I have challenged myself to work through Merle Yost's MA, LMFT, book Facing the Truth of Your Life, engage in zooms with him, and share my explorations here. This will be a journey into peeling back the layers of goo like an onion. I am going to try and be as transparent as I can with the reading and exercises, and share here. So this page will be a continuous work in progress, like me.
CHAPTER 1 : Giving Meaning to Life
"We only become what we are by the radical and deep-seated refusal of
that which others have made of us," Jean-Paul Sartre.
Yost opens this chapter by asking the reader to start questioning things, like: Who are you? Do you have any purpose? Can you justify being alive?
[These questions hit me hard. I was stunned by the directness and almost callousness, especially since I have a tender ego and low self-worth to start.]
Why are we alive? What is the purpose of life?
Yost indicates that many people may be hiding behind religious beliefs, so the individuals do not have to think for themselves. [But isn't that what society teaches?]
Why are we alive? What happens when we die? Who am I? What is going on inside of me? Should I change? How do I change? What does it mean to be a better person? Do I fit in the world? Where should I fit and why should I fit? How did I become me?
[These questions felt like the ones I used to ask myself as a child. I used to wonder about things all the time, and I would create incredible answers. Where did the child go?]
Yost directs us to the realization that we are usually exploring outward, "We cannot just question our external experience; we must question everything" (p. 20). He indicates that our inward questioning depends on how reflective we are, how we genetically are wired, and how our family programmed us. "Your belief in the purpose of life has much to do with how willing you are to go beneath the surface of yourself and, consequently, of life itself."
Buddist perspective: "New discoveries will continually change and shift our perception and understanding of what is 'real' and what is 'important'."
Asking questions is how the world changes, and that is how we change.
It is the questions that are more important than the answers. "We need to dig into ourselves fearlessly and honestly, burning away the programmed beliefs that do not fit in, the ones that block us from relationships with others and figuring out who they are and who you are"(p. 21).
[My heart skipped several beats while reading words like, fearlessly, honestly, programmed beliefs, fit in, block, relationships, and figuring.]
Yost explains that it is more important to not only explore and question our external world but our inner world. "We need to dig into who we think we are and gain insight into how we came to believe this is 'who we are.' Once we take that belief system apart, dissecting it until it reveals the deepest understanding of what we are not, we can come to an awareness of who we are. That is the journey. " (p. 21).
[I have read once in another self-help book that we create our inner falsehoods from the things we heard as children and believe it as truth. That the ideal of ourselves is usually filled with false beliefs that we have heard repeatedly from others or told ourselves until we adapted, adopted, and simulated as truth for ourselves. So maybe there is something about mantras?]
We live in a Mind-Body Connection = where "modern life involves an endless flood of stimulus and information to deal with, creating multiple reactions that demand we stay focused on the external. All of the external distraction consumes us and keeps us from really knowing who we are on the inside" (p. 22).
[How do we break this habit of being taught to only concern ourselves with the exterior world and successfully function if we are focusing only on our inner being?]
Yost concludes chapter 1 by demonstrating that most people are unhappy on various degrees of unhappiness. "Understanding your role and your impact on others is required to get a better sense of who you are and what possibilities the world holds for you" (p. 23).
As we enter this world, we are like sponges, absorbing everything around us--good and bad--and as we grow, we lose the core being we brought with us into this plane of existence. So, the outside influences (economic, sociological, and parental) create this barrier of protection. Is it the real or true self, or it the made-up version we think we need to exist?
"The journey of reconnecting to the core you were born with and finding your direct connection to the world is an essential part of what life is all about" (p. 23).
We each have to find individual truth, and discovering this truth is about taking the journey (we must take alone) toward our inner self. Is the journey more important than the final discovery?
"There is much to do and many levels of understanding that have to be attained to achieve a more authentic way of being" (p. 24).
[This seems daunting. Yet there is something that is telling me that I need to explore this. I want to get away from this FEAR, SHAME, and UNSELFWORTHLINESS that encompasses my life and causes me not to follow through with my dreams. I want to break the perpetual recording in my head that keeps repeating that I am not good enough. I WANT TO FIND THE TRUE ME. Let's do this.]
