Because we have been broken does not mean that we have lost our value or become, as some may horribly declare, ‘damaged goods’. In Japan, the ancient art of ‘kintsugi’ where broken vessels are repaired with gold-dust means that the piece “becomes unique and arguably more beautiful”..so says Rachel Kelly, whose book ‘Walking on Sunshine’ we used extracts from for our group today. Like her we pondered our own cracks and breaks and those of other people we know, who precisely because of those experiences may have more depth of understanding and wisdom. To meet with that in others is indeed as gold-dust to us.
As humans we can all think of times when we have been broken; we have been hurt, made a mistake, failed, done something we regret and made bad decisions, or we may have been deliberately or accidentally harmed by another. These experiences can cause us to lose confidence and trust, as well as feeling guilt, fear, shame, anxious and vulnerable and can lead to ill health, physically, mentally and spiritually, we can also get into states where we feel bitter, angry and resentful and then end up with feelings of self-loathing.
Many of these things can begin to repair as we gain confidence in ourselves and understand our value and worth, so how can we get ‘mended’? It is important that we learn to accept that we make mistakes. We are human, not perfect. All humans make mistakes. For some reasons, despite inherent human frailty, a lot of people have an internal dialogue which continually berates; “you shouldn’t do that, you should do better, I can’t believe you messed that up, idiot, I shouldn’t feel like this, everyone else manages, I must make that change….I’m never going to be good enough…”. It is also important that we forgive ourselves, which is slightly similar to accepting and acknowledging the mistakes, and then to let it go. Holding onto mistakes gets very heavy and makes it hard to look forward. Forgiveness releases us. It may be argued that forgiving others is also more about a release for us than the other, it helps us to release negative feelings and the thoughts that cause them. In a healing process it is also helpful to recognise when it is healthy to feel the feelings and when it is getting unhealthy. For example, anger is a useful emotion, it can indicate that something is not right somewhere, and help us to assert ourselves. It is natural to feel angry if we have been hurt or wronged, however, if the anger is prolonged and becomes all we can think about all day this can become very draining for us as it takes a lot of energy to feel this way and can lead to illness. If we recognise that an emotion has become all consuming in this way it may be helpful to talk it through with someone or look at the beliefs we are holding which may be creating extreme emotions.
Rachel Kelly also talks about ‘Finding your mid-point’. People in the group found this idea helpful because it is not about basing how you feel on external things. Rachel importantly says: “You are not more special when the world smiles on you, nor does your value diminish when things don’t work out. This is your midpoint; a steadying mindset of valuing yourself and your endeavours that is neither inflated by external successes nor punctured by worldly defeat.”
Sometimes group members have talked about how getting out of toxic relationships or situations contributes to a better sense of wellbeing. Sometimes the voices of those toxic relationships may continue in our thoughts. Rachel Kelly says “It can also be helpful to identify the punishing internal drumbeat of noisy opinions belonging to our friends, teachers, relatives, colleagues and particularly our partners.” She talks about nurturing your own voice to guide and direct you.
Finally we talked about the steps we can take to building confidence again and becoming aware of your worth. You have inherent worth because you were born and exist. Rachel talks about having the right to be here and talks about being a child of the universe. Some people of faith may consider themselves a child of God. However you choose to view it, you are precious and unique, and the more you are able to believe this, the more confidence you can grow.