Our Love Within

Several weeks ago I took you into my experience of recovering from disordered eating. I shared this experience with you at the request of my friends to show our connection as women in the struggle over body image. My experience of being at war with my body is also your experience. We all have demons that try to take us away from our loving nature. It is my profound hope that my experience in healing my separation from my body is now also your experience. That if you have been judging your body or filling your mind with unkind thoughts toward your physical being, you have begun to slip into radical love instead. I’ve said it once and I will type it a million times; love heals all wounds.

As I type this I know there are exceptions and women who did not experience this body war within their lifetime. I also know that no one is immune to cultural pressure, lived pain, and using attacks against themselves instead of love as the salve for pain. I don’t know about you but one of my protective parts holds a deep (and false) belief that the more I criticize and perfect myself the safer I will be. It is human nature to want to keep ourselves safe; okay, animal nature if I’m being honest. Using fear as self-protection is a natural response yet staying in fear separates us from love. When we are connected to our loving presence we are able to assess what fear is telling us and choose how to respond in a way that serves our highest good. When we are separated from love and cannot respond, we react in a way that is either harmful to ourselves or others. Here I go again; love must be the driving force of our lives. Love brings us home to ourselves.

Practicing the Presence

In recent weeks I’ve been shifting deeper into self-love and grounded presence. The PTSD that once ran my life, now murmurs in my nervous system but drives nothing. I don’t know that I can type the pride I feel adequately; for almost eight years PTSD drove my life. As I reflected on my healing, which did include love, I was able to see that when my PTSD was active I was separate from myself. I was unable to control how I treated myself, and sometimes others when the fear that PTSD brought took over. I felt shame when my PTSD took over how I treated others, and then would treat myself worse in response to that shame. Why couldn’t I be “good enough?” Why wasn’t I “under control?” Through radical acceptance, wonderful therapy, medication, and (here we go again) self-love, I have been able to hold compassion for my condition. Through this compassion, I am able to treat myself with kindness and through this practice stay within integrity towards others.

As I reflected on my own healing journey, I also was presented with some challenging personal events. To say that I was not being treated with kindness would be an understatement. Yet in the moments I was being treated with unkindness something radically different happened. I was so grounded in my own love that as others attempted to bring their suffering to me I was not shaken. I was able to hold compassion, while requesting accountability, for those suffering at me. I was woken with the idea that perhaps how we treat others is a reflection of how we treat ourselves. This idea only deepened my compassion for their suffering; the people lashing at me were disconnected from their own love.

Love Alone Will Heal

When I sat with this concept, forgiveness was easier to access. I could hold onto the thought, “Hurt people hurt other people,” and wish for healing and wellness for those attempting to hurt me. I still truly believe that we are all born with innate goodness and that our life experiences (and at times mental illness) separate us away from that goodness. Our journey on Earth is an opportunity to return to the love within us. And that if a person is suffering from something outside of their control, like mental illness, those of us who are not suffering can offer care.  Don’t you see? All roads point back to the love within us. These roads can guide us to a life full of joy, and when called, a life of service to others.

What about you, my darling? Have you ever woken to the thought, “How I treat others is a reflection of how I treat myself?” If you have not, could you try it on for size? The next time you slip into a critical or fear-based thought toward yourself, could you offer love instead? If you chose to do this, would you then have the capacity to be more loving to others? I would like to think so. Perhaps my loves, this week as you walk through your journey on Earth you will find time to lean into yourself with love. I hope you do and radically change your life for the better.

Jessie Cooper

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