Saturday, July 26, 2014

Self Portraits

Greetings all,

A week back from my sojourn and I can hardly believe where I was.  It all seems like a dream.  I've been playing catch up since my last post.  However I've had some time to reflect a bit on some of the lessons I learned on the road.

Sometimes it is very hard to see ourselves apart from our lives.  This is one reason why travel and new experiences are so important for our growth.  We constantly have familiar people reflecting back to us who they think we are.  We can forget that others cannot possibly see all of us.  Just like a globe in a dark room where one side is lit, we remain a mystery often even from ourselves.  New people see us without the filters of familiarity so we have new reflections to ponder.

I generally prefer to travel with friends but some of my most transformative journeys have been ones undertaken alone.  Years ago my first trip to Penland was the longest car trip I'd ever undertaken.  I  worried about it, worried that I'd drive myself crazy (literally get it, ah well I can't resist a pun).  I didn't,  and it was on this trip I finally felt like an artist.  My first post graduate work-study trip made me realize how capable (and likable) I can be.  There are some places we must go alone every now and then.  We must go alone to see ourselves rather than the reflection that our loved ones (and less loved ones) mirror back to us.  For highly empathic people this goes double. We have to disentangle our image from the images others hold of us.

So on this particular trip I realized something.  I'm not very nice to myself.  I'm horribly judgmental of my actions and my achievements (or perceived lack thereof).  It was during one of the exercises that were conducted in silence where I came to this conclusion.  No one was interacting or reflecting back to me so it was just myself and my emotions.  It didn't feel so good.  I was harshing my own mellow.  I couldn't pinpoint the source of my unease at first until I thought about how I normally let people treat me.  I have trained those around me poorly.  As one of my mentors often says, "We teach people how to treat us."  I was cow towing to their judgments of me and my life.  I was on a level agreeing with them that I was "less than".  The thing about judgment is that when you are judging yourself you are not in the present moment.  You are living in the past.  I have held past mistakes from years ago against myself.  Which is crazy because those mistakes have kept me from making similar errors.  (The Mooneagle prefers to make all new mistakes rather than repeat old ones).

So Judgy Mcjudge had come to a conclusion.  Okay I came to a conclusion.  I had to realize that the judgments of others were wrong without making them "wrong".  Do you get the distinction?  I needed to fully disengage from judgment without taking offense from the perspectives of others.  Now I've come a long way in the category of not caring what random people think of me, but when it comes to those close to me I have a ways to go yet.  The longest journey begins with a single step though and the first step should be a decision.  Basically I must decide that I am a good person deserving of good in my life.  I do things differently that doesn't make me wrong it makes me different.

You maybe wondering how all of this applies to you.  Well how often are you letting someone else hold the paintbrush on your self portrait?  Who do you let define you?  Whose judgment do you implicitly accept about yourself?  What judgments do you hold against yourself?  What would happen if you decided you were simply good enough?  Take some time this week to conjure your image out of the depths of your heart and let all the mirrors shatter.

Peace and Blessings,
Thomas Mooneagle

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