By Suma Varughese
Suma Varughese is finally getting her relationship with herself right
Having worked on loving myself for the last 20 years or so, I am now beginning to get a palpable sense of what it means to be a source of support and benevolence to oneself. Since one of my close relatives was ill, I went down to the South to support her a couple of times earlier this year. This entailed looking after her, and her son, cooking, and taking care of the myriad chores that crop up in the midst of running a house, rather than a flat. It has left me with an abiding sense of gratitude and respect for all full-time housewives and domestics for holding down such a demanding, often thankless, definitely repetitive job for years on end without throwing up their hands.
On one such morning, I had woken up feeling ill and exhausted. But there was cooking and other things to be done, so I plugged away. Around noon, I felt I could not physically do one more thing, and yet I still had to grate carrots for a vegetable dish. Closing my eyes and slumping against the dining chair, I grated the carrot with my eyes closed, while murmuring all sorts of loving messages to myself. I told myself how proud I was of myself for doing this, how much faith and trust I had in me. I told myself how much I treasured and cherished myself, and that I was sending myself peace, love and joy. Amazingly, by the time I had grated the carrots, my exhaustion had left me, and I zipped about the rest of my tasks as if I had wings on my feet.
Just as negative self-talk drains us of energy, positive self-talk builds it in us
I recognised then that just as negative self-talk drains us of energy, positive self-talk builds it in us. When we speak lovingly to ourselves, we tap into an inexhaustible fund of energy. I am beginning to believe that if I can form this kind of loving partnership with myself, there is almost nothing that I cannot withstand.
It is more than a couple of months since the original breakthrough, and I have been using the time to build up this most primal, important and eternal relationship. It is beautiful to see that the inner space, once so rancid with self-condemnation, is blooming into a loving and benevolent place to which I can always retreat when life downpours on me.
At the same time, because I have more space for myself, and can actively love and accept whatever I am feeling or thinking or experiencing (which includes my inability to accept certain thoughts or feelings), there is more space for the other too. Increasingly, I am getting that the way I receive what others say or do or even think is through my own feelings, thoughts and reactions; therefore, they become my responsibility and the proper thing is to process them from within rather than react to the other.
This is helping me to negotiate with the outside world with greater sureness, and less reactivity.
Recently, I acted unreasonably with a friend, and after the conversation was over, I was beset with uneasiness. I confronted my discomfort, recognised how unfair I had been, forgave myself and behold, the whole event left my system. I did one last thing – I apologised to my friend and with that, peace was restored. Earlier, I might have apologised more because I could not forgive myself and hence needed the other’s forgiveness. At such times, I would wait tensely to get a response from them, and if that were denied me, I would stew with anxiety and even some resentment against them for not responding favourably to the apology.
How wonderful to be able to be one’s one moral support, conscience keeper and confessor. How good to know that I am finally getting the one relationship right that we can confidently say lasts forever.