"... the self is never to be found, but must be created, not the happy accident of passivity, but the product of a thousand actions, large and small, conscious or unconscious, performed not 'away from it all,' but in the face of 'it all,' for better or for worse, in work and leisure rather than in free time." Robert Penn Warren
Yost explains that this book, Facing the Truth of Your Life, is about "the self." What is the self? How is the self formed? How doe the self change? Self: Yost provides two specific things for this journey through his book:
PUBLIC SELF: This is the self that we make conclusions about who we are and how we fit in the world. We gather all the information from observing, listening, and repeatedly told what, who, and how we should be, act, believe and behave.
Yost points out that when people talk about 'self,' they refer to their self-image, self-perception, and their separateness from others. This organization is the public self and is often called the ego" (p. 26). A person's ability to deal with change and uncertainty determines how healthy their public self is. Inflexibility and the lack of resiliency indicate unresolved trauma that needs attention and worked through to grow. The 'self' we have when we are born is like a blank page since we have no understanding of the world or how it works. We have no personality. We are a clean slate, a sponge ready to absorb the information surrounding us. Nature and nurture begin to influence how we construct our public self in childhood. By adapting and responding to what gets us attention helps our developing mind determine how separate from others, and how we perceive our worth the world. All this information we gather as infants and during childhood is data we download into our brains, become beliefs, and influence our development.
[As I read this chapter, the following questions came into mind. How much of our surroundings influence our choices? How is it possible that two children raised in the same environment and provided the same data to download end up completely different? My older brother and I grew up in the same household, three years apart, and yet we are day and night. How much do the parents and where they are psychologically in their lives at the time of each child's birth affect that child's development? Is it possible that if a parent harbors any abuse residue themselves, and depending on where they are in the healing process or lack of healing, can be unconsciously transferred to the new child?]
Yost illustrates, "As children mature, they download experiences and information, particularly as their external experience is reflected back to them. They then start to come to conclusions about how the world works" (pp. 27-28).
[Suppose this downloading process is interrupted by some form of abuse. In that case, the data the child intuits will alter the development of the 'self' and may begin a life of trying to understand and comprehend this information or try to find ways to avoid remembering and reliving the abuse. Unfortunately, there will always be triggers.]
Yost illustrates a circular sphere with chips and craters along the perimeter, which represents the unprocessed and unresolved pain and trauma the person experiences throughout life. If the chip or crater (the wound) is touched or triggered, the person will emotionally regress to the experience's time. If these craters or fragments remain unresolved or suppressed, the person may be in a constant state of turmoil. "A person may react over and over to multiple things, rather than staying present in the moment, responding from an adult perspective" (p. 29). This person reacts from the regressed place, trapped in the pain of the past and not knowing how to find their way back to the present.
[I have experienced many times that I cannot find the words to describe the way I am feeling during a triggered moment. The spiraling feeling of frustration can cause me to meltdown. I am literally at a loss for word, or I think the words are failing me.]
From what I am interpreting from reading the text, in order to respond to external stimuli and do what is best for myself and others, I must have a relationship with my inner self. Yost supports this by stating, "That means observing your thoughts and feelings, having awareness and recognition of where they come from and to recognize their meanings" (p. 29).
NOTE TO SURVIVORS: Be gentle with yourself. We were never taught this as children, and we are continually trying to learn it as adults.
Yost reassures us that as a person works through the trauma and begins to heal, the craters diminish and possibly disappear. "The benefit of making the effort to face and heal the pain in your life is that fuller emotional contact with others is easier, more satisfying and most of all, enjoyable" (p. 30). This could allow you to be more present and aware of the moments, respond accordingly, and not get lost in the past.
ROOT SELF: is beyond the personality and is the core to the energy that we brought into the world; the soul, Gaia consciousness, the part that existed before birth, and continues after death. The root self's energy connects to everything in the universe. "It is beyond the restraints of our personality, however it means to an individual to have a universal consciousness" (p. 31).
Yost alerts the readers that "before we can progress from the public self to the root self, it is necessary to solidify a public self by working through as many life trauma as possible. In this way, when confronted with abuse or drama, the adult does not regress to the wounded child's state of mind. Only when the public self is solid can the process of deconstruction the core of the public self begin" (p. 31).
[My take-away. To begin to understand, recognize, and embrace the Public Self, we have to go inward to identify and heal the wound(s) from the trauma(s) or abuse(s) we experienced as a child. If we consciously or subconsciously ignore or suppress these difficult moments--continue lying to ourselves, we will never be able to solidify the Public Self to allow the emergence of the Root Self. We will continue to try and repress and/or rehash the memories and emotions attached to the event, and when triggered, we could regress to the emotional age we were when the abuse took place. This state of mind seems like such a waste of time and energy I am wasting some much time and energy pretending that I am okay and that I can handle the memories by ignoring them or pretending they never happened--remaining stuck in victimhood.]
Yost implies that if people continue to work on themselves to solidify their Public Self and connection to the universe, they will have to clear out more of the downloads that are preventing the awaking to the Root Self.
DOWNLOADS are the things we absorb as a child form those around us who taught us how the world works.
Downloads are other people's ideas, beliefs, prejudices, and how we interpret, adapt, and choose to believe for ourselves and how we see ourselves. "We tap into the root self by digging down to the essential elements of who we are. From the root self, we source deep intuition, knowledge of our place in the universe and consequently, our connectedness to everyone...most people will have to peel away the incongruent layers of beliefs and survival strategies to remember who they are and let their original energy reemerge" (p. 33).
You may think this seems a bit esoteric but stay with me. Yost states that to move through the development stages, we need to be curious about our existence and purpose. Remember, the journey is the most important thing, and discovery is about being the best you can be.
"Reality is what we take to be true.
What we take to be true is what we believe.
What we believe is based on our perceptions.
What we perceive depends on what we look for.
What we look for depends on what we think.
What we think depends on what we perceive.
What we perceive determines what we believe.
What we believe determines what we take to be true.
What we take to be true is our Reality." David Bohm
My questions before reading the chapter:
This chapter expresses that as we grow, we begin life on autopilot, not understanding that we mimic the actions and emotions of the people surrounding us. How we see our environment, society, and the world is programmed by how we interpret downloaded information provided to us, and this becomes our normality. As we mature, we start to separate from people and experiences to become an individual.
[This process of growing is interpreted by abuse or trauma, causing the survivor development to delay. There are certain ages and periods where I am stuck.]
Yost informs us, "most people have no idea who they are, and, subsequently, have no inner relationship with themselves. They are not conscious of what they feel and almost no idea of how they are seen by others. They usually have little idea of what they want...Their awareness is almost all based on superficial external feedback" (p. 35).
"The less sense of self inside a person, the greater the amount of narcissism that makes up that person's personality. Everyone possesses some degree of narcissism" (p. 36).
NARCISSISM is a psychological disorder in which the person has no internal sense of self. A narcissist needs constant stimulation from the outside and can only see themselves through the reflections from the reactions of another's response. "The narcissist can shape their own reflection by manipulating others' behaviors to suit their own delusional, self-validating needs. What is described here is a Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD).
[I had to read this section a couple of times. One of my biggest fears is being or becoming narcissistic. My father continually told me that I was too pretty to be a boy and that I needed to learn how to use my looks for good and not end up like Narcissus. He used to tell me that I needed to find someone that could save me, like a knight in shining armor, because I was too obsessed with my looks and would never keep a job. I found some relief when I read, "Everyone possesses some degree of narcissism."]
"It is essential to go inside ourselves and sort through the beliefs, values and morals that we downloaded (socialization) from our parents, family, and society. These non-tangible, intellectual, emotional downloads can be as dangerous as a physical trauma and for most, are harder to quantify or touch. But they can be nonetheless disturpting when we try to make contact with others and be fully present" (pp. 38-39).
[As I try to digest this, I remember reading about how we are shaped and formed by the stimulation and information presented to us as children. Infants and children absorb the fears, worries, prejudices, assumptions, and misinformation from our parents, guardians, family, environment, and society. Every time I did something wrong and told I was a mistake, I anchored this in my subconscious mind until I believed it. As an adult, I must review these recordings to see if they are true or not.]
The next section of this chapter is Exploring Your Downloads by asking questions to help you understand the beliefs, values, and attitudes that you absorbed from your childhood. [Some of the questions may not pertain to me, so I will not include them. But, I suggest that you purchase the book and see what questions pertain to you.]
DOWNLOADS ABOUT RELIGION
[This exploration through the downloads of religion has been exhausting. As I reread the remarks I have made, I am beginning to feel this sense of pride. I realize that I am starting to observe and recognize the things that I have believed about myself that are no longer beneficial to me today and weighing me down. How do I remove them? I am not sure yet. Stay with me, and encourage me to continue. If you have any questions, send them to me. If you want to take this journey with me, join me anytime.
