[Healing Words] I just wanted you to know.

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Every day, I see a lot of women that I think are prettier than me.

I used to let this crush me. Hell, I still do, but it’s not as destructive as it used to be. I went through an eating disorder in my teens, and as I got older and hungrier, I did the best I could to shut these thoughts out. I avoided and ignored them like they were telemarketers. “I’m not listening,” I said, as I ate the cake. “I can’t hear you,” I thought, as I opened the Pepsi. They came out in my subconscious. The pit of my stomach filled with dread any time I was out with friends and someone said, “Picture time!” Often, after the photo was snapped and shown to everyone, I sneaked away to cry.

I went from hardly eating at all to bingeing alcohol and food, convinced that I was disgusting and would never be any other way, no matter what I did. As I matured more into my spirituality and grew into self-love, I stopped doing these things because I knew they were not good for my health, physical or emotional.

I sucked my thumb as a child, and my two front teeth were all out of position. I had the income to work on this in my mid-twenties, and that is the journey you see me on now. The picture above is the first filter-less, fully facing the camera and smiling picture of me in probably years. It may even be the first one of me like this since I was a child. Even while I have my reservations about the photo, I consider it a success that I posted it.

For most of my life, no one said anything about my teeth, except children. “What happened to your teeth?” Or worse, “What’s wrong with your teeth?” I tried to tell myself that children don’t know any better, but I could never recall a time as a child when I saw someone who looked different and I asked them why. I didn’t question things like that. As a child, I witnessed unconditional acceptance toward me from certain people in my life, and I suppose that’s where I gravitated in my own views of other people and the world. It’s why I have the healing spirit that you see in me today. I am grateful for those people who accepted me and never made me feel like there was something wrong with me. I wonder where I would be without their subtle but infinitely good influence on my life.

Before I reached my teens, I cut my hair. People thought I was a boy. I guess I wanted to disappear, and I felt like cutting my hair would make me more invisible. I’ve noticed that as I’ve gotten older, whenever I go through something emotionally trying, I get that urge to cut my hair again. I get the urge to disappear. I don’t do it, but the desire is still there.

The girls in my school were beautiful. Some of them had long and silky blonde hair, or they were already using makeup and looked like adults. I wasn’t sure how to look like they did. I felt like it wasn’t my place to. I know that sounds strange, but it’s the truth. They were them, and I was me. I didn’t belong. I did what I could to make myself as small as possible.

My sister showed me how to use makeup when I was about fourteen. I enjoyed using it, but I never had the motivation to get good at it or look up makeup tutorials on YouTube. I just didn’t care that much. I never have. I’m not anti-makeup; I’m glad it’s an option. An appreciation for it has been something that also came more with age, but I still don’t care that much. If I don’t feel like wearing it, I don’t.

It’s the same way with exercise. There are some days when I’m angry or sad, and running feels therapeutic. I don’t do it because I need to “keep my figure” or “burn fat.” I do it because I want to. I do it to stop myself from punching walls or hurting myself. Otherwise, I don’t care.

Then there are times that I care too much. I see someone who looks normal and even beautiful in photos. Someone that everyone likes, someone that gets 100+ likes on every photo. Social media can hurt sometimes. It’s not my enemy, but I am learning when I need to log off.

I think a lot of people feel this way. People who more obviously fit today’s standards of beauty, even. Maybe the people who get the most likes on their photos feel it the most – that pressure to continue to fit those standards. Maybe sometimes they want to cut their hair too, or they want to not care as much, or they’re bored when they watch makeup tutorials. But they don’t feel like they can stop, because more people are paying attention to them.

I enjoy being invisible, for the most part. It feels more comfortable than being seen. It’s why I stopped posting so much personal material like this. When I wake up with something like this on my heart, I think it is because sharing it will help someone. I’m processing for the collective.

It’s not often that I say it, that I say, “I’m not as pretty as she is.” I don’t usually express this insecurity in a straightforward manner or a way that makes sense. I think my masculine side is actually much more dominant than my feminine side. My first instinct is to crush these emotions, to pretend they aren’t there. To talk about something, anything, other than this feeling.

I feel it, though.

I feel it deeply.

I just wanted you to know.

