Tipping over the edge of one year into another usually brings out much in way of ‘advice’ and advertising encouraging us to be better, thinner, healthier, happier…the list goes on. I know this especially well because I used to jump on this band wagon as a proponent of yoga, good mental health and wellbeing. I have actually run marketing campaigns called ‘New Year, New You’. Clearly I didn’t fully realise the subtle toxicity in this way of communicating and that it suggests we are not good enough as we are and MUST make changes in order to be acceptable, lovable and worthy.
The notion that we are inherently not enough is one of the most damaging societal messages we live with. I believe that we are enough and worthy purely by existing, by being, there is nothing we need to ‘do’ in order to increase our inherent worthiness as souls, as humans, as people. We are told and taught in a myriad of ways as we move through childhood that some parts of us are acceptable or ‘good’ and other parts (perhaps behaviours or feelings) are undesirable and therefore ‘bad’. For example the little girl who is branded as bossy and loud is told she should be more gentle and quiet, perhaps she buries her assertiveness under passivity. Similarly the young boy who is sensitive and when he shows his feelings is told to man up as big boys don’t cry, perhaps he swaps his empathy for emotional shutdown. We internalise the notion that if we exhibit more and more ‘good and acceptable’ behaviours and less and less ‘undesirable and bad’ aspects we will receive more encouragement, support and ultimately love and acceptance. This process causes a splitting off of the parts of ourselves we feel are unlovable, over the years those parts are then fed by shame and grow in the dark corners of our psyches unleashing all kinds of mayhem.
As you can see the concept that we need to be made anew, that we are required to be better versions of ourselves in order to (fill in the gap – be successful, be loved etc..) can be found deep in our conditioning. And encouraging people to become a ‘new’ version of themselves can actually result in undermining the innate value that they possess. Another approach is to celebrate ourselves, all the messy, complicated parts that make up each unique individual. From this foundation of self love and acceptance there is work to be done, should we choose to do it: soul lessons to learn, layers of conditioning to unravel, healing to delve into and habits to form and undo. The New Year can feel like a good time to get into this personal development and healing work, which I wholeheartedly encourage. Can we come from a place of believing that we are enough just as we are in this exact moment, and the work we choose to do to refine our experience of life is layered on top, like yummy icing on an already delicious and beautiful cupcake!
As I said I have been guilty of this myself, many times over the years, both in encouraging others to be ‘better’ and also trying to renew myself. It was in no way meant to cause harm, but as Oprah said, when you know better, do better. (Or was it Maya Angelou?) No need for anyone to feel bad about jumping on this band wagon, however maybe it’s time to think about this slightly differently…
As we move into this new year I invite you to celebrate all that you are, not just the ‘nice’ bits.
Sending love, Gemma xx
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