You Matter

 

 

You matter. You have always mattered. Let the dust settle that contains all the reasons you thought you didn’t matter. Ah!–there is your gem self! Welcome home, my love, welcome home. 

Here’s a self-friendly compassionate perspective to help you shift:

  • My clients are wonderful-hearted people who can be so very tough on themselves because they still believe the “error” messages they got ten, twenty, fifty years ago. As kids, one of the most hurtful things that can happen to us is when the important adults in our lives don’t explain to us what is going on in difficult situations. As a child we get confused and start to believe things like “I don’t matter,” “There’s something wrong with me,” “If they find out who I really am they won’t like me.”  
  • Meanwhile, what’s really going on with the adults are things that are totally out of kids’ control, like parents being mean, rageful, distant, anxious, having affairs, depression, being neglectful, losing a job, reacting to a death in the family, illness, parents having unhealthy relationship patterns, and being abusive emotionally, physically, or sexually to their kids.
  • Our internal critics–the “tapes,” the peanut gallery, the mean voices–these critics all got “hired” by you as a kid when the only way to make sense of a hurtful situation was to start believing these “error” messages. Kids can’t handle not understanding a difficult situation, and in the absence of a grounded adult offering help, support and understanding about life’s difficulties and especially taking responsibility for their actions as caregivers, kids have to make some kind of meaning in order to stay sane. If an adult isn’t there to take responsibility and explain to their child what is going on, then what all kids do is to take the blame onto themselves and begin to believe that there is something wrong with them. That’s just how the psychology of children works. Kids have to make some kind of sense of things in order to stay sane, and even if it’s the wrong message that’s better than no message at all. Because to not have anything make sense on the one hand, or on the other hand to clearly realize that a parent is out of control somehow, that would be utterly terrifying. In the bind of loving the person who is causing the hurt, kids blame themselves, not their caregivers. That’s when as a kid you began to point at yourself and started to believe you were not enough, didn’t matter, were faulted. At the time, you simply couldn’t afford to believe that parents or caregivers were being hurtful, or neglectful, or out of control, because that would be too frightening.
  • Here’s the good news. You can look at it this way–when your only option was to start believing the negative messages about yourself in order to survive, you also did something else really important: You put your Wise Self, your unique Gem, away on a shelf and you did this to keep yourself safe. Now is the time to let the dust settle and come home to who you have always been. It’s time to begin to take yourself off the shelf and be you!
  • Something that might sound odd at first but that really helps is to sit quietly and actually thank the negative voices. You might say something like, “You just don’t want me to get hurt, and that’s the only way you know how to do it. Thanks for trying to protect me.” This often brings some settling and calm. Then notice who is doing the thanking. That is your Wise Self, being generous to your kid and to the security team of negative thoughts that was the only option you had to deal with the pain. And when you are seated more in your Wise Self, and in the self-compassion and generosity to yourself, you start to come home to you and that just feels so much better!
  • Then give yourself a little hug, each hand on the opposite upper arm, squeeze, and breathe, 
  • Even if you feel the release for just two or three seconds, even if you begin to believe in yourself just one-hundreth of a percent, even if the voices come back three seconds later, that is enough! Congratulations, you have started to come home to You, to make a new neural connection which you can continue to build on as you discover yourself as an Amazing being.

Stop and Smell the Roses


When you literally stop and smell the roses, your heart lifts, and your brain and body give you feel-good signals that help shift the rest of your day. Where are the roses for you? Here’s a photo of my neighbors’ roses taken last spring! Right now as we are inside our homes, it’s so important to take time to stop and hear a bird singing outside, to smell a favorite meal cooking, to savor the first mouthful, to hold a loved one’s hand and look in their eyes, to feel moved by listening to a favorite song. Using the senses of the body–touch, taste, vision, scent, sound–help us ground in the moment. Better yet–go a step further and “take the elevator down” into your chest because when you stay for a moment or two with the appreciation of what you are sensing, your system swaps out stress hormones for feel-good hormones, your nervous system calms, and you ground.

Until The Fur Comes Off

A-Until The Fur Come Off 04-30-13
Until The Fur Comes Off

The child knows—take Bear to bed
and you’ll know what to do with the dark,
you’ll be able to sleep
and dream the seed that
grown tall, will make a life.

And what do we do
those of us
who had no one
to believe in us but Bear
who with his eloquent dignity
welcomed us every time
until the fur came off
and then some.

He saw our hearts break
when no one else did.
He didn’t yell when we
made a mistake!
Paw in hand he went with us
on the journey
into a darkness
that was not only at night.

We all need someone
who can name us to ourselves—
it is after all
what it is about—
we need this naming
to make a beginning
where we do not have to grow
into the extremes of grief
that make daily wars
(some in foreign places
some in our own kitchens).

We step deeply into life
when a person can say aloud to us
what Bear could never speak
in sounds that make warm waves
in the blood of our heart—
we need to hear the words
as vital as air and dinner and sleep
“Ah, you are afraid, my love,
you are beautiful,
you are sad,
you are alive and belong with us,
it’s okay, my love
it’s okay,”
and wonder of wonders
we suddenly find our hand in theirs
and grow a little more shining and sturdy.

It doesn’t get rid of the dark
but the sound
of the naming
gives us the dignity
we gave Bear to hold for us
in hopes we would grow into it—
the dignity to know we matter.

Better late than never, my love.
Find someone kind to listen to you
and then return it and be kind back
until the guns of the war of broken hearts
grow quiet
and the blood in your heart
is alive with good sounds—
tears and laughter and wonder
your own and those of your beloveds:
friend, son, daughter, partner,
grocery clerk,
all.

It isn’t only make believe,
it is real magic if you want it:
go tell somebody you see them
and bravely ask for them to see you
the whole grand round—
let it in and give it
until your fur comes off.

© Kathleen Dunbar

Photo by Kathleen Dunbar

If you’d like to hear a sweet song of welcoming, you can listen to “The Circle Returns to the Place where it Starts” from my first album, Finally Home, at www.kathleendunbarmusic.com or on Bandcamp.