Whisper! Whisper! Whisper!
I know the girls are talking about me.
Whisper! Ellen! Whisper! Ellen!
They are definitely saying negative things about me. They’ve found out the truth about me – I’m an imposter, I’m no good at anything, and I am totally unworthy of their friendship and attention.
I got all that – from a whisper! Sadly, this is something that has happened to me many times. My deep fear of separateness from others and my own lack of self-worth have combined to create their own weather system of insanity. Storms of convincing diatribes against myself supposedly cast my way by trusted friends, coworkers, and strangers alike rain down upon me. But at least I have the leg up – I know what they’re saying before they know I know…
My natural intuition becomes muddled by the imposter syndrome – the false notions that I am really faking it – at being a good person, good employee, a friend worth having – and soon, everyone will find out the truth. Because I can be good at reading a room, reading a person when I’m in a right state of mind, I trick myself into believing that my worst thoughts about myself are not only true, but are shared by everyone around me. The “truth” is closing in around me, and I’m about to be found out.
This shame spiral, to me, is one of my most potent embodied experiences of fear. Fear reveals itself in the body as a feeling of separateness – otherness, differentness, a lack of belonging, being on the outside of the community and the beauty that life has to offer. Its opposite is love – togetherness, belonging, connectedness and home, that which all beings everywhere truly long for.
It’s only when the true words behind the whispers reveal themselves – usually something with no mal intent directed toward me or anyone – that my clouds part and the sun returns, and I realize how silly I had been! I can easily slip into further self-judgment – You always make everything about you, and end up suffering needlessly! They barely notice you, let alone waste their breath talking about you. It’s here, in this moment, that self compassion has the opportunity to step in and save me from fear. A moment of neutrality, where I see two paths before me – more fear and suffering in the form of self-degradation, or love and compassion in the form of self-forgiveness.
Fear must be forgiven to be transformed into love. Suffering can only be balanced and eradicated by compassion. We all have a choice, and when it arises we must have the clarity of mind to choose to lay down our negative self-talk and replace it with something much more soothing, something which we all need. Mark Twain wrote, “Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.” When it is our own heel that has crushed us, how much more powerful and sweet the scent of forgiveness can be! And, perhaps, harder to shed. But we have only to benefit from this pardoning, as in all cases of forgiveness. Self-forgiveness may be the most divine, because without it, how can we ever hope to extend that forgiveness outward to others?