Friday, February 14, 2014

DO YOU LOVE YOU?



(Original post at Wishadoo.org)

It's Valentine's Day -- February 14, 2014 – and love, love, love is in the air. One day each year we're surrounded by talk of love and bear witness to ways of expressing our love for one another. 

A few days ago a dear friend posed a question which elicited a rather unusual reply from me.  I didn't realize it as I began composing my reply, but what I ended up sharing was a revelation about my core personal beliefs. In keeping with the intention to deepen my work, I'm sharing this interaction and my feelings about love this Valentine's Day.

The question posed by my friend, who was in a state of emotional distress, involved seeking spiritual guidance and the most effective, meaningful way to do that.

(Spiritual.  See, merely typing that word here, publicly, is a shift for me and part of the deepening of which I speak. I have always considered myself spiritual though not religious. What I mean by that is that I, personally, feel I have a direct connection with ______ [insert your chosen word here; I really don't have a word, which may be why I have avoided discussing in depth in the past].  I genuinely respect most people who follow a religious path or specific spiritual path, as well as those who claim the labels of atheist and agnostic. I see it all as a choice; we're each making a choice as to what we believe regarding the realm of the unseen and deeper meaning. I am one of those annoying people who freely admits I do not know anything, and I'm okay with that.)

Back to my friend's question…

We have quite a few spiritual friends in common, so I knew she would receive a lot of very helpful, specific guidance regarding others' practices and beliefs.

Yet her question triggered something within me and prompted me to dig deep and explore why most religious and/or spiritual paths don't resonate wholly with me on a personal level.

Here is what I wrote:


Do you believe, or can you open to the possibility, that part of your Being is pure love and sheer perfection? You...the unique soul imprint we know as _____. Your Highest Self, as I call it.

Like you, I also tend to get caught up in words: God, Spirit, The Universe...and get lost when I try to envision or describe God, Spirit, The Universe. So much is beyond our ability to comprehend, imho; I can't begin to put what I choose to believe into words.

When I simply go within and tap into myself, for lack of better words, and trust that part of Who I Am is Pure Love and all the wonderful qualities we attribute to God, Spirit, The Universe, that works for me.

I am more comfortable with myself than with any other being, and I believe we are each manifestations of God/Spirit/The Universe. So, I ask, I beg, I pray, I set intentions, I express gratitude...I convene with my Highest Self, trusting that in doing so I'm also convening with God/Spirit/The Universe. I have an unshakable belief in our Interbeing with all life.

To me, it's a much more simple, direct line of communication, with familiarity, and takes away some of the discomfort, confusion and perhaps even a sense of unworthiness that I sensed in your post when seeking guidance.

I wouldn't ever, ever be afraid to ask something of myself. 

I love myself. I may get disappointed and even disgusted with myself at times but, all in all, I truly and deeply love myself.

I sincerely hope you love you, my friend.  I love you.


I found myself in tears after I wrote that. I felt such tremendous love for myself. No, really, I did. I know it sounds weird, and I'm sharing this precisely because I don't think it should sound or feel weird.

We so often speak of self-love and showing compassion for ourselves and really feeling it, not just saying the words.  Over the last few weeks I've been mindful of saying, out loud, "I love you, Dena." At first it was awkward, but I broke through the awkward stage, and when I wrote my thoughts to my friend I experienced one of those euphoric moments in which I truly felt it…not only for myself but for my friend and all beings. 

Now, don't get me wrong. Many people view me as some touchy-feely, hippie, kumbaya person who espouses "love and light" for everyone and everything, so when I express disdain for someone's actions, they accuse me of being a hypocrite.

The love of which I speak here doesn't translate into me wanting to develop a relationship with every person I meet; there are people I have removed from my life because I view them as toxic, to put it mildly. Removing them from my life is the most loving action I can take for myself and the person involved.

That said, on that "higher" level – the aspect of me that embodies the highest level of my own humanity -- I can say I sincerely love them, as I don't believe they are "evil" or "bad" people in their heart of hearts.  I believe we are intrinsically connected and interdependent in an energetic sense, so I most definitely wish them well and certainly do not wish them any harm.

But I have zero interest in having them in my life, as I strongly dislike aspects of who they are and how they behave and how it all affects me.

I also believe many people who claim to be atheist or agnostic feel this same sense of Interbeing and interconnectedness of which I speak, without being able to (or perhaps without needing to) articulate it.  They recognize that all beings – all humans and all creatures and the Earth herself – are interconnected and interdependent.

I will share more soon about my experiences which have led to this unshakable belief in the interconnectedness of all beings, our Interbeing, as it is the foundation of how I have navigated my journey through life thus far.

My belief in Interbeing is contrasted with the real experience of what I refer to as "othering."  Whenever we feel a sense of disconnection and subsequently treat other beings accordingly – or experience this treatment ourselves --  the result is usually tremendous pain and suffering. Wishadoo! was created to provide a space to connect in an attempt to heal our pain and suffering, and then to inject more joy into our human experience.

In considering my friend's question, I realized that my perception of many spiritual and religious paths involves othering -- a disconnection or externalization of one's faith as being separate from ourselves as individuals. Many believe the origins and core essence of most belief systems and religions are steeped in authentic Universal Love, yet putting those beliefs into practice – including how we pray and convene with Spirit (I'll use that word here) – has become complicated and now seems to require an intermediary of sorts, be it in the form of sacred scripture, clergy, specific rituals, specific prayers, etc. 

(Please know that I realize each person's beliefs are very personal and unique, so I'm not trying to make a blanket statement; I'm sharing my own perceptions and my feelings. Our connection to All That Is is part of my belief in Interbeing, and resultant sensitivity to the pain of disconnection and othering.)

For those of you who do believe in God/Spirit/The Universe, I ask you to please consider the possibility that you may "other" Spirit at times when you doubt your direct connection.

I ask you to please consider the possibility that you may "other" yourself in a multitude of ways more often than you'd like to admit.

I ask you to take a moment to sit quietly and ask yourself: 

"Do I love me?"  


Tell yourself you do. Say it out loud, even if it doesn't feel sincere at first and even if you feel extraordinarily awkward.

"I love you, _____."

Say it until you believe it.  Do the inner work that makes it possible, that makes it authentic.

And know that you are loved.

I say with a full, wide-open heart that I love me.

I also love you.

I love All That Is.

Happy Valentine's Day.


~  Dena


P.S. – The hit song by A Great Big World, Say Something, has really struck a cord with people of all ages (see 4-year-old's emotional reaction). I can't really tell why it touches people so deeply; perhaps it's a very unique, individual reaction for each of us.  I find it poignant yet exquisite in its simplicity.  


I ask you to listen to the song and try not to take it too literally; imagine singing this to yourself.  Don't walk away from yourself, don't give up on yourself. Say something...loving to yourself.  (refresh page if video doesn't show)