Inside Out

photoOver the recent months, I have taken a slight step back in my life.There are quite a few things, “under construction” and have been for a long time.The difference now is that I am more aware of the importance of starting construction from inside out.

It is not like I have never looked within or worked on my inner self before.I really have.In fact, I honestly would like to work on the “outside” more.The things people can see.Visible things.I am beginning to see that those start from within too.

During the past year, I have had a better grasp on what it means to love yourself.It is something I had heard before but never deeply understood on an emotional level.People would tell me I was too hard on myself.I heard what they were saying but I really didn’t get it.I didn’t cut myself any slack.For example, when I started teaching yoga, it was a completely different experience for me.I had never taught before even though I suspected I had an instinct for it.There was a great deal to learn.When you start something new, especially as an adult, it’s difficult to start from the bottom.Your going to make mistakes.Your going to recieve criticism.One thing I realized is that not everyone knows how to give criticism.Sometimes people come off snotty or condesending without knowing it.Well, okay sometimes people are snotty and condesending and don’t really care.That is just the truth.Let’s be honest.It can be a challenge to take the criticism, see it for what it is, and not take it personally.When you love yourself, it becomes easier.You can listen more and not be so defensive.Then you begin to see people around you who don’t have any self love and it makes more sense.They are”running on empty” and looking for something external to build them up.Unfortunately, this can cause those people to tear others down in an attempt to feel better about themselves.It never works.

I have worked in restaurants most of my life.It’s hard, often thankless, work but it has supported my art and let me tell you, I have learned a lot about people as a result.I have watched people walk in who have already decided that they are going to have a miserable experience and there is very little, if anything, you can do about it.Come to think of it, teaching can be like that too.Actually, anything can be like that.I have played shows where the audience, or someone in the audience, was not going to have a good time.The thing about music is that it touches you on a deep level.I have seen people literally get up and leave as soon as things start rolling.Once others start enjoying themselves, getting on their feet, and dancing, they hit the door.Then the show really starts.If you are miserable with yourself and your life, it taints all your experiences.Again, from the inside out.

I once heard a psychologist friend of mine talking about how the work that you do on yourself in counseling is something no one can take away from you.I am beginning to see that more and more.When I was younger and struggling with suicidal depression, I  really didn’t see the point in counseling.I guess I wasn’t open to it.I took more of a spiritual route which did help, no doubt.Nevertheless, you can be familiar with certain spiritual truths and not really know them.I could accept that God loved me, at least on a mental level, but I had no idea what that really meant unless I was in some state of bliss or euphoria.Those moments can be fleeting.They come and go.It takes time to renew your mind, recondition yourself, and unlearn many of the messages we have received from our upbringing or society.

This is where I am now.I am in the process of weeding out those ideas about myself that seem stuck to my subconscious like a layer of silt.That brings me to an amusing story from my childhood.Many, many, years ago, my aunt and uncle gave my family a television set because, as they said, there was “something wrong with the picture.” In those days, my uncle was fond of smoking cigars.Wouldn’t you know it, my mother wiped down the picture screen and removed a layer of film left by the smoke.The picture was much clearer after that.

I haven’t thought of that story for a long time but it seems to illustrate how our vision can be clouded.It takes some effort on our part to remove the layers and limitations that can accumulate on our mind and heart.These can be a result of our environment and we don’t even realize what has “stuck” to us and it isn’t even us.Unlike the T.V. screen, it is more of an inside job.We polish our “mind’s eye” and can view our lives , and others in our lives, with more clarity.

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