Ever been given a compliment and instantly shied away from it or watered it down to a point it was unrecognisable to you? Almost as if it bounced off and didn’t land where you knew it was intended for. How about if someone said something mean or seemingly nice but it was covered in spikes and ill intent? Those, in comparison, tend to cut through and make a lovely little nest inside of you. Granted this isn’t the case for everyone but I reckon it rings true for most. It certainly rings true for me.
This year has had some life changing events for me. My one hour meeting with a psychic-medium being one and five days in the desert at Afrika Burn being the other. The latter was were I was confronted with this notion of struggling with compliments and positivity. Be it how much people loved my thought out outfits, how beautiful I am or what a phenomenal dancer I am. None of these were untrue. It’s not that I didn’t know any of these things deep down inside. Under that shimmering blanket of stars in an endless sky, I did. I do. It’s just that somewhere along the way you’re made to feel bad for being so sure about your gifts. You get bullied, called names or even defriended because God forbid you make someone else feel small.
After the burn I came back feeling so raw. Exposed. As if people could see inside of me. Everything I had felt and shared with all those strangers from all corners of the world. All those strangers who too were dancing in vulnerability wanted nothing from me. Nothing but the truth. They lost nothing in themselves from these exchanges. If anything, I surely believe more was gained.
I shared these feelings with my housemate Andrew the week we got back from Tankwa. What he said to me shook the hell out me. While I was busy freaking out about feeling so vulnerable and being overwhelmed by how easily accepting of me people were, he hit the pause button and pointed out how I’ve mastered the art of navigating this world expecting negativity. Be it from my skin colour, my sexual orientation, being from a broken home, my dorkiness or strange humour. The list is probably much longer than this, but you get the point. I am so well equipped in receiving negativity and knowing where to put it. This behaviour leaves no space for positive reinforcement. So I get awkward or shy about it. Mostly because even though it’s true… I myself don’t believe it.
Fast-forward to Bushfire while having a conversation with friends Sisi and Sisana. We were sitting around our campsite during a magnificent sunset and at one point they began showering me praise about this very blog and my sense of style. What does Aya do? He gets all weird and tries to redirect the compliments to something else. Sisana, bless her heart, immediately clocked this behaviour and then made up “negative” things to say to me to prove the point that I would accept them easier than I would the positive truth. This led to further dissection of the sources to my ease and comfort of receiving negativity externally and internally. I’m still dissecting. It was as if they were listening in on everything I had spoken to Andrew about.
In the last few months I’ve gotten better at letting the negative bounce off with no room to make any damn nests. What has helped a lot is from listening and finding readings from spiritual teacher and author, Marianne Williamson. I’ve taught myself to channel what I was overwhelmed with during and after the burn into the place it originated from. A place of love. Love of self and love of all living things. The negative stuff operates from a place of fear. To tie the essence of this post with what Marianne so simply but powerfully says – “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.” I do not fear the negativity because I know it. It’s comfortable. I’ve mostly lived within it. The real fear is in the positive. For me it has been uncomfortable. Tapping into that power and light is the real tough stuff.
So I say let’s accept and receive the kind words from friends and strangers who want nothing more than to spread the positive thoughts they have for us. Give back that positivity a thousand fold and always trust and believe in what we know. Speak, act, live and give from a place of love. There is such rebellion in that. Let’s rebel.