“The idea of love in shamanism is to honor your existence,” Shaman Durek. I felt it was appropriate to change the tune a bit, especially after talking about struggle with self-harm. That is an extreme example of the lowest place we can get to when we don’t love ourselves. In reference to Durek’s quote, when we loathe ourselves enough to do harm, it is a complete dishonor of our existence. Speaking directly from experience, I can say that is true. It is also true that when you don’t love yourself, you can’t love others. There is the illusion of love when we attach and give freely to someone else, but it isn’t love when you give your energy to someone in exchange for the crumbs of life.
I’ve spent many years working on coming back from those depths. It has been some of the most painful and soul crushing work while simultaneously elevating me to new heights. Learning about love is 100% an inside job. I can say it is a work in progress but it feels so different on this side. I look at myself differently. To learn to love, you HAVE to look at yourself differently. You have to learn to find your value over waiting for someone to tell you you’re worthy. And you have to learn to trust yourself. The longest relationship we will ever have is with ourselves so break the dysfunction. The more we honor ourselves, the more we are able to honor others.
I struggled for years with social anxiety as well as an inherent distrust of people. All of that came from the belief I needed to prove myself to everyone…all the time. Also the dysfunction of expecting others to make me happy if I did something for them. That is not honoring existence. That is performing for acceptance and it is exhausting. The hardest part is to stop and get comfortable being with yourself. As a society we are trained to believe that activity is synonymous with productivity so taking any time to stop goes against what we were taught as normal. But stopping IS the key. Being able to pause and recognize what we really need is key.
I think that is the point we often miss: knowing who we are and living in our authentic integrity is what honoring our existence is about. We were never meant to follow the same path. We were meant to complement each other, not complete each other. In order to do that we need to freely express who and what we are without reservation. We need to see the value in what others can do. But that still starts with us. It starts with seeing our own value and knowing we are able to contribute to other people and society as a whole. That is when we feel comfortable enough to take up the space we were given merely by existing.
So take the time to do what you want to do with your one life. The only thing holding you back are the limits of your own mind. Be free, be wild, be love, be fulfilled, take that energy and cherish every second of your life because to do anything less is to snub your nose at the most precious gift anyone will every receive: the chance to live. Remember, living and existing are two different things. We can live the same day on repeat for nearly a century and that is not living—that is only existing. Thrive and enjoy and love—that is how you honor your life.