In October I will be turning 39. It sounds old to me. It sounds young to me too. It’s kind of crazy how life gets better and better as you get to know yourself and believe in yourself and trust yourself and love yourself more and more each day. It should be like that from the day we are born, but we become brainwashed by society. Somehow we are told that we’re not good enough or somehow we believe that we need to be more (fill in the blank) in order to be loved, in order to be happy, in order to be successful.
In his MFR (myofascial release) classes, John F. Barnes often talks about ways to invite healing into our lives. He says we must feel deeply in order to be able to let go of the past. There is a story that we tell over and over. And what good does that do for us? Why analyze the past? We are never the same person in the future. It makes no sense to look at the actions on their own. We must find the feelings that were present then and go there and be there in that sorrow, in that anger, in that hurt, betrayal, rejection, etc. Feel, feel, feel until we are able to let go, let go, let go.
It’s a process. None of this is resolved overnight. We’ve all experienced traumas, big and small, some more horrid than others, but there’s no need to compare. What did it FEEL like to you? Give yourself permission to go there. Go to that place you’ve been avoiding for years.
The places I avoid are ones of anger and hurt, sadness and loneliness. I think you can all relate to those feelings. They aren’t ones we like to think about or feel, but they are real and if we push them aside, they will just keep coming back. Don’t run away from your feelings. They are your ticket to getting out of pain.
After attending my third MFR class, experiencing a recent break up with a boyfriend (yes, post-divorce… a divorce never quite leaves you either…), and starting to date someone new, I felt inspired to go way back and revisit some old selves. One in particular that I like to remember is my 17 year old self. Here is a list of the things I wish I could tell her back then. Try this practice for yourself, you might find that everything you want to say can apply today.
Things I would say to my 17 year old self:
- You are beautiful just as you are. Be proud of your body. It is amazing, stretch marks and all. It is strong and capable and coordinated even though you feel awkward and ugly.
- You are perfect just as you are. Comparison is the thief of joy. Never once think that you are not worthy of love and attention. Your family and friends love and appreciate you but you can’t see that or feel it because it all begins with self-love.
- Don’t waste your time chasing after people who don’t see how friggin amazing you are inside and out. Your heart is one of your greatest gifts. Do not give it to stupid boys who don’t recognize this. One day a great guy or two or three will walk into your life and help you heal all those past hurts.
- People only give as much as they are capable at the time no matter how much you give. Always give more and expect nothing in return. We give out of an impulse to help others heal. This might sound contradictory to #3 but you will realize that your life’s passion is cheering others on.
- Your honesty and keen eye will get you into trouble. You do not need to share every observation or critical thought you have with the world. Remember that kindness matters more. You will eventually learn this over time. It’s ok if you mess up every now and then. Forgive yourself, apologize to others, and move on.
- You will feel inclined to search for a romantic ideal. Don’t rely on a boyfriend to give you the self-esteem that you need to cultivate by recognizing your unique strengths and weaknesses. Amplify your strengths. The world will work hard to throw your weaknesses in your face. Flash that gorgeous smile of yours and mentally tell society to F*CK OFF.
- There is only one person you need to please in order to be happy and that is yourself. You will be drawn to pursuing things because “it’s the right thing to do.” Don’t fall into this trap of mediocrity. Dream big and follow through. You are your own worst enemy. Get out of your own way.
- Your sadness and loneliness will not make any sense whatsoever. The sooner you find gratitude in the smallest things in life, the more alive you will feel. Being genuinely thankful for every little nuance of life will cut through the emptiness and the void. You won’t be depressed forever. Joy will continue to find you.
- Your fears will fall by the wayside as soon as you realize that they are all made up in your head. Don’t believe these lies that prevent you from going after what you really want and yes, one day that direction will become crystal clear. Just keep doing what you’re doing and through trial and error you will find your path.
- You will eventually develop a thick skin that will help you navigate people and experiences without feeling hurt all the time. Don’t take things personally. The majority of the sh*t you will encounter will be a reflection of what others think and feel about themselves rather than you. Be your own best friend first and you will never feel lost or lonely again. Home is where the self-love is.