Due to my childhood home, I thought if I was perfect and never made mistakes that I could be free from others’ reactiveness and criticism. As an adult, this translated as each time something would happen where I was criticized, ignored or disrespected; I would go into a depression full of self-doubt and feeling unworthy of love. In those moments, this fear redefined who I thought I was and I would get stuck in this story line. Every interaction I had became defined by my fear of unworthiness.
In the past few weeks, I finally realized that I was not reacting to the situation at hand, but to my past hurts and fears. I decided I didn’t want to get sucked in and swallowed under any more. I decided it was time to figure this out and rise to meet the challenge. I used my daily meditation practice and conscious breathing as a place to see this clearly. Each time my fear would arise, I would acknowledge it and breathe. I would also take the time to remember the love of my family and friends. At the same time, the universe seemed to know what I needed and I received many letters from students reaffirming their care and friendship. Over time the fear started to loosen its hold and I started to feel at ease again. Knowing what I know and not wanting to repeat this lesson, I decided to dig deeper and pull out the books that usually help me in these times. I returned to “Radical Acceptance” by Tara Brach and the chapter I was reading couldn’t have spoken more clearly:
“Because we are responding to an accumulation of past pain, our reactions are out of proportion to what is happening in the moment. When someone criticizes us or disapproves of us, we get thrown back in time and have no access to our adult understanding… As we begin to trust the reality of belonging, the stranglehold of fear loosens its grip…In facing fear, we need to be reminded that we are part of something larger than our own frightened self. In the safe haven of belonging to others we can begin to discover the sanctuary of peace that dwells within our own being.”
I feel empowered by these lessons. I know the feeling or fear of unworthiness will come again. Now I know I can acknowledge it, but don’t have to be overtaken by it. Instead I will treat the fear with kindness as part of who I am. No longer do I feel the shame of unworthiness. Instead, I feel valued and a part of something larger than myself.
This is a powerful place to start healing. Teaching yoga and being part of this community has rescued me from fear time and time again and for this I am truly grateful. ~Liz