I will continue with: DOWNLOADS ABOUT FAMILY. Oh no!!!!!!]
[I wanted to share an experience I had. As I am going through this Facing The Truth journey, I realize that I would open myself and to feel things that I have either forgotten about or repressed. Yesterday I was getting my eye exam, and when the doctor placed the gadget in front of my face, you know that big silver thingy to test your vision--I have a near panic attack from out of nowhere. I felt this rush of heat sprout from my chest and race through my body. I couldn't breathe, sweat beaded on my forehead, and my vision blurred. I immediately took a deep breath and asked to take a moment. I told the doctor that I was experiencing a near panic attack. And before I could stop the words, I said, "I'm a sexual abuse survivor. When I was a teenager, I was abused by the eye doctor after he positioned a machine like this and started testing my vision." This doctor, a female, thanked me for trusting her to let her know and sorry for what had happened in the past. I was acknowledged and supported. The rest of the examination was a positive experience. ]
DOWNLOADS ABOUT FAMILY
[It has become quite apparent that the farmhouse holds many resentments, abandonment, abuse, and fear.]
DOWNLOADS ABOUT WORK & CAREER
GOING INSIDE EXERCISE (p. 47).
"Moving out of the mind, and not identifying with your thoughts, is key to finding yourself" (Merle Yost).
"Lose your mind and come to your senses" (Frits Perls, co-founder of Gestalt Therapy.
Yost encourages using the exercises since they provide the foundation for accessing your intuition.
"The deeper the relationship with yourself, the more likely you will know when to trust your gut feeling and when not to. That whispering voice inside you can become a body sensation, not just something in your head" (p. 48).
When it comes to the exercises, I want you to do these for yourself. You will need to get the book to follow the instructions and record your own findings.
EXERCISE ONE--page 48
[I find that I do this exercise often before I attempted it. However, I didn't understand why I asked myself these three questions until I committed to this journey through Yost's book.]
Exercise one helps you to understand where in your body, your emotions and feelings occur. This is the next step to making sense of them.
EXERCISE TWO--page 49
[I am experiencing a more challenging time with this exercise. I think it is because of FEAR. I am afraid to see my emotions. But I keep trying it, and I am getting closer to allowing myself to experience the exercise's full effect. I believe that not every exercise will work for you, you have to decide if it is beneficial. BUT YOU MUST ATTEMPT EVERYONE EXERCISE.]
A SIMPLE MEDITATION FROM TIBETAN BUDDHISM
(You can make this meditation as brief as one minute when you first start, and increase the time as you feel comfortable. Just notice what happens in your body and mind as you allow yourself to slow down and just have your attention on you.)
Sit with your back straight. Close your eyes and mouth. Relax your jaw and face. Put all your attention on the air entering and exiting your nose. Continue to focus on the movement of the air through your nostrils as you inhale and exhale naturally. You might have random thoughts come up; just notice them and let them go, returning your attention to your breath and the sensations of the air entering and leaving your body.
[I use this mediation before I give a talk or speak in front of people, before interviews, and when I need to calm and center myself.]
TIME ALONE--page 51
Make time for yourself. I need to realize that making time for myself is NOT BEING ALONE. I have a FEAR of isolation, abandonment, and loneliness. Yost encourages, "There is also benefit to being alone when you want or need to focus on yourself and your purpose. Being with yourself, fully in relationship with your needs and having the freedom of addressing them, is a true vaction. It is like coming home, and practice for living fully inside you.
[I was taught that taking care of yourself and going within yourself was egotistical and narcissistic. It was selfish to put your needs before others. This ideology confuses me since everything I read says you have to take care of yourself before you can help others.]
Parenting is a massive undertaking and huge responsibility, and should never be approached lightly" (p. 53).
Yost expressed that there are two things that make a big difference in developing a child into a solid, competent adult:
"If parents fail to adequately parent a child, or simply do not try, the adult child will have the job of either parenting themselves or finding a good-enough parent substitute (therapist, coach, boss, extended family, etc.) to help them heal themselves. This is the role of the psychotherapist for many poeple. Long-term therapy is about re-parenting and meeting the needs of the client, needs that were not met by the client's parents" (Yost, p. 55).
A RELATIONSHIP WITH YOURSELF-page 55
How can you know your truth if you do not know you? Truth comes from deep inside.
