The Art of Being
Deborah Chandler, Ph.D.
I grew-up mistaking performance for love. When I performed audiences applauded. If I did a really good job, I felt more loved. It’s a strange way to know oneself: as an object, a spectacle.
I had no idea who I was beyond the performance. What happened when I did a poor performance? I was now un-loveable. Unfortunately, this conditional acceptance confused me for years.
Over time, I learned that my striving for acceptance was based on fear. I was afraid of saying or doing the wrong thing, being inappropriate. My fear was based on shame, the secret knowledge that, deep in my heart, I knew that I was not good enough.
This confusion between performance and my self-worth pervaded my life. I’d barter for love with performance, intelligence, acquisitions, throwing more into the arena, wanting to be recognized and praised.
What would happen if I knew and lived as if I were unconditionally loved, not for what I did, but for the fact that I existed?
So, I started an experiment. I started living as if I were loved, unconditionally, not for anything I did, but for existing. At first, I would mechanically expand my chest, pull back my shoulders and let warmth pass from me. With these actions, my chest was more open to transmit and receive love. I felt my heart area expanding. I smiled more. I was happier.
Doubts would arise. Did I do a good job? Did I say the right thing? I would focus back on my chest, letting my breath expand me. The uncertainty about my worth would dissolve, as I let the love exist within me.
I felt freed from others’ opinions. I just had to focus on the love at my core. When I would feel the shame rising, I would expand around it, leaving the darkness behind as I let love move through me.
As a person who loves to analyze every nuance of my angst, this was new. I was mechanically side-stepping my history and my hang-ups and redefining myself in each moment as a person of love.
I like this new way of being. Not in-love but of-love. Even when I disapprove of my actions or words, I can find the warmth emanating from my core. I haven’t stopped trying to improve my actions and words, but I have stopped judging my entire being by every subtlety of my life.
Love really has no conditions. Love just is. The synergistic energy that creates our universe seems to have a glow of love. The very frisson of interaction emanates an aura of love. I don’t know why. It just seems to be that way. Makes me happy to be of-love.