[Healing Words] Meeting People Where They Are

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Meeting people where they are — what does that mean? It means you take your own ideas and feelings about how someone else is behaving out of the equation, and you factor in how they might be feeling when they take a certain action. It doesn’t mean you have to agree with them, but it gives you a lot more clarity when interacting with them. It also gives you the ability to respond rather than react.

As a real-life example, and because we tend to empathize better with animals or children than we do with adult humans, I took my cat to the vet this week. She had a UTI. The doctor gave her a shot of antibiotics. My cat hates going to the vet, as most of them do. I paid her bill while feeling grateful that the problem could be resolved, that the bill was less than I had expected it to be. When I got home with my cat, she gave me the cold shoulder for a while. She was not her usual affectionate self and seemed to want me to leave her alone. If I treated her as we sometimes treat fellow adults, I might have felt annoyed that I went to the trouble and paid money to help her when she didn’t appreciate it. I might have told her she was an ingrate and given her the cold shoulder back. Instead, I gave her extra love and attention, and I told her that I was sorry for putting her through that stress, but I just wanted her to feel better. (For those of you who think I am nuts, I know she understands when I talk to her.)

I could imagine going to the vet from her perspective. I took her to a place that smelled funny, where there were lots of barking dogs and other cats. She had to sit on a cold table while strangers touched and prodded her and said things she didn’t understand. Even worse, they poked her with a sharp needle! That hurt. She just wanted to go home. She wasn’t feeling 100%, but anything was better than what she went through on that table with strange people and animals everywhere. I understood what was probably going through her mind, and I met her on that level with compassion, as I would have wanted to be met if I were in her place.

It’s not as easy to do this with humans. We do not always have visibility into the lives of others. All of us possess the ability to empathize, but for some, that ability is not well-developed. Not all of us can hear the subtext behind what people say. Many of us are too short-sighted or self-focused to see things from different perspectives. The thing to keep in mind is, we never know for certain the inner world of another. We tend to jump to the worst conclusion possible when someone annoys us: they’re lazy, they’re stupid, they’re careless, etc. It is important to break out of that knee-jerk, worst-case response. When someone does something that bothers you, try to imagine the best possible version of that person, and what that version of the person’s reasoning might be. Whether or not this “best version” scenario is true, if you imagine it, you may find a person’s behavior less triggering and formulate a much better, more patient response to them.

We tend to jump to the worst conclusion possible when someone annoys us. It is important to break out of that knee-jerk, worst-case response.

As another example, after my mom passed away, I somehow got it in my head that no one understood my grief and they didn’t care to. That their apparent lack of visible compassion was because they lacked sensitivity and didn’t bother to think about how I was feeling. As a result, I was angry with most people I interacted with. I wanted them to go away and leave me alone, but they didn’t, which only made me angrier. As the months went on, I realized that yes, people can be insensitive, but it is not because they are doing it on purpose or don’t care. They usually have their own stuff going on, or empathy is not their strength. They forgot that I was struggling or just weren’t thinking about that. We all have different spiritual abilities; not everyone needs to be a healer or be able to understand how others feel. That is just how I am, and I am a blessing, as others are blessings with their own unique gifts. No one’s ability should be taken for granted or assumed to be present for everyone.

Now take this example and apply it to the people who piss you off the most. Maybe it’s someone with vastly different political views. Maybe it’s a parent, a friend, a significant other. Take a behavior of theirs that drives you crazy, and notice your knee-jerk explanation for why they act that way. “He doesn’t care.” “She doesn’t listen.” “He’s a terrible person.” “She’s a bitch.” Think back to a time when that person acted loving or generous toward you, or if you can’t recall a time like that, imagine that person as an innocent child. Sometimes children say things and don’t know any better — adults can be the same. People may lack maturity or sensitivity, and while you should still set boundaries with those people, it is not necessary to react to or emotionally invest in everything they say or do. This isn’t so much for their sake as it is for preserving your energy and vibration as you go about your day.

A funny thing happens, too, when you can start seeing all the good potential in a person, even if it feels like you are imagining it at first. If you can come to genuinely see that potential and believe in it, the external reality tends to line up with that. People start showing up for you as these better versions of themselves.

Give it a try! See what happens. I hope this post has been insightful and helpful to you.