"There is no coming to consciousness without pain. People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own Soul. One does not become enlightened by imaging figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious" Carl G. Jung
"Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony" (Mahatma Gandhi)
"It is not how much we have, but how much we enjoy that makes us happy" (Charles Spurgeon).
"The state of pleasurable contentment of mind; deep pleasure in or contentment with one's circumstances" (Oxford English Dictionary).
Whenever I think of the meaning of happiness, I find myself in a conundrum:
What is true happiness?
How do we choose happiness over sadness or emptiness?
Is happiness a real emotion or a fleeting moment of no worries or anxiety? Can a survivor honestly know happiness?
When I try to remember moments of total joy, I recall fleeting sessions of peace, calmness, and connected. When I was a young boy, I was happiest wearing my father's t-shirt and cinched at the waist with a belt. I saw it as my toga or Jesus outfit so that I could close to God, but I never looked at it as a dress or that I was trying to be a girl. I love the way the t-shirt smelled and the soft cotton on my shin. I love the freedom I felt running around the neighborhood with the wind caressing my legs. It never occurred to me that I was trying to be different or not happy with who I was. I was most comfortable during this time because I was the most natural form of transparency--I was me. I think the time I lived on Bellfield Street in Kettering in a small ranch-style house was the most honest me. After that time, I started finding ways to hide my true self. Somehow I adopted the ideas that when I was my true self, I was making others uncomfortable. Even at such a young age, I was very intuitive about other's feelings. I can't remember the exact day that I choose to start my transformation-- or why I thought it was necessary to start hiding. When we moved to the farmhouse, I was no longer permitted to wear dad's t-shirts, play with barbie dolls, dance around, or sing. The new regulations confused me. The closest neighbor was almost a mile away, and no one would even see me my designer-toga-Jesus-outfit. So, I started finding secret places that I could be myself, like the old barn, the basement, or the woods.
As I grew, I found moments of pure happiness.
Yost posits, "HAPPINESS is one of those words that has too many meanings. We all have our own definition of happiness" (p. 57). Yet he informs the reader that most things that make us happy are temporary events or things that happen and pass, "...but few of us seem to have d a deep contentment and stillness inside." He illustrates that HAPPINESS should extend from being okay with ourselves--"a place where you know that you are doing what you think you should... "That moment aligns with your being present in the here and now and where life has led you. In the simplest moments, we can have the feeling we are doing what we were supposed to be doing" (pg. 58).
Yost brings up being observers again, and if we are observing the moment, we can have a "simple understanding of a profound level of happiness... There is something deeper inside of us that shows up when we are truly aligned with who we are and doing what we should be doing."
Yost encourages us to journey deeper inside and discover who we are to find more profound and sustainable happiness.
LIVE IN THE PRESENT MOMENT.
When people quiet their minds through meditations, they are aware of their thoughts and are not lost or consumed. "Happiness does not have to be a moment of profundity that manifests itself with an external physical show of emotion. Genuine joy is internal, private interlude that need not involve anyone else" (p. 59).
Many of us get lost in doing: "staying busy in the endless pursuit of sensation and experience, focused on the external." [This is what parents and society teach us. The more external things we possess, show how happy we should be.] External gratification does not deepen your relationship with yourself or help you find the true-self. It keeps you in the "What's Next" syndrome and not the "Who Am I" discovery we need to investigate to find happiness. It would be best if you had a balance of both--"The real contentment and peace come from a place deep inside of you, not the next experience or rush that makes you feel alive. BEING surpasses DOING when it comes to happiness."
Yost encourages that we should have pride in our accomplishments and celebrates life's milestones--which "can bring significant happiness in the moment, but each simply becomes another facet of your life, rather than becoming a continual source of happiness. New challenges will emerge with the next phase of earned achievements" (p. 59). Yost warns that too much pride is the result of attempting to hide shame. "Pride is wonderful, necessary and useful in small and moderate amounts, but too much pride is often about pushing away deep feelings of not being good enough."
[I give my power to others very quickly; so quickly that I am not even aware that I have given it away. And I invited the other's pain and suffering. I am not sure why I do this, but I have done it all my life. Was I taught this? Was it innate? I am not sure I will ever know the answer, but I know if I am not careful, it will take me days to recover from being too empathetic. I recently spoke to an old friend on the phone, and after an hour-and-a-half, I felt that a semi-truck ran over me, leaving me nauseous. It took me several days to recover from this vampirism. Then I realized that this conversation was like a mirror, reflecting the same things that I don't like but believe in myself. How can I change this experience into a positive one and help change my life? I realized as I reflected on the transaction that I fear success. I am afraid of the responsibility that goes with success. My parents taught me to be humble and not display your accomplishments to have people like me, "No one likes a show-off--while in the meantime, I have ignored and refused to acknowledge my accomplishments. I also have fear about going within to find the answers. I am not sure what I will find lingering in the depths.]'
