by Tomas Heartfield
What will 2014 bring us in the way of opportunities, challenges and connections? We never know what any given year or cycle will be until it’s complete, but we can know, going into it, what we want in this New Year. Getting what you want is a tricky thing. When you get what you want, can you fully receive it? Here’s how I ran up against my limits:
I just had a birthday. A perfect time to know what I wanted, or so I thought. When my friends Sandra and Matthew offered to put on a dinner party for me,I said yes. I assembled a handful of friends and sat around the Indian feast that was lovingly prepared with all my favorite foods in a home that had been beautifully decorated with the most loving care, for me. That in itself amazed me. It opened me to the mystery of friendship and touched my heart. What more could I want? In that moment I realized I wanted to open my heart even more. I wanted to feel the richness of life at a deeper level. I wanted my friends to know how they had made my life more wonderful. So I told them how they had enriched my life.
So far so good. When the tables were turned and they began to tell me how I had made their lives more wonderful, I found it harder to receive all the appreciation that came pouring out. Tears welled up in me and I found myself feeling self-conscious in hearing the various ways I had made their life more wonderful. Physically I could feel myself getting hot and clammy and I could feel a slight pressure in my temples. Charlie, a young man I’ve known for nine years, shared how much he admired me and saw me as “the” role model of his life. His eloquent description of how I had affected him cracked me wide open. Those around me were going “wow” “yes” and I could see tears flowing everywhere.
This outpouring from the depth of his being was more than I could take in. I felt myself begin to shut down. Thoughts about all the mistakes I’ve made flooded in. I remembered all the times I didn’t show up with people that needed me. I was wallowing in regrets from the past and harshly judging myself. I could see how my inner-critic began to block the love. I could feel the tears trying to push through, seeing how often I have not let love in. We seldom give another the unencumbered joy we have felt when they touch us in a way that is unique and powerful. I could feel the many times I had been ‘cool’ instead of genuinely present.
By the time Summer read to me a beautiful poem she had written about me, I was lost in my own swamp. Surely she must be referring to someone else! It was as though the savory goodness of life was being filtered out or blocked by my self-judgement. I could feel how my self-talk diminished my brightness. It was like I was at this beautiful banquet with the most delicious food and I couldn’t fully savor it. Where was all the work I’d done on radical self-acceptance when I needed it? I was lost in the labyrinth of my thoughts and feelings of unworthiness, and in that moment, I felt a growing knot in my solar plexus. I could feel the resistance of my heart opening fully. It was as though my heart was wearing a corset. Looking back, I realized the reason I found myself in this place was that I had reached my limit and simply could not take in any more. The truth is I had received what I had asked for, which was to open my heart more. And I got to see my limits!
What was fascinating to me was that no one seemed to notice that I had gone “off line”. This was all my inner process, which, I realized afterward, I could have shared. If I had, it would have taken me to a deeper opening of my heart. What I did notice is that once I was in my self-judgement, rather than my heart, the energy in the room changed. Without realizing it, I had entrained the group to go ‘up and out’. The sharing became more abstract and less personal.
In hindsight I could see that in wanting to feel others feeling me, I wanted to be confirmed that I was lovable, something I’ve been trying to prove to myself all my life.
To be lovable means to be “able” to be loved. Am I able? Of course I am. I know we all have the capacity to open to more love. To experience our upper limits to receive love, it sometimes takes a community to turn up the juice and give us more charge to feel more. This is what I experienced. As the love and recognition was turned up, I was able to experience where I needed to open. But as I opened, I begin to notice where I was closed.
In my heart of hearts I know my own goodness. I know I can be lovable. Witty. Intelligent. Funny. Kind. Even wise. But does this define all of who I am? NO! I can also be insensitive, self-centered and off-the-wall. I see my attachment or over-identification to the “golden aspects” of my being, and my aversion to my “less than radiant” qualities, creates a conundrum for me. In this, I stop myself from expressing when I feel closed, unworthy, and regretful of certain actions. In my own lack of self-acceptance of what I find distasteful in myself, I can see clearly now how I project that on those around me. Is it better to be sensitive than insensitive? ‘Insensitive’ has to exist for me to experience being ‘sensitive’. What I am beginning to see is that rather than judging ‘insensitive’ as bad and ‘sensitive’ as good, the truth is it just feels better to feel ”sensitive’ than ‘insensitive’.
When I am in self-judgement, I diminish my ability to allow my BEING to express what is coming through me as effectively as I can. As much as I want to appear ‘perfect’, I’m also human, after all, and perhaps even divinely so.
The mystery work with life and self is ongoing. Staying present to what is happening in me moment to moment and noticing what effect others have on me, and I have on them, is an awareness dance that enriches my connection to life. Everywhere I look I see an opportunity to practice. When I do it in circle, or intimately with someone I am open to, I accelerate my ability to know who I am.
The goodness of NOW is stalking me, and you . How much can I/will I let in? How much can you/will you let in?
If you want to find out who you are, let yourself be loved. And let me know what you find.
Love and Aloha to you!