Ahhhh, Love. Love can be just as much of a pain in the ass as Time can. The emotion of Love in my opinion teaches us more than any other emotion can. Love can emit happiness, joy, fulfillment, gratitude, compassion, kindness, acceptance and peace. It can also emit despair, sadness, anger, betrayal, frustration, pain, shame, avoidance, could make you feel jaded, and can create deep wounds.
Love is also the thing we are most obsessed and adamant in finding within our lives as human beings. We ALL want to love and be loved. They say love is love, love is the answer, love is everything. In the wise words of Nicholas Sparks from one of my favorite films ‘The Notebook’ Noah Calhoun says:
“I am nothing special, of this I am sure. I am a common man with common thoughts and I've led a common life. There are no monuments dedicated to me and my name will soon be forgotten, but I've loved another with all my heart and soul, and to me, this has always been enough..”
―Nicholas Sparks, The Notebook
Learning to love can also take Time, just as Awareness can. Love can create miracles, Love can create the greatest feelings of euphoria that you never want to leave. When we can learn to let real Love come into our hearts for someone, it is then we shine our very brightest. I also believe Awareness, and Time can create the ultimate, most important, and most fulfilling Love. Love for ourselves.
I have continued to go to yoga at least 5-6 days a week, and since January 1st have only missed going to my yoga class 16 days so far this year. My schedule in my creation of all things WEST in addition to a full time job, teaching yoga, feeding myself, and taking care of a dog has been something I have had to cultivate the best use of my time possible. With my regular attendance and times I go to yoga during the week, I have the same teachers a lot, which I love. A few weeks ago I was in a rush to get to class because of traffic, construction, road closures (one of our seasons in Utah is construction), and I was more than flustered when I walked in the door. The class was full, and I was annoyed I didn’t get to my normal spot in the room. I set my mat down with vigor and marched out of the hot room to change my clothes. It had been a busy and long day, and it showed. My attitude was a poor one. The first half of class I wasn’t focused and just pissed. The first half of class is standing postures, and the second half is postures on the floor. In between there is a 2-3 minute savasana. In savasana the teacher shared a story about her cat. She shared how she has a big, fluffy, orange cat, that is always by her side and brings her immense joy. That even though he's nothing but trouble (she has to feed him, he flings litter all over her bathroom everyday, and meows really loud sometimes) his sheer existence makes her happy. She then said she had an epiphany. That if her cats simple existence can bring her so much happiness, why can’t her own existence bring her that much happiness? Why can’t she love herself enough to be happy she’s even here?
That story hit me like a ton of bricks. Hot tears started to fall from my eyes, and if you have ever cried in a hot yoga room, you know that those tears sting way worse in freshly opened pores from sweating so much. My Awareness was instantly expanded to the answer to the question I have been asking for a long Time of myself. ‘Why am I so critical?’ I have had many sparks that have had to come together to finally have this one come to completion. When I figured it out, it blew my mind.
I’ve always known that I have been a critical person, and EXTREMELY critical of myself. I knew that is was because of the Mormon religion I was raised in, that there was a certain level of perfection expected, but I didn’t understand at the core why it was I have always been so damn critical. I have been critical to the point of making men I have dated cry and ask me to literally stop criticizing them because I had done it for an hour straight. That is how bad it has gotten at one time or another in my life. And did I listen to their pleas for me to stop? Not really. In my darkest nights of the soul, this has been the thing that has tormented me the most. It has also brought more pain into my life than anything else. Criticism of others, and mostly myself. Even admitting that makes my vision blur a little bit for tears that want to fall. This conclusion came in two beautiful parts.
The first one hearing the cat story in yoga, and the second one 3 hours later in my RET (Rapid Eye Technology) therapy session. To explain what RET is, I will use words directly from the RET website:
‘Rapid Eye Technology (RET) is a revolutionary breakthrough in the treatment of emotional stress. RET can give you a faster, less painful way of reaching and releasing the following:
-Abuse of all kinds
-Addictions of all kinds
-Depression, Anger and Grief
-Family and Relationship Patterns
Basically any issue that causes stress can be released, the body retrained, and the mind educated to think and react differently through the RET process and Skills for Life.
RET consists of essentially two parts:
Identify and release the stress-causing factors on a physical, emotional, mental and spiritual level through the structured movement and blinking of the eyes (the RET process), and to learn and apply new skills for life on a physical, emotional, mental and spiritual level to create what we would rather experience in life.’ End Quote.
I have had 7 sessions so far and it has been life changing. The second part to the conclusion of why I’m so critical happened to be in session #3! Which if you listen to WEST regularly, you know that 3, is my magic number in life.