"Our uniqueness, our individuality, and our life experience molds us into fascinating beings. I hope we can embrace that. I pray we may all challenge ourselves to delve into the deepest resources of our hearts to cultivate an atmosphere of understanding, acceptance, tolerance, and compassion. We are all in this life together" (Linda Thompson).
Yost states that the hallmarks of growing up and being an adult are putting yourself in someone else's shoes and feeling compassion and empathy for that person. Everyone has bad things happen to them--it is called life. "Accepting that each of us is vulnerable and deserving of sympathy and understanding is key to being part of the human race" (p. 62).
For some people, getting outside of their experience or perspective is very difficult. They can only see the world from their perspective, and expect everyone else to share this perspective. Having conversations or trying to help these people is challenging, exhausting, impossible, and finding a compromise in nearly impossible. "Narcissists and sociopaths do not feel empathy or compassion. They get it theoretically but do not feel it emotionally. Other psychological disorders and structures can reduce the ability to feel empathy as well" (p. 62).
Yost illustrates how people react to homelessness. Many times the people look for reasons to criticize the unfortunate to block any compassionate response. We realize that most of us are only a paycheck away from being homeless--and the fear is real to us. Is this reaction a means to keep the idea of homelessness from our consciousness?
Many can empathize and sense the other person's pain without taking the issues on because of the boundaries they have.
Merging: means fully absorbing the pain of others. [I struggle with merging all the time. That's why I felt like a truck ran over me.] "Merging involves being metaphorically outside of your body and inside the body of another. [This is disturbing to me. I imagined myself leaving my body to understand and comprehend the other person's pains and issues, leaving my body vulnerable.] This is also known as taking on the other's actual feelings. "There is no pay-off [takingon another's pain] and there are significant downsides. To ACKNOWLEDGE, but not ABSORB the other's pain requires practice" (p. 63).
Compassion: is the act of tapping into what you would feel in a situation. Compassion is an emotional approach that involves your internal self. "It is key to stay inside yourself and not take on the pain of the other" (p. 63).
Yost empathizes that establishing boundaries is essential in all relationships. One needs to know what is happening inside themselves while talking with another person that is exhibiting pain. One must distinguish between what is them and what they are picking up from the other person.
Practice shuttling and be aware
These are invaluable tools to help you learn to know and decipher which feelings are yours and which emotions belong to the other person.
Thoughts to remember:
"Attachment is the great fabricator of illusions;
reality can be obtained only by someone who is detached" (Simon Weil).
"Being detached means holding your space in the here-and-now, offering compassion and moving towards others by making efforts to alleviate their suffering, if possible" (p. 64).
LIMITS ON GIVING
Yost states, "To be a successful adult member of a community, you must possess empathy and compassion" (p. 65).
"Our intellect and intuition have to be in play. We are not to divorce ourselves from bringing all of us into any situation. Always ask yourself the following questions..."
Yost encourages, "The healthy way to give is to remain conscious of what and why you are giving, but know your limits going on" (p. 66). It is not possible to thoroughly understand the limits or how we will react to help someone. Each person and situation is unique.
WHY ARE YOU GIVING?
Yost points out that religion promotes being kind to others and helping less fortunate people. "But if the desire to help others is motivated by doing if for an outside entity in return for the reward of a happy ever after-life, do those performing the acts genuinely feel the acts of compassion?" (p. 66).
[I don't want to get into the topic of religion and how the right way to believe. As a small child, I believed that God was within me and that I need to think within my powers to do right. As I grew, I started to see people praying for this entity outside of them, somewhere in the sky above, and blame this entity for all the good and bad that happens to them. I would watch athletes pray to this external focal point and expect that they would win. I was confused in thinking that God was inundated with prayers from all the competitors in the event and how unfair it was to make him decide the outcome. I also became confused that God would be responsible for someone doing something terrible to another. I want to think that humans have choices, and we can pray within to get the guidance, but it was crazy that God had time to hear and listen to everyone's prayers. Please don't get me wrong, I pray all the time, and I am spiritual, but churches have confused and scared me.]
