Our ideas about love and attractiveness are so primal, our need for belonging so intense, that most of us are loath to abandon our favorite beliefs on these issues. If you've ever let yourself feel lovable and lovely, only to be deeply hurt, you may see accepting your own body as a setup for severe emotional wounding.
Cheerfully fessing up to our failures turns crazy mind off, humility and compassion on. I learned this in a karate dojo that had a strange tradition. Everyone there loved recounting failure stories, and after an evening of smacking one another, we'd sit and have a beer while the students swapped tales of martial arts disaster.
As I obsess about my ancient problems, I feel more like I'm sinking in quicksand than lighting a torch. I'm creating neither heat nor light, just the icky, perversely pleasurable squish of self-pity between my toes. My only defense is that I'm not the only one down here in the muck - our whole culture is doting on tales of personal tragedy.
Self-pity, a dominant characteristic of sociopaths, is also the characteristic that differentiates heroic storytelling from psychological rumination. When you talk about your experiences to shed light, you may feel wrenching pain, grief, anger, or shame. Your audience may pity you, but not because you want them to.
Sacred play is anything that takes you into that right hemisphere of your brain. It turns out that this move away from left to the right hemisphere, that sense of expansiveness and everything, can be accomplished through unusual rhythmic action, or any action that requires so much attention away from words that you cannot think in words.
Our thoughts about an event can have a dramatic effect on how we go through the event itself. When our expectations are low, it's easy to be pleasantly surprised. When they're not, we're vulnerable to painful disappointment. Because of this, many people spend a good deal of effort trying to avoid developing high hopes about anything.
When fear makes your choices for you, no security measures on earth will keep the things you dread from finding you. But if you can avoid avoidance - if you can choose to embrace experiences out of passion, enthusiasm, and a readiness to feel whatever arises - then nothing, nothing in all this dangerous world, can keep you from being safe.
All religious leaders and spiritual teachers emphasize finding a place within us that is true. People who obsessively follow these leaders instead of their own purpose attach to the spiritual leader and become fanatical and controlling. That's why Jesus tried to tell his followers not to get attached to outward form.
Something in the human psyche confuses beauty with the right to be loved. The briefest glance at human folly reveals that good looks and worthiness operate independently. Yet countless socializing forces, from Aunt Clara to the latest perfume ad, reinforce beliefs like 'If I were pretty enough, I would be loved.'
The great power of separating the watching mind from the thinking mind is that the watching mind is innately loving. Some call this part of the psyche the 'compassionate witness.' Sharing our difficult feelings with a compassionate witness is the crucial step that heals the infinite small wounds inflicted upon the soul by everyday life.
Much protective self-criticism stems from growing up around people who wouldn't or couldn't love you, and it's likely they still can't or won't. In general, however, the more you let go of the tedious delusion of your own unattractiveness, the easier it will be for others to connect with you, and the more accepted you'll feel.
Many of us have spent a lifetime trying to be what we're not, feeling lousy about ourselves when we fail and sometimes even when we succeed. We hide our differences when, by accepting and celebrating them, we could collaborate to make every effort more exciting, productive, enjoyable, and powerful. Personally, I think we should start right now.