A lot of my healing over the years stems from the need to accept myself – my whole self. I think everyone has varying degrees of this experience embedded in their lives – wanting to fit in and feel “accepted” by their families, peers, communities – whoever it may be. For me I experienced a heightened sense of this need growing up adopted-Korean in a predominantly white community. Being inherently different on the outside forced me to make peace with the world one part by accepting myself and one part by trying to fit in desperately. Let me tell you only one of these parts worked.
As a teen attending Korean Culture Camp, I went through self-esteem classes each year. Definitely one of my least favorite aspects of camp. Really all I cared about was mandu (Korean dumplings) and plum candy. (I paid for that care later in life – will save for another post). But the self-esteem classes at the time weren’t especially helpful or practical. I just thought of it as fluff – acknowledging that my peers and I were prone to lower self-esteems than everyone else and yet not recognizing that we were not feeling open or receptive enough to share about it or even identify this about our very nature. It was one of those classes you just go to to only wait for it to be over. You maybe even feel worse about yourself, afterwards knowing that you have a bad self-esteem. It’s victimizing. So then what to do with oneself? [Go to the camp store and buy some more potato snacks, right?]
Well years later I can say an important part often missing from those early self-esteem talks was the readiness factor. It is possible that at camp they touched on the idea of self-compassion, but it took me until my post college years to really understand that practicing self-compassion could alter the effects of low self-esteem. Funny how education and learning works…you can only retain and understand the message when you are ready, and messages become clearer to you when it becomes personal.
At the same time, if we all waited until we were completely “ready” we would never move forward. (This is a popular topic among the new parent camp, believe me, I hear it all the time :)). So what does it mean to be ready? And why does it matter?
Of course there is no simple answer. But I find there is this delicate balance with the readiness factor – you cannot push yourself somewhere you are not ready to be (or you can, but you may force yourself into a healing crisis), but you also must push yourself beyond what you believe is possible at times. The key I’ve found for me is not doing too much of one or the other. Do a little of both. Let the busyness inside you settle, and stir up the well-rested parts within you.
I always say in my yoga classes, if you tend to move and breathe slowly, allow yourself to increase the pace of your breath, or viceversa, if you are a person who breathes fast and is moving quickly all the time, let yourself slow down your movements. It’s good to switch things up, it keeps us well and it challenges us to be better people.
In what parts of your life are you putting on the brakes because you are not ready and sincerely need more time? In what ways are you ready to move forward but are stalled because of habit or fear?
Challenge: This week find a way to either slow down or speed up something that needs attention in your life.