Yost explains further, "The motivation to perform compassionate acts must originate from the person's internal sense of compassion and concern for other people--altruism" (p. 67). We are in this life now, and we need to be the best we can be, and feeling others' pain and misfortune is being a good person. But we must have compassion and empathy for ourselves first.
"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel" (Maya Angelou).
Check out the Compassion Exercise on page 68.
"Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance." Brene Brown
"Self-love, at its best, is empathy for yourself (Yost, 70). [empathy: the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.]
"Self-love is a first stepping stone to a deeper relationship with the Public Self." [Public Self: how we present ourselves to the outside world--the way we adapt and adopt certain beliefs to behave and act the way we think others will accept us.]
Self-Love is the "building block that creates a stronger self, so that a deeper meta-awareness of being can be the basis for being alive."
"In accepting ourselves without judgment, we must also understand that we are constant work in process [This is extremely important for survivors of any abuse to understand--we are on a life long journey of healing ourselves. There will be times when we think we have recovered and then something triggers the memory all over again.]
NO ONE IS WITHOUT FLAWS
Yost states, "Through the process of accepting yourself, you have the opportunity to change how you choose to be in the world, in a fundamental way (pp. 70-1).
"You cannot be loved until you love yourself." People can be loved without loving or even liking themselves. There are people who love themselves too much. Many times this can result in isolation. Some people take love while others give it. Remember that love is energy and meant to be shared.
"The most terrifying thing is to accept oneself completely." (Carl Young).
This quote is valid (for me) because of the meanings I have accepted and adopted for the experiences I have gone through. I have interpreted how people have reacted and interacted with me after learning about my story. It amazes me how much time I have wasted in assuming what other people thought--without ever really knowing. How self-absorbed I was in thinking everyone was talking about and judging me.
Yost emphasizes, "It is required to truly know yourself and be fully present in the world" (p.71).
UNCONDITIONAL LOVE is the highest kind of love and means having the ability to see beyond another person's deficits. Yet, I have difficulty seeing beyond my deficiencies, even to recognize another person's issues.
Yost tells us that when it comes to accepting yourself, it is about acknowledging your deficits and deciding to do something about them or not. [Could this demonstrates that we have a choice to remain stuck or change?]
SELF-ACCEPTANCE: "you have a personal responsibility to make a choice about what action you are willing to take or not take when you own something in yourself that is less than it could be" (p. 71). It is important to accept our faults and limitations, but this doesn't mean that we have to take them as an end product of who we are. It is up to us to decide if we want to do anything about our faults.
SELF LOVE, or lack of love, can be "used as a blanket amnesty or not taking responsibility for our actions, for example, " I cheated on my boyfriend, but I love myself." This abuse of the words "Self-Love" is a cope out for self-healing.
[This reminds me of people who say things that are hurtful and spiteful and excuse it by stating, "I am only being honest." What is the real underlying intentions behind saying such a statement?]
Self-Respect, Self-Worth, and Self-Acceptance are the goals for maturity. As an adult, "I am responsible for my choices and my responses."
"Self-Acceptance is the opposite of Self-Hatred" (Yost, p. 73). "We learn to accept ourslelves and not hate ourselves by taking in love from our parents and by owning who we are. Taking in unconditional love initiates Self-Acceptance." [What happens to those that did not receive unconditional love from their parents? Are they able to accept who they are?]
Yost explains that without unconditional love and when love is conditional, it breeds Self-Hatred and Shame--and this cannot lead to Self-Worth or Self-Respect.
Self-Hatred: inhibits you from knowing yourself and prevents you from being known by others.
"Accepting who you are can release the blocks to progress in your life" (p. 73).
Yost states, "The exception to avoiding the pursuit of Self-Love is when you do Inner-Child Work and you need to Self-Parent" (p. 74).
"Self-Acceptance usually comes from being truly accepted by another. It only takes one person providing unconditional love, accepted and integrated in the right way, to change the life of another forever" (p. 74).
Self-Love is not equivalent to Self-Acceptance.
Self-Acceptance: is seeing what is good, owning the bad, and acknowledging that some parts of yourself need work.
SELF-ACCEPTANCE EXERCISE. (pp. 75-76)
Remember to constantly check-in with how you are feeling and reach out for professional help. This is your journey, but help is only a call away. You do not have to do this on your own.