'Don't be the people-pleaser who dances for everyone except yourself. Dance only for you.'
What if This is Heaven... Anita Moorjani
This is the follow up book to 'Dying To Be Me' which was a book I couldn't put down. This one is very different but insightful none the less.
"I believe we are born knowing the truth of who we are. But we reject this knowledge as we grow up and try to fit in and conform to society, conditioning ourselves to its norms. We learn to look outside ourselves for guidance and in doing so we take on other people's expectations for us. Then when we can't live up to these external expectations, we feel inadequate and flawed."
The majority of the book is about different scenarios we can find ourselves in , where if we're not careful, the old habit of 'living by the wishes of others' takes over. If there was one message from the 1st book it was that we should all listen to our own voice, we should all live by our truths. We should all love ourselves unconditionally. Living by the truths of another is living a lie. It's not healthy, it's not fulfilling, it's just not a happy life. Her main topic in this book is self love.
We all have a happy place or perhaps happy isn't right, but a place of tranquility of calm of beauty that transcends our souls. A special place where we can recharge our batteries, blow away the mental cobwebs so to speak. Moorjani talks a lot about her happy place, the beach. When she found herself troubled or overwhelmed, she took herself to this 'place'. This is the same for us - take the opportunity to reflect, to breathe deeply and let our thoughts settle, let the wisdom come to us.
Not surprisingly Moorjani's book brought her enormous publicity and her life changed beyond recognition - however it hasn't been easy and at the beginning of the book she writes about all the letters, emails etc of people's pain and suffering and hopeless she felt that she couldn't help them all.
"It made me want to become invisible so I could go about my business unnoticed. It made me fearful of others."
Moorjani writes further about her days being bullied at school and how scarred she was as a result. Sadly she felt flawed, repulsive, ugly and unworthy as a consequence. There will be many people reading this and thinking the same. How many of you went around in your school years, trying desperately to be invisible to avoid being picked on? If you have experienced bullying or childhood abuse from parents /family then this can sew a seed of unworthiness and a fear of rejection that is instilled throughout your lifetime, unless you become aware of it and see it as past, not present, not future.
I recall someone telling me once that bullies were once bullied too and I can see how this could be true. If someone bullies you or is frequently unpleasant, hurting you verbally or physically or ignoring you; then that 'treatment' will often originate from a place of fear, of jealousy, of insecurity. They feel unloved or worthless or invisible too. This does not make the behaviour acceptable, far from it, but it does help us see the bigger picture. If you were bullied at school can you think if this train of thought could apply? When I remember the school bullies that picked on me - I can see that their home life may not have been easy and perhaps they were reaching out for someone to notice them, or to pick on someone like they were picked on themselves?
"Visualize revisiting an ugly incident from your past, and imagine yourself handling this past hurt in a different way , form an older and wiser perspective that draws upon all you have earned in your life and know."
Moorjani provides us with Myths and Truths and Tips and Exercises for the reader to reflect upon themselves. One such Tip/Exercise is the visualization, which I absolutely love and have done it for myself and supported clients with it too. The first time I did this visualization exercise was over 20 years ago in London with an American Healer called Brandon Bays. There must have been nearly a hundred people in that rather grand, light and airy room, all of us there with the hope that we could feel better, that our health would improve. For me it was an incredible experience and my health did improve, almost instantly (within 48hours) and I remained in very good health for at least 6months afterwards. And then additional losses and trials came along and I was ill again. Now that I know the power of forgiveness and the power of apology I can be wise, and say that I should have revisited those traumas and the losses at the time, and my health would not have suffered so. But hindsight is a great thing. Fortunately I know the power of it now and I will never let myself slip back to my old ways again. I value my health too much.
I also had the most privileged experience of running through this visualization exercise with my dear friend when she was dying in our local hospice. She remembered the self-healing workshop in London that I had spoken about and asked me to guide her through it. My goodness it was so unbelievably powerful. Through naps, nurse visits and medication administrations we managed to get the 'visualization journey' done and I know her 'emotional release' will stay with me forever. Tragically my beautiful, clever, fashion-loving friend didn't make it. She didn't heal in a physical sense but she did experience such profound emotional healing before she died. And for the first time in my life I witnessed just how important it is to 'make peace' before you die, to reflect upon past hurts and forgive them; to reflect upon anything said or done that you truly want to apologise for and do it. It's such a self-loving experience. It 'wipes the slate clean' lightens the load, and calms the soul.
The importance of an apology and forgiveness play a crucial part in the Grief Recovery Method too. I know only too well, from a personal and professional perspective just how extremely beneficial this visualisation or reflective relationship work can be - it's hugely beneficial to our emotional, mental and physical wellbeing.
"It's impossible to truly love others until we learn to love ourselves unconditionally first. "
Self love is a big topic here. Moorjani writes that narcissism is born from the complete opposite - "it's lack of self-love and an obsession with seeking attention from others to compensate for the love we are not giving ourselves." A great definition of narcissism. One of her truths on self-love is "The more we love ourselves, the more love we will have to give to others because love grows exponentially (we can't use up love we feel)" My mum used to say 'love was like an elastic band' - it isn't fixed, it just keeps giving. I've always liked that.
Self love is so unbelievably crucial to our wellbeing. If you take a case of someone who is in an abusive relationship, not only is the partner not showing them love but they aren't showing themselves love either, by staying and being on the receiving end of such verbal or physical abuse. True unconditional love starts with the self. It starts with you. Still confused over what self-love is? Think of it as You feeling undeserving of love. That packs a punch doesn't it?
Naturally Moorjani touches upon listening to your inner voice, as it's a crucial element of self love. - We shouldn't do things because we feel we should. We should do things because we want to. The first comes from the head. The latter from the heart. There is a profound difference in the two.
"When you love yourself and know your true worth, there is nothing you cannot do or heal."
Did you know that the healthiest way to live - for your mind, heart and body is to follow your dreams, do the things that make you happy, things that engage you, things that stretch your imagination and make your choices from a place of love not fear. Choices made from fear can take you down a path of illness. Making choices from being a people pleaser too can increase your chances of being deeply unhappy, unfulfilled or ill. Don't be the people-pleaser who dances for everyone except yourself. Dance only for you.
" While it's natural to feel some really hard emotions when dealing with pain and loss, a significant segment of society feels uncomfortable with it. If we follow the supposedly enlightened way of thinking, we are discouraged from having an authentic experience. We are led to believe that if we feel pain, we are failing in some way."
When it comes to emotional and physical pain & loss being told to be 'positive' can be an added burden that is unfair and unnecessary. We always need to 'lean' into our emotions, whether they are positive or negative. That's living your truth. That's having self-love. That's the most sincere and true way to live. In my work as a Loss & Wellbeing Specialist I also deliver The Grief Recovery Method, which also recognises the importance of living your emotional truth. It's natural to feel sad when you are sad. It's natural to feel happy when you are happy. Don't deny the body's natural response - if you do, your health could suffer and you may regret it. Instead lean in and go with it.