.

So if you are finding life to be unfriendly, perhaps look at how you might be friendlier.

Start with yourself.  Make friends with yourself.  The rest will follow.

 

 

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