“You are the one you have been waiting for.“Byron Katie
Everything flourishes in the nourishment of our appreciation. If we are interested in greater flourishing in our lives, it will surely serve us to surrender the burden of incessant goals, shoulds, aspirations, and the need for accomplishments. We can release the litany of ideas about what we must have and need to fix, who we should be, and whose permission we might require before we can be grateful for who we are. We can even set down many of the confines of how we have learned to identify ourselves in the world. We do not need to do, have, or be anything to be worthy of receiving our own acceptance and kindness. Instead, we can turn towards ourselves, extending the gifts of more merciful appreciation for every aspect of who we are, exactly as we are. All of it. Here. Now. Perfectly imperfect. Imperfectly perfect.
But before any efforts toward self-improvement…there is great wisdom in first learning to compassionately accept and attentively appreciate ourselves for the great fullness and truth of who we are and how we got here.
It is hugely human – and culturally encouraged – to want to work on, change, refine, and try to “better” ourselves. But before any efforts toward self-improvement, personal transformation, or transcendence, there is great wisdom in first learning to compassionately accept and attentively appreciate ourselves for the great fullness and truth of who we are and how we got here. We are well-served by relating to ourselves with wide-open eyes and hearts, and with a sweeping and inclusive embrace of the many aspects of ourselves we may have been inclined to disavow or that others have predisposed us to disown. The exiled parts. The pathologized ways of being. The marginalized feelings. The hidden hurts. The judged sensitivities. We discover a gracious capacity for empathy when we learn to lean into our hurt places with the tender curiosity and care of a close friend.
The recognition that the shared human condition is one of vulnerability can offer great relief and peace: the ways in which we experience ourselves as “other,” broken, and/or deficient are sadly more “normal” than not and are often a source of our deepest shared experience and connections with others. Many of us long suffer feeling “other” and then feeling more “other” for feeling other, or feeling bad about ourselves for feeling bad. Fear of not doing enough translates into not being enough. Doing something wrong can make us feel there is something wrong with us or that we are wholly wrong. Judging, compartmentalizing, and begrudging ourselves can lead to more of the same. The practice of intervening in these self-judgments – and in the judgment of our judgments – with unconditional acceptance, appreciation, and compassion is the path of self-befriending.
We can practice beholding rather than belittling, befriending rather than begrudging.
When we think about befriending ourselves, we can approach the practice as an unfurling experience, a slow and steady unfolding toward unconditional love. We can lean in, listen deeply, attend to ourselves patiently, and hold what is revealed with interest and curiosity. We can delight in discovering and naming our unique quirks, idiosyncrasies, anomalies, eccentricities. We can offer compassion and tenderness toward that which is challenging. We can practice beholding rather than belittling, befriending rather than begrudging. We can hold ourselves as we want to be held, as we were once held, and as we can sometimes feel ourselves held in the largest embrace of felt-belonging and Oneness.
One way to initiate ourselves into the practice of befriending is to explore and come to know ourselves as if beholding an exquisite newborn. Our essential nature is so much more available to us in the state of infancy. If we can come to treat ourselves with the unconditional tenderness and cherishing that we bring to a new life, we can know ourselves anew. To become – and remain – incarnate is nothing short of miraculous on so many levels. It could take our breath away on a regular basis to revel in our magnificence – yes, even in the midst of our messiness. If we hold our vulnerabilities and sensitivities as sources of rich information about how we deserve and need to be treated, and if we honor ourselves with compassionate care, we can forge an abiding friendship that will deliver blessings into every aspect of our life, and into the lives of others.
It is commonly said that you cannot love others until you love yourself. The experience of love being unavailable to those who do not first love themselves – giving, receiving, embodying – is in truth more likely a matter of degree. But in the big picture of life, why not be available to share love to the greatest degree possible? Hence, learning and leaning into the opportunity to offer love’s key ingredients – compassion, kindness, and appreciation – to ourselves is a highly worthwhile focus for learning how to be with others. The committed practice of unconditional self-befriending is the formative ground for the qualities and capacities we will bring to all our circles of relationships, to living out our life in all its manifestations and moments, and to our ability to offer ourselves fully to truly loving the world.
Explore a self-healing practice: Just Enough.
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I am so grateful to discover this part of my self – for a long time I could not put into words, trying to articulate this “Just enough” self. You help me to see, hear, feel and touch my inner self – gently and reverently… Thank you so much for sharing your gift and wisdom.
I also would like to know more about “spiritually-based social change.” Thank you Kristi.
Blessing and gratitude.
Kristi, I never remember to visit this area of the site. I am thinking I will print this out somehow and read it every morning for awhile. Beautifully written and much needed words. I look forward to your book!
Oh Pilgrim – thank you so much! And thank you for finding yourself at home throughout the many riches of this online sanctuary. There are so many places to discover nourishment, and to connect with the nourishment of your own heart. Keep coming back! With appreciation for all your forms of presence – K
Thanks, Kristi, for bringing this truth to me today.
Laurie – You are so very welcome. I am so happy when my words are resonant for others. Thank you for bringing your truth forward for me today. All praise the gifts of reciprocity. Gratefully – K
Beautifully and thoughtfully written wisdom. Thank you. I needed this today.
