Beneath the Leaves

Last week I wrote to you about being lost within the forest of life. I believe as humans we all get lost during periods of our life for a multitude of reasons. In the forest, there are both light and dark paths. It’s up to us to navigate them. Underneath the leaves that crunch beneath our feet lie the reasons we are lost. The sun guiding us out is the light within us reminding us that we are worthy of love and belonging.  

So what are these leaves that have distracted us from our true knowing, worth, and belonging? On the surface, they look simple and can be seen as harm created by the outside world. The world and humans within it can easily present us with pain. The pain that stays is beneath the surface–beneath the leaves. You see, when we are presented with hardship we have two choices. The first is to let it roll off us and move on and the second is to metabolize it and take it as our own.

Working Through Hardship

None of us are born with a guidebook of what is real and what isn’t. We’re born into this world trusting it and the people around us to guide us. When the world and people around us tell us we are unworthy, broken, or can’t provide for our basic needs it becomes a scary place. We then start to look outside ourselves for confirmation that we are in fact worthy, whole, and deserving of having our needs met. This is true for every human being. If you are measuring your worth by taking from others mentally or physically, however, you are not giving yourself what you need. You are stealing and continuing the cycle of abuse.

As human beings, so many of us stay lost like this. Thinking that our self-worth is out there and not in here behind our beating hearts. I know I get lost like this. I want to feel love just like everyone else and have suffered abuse which still makes me feel small and broken. I tend to overperform and overachieve from a place of wanting to prove my worth versus creating because it brings me joy. I’m lucky that I have an amazing work team who calls me on my bullshit and tells me to go take care of myself when I’m trying to pull that crap at the office. I’m even working on building a tribe at home that calls me out on this behavior. As I reflected this past week on why I do this, I found a common denominator; rejection. Let me say more.

Moving Past Rejection

When I’m looking at myself and when I’m overachieving or over-functioning at home I’m trying to create external worth. This is deep-rooted within me as a woman wanting to please people, a survivor of domestic violence, and my own longing to be loved. When I feel rejected it can hurt like hell because I have so much love to give and want to receive it. As I sat with this thought over the past week I began to think about the rest of the pain of the world and the work of Brene Brown regarding shame. Shame tells us we are small, unlikeable, and there is something to hide about ourselves from the world. Shame tells us we are rejected.

I believe when people feel rejected by the world the only way to fully heal is to love ourselves with our whole hearts despite our shortcomings as human beings. To find our way back to ourselves the only way home is to feel the hurt. If we don’t do this we can hurt other people or deepen our own pain. We must acknowledge that we have a need not filled, a desire not met, a broken dream, or feelings hurt. I believe this is the single most important thing those who are suffering can do: hold the pain and honor it. If we do not honor our pain and cherish ourselves we lash out at the world or inward on ourselves; often both. When we lash out at the world due to pain we hurt other people and make them suffer because we are suffering and running away from our fears of never belonging. When the pain is lashed inward it can create conditions like depression and anxiety.

Acknowledge Your Pain

This I know to be true. Being rejected and having your dreams broken hurts like hell. Yet if we don’t acknowledge that we are hurting we will hurt other people. Hate begets hate. When a person stuck in hate finds a person who doesn’t know their full worth, abuse can set in. Each person feels rejected and one is lashing out while the other is taking the lashing. In a situation like this, both people feel rejected. Don’t you see? If the person lashing out stopped and felt their own hurt they would not hurt another person. If the person being lashed knew their own worth they could gently ask the person lashing out to leave. If each person knew their own worth they would take the time to heal because knowing our worth protects our hearts, spirits, and minds.  

The only way to unturn the leaves is to be brave enough to look at what’s beneath them and find out what’s keeping us from our worth. As we unturn each leaf of pain we’re able to hold that pain and provide care for ourselves. Rejection is just the outside world’s way of saying, “I’m hurting myself, I’m insecure, I have pain.” Don’t swallow that.  Know your worth and walk on–it’s a bright day outside.



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