From a few of the books I've been reading, I'm seeing how our emotions are often directly connected to whatever physical pain we're experiencing. Yesterday I decided to go deeper and evaluate what emotions I need to be dealing with based on what showed up on Barbara's computer on Wednesday: Epstein Barr Virus (yep, it's back!), circulation, spleen, head and neck pain, and lungs. Sure we could say that rheumatoid arthritis causes poor circulation or that I'm stressed and that causes EBV to flare up as well as headaches and neck pain, but why am I stressed? Why am I allowing myself to feel stress? We could also assume that my lungs are a little clogged from the winter inversion and my daily commute to a big city, but what is really causing these malfunctions in my body? Why is my body weak enough to allow these environmental or genetic problems to effect me?
So I did more research and gathered all of the emotions that could be linked to these physical malfunctions and reflected on what I've most recently been experiencing in life. What I found that matched was the following: fear, resisting love from others, anxiety and pressure, stress from responsibilities, not being sincere with myself and others because of lack of self-love, not allowing myself to feel others' love/feeling rejected, fear, resentment, not feeling approval, hurts from love, feeling life is monotonous, not being able to do things my way, inflexible state of mind, moving under pressure, wanting to let feelings out but don't dare, tension, discouragement, not enjoying my job but I can't quit, putting myself down, and feeling I must prove myself. Yikes. What does that all mean, and can I really admit that all of that gunk is mine? To be honest, it takes a lot of courage to admit we've got a lot of nonsense going on inside our heads. You are all my confidantes now because these are not things I like to admit. But I'm beginning to see that I'm not alone. None of us are immune to negative self-talk and feelings of inadequacy, but by becoming more aware of our tendencies we can help alleviate the emotional and physical pain.
So next I did some more reflecting and thought, "What is the positive alternative to all of these negative emotions?" I concluded that it was LOVE and PEACE. I then dug a little deeper to discover that my need for peace actually stems from stress and anxiety to perform because of needing approval. If I felt more LOVE, I wouldn't need to perform and feel like I have to be perfect to get it. Thus, LOVE is the true answer! The Beatles were right—all you need is love. LOVE is the only true medicine.
Last night I finished Guidepost #2, "Cultivating Self-Compassion" in the book The Gifts of Imperfection and that got me thinking about the root of the antithesis of LOVE. For me that root is perfectionism. This basically means 1) needing approval, acceptance and to feel good enough and 2) fear of judgment, blame, and shame. It's that feeling that in order to feel or deserve love you have to earn it.
So since I now know that LOVE is the only true medicine, I decided to list all of the moments people showed me love yesterday—all the hugs, the "I love yous," the smiles, the little acts of kindness, the moments of acceptance, the acknowledgments that I exist and matter. And then I thought back to how I felt in each one of those moments. I realized that in quite a few I was quick to deny the love or discount it or challenge it. Why?? Why do we often feel unworthy of love? That's something we all have to uncover and understand for ourselves.
For me Jesus Christ is the ultimate source of love, so this morning I decided to list the ways He showed love. Teaching, healing, performing acts of kindness, working miracles, seeing and hearing people that others didn't, forgiving, accepting, seeking out "lost sheep," believing in people, inviting people to follow Him, making time for people, empathizing, sharing His gifts, being Himself, being self-compassionate, connecting with people, washing his apostles' feet, mourning with those who were sad, being patient, speaking truth, being courageous, caring for His mother, talking to and playing with the children, chastising when the circumstances required it, and being selfless in everything He did. How was it possible for Christ to give LOVE without limit?
It's one thing to know that LOVE is the true medicine, but without knowing how to allow it into our lives, it means nothing. I decided that Christ's ability to give and receive LOVE came down to three things: 1) He knew who He was; 2) He understood His earthly mission; and 3) He had appropriate expectations. So in order to let LOVE in, we must know who we are and our true worth; we have to understand what great purpose we have in this life; and we need to recognize that everyone is imperfectly human, so we can't have faulty expectations of not only others' abilities but our own abilities as well.
I don't know about you, but I feel exhausted now! Excited to be getting more answers but drained. I think I need to do some more internalizing and processing and planning to know how to put this all into action. These roots stretch deep, and this post is only the tips of the branches.