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“The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.” ~ Carl Rogers
We are all paradoxes. We will always be paradoxes.
Paradox-–a situation, person, or thing that combines contradictory features or qualities.
Once upon a time, I thought we were defined by our opinions, thoughts, attitudes, likes and dislikes. By our styles, our jobs, our clothes and our hobbies. By our successes and our failures.
I see differently now.
After a life of paradoxes, contradictions and clinging to identities that weren’t me, I realize that at any moment we are anything. We are everything we have ever been and we are none of those things.
And we can be anything in between. At any moment we can be whatever we choose to be. If we just let go.
I have been good, and I have been bad (legally speaking).
I have been shy and anxiety ridden, awkward and panicked, and I have been an all star athlete, bright, friendly and outgoing.
I have been a helpful, polite, well-behaved daughter, and I have been any parent’s worst nightmare.
I have been a straight-A honor roll student, and I have failed out of classes too.
I have been a dream employee ,and I have been fired for doing a terrible job.
I have paid bills (on time) and been a stand-up’member of society, and I have been a homeless junkie.
I have had money in the bank, and I have been flat broke on welfare.
I have travelled around the world, and I have run away around the country.
I have been kind and generous, and I have been mean and selfish.
I have partied with the rockstars, and partied with the street bums.
I have been hard as nails, and soft as silk.
I have been social, and I have been a loner.
I have had walk in closets full of clothing, shoes and trinkets, and I have had what I wear on my back.
I have been love, and I have been hate.
I have been anorexic and skinny, and I have been fat.
I have been an adoring girlfriend and homemaker, and I left all that to see the world on my own.
I have been a cancer patient and I have been the picture of health.
I have been an angry, aggressive a$$hole, and I have been a peaceful, zen yogi (this is what I strive for—often falling short).
I have been honest, and I have lied straight to the face of the one I loved.
I have been a carnivore, and I have been a vegan (this one I still practice).
I have been loyal, and I have screwed over my closest friends.
I have been a predator, and I have been prey.
I have had brand new designer clothes, and I have worn second hand donations.
I have been the picture of “success”—relationship, house, dogs, cars, 4.0 GPA in nursing school, friends, clothes, social life, and I have been the picture of ‘”failure”—homeless, drunk, strung out, angry, lying, thieving, running fool.
I have been dark, and I have been light.
I used to think these things defined us, that they made us bad or good. Lovable or unlovable. Worthy or unworthy.
But we are none of these past images, yet we are all of them. The experiences and lives we live touch our souls to age us, give us soul wisdom and keep us hungry for more living.
I realize now that everything is just a practice.
When we can step away from the dualistic labeling and attachments that our society teaches us, we can see the bigger picture.
We can see how we are all one and the same, we are linked on a journey. We are all doing the best we can at any given moment with what we know.
When we realize that the way we see the world is just a reflection of what we truly are inside at any moment, we realize we are responsible for our own happiness and our own identities.
When we can stop and see that the person we want to label and judge is just an incarnation of what we have been at some point in our lives, or what we may be at another point in our many lives, we find a new softness. We find true compassion, and we drop our need to judge and be better than or less than.
We may be young or we may be old in our physical bodies but our souls are older than this. Our souls live 100 lives in this one body, and live 1,000 lives over time. Our experiences just give us wisdom if we choose, or they can define us and control us. In meditation we can observe these truths.
In this wisdom if we choose it, we find equality. We find humility and love.
And this is our true identity.
Author: Lindsay Carricarte
Editor: Khara-Jade Warren