There is a part of my soul

That is like a child

Learning to walk again

For the first time

Again and again.

Those are my words.

Imagine living your entire life in fear, only you don’t realize you’re living in fear, because your brain is so fast at learning that it has figured out exactly the behaviors you need to do in each moment to keep yourself safe. It’s not that good at protecting you from physical danger, but luckily you are also surrounded by other people who do everything in their power to keep you from doing anything that might involve physical movement.

Since fear is constant, and your brain is desperately seeking ways to keep you out of danger, the proxy for safety is people liking you, people praising you, people having nice things to say about you. It’s the next best thing your brain has latched onto because there is so little kindness, so little softness, so little trust in your environment that you have to go foraging for scraps of these things wherever you can find them. You’re like a bottom feeder in the fish tank of love.

Luckily you have a lot going for you in many ways. You have a nice smile, a body that found ways to move in non-dangerous physical ways, and a brain so skilled at adapting that you can become almost anything you need to be in order to please the people around you. This has made you appear “successful” in many systems of your society – school, in particular.

The thing you realize one day when you’re nearly 35 years old is that there is a part of yourself that is in its infancy. It’s the part of you that trusts yourself. It’s the part of yourself that knows you are loved in every moment, without fear of anything happening to you. It’s the part of you that will never die, even after your physical body leaves this form.

The other thing you realize is that in nurturing the self-trust and self-love parts of yourself, you’ve been weaning the addicted part of your brain slowly, gradually, off its tight grip on the need to please each and every g*dd%mn person in the environment. This has been incredibly painful for the approval-addicted part of your brain. Every time you “let someone down” it’s like dangling a needle in front of a strung-out junkie and saying, “You can’t have any!”.

You’ve made incredible progress, and you haven’t done it alone. You’ve let go of toxic relationships without blinking an eye, and you’ve welcomed in tons of empty space where there were once piles of junk. You’ve faced your own fears, heard the voices telling you that you were worthless and devaluing yourself and never doing enough, and you moved ahead into uncharted territory. In that field beyond right and wrong (the one where Rumi will be meeting you), you’ve discovered something for the first time that feels like the birthright you’ve always had. You’ve experienced pure joy, pure freedom, pure love OF YOURSELF without any voices, without any judgments, without any need to be right or good or praised or successful.

At times it felt “wrong”, but you have been gaining wisdom and realizing that the “wrong” label comes from that addicted part of your brain that wants another hit of approval from the old sources.

Then one day those old sources come flying back in your face. They show up in your email inbox, on the phone, even in physical form in your own house. They resonate at the old familiar frequencies. Yet this time, they don’t hit you in the same way. They don’t feel “good” in the way they used to when your addicted brain was running the show. However, they trigger that part of your addicted brain in a huge way. They remind that part of your brain of the fact that you have been withholding and depriving it of approval all this time. It’s like a wild animal that was sedated, captured, and then slowly wakes up from its stupor, only to find itself in a cage.

The rage is intense. You can’t listen in the same way. You want to flush yourself of the frequencies that are being blasted in your ears, resonating through your body, at a constant, rapid-fire pace. You want to flood yourself with something that is good.

Luckily you have your own practices that bring you joy. Luckily you have cultivated a reliable internal compass that you TRUST and brings you back to your center. Luckily you have a community of people who are more than excited to see you as you are, in your joy and in your freedom, and whose voices you don’t hear in your head afterward.

You see that you’ve been living in someone else’s dream for a very long time. You feel anger, mostly directed at yourself for not knowing better earlier, not being stronger sooner. And then, after you breathe a little, give yourself a little space (OK, a lot), you see that you were given your particular life path for a reason that is unknowable. You are grateful. Or you try to be, with each breath.

You see that everyone is human, no one holds the absolute truth for anyone else, and that the spiritual journey is unique for everyone. You recognize that your greatest lesson is to learn to trust yourself. Your greatest challenge and gift will be to learn to love yourself fully. You have been practicing, working, following your path in life, in order to come to the greatest possible level of self-trust and self-love that you can in this lifetime.