On a daily basis – often an hourly basis – I pause, put my hand on my heart and whisper to myself, “I will not make war against my own heart.”
I have so many opportunities to practice. Every day, I make mistakes. Every day, I want to jump on myself when I make those mistakes. Every day, I have the opportunity to judge – to blame myself; to should all over myself; to make myself wrong – or to let go. To release my judgments, to release my self condemnation, to release my beliefs of “It’s all my fault.”
This is an act of courage for me, for it goes against every ingrained habit I have of beating myself up. It is an opening, an embracing of all of life; an embracing of “what is,” an embracing of all of me. It is unconditional love.
It is not easy.
The mind loves to judge. To label. To should all over us – “You should, you shouldn’t, you shouldn’t have.”
Our mind loves to go after perfection – and that includes self perfection – because it is trying to get us to a place where we feel like we’re enough. We’ve been taught to believe that this is the key to inner peace and happiness. So if only we are spiritual enough, thin enough, healthy enough, eating disorder free enough, wealthy enough, organized enough, together enough, happy enough, popular enough, pretty enough, fit enough, whole enough….then, then we will have the Holy Grail.
It is false hope. As Danna Faulds writes, “perfection is not a prerequisite for anything but pain.”
To drop perfectionism, to stop the war, we let go. We practice unconditional love – loving ourselves as is. It is a declaration of self – I am enough. Right now. Yes, warts and all. It’s not unconditional love if it’s conditional.
More than healing lifelong eating disorders, this has been my path. Loving myself unconditionally.
Is this where you find yourself, too?
What are you fighting? What lies outside of your love? How can you stop the war? Would what it mean to love yourself unconditionally?
For years, I hated, blamed, whipped, chastized, shamed or hid those tender parts of me that don’t fit my mold of perfect. It’s quite a list… shoulders that are too broad, a continual up and down weight, the fact that I’ve cared so damn much about that weight, a tendency to get really stressed out and panic, irritability with loved ones, debt, striving, perfectionism itself, fragile health, low self esteem, self doubt, judging others, jealousy; the way I hide and separate myself from others as a form of self protection…. I could go on.
Of course, I’ve most loathed those parts of me that are really, really dark and troubled – the parts of me that suffer from depression, anxiety, high sensitivity, overwhelm, eating disorders, ADD…. the parts that make me feel like I don’t belong on planet Earth because I’m often trying to keep my head above water when others seem to be swimming laps around me.
And yet something deeper, something wiser whispers, “Enough.” It is this voice, my true Nature – home – that calls to me.
Here is what it says:
Love your tender humanity. Love your imperfection. Love your tender sensitive soul. No more. No more will I hate you. No more will I blame you.
Beloved, beloved, I will care for you. I will forgive, over and over. I will hold you tenderly.
In this space, I can hold loosely onto that list of “faults.” I can care for it, I can honor it, I can revere it. (I’m not talking about denial.) And I can simultaneously detach a bit. It’s not me. It’s not who I am. Why should I feel ashamed for being human? For being imperfect? For needing love and forgiveness and acceptance just like everyone else.
I breathe and let go. I exhale. I feel the space. I come home.
The heart is big enough for all of us.
Today is the International Day of Peace. As I reflect on creating peace with food, the body and ourselves, I’m reminded of Swami Kripalu. He wrote that each time “we judge ourselves we break our own hearts.” Oh, beloved, join me in this holy refrain – I will break my heart no longer. When the voice of self judgment arises, forgive it. Forgive everything. Stop the war.
This journey is not about food. It is not about weight. It is not about fat. It is about unconditional love, compassion, and forgiveness. Today I bow to you, to me, to everyone and offer this affirmation of life – “I will not make war against my own heart.”
Will you stop the war with me?