In the journey of our life, we walk alone. We may be surrounded by great love. However, it is our relationship with ourselves that shapes our experience. Author Matt Kahn has said, “Don’t watch yourself like a hawk, be with yourself like a spirit guide”. It is here that we can cultivate a sacred intimacy. We often become lost in the relentless scrutiny of our words, actions or feelings. We may be shaming our every move through the lens of fierce judgment. Scoring ourselves with a passing or failing grade. Hovering above without empathy.

I remember the moment while sitting alone on a 30-day retreat that I felt a transformation into a deeper self-compassion. Leaning in with a recognition that I needed to befriend myself. While I had not been unkind to myself in the past, this was a shift into being a trusted spiritual ally. Whispering encouragement while honoring my efforts to awaken. When we meet our suffering with tenderness, we begin. a relationship of self-love. When we judge or shame ourselves, we strengthen the estrangement from our heart and soul. It is essential to stop throwing stones at ourselves.

We can illuminate the shadows we see within as opportunities to grow rather than as deficits to criticize. We have become so deeply enamored with devaluing ourselves. It is the silent pandemic. When the Dalai Lama was asked about the pervasive issue in the U.S. of unworthiness, he was initially confused and genuinely surprised. His response was, “But that’s a mistake. Every being is precious”. Such a beautiful understanding of the divinity in our humanity. The enormous power of a mindfulness meditation practice is that we develop the ability to stop identifying with thoughts which are demeaning. When seen in the light of loving awareness, they vanish like empty bubbles.

We can honor ourselves. Naming and claiming how far we have come during the past year. Allowing a feeling of pride to arise. How we speak to ourselves matters. The story we tell others about ourselves may reinforce this feeling of inadequacy. Unworthiness is a costume we wear rooted in the illusion that we really are not good enough. My dear friends, this is a myth that may have begun early in our life. We can apply the balm of truth to these painful wounds. It is here that we can appreciate our apprenticeship of learning how to love.

May we be free of self-judgment.

May we hold our heart with respect.

May we be a beloved spirit guide for ourselves.

Mitch Davidowitz, M.S.W., M.Ed., Ed.S.  is a psychotherapist, educator, and photographer. He is a writer who speaks to the challenging issues of our time and his inspirational work is known and followed globally. Mitch is rooted in Theravada Buddhism which he has been practicing for almost 50 years. He has studied extensively with Ram Dass, Jack Kornfield, Joseph Goldstein, and Sharon Salzberg. Mitch has been training healthcare and mental health professionals around the United States since 1984 in the compassionate care of the bereaved. He has been an invited speaker for the annual conferences of the National Hospice Organization and the National Association of Social Workers. He is currently in private practice outside of Boston, Massachusetts.