One day I was asked to give a short speech in front of almost 1000 people. I couldn’t sleep at night from the stress that this idea of me being on stage was giving me. I was completely paralysed and 2 centimetres away from cancelling it, from running away. I was convinced I wasn’t good on stage. I would repeat to myself how bad a speaker I was and so on. But some little voice inside me was telling me that I had to do it. Not for the speech, but for overcoming the fear that had become unbearable. When I was walking towards the stage that day I remember I couldn’t breathe, my heart was beating fast, I was all dizzy. And when I finally stood in front of all those people something unexpected happened. All my fear was gone. I was more afraid of the idea of being afraid than from what was actually going to happen. that moment hundreds of images passed through my head. Images of me being a little girl who loved performing, singing, dancing, reciting poetry for so many years in different competitions. What happened to that little, confident girl I was back then? In that moment I reconnected to her. I did great. That moment of my life was crucial to me. Not because I have overcome my fear but because I realised that something I believed about myself was simply not true. How many other false beliefs did I have? Did I really know who I was? I wasn’t so sure anymore.
Now, more than ever, we try to escape who we are and especially what we feel. There is nothing more uncomfortable than a resistance to feeling whatever is there to be felt. This feeling of resistance is almost more uncomfortable than what we are trying to escape from in the first place. The desire to be somewhere else and to feel something else pushes us to look for other states of mind. Grasping those other states of mind is nothing more than a way to experience freedom from ourselves for a moment.
Spirituality, in many cases, has become used as a way to avoid feeling or thinking, rather than a way to find what is really going on deep down in our hearts. It has become a desperation for ‘otherness’. We are looking for something different from the present moment. But, when we are looking for happiness, for instance, we are actually focusing on the absence of that happiness so we end up feeling ‘down’. We started to look for otherness in ourselves that has created an absence of acceptance for who we are and for what we feel. Not only would we create that “better”, in our mind's eye of who we should be and what we should feel, that would make us escape who we are, but also we would punish ourselves constantly for not living up to that vision.
I have been mastering for the last 10 years how to create an image. Brand Identity. And I also have been mastering how to create my own image. Crafting how people should perceive me or how I thought they should perceive me. I believed that my image was who I was. I started to believe in that image so much that I would use every single opportunity to confirm to myself that the image was real. When I would not fit in that image though I would punish myself for it.
We are the perfect creators of our own reality. We cast people around us for the roles we wish them to play and we also cast ourselves, constantly, for an image which we have created, the image that would give us an illusion of control of who we think we are. An image that we would like to prove we have on every step of our way. An image that would imprison us eventually and limit the access to our true self.
The worst thing is that after many years we start to believe in that image. We are afraid to think of who we might be. We much rather prefer to put ourselves in some sort of frame of adjectives and stay loyal to our opinion and family heritage, using it also as an excuse for our unwillingness to change. “This is who I am” we say, “Accept it”.
But, do you really accept who you are? Do you accept when you feel sadness and disappointment or when you are not ‘good’ enough? Or do you try to escape that feeling as soon as you can and change yourself? You will then punish yourself even more for not being who you think you should be, and not doing what you think you should do.
If you will not accept yourself for who you really are, how can other people ever accept you? We are our own worst enemies. When we fall, we punish ourselves for falling. When we win, we think we don't deserve it. When people hurt us, we convince ourselves that it is our fault.
How liberating it would be to say: I am sad today and I love myself with this sadness. I didn’t achieve my goal and I love myself anyway.
We are so terrified of letting ourselves be free that we will judge every little action we take or behaviour we perform. We will judge our feelings and our thoughts.
You can be so kind to your friends and so unkind to yourself. And so can I. Would you ever said to your friend: Stop being sad! What is wrong with you? You suck! I don’t think so… you would say: Hey, I love you. Everything will be alright. I promise. You are amazing.
Don't ever set any conditions about when and how you love yourself. You are your biggest gift and your best friend. You are your everything. Start to open to who you might be and who you might become without rejecting who you are now. Start treating yourself as you would like to be treated by your best friend. Without trying to escape what you feel. Without willing constantly to be somewhere else. Start to question all the false beliefs you have created around you through all those years and keep only those that truly make you happy. Be free and love yourself. Stop comparing yourself to others. Everyone is unique and extraordinary. In order to discover who you really are, you need to accept that you might not really know who you are in the first place. You can’t think who you are and feel who you are at the same time.
Find comfort in the mystery. Stay open to possibilities without planning what you should feel, think or have. Alan Watts said: “The future in which You already know the outcome, has already happened.” Don’t try to predict the future and who you should be.
Give yourself the freedom to experience who you truly are. Give yourself permission to feel it.
The day that I decided to remove my mask, was the day I promised myself to never cheat on myself anymore. To be with me for the good and for the bad. To love myself unconditionally no matter how many people loved me or didn't. Maybe I will never be anything more than I am now but that is perfectly fine. I don't need to be more as I am everything already. This was my wish for me, and is my wish to you.