Daraius: We’ve got a great team at Million Mile Secrets. But I miss writing as much as I did in the old days! So here I am writing about stuff that I really care about (and which isn’t all miles-and-points related).
“Any time a voice is talking to you that is not talking with love and compassion, DON’T BELIEVE IT.” – Cheri Huber
Over a year ago, while walking down the marina in San Diego, a friend turned to me and said, “I love you. Say it!”
Then I realized he wasn’t asking me to say that I loved him. Just that I loved myself!
It felt so phony. So fake, to say it out loud. “Just the thing you’d do in California” I thought. I might have even rolled my eyes!
Yet it was the hardest thing for me to do.
After a few minutes of silence, I eventually managed to get the words “I – love – you” out of my mouth. I was stuttering and I had tears in my eyes.
There Is Nothing Wrong With You – The Book
That’s when my friend invited me to read the book “There is Nothing Wrong with You” by Zen Monk Cheri Huber.
I found the book very easy to read, handwritten with cute cartoons. And yet was profound in its simplicity.
The book refers to the “voices inside your head” which it defines as the “endless stream of thoughts we all experience, the constant flow of judgments, ideas, criticism, and opinions that we hear inside day in and day out.”
The voice which says, “It was stupid of me to do…” or “It was stupid of him to do.”
Or “I should finish this now even though I’m tired.” Or “I should quit doing this now and have a dozen donuts!”
Or “I should be like this…”
I loved the message of the book which is that the “voices” are out-of-control and will keep on saying mean things with no end in sight.
And while I can pay attention to the voices, there is absolutely NO reason to believe them. I am fine just as I am. Just simply be present to what is.
Nothing to do. Nothing to change. Nothing to improve.
This Is Uncomfortable for Anxious and Achiever Types
This was a hard message for me to acknowledge! As a child, my family and teachers motivated me to keep “doing” and I found it easy to “do” and earn praise for that. In fact, much of my “success” at school, work, and business was because of the “critical” voice inside me.
But surely there has to be a kinder way to motivate myself?
The book explains how to change the angry, mean voice inside to one, which talks to me with love (instead of hate disguised as criticism) and who accepts me. It’s like having a self-mentor, who is the kindest person in the world guiding me!
Having a kind mentor doesn’t mean that I am given permission to do whatever I want and end up directionless. Whew! That’s a relief.
In fact, there is tons of research showing that kinder & more compassionate motivation leads to more skillful outcomes!
There Is Nothing Wrong With You – The Retreat
The retreat was a silent retreat, in that we didn’t talk with other participants except during structured exercises. I found this a welcome relief from focusing on the outside world and it gave me a chance to look inwards. And to not worry about being a personality.
The Monastery was BEAUTIFUL! I was in a 90 square foot building, which overlooked a stunning vista – filled with greenery, birds chirping, and deer roaming outside. There was no electricity and running water (in my hermitage), and the food was vegetarian. I love how quiet and peaceful it was!
Everyone Experiences Pain
The most revealing experience to me was that – despite outward appearance – everyone has experienced pain.
The blonde model who travels around the world, cries at how cruel other women were to her in school. And how she adapts by trying to please everyone in her life. Which led to her staying too long with a man who was physically abusive.
Another complains of how she always had to hurry as a kid and that being “slow” meant that something was “wrong” with her.
The woman whose mother would yell, “Don’t eat, because you’re fat!”
In my case, the fear of always having to perform to be loved and accepted.
Listening to everyone quiver with emotion and cry as they told their story reminded me of this quote (usually attributed to Plato):
“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”
Suffering Is Associating a Story With the Pain
Through the exercises at the retreat, I was able to understand (at a visceral level, instead of the intellectual understanding I had before), that it was associating a story (I’m not good enough, he always does that, etc.) with the pain that leads to suffering.
Love & Acceptance
I found it beautiful to see the trust in everyone emerge out of the process! The group slowly shared their deepest secrets, not feeling lovable, wanting to kill oneself, and not feeling good enough.
I feel so loving towards everyone who shared their deepest secrets with the group. I saw my patterns, triggers, and experiences in every other person, and marveled at how similar we were.
I am inspired to remember that everyone is suffering and has experiences in their past which cause them pain and hurt.
And that includes everyone’s family members, friends, and teachers who also had suffering of their own and motivated us in the best way they knew possible. They only wanted the best for us! And didn’t know how else to motivate and get their needs met. I love them for it.
And now as an adult, it’s time for us to do it a bit differently. 🙂
The Compassionate Being
One of the most powerful exercises was mapping out our beliefs and scripting how the “voices” or our conditioning play havoc with our lives. Folks talked about shopping addiction, cutting, yelling, not wanting to engage with the world, feeling unworthy, etc.
Mine was being forced to do things to be loved and the constant criticism. And how I always strived for freedom. What I really wanted is peace – peace from judgment and to be loving and kind.
Then we talked about why we feel that way and were then asked what would make us feel better. Then someone read out our reassurances – “I will love you no matter what.” “You are perfect just the way you are.” “You don’t have to hurry up.” Etc.
After that we switched positions and practiced being the “Compassionate Being.” The one who accepts everyone just as they are. And reassures them in a kind and compassionate way.
The compassionate being who recognizes them for showing up, assures them that they are perfect just the way they are, and that they are loved.
I felt so relieved and happy after this exercise. It was as if I had found a way out of the suffering. I could get the love and reassurance that I needed, whenever I wanted.
And it all came from within me! I can now say out loud my reassurances and feel warm and fuzzy inside whenever I choose to. Instead of waiting for external events to reassure me.
Because as a recovering control freak, I’m learning that none of us can control every external result. But we can learn to master the way we treat ourselves. I deserve to love and accept myself as I am. And you do too.