When I wrote the German version of this post in December, I was sitting in the library and just thought that working on my „planned“ article doesn’t feel right at all. After meditating in the morning and doing some yoga, all of a sudden a lot of „negative“ feelings came up inside of me. I was feeling very lost, anxious, worried, worthless and somehow as if I had failed. My stomach felt tight and restricted and I was feeling a lot of tension and heat in my body. I asked myself why I was actually writing this blog. I asked myself if all the work I put into it makes any sense at all, if just a few people will read it. I asked myself what I am going to do in 2018, when my rehabilitation period comes to an end and I have to go back to work? I am not sure where I want to live, if I should leave Vienna and maybe move to Berlin. I asked myself if I am actually doing something useful and contributing to the world.
On top of that, I also felt guilty for having these feelings and worries in the first place. Isn’t it actually luxury that I am in this position and able to worry about such things instead of worrying for my survival, like I actually had to a year ago and many other people have to in this moment? And there were a lot of critical, intrusive, and condescending thoughts present. ‘’Why do I think I am in a position to write about mindfulness, healing and all this ‘positive’ stuff, after I had just spent a day on the couch, being depressed and distracting myself from these feelings by Binge-watching television series and surfing the internet?’’
A metaphor – The onion and the layer worker
In moments like these, I feel like I am back at the starting point of my journey and that no development has taken place. Still, I over criticize myself and bring myself down. I still have this feeling of not being enough, doing enough and there is this wish of being validated, liked and recognized by others. Since writing this blog, I seek this validation through “likes” or the number of people visiting the website. Then I asked myself if it wasn’t a bit of a paradox to write about mindfulness, self-compassion, empathy and healing, when I don’t live up to these principles myself.
Then I realized, through writing these lines that, I don’t really believe in those thoughts any longer. There are also other thoughts present. I am writing honestly about what the reality of my present moment looks like for me.What does it mean to be open and share my vulnerability with others? Inquiring these questions, instead of creating an idealized version of me, I believe, is actually quite a mindful thing and a very healing process.
Also during my life with cancer, there were moments of hope, confidence, and self-appreciation/ compassion, and there were other moments of worrying, fears, apathy, anger and pain. I remember a metaphor that I learned from Waltraud Eggenberger, an energetic healer I was working with some time ago. She offered me to think about myself and my healing process as an onion. There are many layers and we try to lift them and get closer and closer to the core. If “old” topics, thoughts or behavioral patterns show up again, it doesn’t necessarily mean that we didn’t progress or are failing. It just means that in the layer we are currently in, there is a task or learning experience to be learned. We have to accept it in order to make it deeper and deeper to the core of our being. In that sense we can call ourselves “layer workers”.
Social media – a challenge to staying present
In this emotional clutter, social media plays a very big role. I just re-opened a profile on Facebook last August after I didn’t use it for six or seven years. In November, I also opened a Facebook page for my blog. Since then, I am in a struggling relationship with Facebook. On one hand, social media is a great and almost a necessary way to connect with people and have an audience. That is also my goal, as I am very confident about the potential and value it can have for other people.
On the other hand, social media as a tool depends on coincidences (luck) and knowledge about marketing strategies. I am thinking a lot about what kind of “advertising” can be useful, so that more people may follow it. Then again, it is not my intention to sell something. I just want to let things flow and unfold on their own. Basically, I think about how I can follow my vision (this blog being of service for many people) mindfully. Maybe this article is also a contribution to the fruition of this vision?
The presence on Facebook triggers a lot of worries within me. How many people do I reach? How many people have to follow me so that “I” am successful? I compare myself with others and begin to judge and rate others. And then I think to myself “What the f*ck?! I really learned through cancer that it is absolutely useless to compare yourself to others. We are all unique, we start from different places and within different conditions and therefore comparison doesn’t make any sense. The more time I spend on Facebook, the more I compare myself to others and become more and more unhappy. There is a very nice short video dealing with this dilemma by Prince Ea. The title is “social media will fuck you up.’’ Prince Ea is a rapper and is very popular on social media. I like him. He produces smart short videos with healing, reasonable, motivating content about spiritual topics, life in general and social justice issues.
The American author Brené Brown writes that feelings of shame and vulnerability are the base for compassionate, loving and deep relationships between human beings. Currently I am reading her book “the power of vulnerability” and I’ve also watched a few Tedx talks and videos with her. Her Ted talk “the power of vulnerability” has been viewed millions of times. I absolutely love her. She says somewhere that we have to be vulnerable and take the risk of so called “failing”, if we dare to do something big. In that respect, we can never really fail. When we are doing something, that we are absolutely convinced about, when we dare to create something and be open and “out”, this is already success on our personal level. By daring to do it, we are valuing ourselves, our thoughts and experiences. It’s a courageous and brave thing to do. During the moments of writing this blog post I remembered this philosophy. Nothing can really go wrong, if I am convinced and joyful while writing this blog. And yes, I am still convinced 100%!
To cut a long story short
I recognize old patterns and remember that at the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter the slightest, what other people think of us. It doesn’t matter what kind of feedback we get. If we don’t try and learn to value, accept and love ourselves, all validation, praise or feedback from others is useless.
We will also not become „better“ persons or treat our fellow human beings better,if we have such internalized thought and emotional patterns. The first step to healing is to accept and welcome what is. On this website I write about different approaches in mindfulness, self compassion, self love and acceptance. I will share how different people and teachings help me again and again to remember this simple truth.
I want to thank you for reading these lines. For me it was very healing to write this unplanned and spontaneous article instead of continuing with the article I had planned. Maybe you recognized yourself a little bit in something I wrote about? I invite you too to welcome all parts of yourself and to remember that you don’t have to be alone with any feelings!
Brown, Brené (2017): Verletzlichkeit macht stark. Wie wir unsere Schutzmechanismen aufgeben und innerlich reich werden. Goldmann Verlag, München
(English title is “Daring greatly” from 2012)