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I Am Who I Am, and I Love Me
by T. Darlene Cheek

From the moment we emerge into this world, our perceptions begin to develop. Every tiny bit of input that we receive helps to make us who we are. If we're lucky, we live in a world where we are loved, supported, encouraged. Much more often however, somewhere down the road of life, we are hurt either physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, or all of these ways. Our senses are what bring things into our mind, and these perceptions of what we sense become a part of us. Let's start by taking a look at the senses.

Sight:

One of our first things we notice as a child about differences is simply whether we're a boy or a girl. From this grow ideas about what is pretty, handsome, etc. Much of this part of our perception is shared among our immediate family, and our childhood friends or siblings. So much of our society is focused on how a person looks. Once we start noticing the difference in other people, we relate that to our own physical appearance and how we feel about that. A child whose parents make fun of someone who is overweight develops a perception that overweight is ugly. Now what if that child grows up to be overweight? Too tall? Too short? Too thin?

Hearing:

Everything we hear is also stored in our subconscious mind. Everyone has a different tone of voice, dialect, accent or pronunciation of words. The words we hear also affect us tremendously. Children who are told they are stupid, or can't do anything right will grow up feeling that way. If we're told we are smart and special and loved, we will feel that, too. We should think about every single word that comes out of our mouth. This isn't true just for children, but for other adults, as well. We may say something off-color that triggers a bad memory that the person had as a child.

Smell:

Even our sense of smell stores memories in our mind. One of the best memories of my childhood is my grandmother's biscuits. Even to this day if I feel bad, I bake. There's nothing more therapeutic for me. This is probably why aromatherapy works so well with people. There are also bad scents that trigger memories for us or make us respond negatively.

Taste:

We grow up with comfort foods. If we need affection and love, we chose something soft and sweet. If we are angry or anxious, we may chose something salty or crunchy. The more we feel one way or another develops poor eating patterns in our lives, and creates an unhealthy body. This creates a cycle of feeling bad about ourselves, over-eating or under-eating, and possible eating disorders.

Touch:

This one is a biggie. How were we touched as children? Were we hugged, caressed, shown affection? Many of us suffered from physical abuse. Those of us who were sexually abused may hurt their entire lifetime or feel that sexual touch is the only way to get attention. People who are physically abused easily accept physical abuse in their adult lives. Even neglect of touch has a poor effect on our holistic health. We then go to any lengths just to feel the touch of another human being.

Now for our holistic health, we need to add one more category - Spirituality: We begin at the beginning. We learn all the spiritual beliefs of our mothers and fathers, or whoever takes us to church for that first time. Somewhere along the way, we begin to develop our personal beliefs, ask questions, search for answers. This is the most difficult task of our lives, especially if we have access to the many different religions and spiritual beliefs in not only our society but other cultures as well. As long as we live, we may continue this search. We'd be hard-pressed to find someone who believes exactly the same thing we believe spiritually. We should never judge another person for their spiritual identity, regardless of what that is. We all have to find our own answers in our own time. This is a special area of our growth where we need to be at peace in our own heart and spirit.

So, where am I going with this? We are all different. With all the input that we receive from that very first day we are born, and continuing every single day that we live, there is absolutely no way that two people will be exactly alike. We are never going to be normal. There is no normal. Whether we've been affected negatively or positively by all the aspects of our growth, we have to learn to accept who we are. We have to love ourselves. Once we do that, we can then accept other people for who they are, and we can love them.

This is no easy task. It takes work, patience, knowledge, and strength. These traits are developed also over a period of time. Take a look at the world around you. See the things that other people have in common with you. See the things that you have in common with other people. We share so many things together along our path. How can we not sympathize with a person who has gone through the same things that we have endured, even if that person is not at the same phase of growth that we have reached? We should strive each day to find ways to heal. In our own healing, we set an example for others to follow so that they can heal. We can look to those who have accomplished things that we haven't been able to and be inspired by their strength.

We cannot heal alone. No one person has all the answers. No one person can save the world. Once we learn to depend on each other, to share with each other, and to grow with each other, we're on the path to healing, but it all starts inside each and every one of us. If we don't love ourselves and accept ourselves for our own special uniqueness, then how will we ever accept other people for theirs? It goes the same the other way around - if we can't see the beauty in another person and accept them and love them for their differences from us, how will we ever recognize that beauty in ourselves?

Healing is a circle. You are a special and beautiful person. Love and accept yourself for your individuality! Dare to be different and proud of it! Discover the unique beauty of another human being, and love them. You will receive that love and acceptance in return. You can see above, all the damage that negative energy can do to a spirit. We can only imagine what pure positive energy can do for our spirit, our emotions, our mind, and even our physical body.

Very simply said, love heals. Start with yourself.

Holistic Therapy @ Suite 101