Dear and treasured one, we're here again together.
You're fond of my visits with you in this format, the way I use your words. You find it helpful, and it's clear you're needing it now, again. So, let us sit a spell and take a closer look at what's troubling you.
You're familiar with this feeling of disconnect, yes? It's the one thing you most struggle with; the one thing that you habitually use as your excuse for not aligning with Me - or your Well-Being, in other words. One guess what it is! Yes, your preoccupation with how you're perceived by others. You return to it again and again. It's your greatest challenge and if you could manage to set this pattern aside, oh, the freedom you would know yourself to be!
You've been going around recently, using words like "social phobia" and speaking of the need to "overcome your social anxieties." These words make things seem very big and significant, don't they? You've not only succeeded in freaking yourself out, but you continue reinforcing the fantasy that you're something separate, something very small - and you are neither. Be mindful of that. It is fun to play a part, I understand...and...in your heart, I know that you want to move beyond the suffering.
I have but one answer for you; I've told you before and it will never change. It is this: go within. Let your breath show you the way back to Me. All you have to do is follow your breath and let that still, inner space between in- and exhalation engulf you. Rest on your chosen mantra. Rest on it; let it take you deeper. I don't have to tell you that that Stillness is who you are. You already know this. Your time in meditation has revealed to you in a visceral way the enormity of all that you're about. And I promise you that you've only hit the tip of the iceberg. The sweet bliss that awaits you is incomprehensible. You just keep doing what you're doing. Every day, take the time to go within. It is a devotion that's needed here. Keep this your practice and in no time at all, you will, in a very conscious way, be living as the Light that you know yourself to be.
With that said, let me acknowledge that right now I know you're overwhelmed and that your pride is hurting. What you fear appears very real to you and I do not discount that. As you tend to do, you find yourself wondering how others will perceive you now that you've admitted how scared you are. You are scared to mingle with your brothers and sisters and now that you've admitted that you're scared, you're scared of how that looks.
But let me reveal to you a little secret, since you like to pretend you don't remember: you are not scared of other people. You are scared of the stories you're telling yourself about those other people. Namely, that they are all judging you for being wrong and for not being good enough. Yes, you have countless versions of the stories you imagine them to be telling, and countless examples of how you're not good enough - but your general inadequacy is what they all boil down to. But, I'll tell you again: it is not the people that you fear. Isn't that exciting! And there is more: the judgments that you fear other people are making about you - or will make about you if and when you put yourself out there - is that they are your stories and your judgments! Yours alone! It just gets better and better, doesn't it!?
Let's say that you decided to sign back up with Meet Up and attend one of their meetings. Close your eyes and imagine it. Really feel it. Imagine yourself walking in the room and the tightness in your chest, the queasy stomach, the blushing of your cheeks, your impulse to run. What is it that you are fearing exactly? What is so horrific about walking in to a simple room with a group of strangers interested in coming together for the same reason that you are? Are they pointing and laughing at you? Are they wielding knives? Are they insulting you, spitting in your face? In your name, do they gather in a circle to make official their common distaste, taking turns listing your flaws, one by one? Take a moment. Can you see the absurdity? Can you acknowledge how extremely unlikely these things would be? Can you acknowledge that the things you fear almost never come to pass? Can you acknowledge that even if someone were thinking negative things about you, most likely they'd never even say it - so how would you ever even know? How would it even affect you if you weren't sitting there pondering all the negative possibilities?
I tell you this: if you were privy even for a minute to the thoughts taking place in other people's minds while you're sitting there mentally and physically stressed, wondering how you measure up, imagining what other people are thinking about you - if just for a moment! You would lay this obsession down in a heartbeat, never to have a moment's worry about this subject again. You'd not only be done worrying with your fears and concerns, but your compassion would skyrocket and you'd be focused solely on how you could bring aid and comfort to others.
A major factor that vexes you are the physical sensations. You've come to associate the physical discomfort of the body that arises with taking part in different social interactions. Over time, you've developed this reflex. Yes, certain nervous systems lend themselves to stress and anxiety more innately than others, and yours clearly does, but this is not something that can't be worked with. Indeed, it was meant to be worked with - to be played with. It needn't rule you. Allow the discomfort to be. And as you face these types of situations more and more, you will notice them and say, "Oh, yes, there the body goes again. Here comes the racing heartbeat. Here is the face, blushing, right on time. The sensations will finish, be on their way, and then I can look for the fun there is to be had in this situation and in this moment" - which is the very point of your existence, anyway! It is extraordinarily simple when you allow the moment - and the people in it - to be as they are without interpreting what it all means. That acceptance of things is where Love is found and where your sense of power can be reclaimed. After all, if you return to the present moment, where is the problem? It is simply a nervous system doing what it has been conditioned to do - no more, no less. Without the story of past and future and what kind of "dysfunctional" person that you decide these conditions must make you - you are simply present, being perfectly as you are. And be done with what others may be thinking! Who You Really Are is invisible to others anyway! Your true nature is beyond the mind - yours and theirs - so be done with them! There is an ease to be found living in this way. Is this not worth more practice, more dedicated investigation? Isn't this worth trying out and discovering for yourself what you're capable of - of knowing what you actually are? This isn't something you have to do. Really. It's the way things actually are! It's just a matter of consistently noticing when you're engaging in thoughts that would cover this knowing up.
