For most of my life, I assumed there was something deep, dark and shameful about myself that would make people recoil in horror from me, if they really got to know me. This belief was unconscious, and it actually took a lot of work for me to admit this to myself. It was necessary, because I kept getting involved with people who didn’t value me. This included boyfriends, bosses, friends, family, casual acquaintances, and strangers. Even if they did value me, I was unable to accept their positive regard because secretly I believed I had some disgusting, unforgivable qualities which deserved repulsion.
These are strong words, I know. Disgusting, repulsion. And where do feelings like this come from? On a spiritual level, we all feel this way until we recognize what we already are — that is how the ego works. Lesson 93 from A Course in Miracles is called “Light and joy and peace abide in me” and yet it begins, “You think you are the home of evil, darkness and sin. You think if anyone could see the truth about you he would be repelled, recoiling from you as if from a poisonous snake.” Under the dark cornerstone of the ego thought system shines the light and joy and peace you truly are. But in order to reach this inner light, you must be honest with yourself first.
On a human level, there are all sorts of reasons to explain feelings of shame. For example, if our parents found changing our baby diapers disgusting, we could absorb deep feelings of shame and disgustingness. This happens automatically, at a pre-verbal stage of development, and we live with the deep, buried feeling that we are disgusting, dirty, smelly, etc. Obviously, there are many more emotional dynamics at play within families than just poopy diapers.
About 15 years ago, I had a revelation. I was in group therapy, feeling like a misfit, as did most people in the group (it makes me laugh now, but the majority of humans feel deeply misunderstood and alone). Someone had not shown up for group, and that person’s presence was still felt, even though he was not there. It occurred to me that even a person’s absence is presence … they are still part of the group even when not physically there. This got me thinking about a small dance performance I had done not long before. I was horribly nervous before going on, and a fellow dancer told me I must be imagining the audience was against me, but she wanted me to know that the audience was friendly and supportive–they were actually on my side and rooting for me.
These two ideas were spell-binding. I had never thought any of this through–and I had never danced publicly before–so the thought that the audience could be friendly was so reassuring and embracing that it did make sense if I let go of my own chronic self-criticism. I linked the idea that the audience was friendly with the idea that my presence is felt even in my absence and presto! transformation! My life changed forever.
I received the miracle A Course in Miracles teaches – a true shift in perception. Now I understood that whenever anyone behaved in a hostile or superior manner that underneath they really loved me – they were just projecting their own poor opinion of themselves and others, but that had nothing to do with my own lovableness. My mind opened and suddenly I saw myself and them through God’s eyes – I was lovable and they were lovable and that could never change.*
A Course in Miracles explains, “ideas leave not their source.” I had been living from the idea that I was a separate person in competition with others for love–the source of that idea is the ego. The miracle reconnected me with God as my Source and His Idea that we are Love. The only reason people ever think poorly of themselves or another is because they are afraid. The Course teaches there are only two states of mind: fear or Love. All fear is a call for Love. The Answer is always Love. As one of my favorite songs, Nature Boy, says, “The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return.” And the Course agrees, “A miracle is a universal blessing from God through me to all my brothers.” (Miracle Principle #27)
Lessons 196 and 197 in A Course in Miracles are companion lessons. Lesson 196 teaches us that “It can be but myself I crucify” and Lesson 197 follows up with, “It can be but my gratitude I earn.” Lesson 197 assures us, “It does not matter if another thinks your gifts unworthy. In his mind there is a part that joins with yours in thanking you. It does not matter if your gifts seem lost and ineffectual. They are received where they are given.”
This simple message gives my life full purpose. I now know that I am generous, kind and loving — I feel the Truth of that. And because I place myself in God’s Hands and live in service of His Will – I am His channel – I can rest assured that all is in right order even if the person across from me doesn’t think so. The only mind that needs to change is my own.
Now I know that you really love me, because I love me, and we are the same One. A Course in Miracles assures us, “A miracle is never lost. It may touch many people you have not even met, and produce undreamed of changes in situations of which you are not even aware.” (Miracle Principle #45) and “Miracles are expressions of love, but they may not always have observable effects.” (Miracle Principle #35)
I offer you this practice: when you think that someone doesn’t like you, is out to get you, wants to win at your expense, is taking advantage, feels indifferently toward you, is outright rejecting you, or any variation of the above, send them the thought, “Deep down, in your heart of Hearts, I know you really love me!” Repeat as often as necessary. Something will change for the better. Let me know how it goes. Email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
* “You are the work of God, and His work is wholly lovable and wholly loving. This is how a man must think of himself in his heart, because this is what he is.” ~ACIM, T-1.III.2:3-4
To feel God’s love for you, visit http://bit.ly/GodGoesWithYou and please accept my free gift.
Amy Torres is a well-loved spiritual teacher, Gestalt psychotherapist and interfaith minister. Her book of blessings, Sweet Dreams of Awakening can be found on Amazon.com. Watch for her upcoming book, A Course in Miracles Clarified.