Looking within

“There’s a reason that you can learn from everything: you have basic wisdom, basic intelligence, and basic goodness. Therefore, if the environment is supportive and encourages you to be brave and to open your heart and mind, you’ll find yourself opening to the wisdom and compassion that’s inherently there. It’s like tapping into your source, tapping into what you already have. It’s the willingness to open your eyes, your heart, and your mind, to allow situations in your life to become your teacher.” ~Pema Chodron

It’s funny how often a Pema Chodron quote appears in my life right after I’ve experienced some big shift that I am still in the process of integrating. In this case, the quote above (from Start Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living (affiliate link)) appeared on my Facebook wall today while I’m still pondering and integrating the shift I am observing in the way that self-acceptance is making change possible that I talked about yesterday.

One of the pieces of this current shift that I didn’t mention in yesterday’s post is that I’m finding myself much less reliant on other people’s opinions of me to form my own opinion of myself. As I increasingly develop a sense of self-acceptance, I am noticing that I form my own opinion of my actions, my looks, my character, my words, my Self without stopping to see what anyone else thinks first. It’s not that I don’t care what other people think or that I don’t take any opinions they voice into consideration, it’s just that I don’t wait for that feedback before I make my own opinion anymore.

There was a time (not all that long ago) when I would have said (maybe not out loud) that I either didn’t have enough knowledge or wisdom or perspective to form an opinion or make a trustworthy decision without outside help. I was terrified to rely on myself for anything of substance; I shopped every decision around to get other people’s opinions on what I should do before I took a step.

As I’ve tapped into my source, though, I’ve discovered that everything I thought I needed (and didn’t have) is already there. I still sometimes check with others to get other perspectives and opinions—particularly in areas where I know I struggle or don’t have much experience—but I find that I no longer value those other opinions over my own. I measure everything I hear against my own inner knowing and trust what feels right.

This shift in learning to trust that I have what it takes already inside me coupled with my increased ability to view situations as a detached but curious observer has given me a much greater ability to learn from the situations I encounter on a daily basis. Because I am no longer pouring all of my energy into emotional self-doubt and self-criticism, I have a much greater ability to really stand back and observe, ask probing questions about my experience, and then check within to come to new understanding and decisions about what to do with what I have seen.

Oh sure, I still slide back into the old patterns often enough, so it’s not like I have this all together. But I am noticing that I spend more and more time in this new way of being, and as I do so, I am growing faster than I ever thought possible. I think I have finally created an environment for myself that is sufficiently supportive and encouraging to allow myself to open to what is already inside. In the process, I’m finding that there is a great deal more to me than I ever expected.

It’s still really quite an amazing experience!

A Note on Comments: A chrysalis is by nature a fragile and vulnerable place to be, so I am committed to keeping this a safe place for me and for my readers. Comments sharing your own journey, even if your experience is different from mine, are always welcome and encouraged. Expressions of support or encouragement are also welcome. Comments that criticize, disparage, correct, or in any way attempt to undermine the validity of another person’s experience or personal insight are not welcome here and will be deleted.