The Pursuit of Calm: #5

In conversations with the Dalai Lama during a meeting in Dharamsala in 1990, he did a double take when Western psychologist spoke of low self-esteem. Although his English is quite good, the phrase had to be translated several times for him into Tibetan. He just couldn’t grasp the notion of low self-esteem, and when he finally understood what was being said, he was visibly saddened to hear that so many people in, what we ironically call the “developed world” carry deep feelings of self-loathing and inadequacy.

In Tibet, such feelings are unheard of. They have all the severe problems of refugees from oppression living in the Third World, but low self-esteem is not one of them.

For us, living in the “developed world” maybe we are over developed outwardly and underdeveloped inwardly. Perhaps it is we who, for all our wealth, are living in poverty.
Ref: Wherever You Go, There You Are.
John Kabat-Zinn

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These days, I lead a very quiet, simple but curious life…and interestingly it’s getting curiouser and curiouser by the day.

Not that I realised it at the time, but this curiousness was in fact first-hatched way, way back when I started my somewhat convoluted odyssey towards sobriety.
Fast forward some 17 years to now, and my levels of joyful inquisitiveness continues unabated – and it’s this ‘intuitive inquisitiveness’ that is the driving force as to why I enthusiastically bounce out of my bed, well before the lark and the alarm, and religiously do what I do…every.single.morning
[this is the topic for the next ‘calm’ instalment]

My inquisitiveness is centred both on my Nowbeing (stay tuned for a definition…it is coming), whilst dedicating time to gently lean into, and probe, the darker sides of myself.
The aim?
In short, I’m practicing to be kinder to myself.
And key to this, and aside from dedicating the non-negotiable daily disciplines to the ‘mechanics’ of my day – how I eat, move, sleep, think, connect etc, I also dedicate time for reflection – embracing, forgiving and befriending the parts of me that I have, in the past, not only avoided, but seemingly did everything I could to suppress (w/ alcohol, coke, disconnection…) and ignore (w/ alcohol, coke, disconnection…)  .

This ongoing sober internal-audit taught me that…
The naughty, self destructive, rosé & nosé Luke of the past, and the (practicing novice) disciplined, calm, self-controlled Luke of now, are in fact, just different sides of the same coin…and not two different people.

Two things to unpack here:
1. You can’t escape yourself – self-avoidance just feeds low self-esteem and continues to kindle our destructive narratives, self-sabotaging & compulsive behaviours.
2. And the greatest lesson. Everything I have learnt and continue to learn, comes from both the consistent pursuit of calm, and embracing and befriending the very behaviours that caused me so much suffering.

“The enemy is a very good teacher”

-The Dalai Lama

My self-esteem is now restored.
This a self-reconciliation process has reinstated my courage, confidence, and my joie de vie.
In short, I’ve learnt to become my own best friend (again)

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To release ourselves from the grip of low self-esteem (self-loathing) has to start with growing awareness of what we are doing to ourselves.

And the aim moving forward with Nowbeing is to encourage, challenge and coach people to coach themselves to become their own authorities, to take responsibility for their own lives, their own bodies, their own health.

‘Responsibility’ means ‘being response-abled’

 

When we are disciplined and take responsibility, we learn more about ourselves and our health – information we desperately need in order to grow, make amends, forgive, and restore our self-esteem, to not only make effective life choices, but reduce the impact that the darker parts of our psyche can, and does have on our thinking and doing habits and choices.

Pursuing calm provides the opportunity we all need so that we can participate fully in our own health and wellbeing – if we’re unable to listen to ourselves, if we are unable to see what our actions and behaviours are doing to us – then we’ll not be able to feel, hear or trust the messages that our body and mind is telling us.

Instilling calm means you’re in a position to begin, or like me, restart authoring one’s life – and thus assuming some measure of authority of oneself. Authority is courage, discipline, patience and self-kindness to believe in oneself. And when you believe in yourself, you will no longer tolerate you bashing yourself up in an attempt to avoid who you really are.

[People] measure their self-esteem of each other by
what each has, and not by what each is…
Nothing can bring you peace but yourself.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson