This morning, I had a request from a client to write out “The Tracy Rules of Words to Live By” so she could “print them out and glue them to her wall… or maybe her forehead.” This is the same client who tends to label some of my more profound insights as “Tracy Mind-Bombs”.
I won’t lie…I absolutely love it. This kind of feedback is SO, incredibly validating. It was a great start to my day.
Because today happens to be “blog day” and I hadn’t yet had my “download” of inspiration regarding what to write about, I thought it was a perfect opportunity to honour my client’s request. The truth is, I’ve been in the process of developing a list of “Principles & Practices” for my Self-Love Workshops for over a year now and have been thinking about distilling them into brief paragraphs to make them more user-friendly for my clients and readers. On top of that, I’d finally have a (less personal) new article that I could publish exclusively to YourTango which is something that’s been on my “to do” list for some time and it would also be a great start to the “Self-Love Handbook” I’ve decided to write. Check, check and check!
Happy that most of the work for this article was already “in the can”, I decided to get to Rooster a little later than usual and spend more time chanting and meditating. I started the morning reading through my “Guide to the Future” horoscope for the rest of March and into April (by Jonathan Cainer) and then went upstairs to meditate. To get my energy flowing, I turned on Snatam Kaur (of course) and chanted with her while re-organizing the “Puja” where I keep all my sacred objects such as crystals, mala beads, spiritual, meaningful and symbolic “objets”, etc… When one of my favorite mantras, “Ek Ong Kar Sat Nam Siri Wahe Guru”, came on, I was inspired to explore the internet for some new ways to experience it. I discovered a bunch of things I didn’t know about the mantra as well as a tutorial video on how to chant it correctly vs “singing” it, as I do when I listen to Snatam. That was a very powerful experience and, after only 7 minutes or so of chanting it “properly”, I was in a full-on sweat! I still hadn’t meditated yet so, after that, I found an amazing guided Kundalini meditation to finish off the morning. In this midst of all of this, I was in such a state of bliss that I, quite spontaneously, found myself inspired to send a text to a particular friend, simply saying “I love you”.
I arrived at Rooster about an hour later than usual and, on my way inside, I noticed that the quote on the sandwich board outside was one of my faves by Leonard Cohen:
“There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”
I often find that the quotes on that board end up being apropos of whatever I’m writing about that day and, as I passed by, I briefly wondered how that particular quote would apply to today’s “list”.
When I got inside, I chatted with a few people I’ve come to know here and then settled down to write my “Tracy Rules of Words to Live By/Self-Love Principles & Practices” article. Just as I was about to cut and paste some of the material from my Self-Love Workshop on to the empty page, I heard the familiar, yet distinctly differing, chimes alerting me that I had received a text and an email at precisely the same time. If it had been one or the other, I probably would have ignored them until I was ready for a break but, because they came in concurrently, I was intrigued… and for good reason. As it turned out, it completely changed today’s topic.
Both the text and the email were from the same person. Even more interestingly was that they were from the friend I had texted a few hours earlier, saying “I love you”. I read the text first, which indicated that there was an email on it’s way and that it contained something that was very difficult for my friend to express. Even though my friend had reassured me that I should not be scared, my heart sank. My “default” thought was that I had done something wrong or offensive.
I opened the email, which was entitled, “truly ashamed” and went on to read what I can only describe as one of the most courageous acts of Self-Love I have had the honour of witnessing. I’m not sure my friend will be able to see it that way for a while but, trust me…allowing ourselves to be vulnerable enough to risk being transparent and admitting our own shame takes tremendous courage and if that isn’t Self-Love, I don’t know what is. It’s also often the first indication, whether we realize it or not, that we have embarked on a journey to become more authentic. In my book, cultivating authenticity is just another way of saying that we are ready to “show up and be seen” which can only happen if, on some level, we have made the decision to love ourselves more.
In the interest of my friend’s privacy I won’t to go into any further detail about the email (and I’ll be sure and send this draft for approval before posting) but I do want to address, more generically, what my friend and the rest of us, for that matter, embody when we embrace our own vulnerability as we face our deepest shame.
As it happens, I’m currently running a Daring Way™ Group (based on the research of Dr. Brené Brown) and one of the modules we studied yesterday was “The Myths of Vulnerability”. In it, Brené describes some of the common mistaken beliefs we have around vulnerability, one of which, is that vulnerability is weakness. The truth is that every courageous act could not exist without vulnerability. As Brené says, “Vulnerability is about the willingness to show up and be seen when there are no guarantees… and there is nothing more courageous than that.”
Another myth about vulnerability is thinking that we have a choice about whether or not we experience it. Brené tells us, “We can’t ‘opt out’ of vulnerability. To be human is to be vulnerable.”
Thirdly, we must realize that we can’t do it alone. It may be one of the most difficult things to be vulnerable in front of another person but it’s also the whole point of it. Brené explains that “It’s about getting to a place in our lives where we are very clear about the people who love us, not ‘despite’ our imperfections and vulnerabilities but ‘because’ of them.”
It goes without saying that I was honoured to know that my friend felt safe enough with me to be that vulnerable. Nobody knows better than me how hard that must have been. But I also know, from my own experience, that it’s a risk that is so worth taking. In the brief text exchange that followed, I said:
“My wish for you is that you come to the point where you fall in love with ‘you’ the way I have fallen in love with ‘me’.”
That is where Vulnerability, Courage and Authenticity lead us… and it’s a beautiful place to be.
For those of us who are just beginning to understand the benefits of being vulnerable, it might take some convincing, but the good news is that, in my friend’s case at least, the “cracks” in the old identity have already begun to form. With enough patience, commitment and nurturing, it won’t be long before the “authentic self” begins to emerge and becomes stronger.
I like to think that this day unfolded as it did because I have learned how to hold a sacred space for trust, acceptance, courage, vulnerability, authenticity and love, not only for myself but for others. My spontaneous text saying “I love you” to my friend opened a door that my friend found the courage to walk through. As intensely relieved as my friend must feel right now, I also feel incredibly validated.
Who knew, when I adopted the term “Self-Love” to describe a journey I embarked on only 18 months ago, that I would actually discover something this profound. I feel triumphant, and yet, still humbled by the process. It’s taken some time, a tremendous amount of courage and a great deal of commitment and effort, on my part, to become a person whom others can consider “safe”. Knowing what it feels like to be misunderstood/judged/condemned for speaking my truth to someone whom I hoped/expected/needed to hold that space for me only makes me more aware of how sacred a trust that is between two human beings.
Like my friend said, after reading this and giving me the “seal of approval” to publish it:
“I am glad that you are taking credit for how much I must have trusted you to be able to open up…it’s 100% endorsement of the fact that you are walking the walk!! I don’t know if I would have felt comfortable enough with you to have done that a year ago.”
“There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”
These are definitely words to live by.
And yes, they’re on my list.