Thank you so much for your kind praise. I am in the midst of writing a book on grateful living and you have given me encouragement to carry on! I cannot thank you enough for this gift and I am so glad that my words “spoke” to you when you needed them. Blessings – K
Oh, I do hope you press on with the writing of your book, and I look forward to reading it. Namaste.
Your beautifully written wisdom piece brings me home, sets me to ground, waters my soul, reconciles my divisions, resets my sails. Thank you Kristi.
Blessings to you Elaine for your kind comment. I am so deeply gratified that this invitation and articulation had such profound impact on you. That says a great deal about you… Warmly – K
Thanks, Kristi. The timing and thoughtfulness of your words are just perfect. I’ll carry them with me on a hike into the Colorado foothills this morning.
Thank you Miguelie – A day of hiking: what a beautiful way to befriend yourself and our beautiful Earth. Many Blessings. K
Kristi, I read this while listening to a Leonard Cohen CD. I love Leonard Cohen. Today is my 77th birthday and the sentence in your essay that stands out for me is “If we hold our vulnerabilities and sensitivities as sources of rich information about how we deserve and need to be treated, and if we honor ourselves with compassionate care, we can forge an abiding friendship that will deliver blessings into every aspect of our life, and into the lives of others.” I have said for many years that another word for incarnation is vulnerability.. And, I believe we are all called to be incarnate. I deeply appreciate your essay. It’s a birthday gift for me. Blessings, Carol Conner
Happy birthday Carol. Your mention of which birthday reminds me to honour my own good age of 71. I will be pondering your conflation of incarnation with vulnerability as I lean into my seventies. Thank you for contributing.
thanks for your response…Blessings, Carol
Happy 77th Carol!
Happy Birthday Carol. What a gift to listen to Leonard Cohen in celebration. Many thanks for being here and for being a friend of gratefulness. With all best wishes and many, many thankful returns. K
Happy birthday Carol!
Let me say that I miss you, your thoughtful posts. They have always been inspiring for me.
What a beautiful thing to say. Thank you.
Happy Birthday, Carol! I hope you had a wonderful day!? Blessings to you in the year ahead.
As Br David said in the previous “Love provides the meaning.” then the purpose ( of anything and everything ) becomes obvious.
Thank you Ed. Indeed. Indeed. Love provides the meaning. Seeing the bridges between these things means a lot – thanks for the connection.. In our shared devotion to the sacred. K
Dear Kristie, your item is the right gift for my summer. I think I will meditate on your words and suggestions and I will kindly befriend myself in a daily practice. Many blessings!
Blessings to you Anna. How wonderful to hear that this idea of self-befriending will be a practice for you. Please let us know how it goes for you. Grateful love – K
Yes Kristi, I will write something in the Lounge. Thank you for your answer!
You are a gift! With a hand on my heart I thank you for nourishing us, this sacred community, with your wisdom, compassion and tender loving-kindness. With a an abundance of appreciation, XO SR
Serafina – You are such a gift yourself. With my hand on my heart, I bow to your inspiration and loving example. Gratefully – K
Thank you for this lovely essay. It was exactly what I needed to read this morning.
Francine – I am so happy to hear that these words spoke to what you needed. What a gift to be able to offer something that goes directly to the heart of the matter. Thank you for your comment and for all of the ways that you show up for gratefulness in your life. K
Dear Kristi, thanks so much for your story by which you lead to the essence of loving myself and others. Not very new. A n d how you composed it and lead into it as a Part of Journey is wonderful and I am loving it so much. Easily I can use this as a part of my (new) Affirmation and applying the “just enough exercise” as a way how-to.
In particular I like that part, when you describe these exiled parts also as parts which are carrying potential and not conditions (first you have to heal fully and then….) for expanding my “Being”/skills…… for relating differently to mySELF and to the OTHER.
Love it. Much thanks to you and your skill to write so invitationally, intentionally and evokative.
Dear Sieger – Thank you for your thoughtful comment.. I am so glad that this piece and this practice resonated for you. Please continue to explore the riches of this never-ending work of self-befriending, and keep in touch. Blessings – K.
Thanks dear Kristi for your encouraging response. Yes I will continue to explore and coming back to share. walk well S.
These words ‘from the heart’ are a power-full and loving re-Minder. (Such a beautiful way to start my day 🙂
Thank you !
PS – Looking forward to meeting you in person in Nov. !
Dear Teria – Thank you so much for your kind comment. I hope you find that these words continue to enrich your days. And I am delighted to hear that we will be meeting you at the workshop at Kripalu in November! How wonderful. Blessings upon blessings. K
Dear Kristi, your essay is SO beautiful and speaks to the heart that is beyond words! The majority of my life I had very low self-esteem and it is only in the last few years that I have come to accept and love myself as God created me. Your essay is one I will read again and again. Thank-you from my heart! My deepest gratitude to you and all at gratefulness.org! My life has been transformed by your site. God bless you.
Peace and love, Sheila?
Sheila – Your beauty shines forth in everything you offer to us, including these words. Thank you so much for your friendship and your presence. You are a true gift to all of us and to our work. With grateful love – Kristi
Thank-you, Kristi for your kind and beautiful reply! Your words touched my heart.? Namaste.☮