Monday Musings Part Twelve: Dying to Live

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Dying to Live


How happy we are with ourselves, directly influences how happy we are with the world around us.

If we dislike ourselves, then we will be equally dissatisfied with the things and folks in our lives.

Without first loving ourselves, we cannot ever love anyone else. Not truly. It will always have strings attached—conditions. We will always need something from the other person, or the world at large. That isn’t loving (or living) in its truest sense.

Inadequacy makes us needy. Nothing is ever enough. The trouble is, that’s a bottomless pit that we can never fill. And, in turn, we behave selfishly—usually unintentionally.

Inadvertently, in our neediness and inadequacy, we push away the very thing that we want. In my early twenties, I used to live in such a pit. And if I didn’t receive the love I felt I needed, I became angry. In behaving angrily much of the time, and never feeling satisfied, I pushed away the very thing I craved: Love. Ironically, I lived my life simultaneously pulling toward me and pushing away.

Much of the time, it felt like I had a red-hot iron ball stuck in my throat that I could neither swallow nor spit out. No wonder my life felt uncomfortable and like a bad fit.

At first, I believed that the world had to change. It was the world that was this big, nasty, uncaring place. Only after a couple of years of Zen monastic training, did I realise that, in actual fact, I had to change.

The only way to change my world was to change myself.Zen Stones for Monday Musings

In my early life, the ridicule had come from without. However, quite unwittingly, I continued that ridicule into my young-adult life. I turned from victim to perpetrator. What a shock I had when I first realised that. No longer did the people around me bring me down, undermine me, or belittle me. No, I did that all to myself with the things I told myself constantly. I had become my own worst critic.

No way to live.

Only I could change that. Only I could make that choice: Judge/jury/executioner OR Love of my life? Remember, we make our own world, and then we live in it. (See Monday Musings Part Two.)

Change comes from self-love not self-loathing.

Before I could make any progress, I first had to let go of all the negativity I fed myself each and every second of every single day. This involved seeing it, then learning to see it without adding judgement (more negativity, which would just feed the inadequacy), and finally to just leaving it be. I didn’t need to deny it, or smother it, but just accept it without believing it. I learned to live with a new perspective.

What a life-changer. 

In effect, I had to die (to my old life) so that I could live life new.

In the wise words of Zen:

‘You, as much as anyone in the universe, deserve your love and respect.’

If you’ve missed my previous Monday Musings, you can find the links here: 🙂