Summer 2022: Inner Sparkle & Self-Love
Fresh coffee fragrance wafts past me as I tug the outside door open and chilled air fans my sun kissed face. Above the din of chatting patrons, the frothing machine’s whir crescendos as I scan the cue clustered at the counter and then the tables and chairs searching for two friends. We rarely see each other yet are close by having shared an intensive course in personal spiritual development.
Ah, there they are! We order, then the three of us descend on a table for four. These friends remind me how far I have come on my journey of liking and loving myself. They tell me that most people they know, and likely many people living their lives, do not think in terms of liking and loving themselves. Why on earth not? Lest I forget how hard it was to reclaim my childlike spark of delight in being me.
Our trifecta attempts to solve the world’s problems within our conversation, noting how the US culture of adulting has all but ruined our chances of enjoying what we do and who we are while doing it. Expectations of perfectionist performance present self-doubt in our self-talk: coulda, shoulda, woulda; and worse, a prenotion of complete failure with simple and common mistakes regardless of how easily they are fixed. The resulting outwardly silent yet inwardly loud narrators in our heads consist of chastisements and berating tirades that are meant to whip us into acceptable human beings. Punishing bad behavior and rewarding good behavior—this is the accepted abuse cycle of conditional love.
I laugh as I share my method of silencing the drill sergeant in my mind who used to terrorize me. I gave the militant permission to say whatever it wanted provided it mimicked the voice of one of my favorite Looney Tunes characters while saying it. Being second guessed by Porky Pig, reprimanded by Elmer Fudd, critiqued by Daffy Duck, lambasted by Yosemite Sam, and railed at by Taz, took the sting out of the insults and rendered the messages ridiculous. Ridiculous is what the drill sergeant was all along, but the booming commentary intimidated me into believing I deserved being self-talked to this way. It was all lies. And now, instead of being hurt and thanks to my cartoon friends, I can be amused at the silly voices and pay them no mind. What a relief!
We discuss how the drill sergeant in each of us enacts conditional love to keep us safe, reminding us of every misstep that hurt us to prevent another faulter, cataloging our mistakes that shamed us so as not to repeat the same embarrassment, bullying us to be acceptable people, ones deserving of happiness and love. This relentless protection is designed to keep us safe and happy. Mission failed!
My internal wounds did not heal through bullying, though not for lack of trying. If self-bullying worked, we all would be instantly healed. What if we already deserve happiness and love? What if we do not have to earn it? Is it possible that we are already acceptable people, as is?
Anyone who has been mesmerized by a newborn while holding it knows the truth of inherent worth and the preciousness of someone simply existing. We previously were all babes however long ago. Why did that wonderment wear off? How did we stop being in awe of our presence and place on earth? When did we forget to remember how amazing we are?
Once upon an earlier time in my life, I remember being the gleeful girl who gazed at the sky while twirling herself until she fell into the grass, dizzy and giggling, the world spinning beneath her. I like that girl. I love her. I am her. That girl deserves happiness and love and I let her find it. She is my antidote to rigorous adulting.
Three hours pass like a minute as we listening tale-weavers grasp our coffee mugs, long since empty. My two dear ones, enthralled with our trio of stories, encourage me to share this one with you. They say it is rare for adults to be in touch with their inner sparkle and kidlike wonder. What is interesting to me is that I see it in every adult I meet, including you. For those of you who do not see it, I am curious. What would take for you each to see your inner sparkle and kidlike wonder within yourself?