If you have been brought up in a disciplinarian family (where routine matters more than you) or where guilt has been used as bread and butter, you will find yourself questioning your choices, thoughts and feelings more often than not. If you have been criticized and shamed by your parents and family for how you look, what you do, how you act, what you eat and don’t eat, how you dress, how you walk – basically shamed for who you are – you will find it a challenge to even know who you are underneath all that shaming, let alone expressing yourself.
Every time you are burdened under the expectation of how you should be like, how you should look like or walk like, who you should and should not talk to or be friends with, what you should and should not do, each of those times you were robbed of your precious freedom and given an idea of a twisted freedom. It was like – “You are free to do this and this and this as long as I/We approve of It.” it did not matter what you wanted or how you wanted it. Gradually this external authority becomes internalized. The parent or the voice of “Should/Should not” gets lodged inside us and starts dictating our life.
This keeps happening until you realize you have no likes or dislikes of your own. You have had to do with what was served. Personal Boundaries were not allowed, not respected and violated every time until the individual, unique you and your voice was drowned, shut down or driven out, exorcised, leaving a slave behind. This left you defenseless with anyone and everyone, free to be a doormat for anyone. Or repeated heartbreaks in the world may have driven you to put up huge walls around you leaving you stone cold and alone in the crowd. But only you knew that under the stone cold exterior is the broken and bruised child seeking love and attention.
If somehow you recognized this, dealt with this, went no contact with your family to retain your sanity and heal your pain, the price of freedom was high. You were suddenly all alone; the world also chastised you for leaving your parents (the society drills it deep within that parents are gods who can never be wrong.)
Children brought up in such families do not know that what they have been through is not normal. Putting someone down, criticizing, shaming under the garb of “for your own good” is not normal. Putting your needs behind and putting other’s demands and needs before yours is not healthy, not normal. Being selfless is not normal.
If you have read this far, and find a sliver of truth in this for you, then heal your heart. Take this as a sign that you deserve your love and attention, you deserve your care, and you deserve to be treated well. It does not matter who you are, what you look like – fat, thin, out of shape, disabled – you deserve to be treated like a human being with love and compassion.
Pay attention to your needs (even though you may not have done this ever before). Eat what you want, travel, go into the nature, take up that dream job and don’t let anyone tell you you don’t deserve or you cant.
Be compassionate and kind to yourself. Learn to set your boundaries. Anyone who violates them – ditch them. Not even your spouse, loved one, family, parents or sibling should violate your boundaries. Stop taking anyone’s criticism. No one is perfect. Wanting to improve comes from inherent shame instilled in childhood over being who you are. Growth is a natural progression, it happens if you want to improve real bad, then its not growth, its out of shame.
Know that it’s ok to feel; you are not being “too sensitive”. Acknowledge your feelings. They are your barometer, your guide in the world. They tell you who to trust, who not to trust, who to open up with, who is not healthy for you, what to eat, where to go and so on…
Then, my love, you will begin to know freedom. Free your emotions, your feelings, free your thoughts. They will create chaos initially because they have been set free for the first time. But once they realize they will not be silenced by force, they will quieten. Free your body, give it what it wants. It will rebel; you will gain weight maybe by eating those pizzas, cakes and sugar. But once it begins to trust you that you will listen to it and not force it, it will start supporting you rather than rebelling. Rebellion happens to gain freedom against the bonds and slavery. Once free, rebellion is not needed. Everything falls into its own place.
The process will be disrupting. What rebellion is not disruptive? But a paradigm change happens when you deeply listen to all that is longing to be heard.
Deeply listen, be kind, and that, my darlings, is real freedom.
Freedom to be!!
Love and Grace