174 QUESTION: I feel a terrific battle going on right now in relation to my self-esteem. It feels like an atomic explosion. I realize I’m stuck in my own limitations. I realize that I can’t stand pleasure. Coming from my habitual state of unpleasure, pleasure almost seems unnatural.
ANSWER: If you can conceive of yourself as the essence of life, with all its incredible powers, possibilities and inherent potentials, you will indeed know that you are deserving of your own esteem and acceptance. You will be able to see the traits you hate and still not lose sight of who you essentially are.
I also suggest a specific exercise you might find quite helpful. Put down in writing everything that you dislike about yourself. Have it down in black and white. Look at those traits when they are written down. Then feel into yourself and ask, “Do I really believe that this is all there is to me? Do I really believe that I must be these traits all my life? Do I believe I have the possibility to love? Do I hold forces locked up in me that contain all the good imaginable?”
By raising these questions seriously, you will get an answer on a deeply feeling level, a level where the answer is more than a theoretical concept. You will experience a new power in you that you do not need to fear, and a new gentleness and softness that does not need hostility or other defenses. Then you will know how much there is in you to love and respect.
You have recently come across, in your personal Pathwork, a very specific misconception that makes loving impossible as long as you harbor it. Since loving is equated with the terrible danger of being totally impoverished, even robbed of your very life, how can you want to love? How can you let yourself love?
According to this false idea, giving of yourself means losing what you give without ever being replenished. If this were true, love would indeed be impossible and giving a folly. Is it now conceivable for you to see that this is not so – that reality is different?
And if you can see that love comes from the same inexhaustible well as wisdom, as all life does, can you further perceive that you will not need to deny your own natural instinct that wants to reach out, that wants the pleasure of feeling love, warmth, and giving of yourself?
And can you still foresee the next natural, organic step in the chain, which is that if you can love, you will inevitably love yourself? This is the reason why you fear pleasure. For pleasure not only seems entirely undeserved, but love and pleasure are interchangeable.
True pleasure is loving, and without loving, pleasure just does not exist. This is not a reward from outside, or even from your own self. Love is pleasure and pleasure is love; the two are interchangeable.
If you harbor love feelings, your whole body is in a blissful vibration, with certainty, with security, with peace, with stimulation, with excitement in the most relaxed, pleasurable way. That cannot come through anything that is given to you when you are merely a recipient. It comes when you vibrate with this feeling.
Nor does this mean that you do not also receive love. The giving and receiving become so interchangeable that it can often no longer be discerned which is which. Both become indistinguishable in one movement.
But if your nature is as yet incapable of allowing the feeling of love, you must fear bliss, since bliss and loving are the same thing. The misconception that giving is losing causes you to close up and contract in all situations that might bring forth your natural instincts. When you deny love and pleasure, you must inevitably also deny your self-esteem.
Your key must lie in seeing that your inability to love is not an inborn aspect that you alone harbor forever. It is a temporary block to loving, based on some false premises, which exist on a deeper level of your emotional experience. You can change this misconception any moment you truly and fully look at it.
QA240 QUESTION: I have been brought into a situation where I’ve had to look at my relationship to my singing. I had to sing an exam and first I gave myself laryngitis. Then I sang and was given a very low mark and very negative feedback. I was devastated out of all proportion to this, and felt that I had to hide from everyone. I saw a mechanism in myself whereby I desperately feel that I have to work and work to be perfect, to get the love and get what I really need. At the same time, I feel I stab myself because I’m saying all along, I can’t really do it because I’m totally worthless. I would appreciate some comment.
ANSWER: As I indicated in the last lecture [Lecture #240 Aspects of the Anatomy of Love: Self-Love, Structure, Freedom], when self-love is attempted to be attained through means other than genuine self-esteem and appreciation for yourself, then all these attempts must fail. And in that sense, it is good that they fail. It is as though your innermost beings reminds you “these are false solutions.”
If you pin too much hope, too much energy, too much emphasis on the false means, then even the rightful purpose, say of an art you can express, becomes destructive. It is better that you fail in this art than if you succeed. Because if you would succeed and obtain all of the gratification from it, you would deceive yourself that this establishes your self-esteem and your self-love. And you would be only encouraged to continue along this road.
The temporary failure can be used by you for great advantage to really make you see the false endeavor, and the waste and the strain that this imposes upon your whole being. You need to truly decide inside of you – with all your heart and all your soul and all your will and all your intentionality, and praying for your ability to follow it through – to put your main emphasis on finding your inner being; that you are ready to make any sacrifice for that and do anything for that.
First establish connection with your inner center. Remove all the obstacles and remove all the misconceptions and face every particle of yourself in a spirit of truth. If you make this commitment and follow it through, all else will fall into place.