I had a dream that my front teeth fell out and I was worried about how I would look. This is a common dream for me. And a common theme for many people. It’s no wonder I had this dream after my night at Toastmasters. I am up speaking in front of 20 or 30 of my peers. Not only am I putting my outer self on display for all to see but also my inner self. At Toastmasters, we share our life experiences, our ideas, our opinions, our hearts and souls.
I was feeling kind of negative and noticed I was judging others around me. I recalled being welcomed into the Toastmasters meeting with–Aren’t you warm in that sweater?!–On the surface, this doesn’t seem like such a negative comment but if we look a little deeper, what is it actually saying? Although I was aware enough not to take it too personally, I realized I could still hear–You are wearing the wrong kind of clothes for this weather. Something must be wrong with you. You are not doing it right. You are strange. You are different.
I know this is also the filter that I have had in my life. The belief that something is wrong with me or that I am doing something wrong. And when it starts to come up, I think I start to judge the people around me. Like the way I was welcomed to the meeting, these judgements can be subtle but very harmful. I catch myself inside my head thinking–Why is he being so ___? Why can’t he be more ___? If he were just more ___, then it would be better/easier. Essentially, I am sending out the energy to the other person that they are wrong; that they are not okay just as they are. Even if I don’t say these things out loud, they will be felt.
Judgement can quickly seep into blaming. It’s all his fault that I am ___ or that I can’t ___. He is to blame for this difficult/uncomfortable situation. But of course, when we start pointing a finger a someone else, there are three pointing back at us. Focusing on the other person’s faults or weaknesses can be a convenient way to avoid our own issues. For example, I am generally a quiet person and I often have a hard time speaking up so when someone is doing most of the talking or interrupting me, it’s easy for me just to blame them for being too talkative or rude. Then I remember that I am 50% of the problem, too. I need to be more assertive and stand up for myself. I need to be more confident.
But we must be careful here as well. I have recently caught myself saying to myself in the morning–My biggest problem is that ____. I just need to____ and then everything will be perfect. For instance: My biggest problem is that I need to be more confident. I just need to assert myself more and then I would be more successful and everything would be great! My biggest problem is that I can’t get up early enough. If I could just get going by 7am, then life would be so much better and I could do so much more!
Again, I am focused on fixing. Whether we are caught up in trying to fix a problem, fix ourselves or fix others, it is basically a way of rejecting the present. No one wants to admit that we reject ourselves or others but we all do it. Whenever we wish that we were a little smarter, a little more disciplined, a little healthier, we are rejecting how we are in this present moment. Our souls ARE perfect. We ARE ok just as we are now.
When we judge and reject, we create separation. We are either saying that we are somehow flawed or inadequate or not like everyone else or we are saying that another person is different, wrong, not like us. We can also create separation from life when we start saying that a situation is wrong or something needs to be fixed.
I read a phrase, I think it was from Thich Nat Hanh –Just Like Me. As I first sat in the Toastmasters meeting, I thought–I am not like these people. I am quiet and introverted. They are more confident and outgoing. They are talkers so this comes naturally for them. Maybe I don’t belong here. I don’t know if I can do this. Luckily, I had a deeper instinct that was telling me–Yes, Donna, you are doing exactly what you need to do. You CAN do this. You have something to say! And I remember the power and passion I had on the dance floor, expressing myself with my body. I certainly had a whole lot to say!! I AM an expressive person. I am out of my comfort zone but so is everyone else. Indeed, I WAS just like them!
By accepting and loving ourselves just as we are now, we are giving a great gift to the world because that acceptance and love will flow out of us in every interaction we have. Never underestimate the power that you have to affect those around you! When I am cuddling with our visitor cat, Max/Batman, I say to him either out loud or in my head–I love you, I love you. I realize that I can do this for myself and everyone I encounter to!! When we are projecting this kind of love and acceptance, we DO in fact change the world for the better. We create a space for loving connection. When we can say YES to the moment and embrace wholeheartedly what is before us, we become, as Tara Brach would put it, intimate with life.
Believe it or not, I just returned from the grocery store and heard this song while I was shopping. (This was after I wrote, “acceptance and love will flow out of us…”)
Sing along…it will make you feel good!!