In my early childhood I started receiving and unfortunately, believing, a message that told me that there were things that were fundamentally wrong with me.
This is not because my parents were horrible people or something. My parents also got this messaging in their youth, and, unbeknownst to them, passed it on to me.
I also got exposed to this message, just as my parents did, through pervasive, omni-present corporate advertising. (It’s SO EASY to sell things to people who think that there is something wrong with them!)
The fact is, 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 (myself included) 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, we 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 we also feel that we are too much; too short, too insecure, too talkative, too weird, too whatever.
These beliefs cause us so. much. suffering.
So many of us go through life feeling like we are, somewhere deep down, fundamentally flawed or broken.
These beliefs are so ubiquitous that even spiritual communities are not immune. For example, in an unconscious, misguided attempt to fix their deep sense of being broken, some spiritual practitioners fall into the trap of trying to create more and more “abundance” through manifestation work. Yogis contort themselves to the point of physical harm to try and “attain” a certain posture. Fierce and nasty competition for special attention from spiritual teachers is the norm at trainings and workshops. Etc. (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 this belief that I am somehow broken or fundamentally flawed, I often finding 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 sense of unworthiness.
This sense of unworthiness that many of us have lived with our for our entire lives can feel so natural, so comfortable, so normal that we do not even notice its presence. However, if we look closely at ourselves 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 unworthiness, 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 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, deep down, I have bought into the lie. I believe that there is something wrong with me.
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.
The truth is that there is nothing wrong with me. Or with you. We always were, and always have been, enough. In fact, we are perfect and whole exactly as we are.
“But wait!” you say. “Everyone knows that no one is perfect. And, if I did believe that I was perfect I would be a 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 and good and bad. The Sanskrit word for this concept is Purnam. I talk about this concept a lot in my teaching 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 may be simply an expression of our pain. Or the judgment itself can also be an expression of pain. This pain often gets passed down through generations and expresses itself through all of us in different ways. However, this pain is ultimately much bigger than any of us and our tiny human egos; It’s the universal pain of forgetting who we are.
Who we are is perfection. Who we are is fundamentally whole, infinite, unbreakable, unbroken and containing all things.
When I begin to live from this place, I can begin to see that all of the energies within me are an expression of the divine.
For me, healing from the lie that I am fundamentally broken starts with making a decision to live, more and more, from the truth of purnam; It’s a decision to value myself exactly as I am.
It’s been hard work, but it feels SO good.
I also don’t think that we can heal from these lies 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 energy healers, yoga teachers, plant medicines, therapists, my spiritual guides, 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 been), in another way it’s been simple and easy. This is because I have always been, and I always will be, perfect and whole.
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.
— Swami Kripalu