During this therapy you blink your eyes as quickly as you can to assimilate the state your brain goes when you are in REM sleep. When you are deepest in your subconscious. During the therapy your therapist is saying things to help you release old beliefs about yourself. Now before I get to this second part of the conclusion, I need to share the first.
After the cat story I was crying a lot in class. I decided to take a couple postures out, lying on my back with my eyes closed focusing on my breath because i was so emotional. A very simple sentence popped into my head. ‘You are so critical because that is the only attention you received growing up,’ This made the tears flow faster. My face was on fire, but I also had a deep sense of peace wash over me. As the oldest of 12 children, raised in a Mormon and strict military household, the overwhelming majority of attention I received was that of criticism. I knew that this criticism had affected me in a negative way, but hadn’t put together that this was the biggest reason I was so critical, and expected perfection out of anyone that was around me. Especially close friends, or even worse, the men I have dated. The overwhelming majority of attention I have paid to others, has been that of criticism! Wow, I thought. I felt peace and relief for a brief minute, then was overcome with shame. I felt AWFUL. It all started to come together; things that I have said, ways I have acted. I had really done a number on myself and others. I went into yoga flustered and frustrated. I left yoga feeling happy I had this new found Awareness, and at the exact same time, full of shame for my past behavior. I cried all the way home, and took a long epsom salt bath to try and stop the tears.
After my bath I went to my third session of RET therapy. This particular session was to release old beliefs from our parents. The script my therapist reads from blows my mind with how eloquently it is written. It has almost every belief you could imagine that you could have created in your life from your parents, no matter what circumstances you have come from. You take what you need, and leave the rest behind. I was sitting in the chair and she was reading the list of beliefs and said ‘I would rather be right, than happy. If I’m not angry, do I even know who I Am?’ All of the sudden there was no breath in my lungs, and I literally LOST IT. Like snot running out of my nose, couldn’t breathe, ugly cry lost it.
I now, could so clearly see that I have always seen criticism as the right thing to do ever since I can remember. As well as always being right, as the right thing to do, by criticizing myself and others. Focusing on only criticism and flaws created a consistent flow of anger.
***I want to quickly note that since starting my inner work 3 years ago, this criticism has gotten A LOT better. I just needed you all to hear how bad it was for a long time to understand where i’m coming from.***
I realized at that exact moment in therapy, that if I was right, I wouldn’t be criticized by others. Being right, became more important than being happy because of how badly I didn’t want to be criticized, or people to see my flaws. I wanted to be perfect 24/7. Because if I was right and perfect, no one could ever be mad at or not Love me. And if I was Loved, I wouldn’t be abandoned. And if I could avoid being abandoned, I would be okay as well as safe and comfortable in my life. That turned into another thought that made me have to stop blinking entirely and sit up in my chair. I don’t know that I have ever cried that hard in my life. I cried harder than when my childhood dog had to be put down, which was one of my worst days on record. I was SOBBING. What made me so distraught was that I realized this: I was focusing on peoples flaws and criticism of them fully, so i could create a story in my mind that they were so horrible, I could justify leaving or cutting off the relationship entirely. I was abandoning them, before they could abandon me. Criticism created anger, and anger justified my behavior. This is what being a professional at running from people and my problems really meant at my core. I also have a acronym for RUNNER, but that will be for another time.
The interesting thing about these sparks coming together over Time to create answers to questions we ask, is that we usually come to the Awareness we have had it wrong, all along. Especially when we figure out the reasoning behind our pain, patterns, and behaviors.
Once I could collect myself enough to speak to my therapist, I shared my pattern of thoughts with her as well as my Awareness from yoga a few hours earlier. She was stunned. She cried with me, and held my hands as I shared. She commended me for being so open to my healing and listened as it all poured out of me. Did I still feel a LOT of shame in that moment, even though figuring that out was the biggest Awareness lesson I have had so far in my 31 years? HELL yes.
Leaving therapy that night I was somber, exhausted, and more at peace than I ever have been, ever. Now that Time had created this conclusion of Awareness, I could fully step into Love. And boy have I stepped into Love!
Nothing looks the same as it did before. I see beauty in everything around me. Even the paved roads I spend a lot of time driving! I wake up with vigor and energy with a smile on my face, I don’t worry about trivial things I used to, money has started flowing freer into my life in unexpected ways, i started painting, LOVE it, and have found a new way to be creative. I thank my body regularly for the miracle of digesting my food, and that I have legs that work, feet and hands that work, and my health. The love in my heart has deepened in a way I didn’t know possible. So many things have started to become clear to me. This Awareness has been life changing in the last few weeks.
Once you have Awareness, Time, Love, and a new found perspective it’s time to move onto Action!