Very early in my childhood I started receiving and unfortunately, believing, a message that told me that there was something fundamentally wrong with me.
This is not because my parents were horrible people or something. It’s just that my parents also got this same messaging in their youth, and unbeknownst to them, they passed it down to me.
I also got exposed to this message, just as my parents did, through the omni-present corporate advertising that is so pervasive in this day and age. (It’s just SO EASY to sell things to people who think that there is something wrong with them!)
Basically, we were all born into a society that tells everyone in it that they are somehow broken. This subliminal message is deeply woven into the fabric of our culture, and has been for many generations.
As a result, many of us go through life feeling like we are not good enough, not smart enough, not rich enough, not thin enough, not good looking enough, etc. Unsurprisingly, many of us also feel that we don’t have enough: we don’t have enough friends, we don’t have enough money, we don’t have enough Instagram followers, or whatever. On the other side of this coin, many of us we also feel that we are too much: too short, too insecure, too talkative, too weird, or too whatever.
This is all a huge lie, and it causes us so much suffering.
I want to reiterate that this is subconscious messaging. Of course no one would consciously choose to walk around feeling like this!
And yet we do. So many of us go through life feeling like we are, somewhere deep down, fundamentally flawed or broken.
This belief is so ubiquitous that even our spiritual communities are not immune. For example: In an unconscious, misguided attempt to fix this deep sense of being broken, many New Age practitioners fall into the trap of trying to create more and more “abundance.” Yogis contort themselves to the point of physical injury to “attain” a certain posture. Fierce competition for special attention from spiritual teachers is the norm at trainings and workshops. (I could go on and on…)
Don’t get me wrong; I’m all for success, achievement and the like. It is so good, and so healthy to know what you want and to try and make it happen. Wanting, achieving, and attaining what we desire is an important way that the soul expresses itself here on earth. According to ancient yogic philosophy (and really every other spiritual belief system that I know of) one of main reasons that we are even here on this planet in a human body is to desire, achieve, create and attain.
However, when I am stuck in the belief / feeling that I am somehow broken or fundamentally flawed, I often find myself wanting and trying to achieve things that are not really an expression of my soul or my spirit; they are just an expression of my pain and my sense of unworthiness.
This sense of unworthiness that many of us have lived with for our entire lives can feel so natural, so comfortable, so normal that we don’t even notice it’s presence. However, if we look closely at our lives we might see it expressing itself, like a quiet undercurrent, perpetually tugging on our souls.
When I want things that are an expression of my pain, the desire will never be satisfied. I will never have enough money, no matter how much money I make. I will never have enough friends, no matter how many people I meet. I will never have enough Instagram followers. (Okay, full disclosure: I don’t have an Instagram account or even really know what Instagram is. Even so, I am already sure that I do not have enough followers.)
When I am in that state, I can never have enough, and I will never be enough, no matter how my external reality changes, or even how I change myself. This is because the issue is not with the external reality. The issue is not even with me. The issue is that, somewhere along the line, I bought into the lie that there is something wrong with me.
My experience is that everyone who struggles with this kind of thing has a unique way of dealing with it. Unfortunately, until we start becoming conscious, many of the strategies that we employ to manage this sense of unworthiness are subconscious, learned early in life, and don’t really help.
One of the strategies that I use that doesn’t really help is to judge myself, and then try to somehow control the parts of myself that I judge as unworthy or flawed; I try to make myself fit into a mold of who I think I should be. I feel that if I could only be like this and not like that, then I would be good enough.
This leads to a repression of energies within me that I fear are broken or that I fear might be too much for someone else to handle, or that someone else might not like. I hold certain parts of myself back and keep other parts locked away. I am, essentially, afraid of myself.
I don’t think I am the only one who does this (at least I really hope not…) I would wager that many of us walk around with parts of ourselves locked away. We may lock away our power, our sexuality, our hearts, or our freedom. We are afraid that if we let it out it won’t be good enough, or it will be rejected, or it will be too much, or too little for the people around us.
Of course, there is another way to live.
Remember, all of this suffering comes from a lie. A lie!
The real problem here is that there is no problem.
There is no problem, because the truth is that there is nothing wrong with me. Or with you. We always were, and always have been, good enough. In fact, we are perfect and whole exactly as we are.
“But wait!” you say. “Everyone knows that no one is perfect. If I believed that I was perfect I would be a crazy horrible narcissist!”
I get what you’re saying, but nothing could be further from the truth. You see, when I talk about perfection and wholeness, I am talking about a spiritual concept that is way outside of our judgments of right and wrong or good and bad. The Sanskrit word for this concept is “Purnam.” I talk about this concept a lot in my work because it is so important for healing, and, unfortunately, so far outside of our current cultural paradigm.
Purnam, or wholeness, can be expounded on by using the concept of microcosm and macrocosm; According to most ancient spiritual cosmologies, the entire universe is a bunch of mirrors. Everything is reflected within everything else. Within each living thing there is a mini-universe that perfectly mirrors that bigger, external universe. That means that the entire universe is inside of you!
Having the entire universe within us means that we have all potentials within us. We are whole. We are complete. We lack nothing.
In this way, we are perfect.
The parts of us that we judge as broken or flawed are actually just an expression of pain. The judgment itself can also be an expression of pain (as it often is for me). This is pain that gets passed down through generations and that expresses itself through all of us in different ways, but is ultimately much bigger than us and our tiny human egos. It’s the universal pain of forgetting who we are.
We forget that who we are is perfection; fundamentally infinite, unbreakable, unbroken and containing all things.
It’s painful to forget.
It’s a breath of fresh air to remember.
When I remember who I am, then I am able to see that all of the energies within me are an expression of something divine. Even those that I judge as flawed.
For me, healing from the lie that I am deeply broken starts with a decision to live, more and more, from remembering the truth of purnam. It’s a decision to give myself permission to be all of who I am and to trust myself.
It’s hard work, but it feels SO good.
I should mention that I don’t think that we can remember and heal on our own; we are wounded in our relationships (both to others and to our culture) and so we must heal in relationships too. I’ve had a lot of help from psychic healers, yoga teachers, plant medicines, my spiritual allies, my friends and my partner on my healing journey, and I couldn’t have done it without them.
This journey has been rather mind-blowing for me because, low and behold, it’s not about fixing anything. It’s about remembering something that was already there. Even though I just said that it’s been a lot of work (and it has!), in another way it’s been completely simple and easy. This is because I have always been, and I always will be, perfect.
My beloved child, break your heart no longer.
Each time you judge yourself, you break your own heart;
you stop feeding on the love which is the wellspring of your vitality.
The time has come. Your time to live, to celebrate.
And to see the goodness that you are.
You, my child, are Divine. You are pure. You are sublimely free.
You are God in disguise and you’re always perfectly safe.
Do not fight the dark, just turn on the light.
Let go and Breathe in to Goodness that you are.