I’ve been doing a lot of inner soul work. Working on self-care and self-actualization.
It is hard work. It takes time, energy and a whole lot of patience. Everyone will achieve their own results based on how much time, energy and determination they have in cultivating their own mind.
I am starting to see results but have been working on it for over 2 years now (Since something traumatic and painful happened in my life). Sometimes I hit it hard and other times I get caught up in this world, the daily grind, and don’t spend the amount of time I should on it.
I wanted to share some things I’ve learned. Not necessarily about myself, because that wouldn’t mean anything to anyone reading this, but about the process. And maybe a few ways I’ve benefitted, generally speaking.
1. Cultivating the mind takes a lot of time. Something most of us don’t feel we have enough of these days. And even if we do, quite frankly, there may be more exciting things to do that result in faster gratification. Those other things, whatever they may be, won’t bring long term, life-changing results though.
2. Cultivating the mind takes an extreme amount of patience. You won’t see results immeditaley. Sometimes it feels like there is no benefit at all and that’s all you are doing is dragging up old memories. Sometimes it feels like it would be easier to just keep pushing those memories aside. But that doesn’t really ever get us anywhere. We can’t advance past them if we can’t even look at them. Then, those memories come up anyway, when we least expect it. And they do affect us. They affect our well-being, happiness and overall health. They shape decisions we make and who we are as people. Have you ever heard of people putting up walls? Or not being able to trust again? That stems from not addressing the true issues. That’s not a happy or healthy way to live.
3. Cultivating the mind is painful. We are looking at ourselves in a totally different way. Asking ourselves why we react the way we do. Not just blaming someone else for our misery, sadness or anger but really asking ourselves “What is it about me that brought about that reaction? ” Remember, no one else is responsible for our happiness except us. No one can “make” us react or behave a certain way unless we allow it.
4. Practice makes perfect. In order to keep going with this inner mind/soul work, it is important to remember that there is a goal. If it takes so much time, the results are slow and it is painful – why do it? Well, after the tears, hours of meditation and investigation of what brought up certain thoughts, reactions or feelings, there is a sense of peace that cannot come any other way. It might only be for a moment but it is wonderful. There are insights, little ones and big ones, that we gain from this kind of work that can’t be learned any other way. The Buddha said that we alone must walk our path. No one can and no one may walk it for us. Only we can, through this kind of work, dig deep within ourselves, to learn about our nature and begin to change it for the better. Self reflection is so beneficial and rewarding. I used to think that looking at past hurts or digging into our childhood was psych-mumbo-jumbo. It’s not.
One general thing I learned recently is this: We can forgive someone for hurting us in the past, even if they were truly wrong and cruel. If we dig deep within and work on it, it can be done. However, even when we get to that point of truly forgiving them 100% and even wishing them well, it doesn’t stop the memories of what happened and how they hurt us. That part sucks. So here is where the insights come in. This is how we can bring what we’ve learned through that introspective work into real life. We consciously remember that we have forgiven them. We realize that this is just a memory, painful as it may be, and we choose to not relive it. We choose to not let that anger us or make us sad. The more and more we do this we begin to let it go and see it for what it is. It is a memory. That’s all. It is done. We have moved on. We have forgiven. We aren’t there anymore and do not need to relive it over and over again. We don’t need to drag those heavy memories around with us for the rest of our lives. That is us doing that. Not that person who originally caused us pain.
In Buddhism that’s called Double Dukkha. Someone hurt you which is the first dukkha (dukkha means suffering) but then we relive it. That’s the second dukkha. And guess what? Over time we relive it, that’s another dukkha in top of it. Yikes. Think of all the times we have caused our own suffering!
It is foolish for us to hold onto those old feelings. The Buddha also said that a fool is one who doesn’t ask forgiveness for something they’ve done which is wrong. A fool is also someone who, when asked for forgiveness, doesn’t give it.
So to me that means this: Even if that person who has hurt us has not asked us for forgiveness, that is on them. They are the fool. And we are not to associate with fools. If they have asked us for forgiveness, it is our duty to do so. Or we are the fool. So there is no reason to NOT forgive them. It is never right to hold a grudge. It is never right to continue to recreate the pain we originally went through over and over again. However, we need to get to the point of forgiving and ultimately ketting go, is worth spending the time on.
I hope that this has helped someone in some way.
In this blog, I am going to give examples of my personal self-care practices and ideas in case you don’t know where to start.
Oftentimes, we hear people say, “Just let it go” or “Forgive and forget. ” I believe there is something in us all that wants to do that. Maybe there is someone out there who can read those words, have them click snd automatically be able to do that. I doubt it but I guess it is possible. Most of us need more than those words. We need to know HOW. That’s what I would like to share. I’m not a psychologist. I am not a psychiatrist. I’m not a counselor. I am not a spiritual adviser. I am just a person who is getting through it myself. I am a work in progress also.
If something resonates with you and you can relate and wish to try any one of my methods, go for it. If not, that’s ok too. It is working for me though. If you have your own methods that work and you’d like to share, that would be wonderful also!
May you be happy and well.