On Compassion & Healing

Lake_Jones_Trail_textI’m in the middle of an eight-week class, “Real Foods for Real Life,” and it’s been enormously helpful in many ways. But the most valuable takeaway for me has little to do with food, at least on the surface.

As I’ve shared my own story and listened to others share their unique personal journeys with admirable vulnerability, I’ve left each class with a growing and deeper understanding of the importance of compassion when it comes to healing. And most of the time, each of us is healing one part of ourselves or another, aren’t we?

I’ve been thinking about how this is part of life, part of growing up: we have to be willing to consider ourselves honestly, to look closely at past choices, however misguided we believe we were and would like to forget, in order to choose something different for our future.

If we want to cultivate new life patterns, we usually need to heal something in ourselves, and this kind of deep healing evolves out of practicing compassion for others and compassion for ourselves.

What if we each gave ourselves permission to be exactly who we are, and to be exactly where we are, no excuses necessary? No beating ourselves up for this pound here or that pint of ice cream there.

The highest challenge: while looking closely, what if we don’t place one whit of judgement on ourselves?

I mean to say, we should give ourselves permission to look in the mirror, regardless of how lousy we feel, and say to ourselves, you’re exactly where you should be in this moment; and lucky you, you get to choose your next move.

Healing is challenging. It requires courage and persistence and no small amount of forgiveness, for ourselves, and sometimes for others. Healing requires digging deep and examining our choices without guilt or shame. In order to expose our truths, even to ourselves, and emerge with grace, we need kindness, compassion.

And yes, much of the work is personal, but we don’t have to go it alone. We can and should lift each other up on our respective journeys, but too often we keep our challenges to ourselves for fear of judgement or fear of burdening others with what we imagine to be challenges distinct to us alone. Of course we do, bombarded as we are, especially as women, by media that shows unrealistic, carefully curated and smoothed over versions of humanity. Rarely do we see the complex, imperfect, many-layered, beautiful truths illuminated.

But we need each other. However independent we feel we should be in today’s world, we need our neighbors, friends, and family as much as humans ever did.

So. Let’s illuminate those truths, without apology.

We’re flawed, complex, difficult to understand. We’re also beautiful and strong and here on earth to find happiness and love. Let’s share of ourselves, and support each other in uncovering our truths so that we can heal and take on the world. We’re worth it.