Again, I want to acknowledge your sense of struggle. I know that it hurts and that it feels extremely real for you. For lifetimes, you have practiced certain reactions. You've attached yourselves to, and worshipped, your stories of separateness and duality. You've gotten swept up in the drama and you've come to believe samsara more than you believe in yourself. And this is the Way of it. This is the miracle, the beauty, the frustration and fun of it. We are waking up, You and I. This little chapter in your story, this circumstance, this little fear that you're right now reckoning with - it couldn't even begin to contain You if it tried.
Now hear this; this is important: what you really fear when you look in the eyes of another person, or even just in your imagining of interacting with another person, is their judgment of you for existing in a way that YOU wish you were not existing. Don't you see that it is your own disapproval that you fear? You don't like your circumstances - so change them. Is it that you don't like how you behave, look, feel? So do something about it. Tell your story in a different way. This is your ticket out of the "social anxiety" conundrum you fancy yourself plagued with. When you are living the life that you adore, when you choose to live the life of your dreams and do your best to exist in every possible way that feels right for you, your fear in the face of others will evaporate. It is not the judgments of others that paralyze you. It is your own lack of self-respect and your own disappointment that embarrasses you, that makes you feel awkward and less than. It is your own failure to live out of your integrity that leaves you broken hearted. No one outside you has that power. When you look in the mirror and are thrilled by what you see, when you get up in the morning excited for the day you intend to have, when you celebrate the blood flowing in your veins, when you are grateful for the breath that takes you Home, when you know that you are doing what you were born to do, knowing that you are making the best use of every moment that you're given - your fear, your sense of separation, your sense of anything less than unadulterated Love and Joy will cease to be a burden.
This is your work; it is your ticket out, so listen very closely as I tell you again: you are to decide Who You Are, What You Want, and then to go BE that. All else will unfold in response to that. Remember - your ideas will change and it's okay to change along with them. You are meant to. But only when you are rooted in Me, satisfied and proud of what you're moving towards every day, and content with who you are choosing to be in every moment, will the opinions of others no longer enslave you.
When you are faced with fear - and you will be; that's just the way things are - remember that even that fear is Me. It's just a fleeting wave on the ocean that I am. Where do you think this "awful" conditioning came from? Where do you suppose this "wonderful" awakening process you're going through came from? Me! I set this all in motion! I gave rise to all of it! And I did it for you. It is all just a carnival to savor.
It is easy for you to walk in the breeze and feel Me there. You can share laughter and secrets with those you love and know that I am present. You eagerly celebrate Me in the moments that you call good. But I'm here to remind you that they are all good, all of them holy. Even the ones that terrify you, enrage you, and cause you despair.
I am with you in every moment and always have been. I am the group of children who teased you as a child, the first ones in your present lifetime to plant the seeds of doubt - and throughout your life, I've tended to their growth. I am every person who ever hurled the word "faggot" at you. I am every person who has ever challenged you, questioned your power, or deemed you wrong. I laughed at you. I put you down. I am every person who has ever upset you or made you feel unsafe. I am every perceived enemy that has crossed your path, those you reacted to with hate. I am the curly-haired Brazilian that took your breath away, and your best friend from high school, loyal and unconditionally accepting - both of whom could never quite give you what you were hoping for. I am the friends and the infatuations who've walked away. I am every person who has made you cry. I am every person and situation that you fear. I am the very brain chemistry that supports these reactions. I am your past suicidal stirrings. I am the madness you've lived with. I am the charcoal swallowed, the pumping of your stomach. I am the purging - and renewal. All of these have been Me, every last one. Are you surprised? Can you see it?
And do you know what I was saying to you, that innocent little boy, that needy, manipulative young man you were, the hopeful, resilient adult? While you were seeing unfairness and experiencing sorrow, I was all the while saying "I love you." I might have appeared to you cold or thoughtless. My words or actions might have been less than kind. But if you were listening, I was saying, "I love you." Sometimes you could hear me and sometimes you couldn't. Sometimes you saw through my different disguises and sometimes you didn't. But all were Me. Do you see now the gifts I was giving you, my clever hints? Do you realize now what I was up to? I was bringing you back Home. I was setting you up for your own liberation. I was nudging you back towards the truth of who You are, of who I am. When you look back on all the dream figures that have hurt you and have made you afraid, can you see Me now? Can you look back on your memories and forgive Me? Equally as important, will you remember this the next time I show up in your experience looking less than friendly, maybe even horrifying? It's all that I am ever doing, all that I am ever up to. I just want you to come back Home. I'm just giving you the opportunity to realize and demonstrate for yourself that you already are Home - that you are God Itself, that you are Me.
My ongoing invitation, to be done with your story of past and future, and of the "you" that you're so enamored and repulsed by, still stands. I invite you only to engage in the play of Leela when it brings you joy and to cast it aside when it does not. I invite you, again and again, to question your thoughts, explore your self-concepts, and to see yourself - your ego rather - as the mental phantom that it is. I invite you to get out of yourself and to quit taking yourself so seriously.
Just do your best. And be scared if you need to. Because you're going to be, anyway - until you're not. It's all very okay, so be easy about it. Consider that just your openness to new possibilities is in itself brave.
And when you can, as soon as you can, reach out to the world in all the ways that you long to. Remind them (as well as yourself) what you've come to know: that there is only I - and that they are perfect as such.
Until next time, my courageous one.