The following is an exert from Stephanie Clark’s recently published book, Inspirations, 21 Daily Reflections to Rediscovering Your Authentic Self.
Life can be a long and complicated journey. Each life is different with distinct challenges. Yet, even with the uniqueness of every individual, there are common questions that we all must face. “Am I worthy of love?” “Does my life matter?” “What is my purpose?” These are powerful questions that impact us all and direct our lives.
The fear of not being worthy or good enough appeared for me in my own life in a variety of ways. As a mental health provider, I could see that many of the people I worked with struggled with similar issues also. I began to look inside myself and reflect on my own fears, digging into my own inner knowing to find answers that could provide me comfort. This book is the end product of that personal journey.
I wrote the following stories originally for myself. They were born from images or messages I would receive in meditation practice. I started to share these stories with others, who also felt inspired by them. With much love and encouragement, I have put these stories together in the book you are now reading with the hope that others will start to see themselves in a different way, as I now do.
The following daily exercises are meant to address the deep rooted issues that live inside of us all. The stories and reflections are messages of hope and love. They are universal messages that speak to the human condition. They are not intended to preach a certain doctrine but are meant to inspire, promote, and spread a message of acceptance and validation regardless of who is reading them.
The term “Spirit” in these works refers to the ever-present Life Source that exists all around us. It is a term that I feel fits this energy best, as it uplifts my own spirit and is present in all things. However, if there is a term that feels better to you or a term that you feel more comfortable using for your own beliefs, change it out so that the following speaks to you in the truest sense.
These stories have a message that is both simple and profound, specific, and expansive. Some may impact you more than others. Many have the same message in different forms or speak to the same issues. This is intentional, as revisiting the same topic in a variety of ways helps to solidify the message. I have designed this book to be a 21-day experience in rejecting fear and embracing love. You are welcome to read all the reflections at once, but I feel the messages are best understood as stand-alone daily exercises. I would encourage you to read one a day, then review the reflection questions at the end of the story and try out the mantra in your daily life if it resonates with you.
My hope for you after reading Inspirations is that you will begin to think of yourself as someone who is worthy of love and deserves an abundant existence. I know these messages have helped me to feel empowered in my own life. When I was journaling about being anxious to share this work with others, I received the message of “Inspirations is an outward manifestation of your inner consciousness and what can be greater?” May this speak to you in a way that allows you to shine like never before.
Exercise 1: Forgiveness
No one in this life is perfect. You will make mistakes in your lifetime, as will others. Sometimes other people are unkind, disrespectful, and cause you pain. This can be intentional or unintentional on their part. Sometimes people are so far removed from their own spirit and sense of humanity that they are unable to access the truest part of themselves, which is pure love. This results in a life being driven by the ego and fear, which can produce painful outcomes.
Other times you feel hurt by someone when no hurt was intended. This is usually due to past conditioning on your part. Another person’s comment or action triggers a deep-seated wound, and you experience the pain all over again. There are times that you likely have inflicted similar pain to others, even if you were not aware of it, as you cannot know the history that every person carries.
Being hurt by others is a situation that we all will face. At times, this is out of your control and is unprovoked. You may end up harboring resentment or ill will towards other people who have inflicted pain on you. You may see yourself as the victim and feel that you are justified in your resentment and judgments of them. Many hold a belief that to forgive someone is “weak,” or that by forgiving another, you are excusing their past poor behavior. This is a false perception. The truth is that forgiveness neither excuses other’s behavior nor makes you become somehow weakened. Forgiveness has the opposite effect and is fortifying.
You cannot change other people. It is impossible to walk their path and alter how they treat you. You cannot force someone to feel sorry for what they have done or said. You cannot force someone to see your exact perspective, as no one sees your life exactly as you do. The only thing you are in charge of is your own behavior and your own energy. You are in control of the way you think of yourself and others. You are in control of the resentful feelings you harbor against others, be they justified or not. You are in control of having judgmental and negative thoughts. These negative emotions are steeped in fear and weigh down your day-to-day existence.
As you walk your path, remember that each time someone mistreats you that you face a choice. The event occurs, someone has caused you pain. Someone has placed a heavy stone in your path. You have two options, acknowledge this obstacle and move around it, or lift the stone and strap it to your back. You may wonder why would anyone strap a heavy stone to their back and carry this burden with them. To look at the situation from this perspective, it would seem strange to choose to weigh yourself down with an unwanted load. However, every time you elect to harbor resentment and judgments against others, this is exactly the choice that you are deciding on.
As life unfolds and you encounter unpleasant situations, you may choose time and time again to lift up the stones, strap them to your back with rope, then continue to trudge along. To live this way is exhausting and painful, both physically and emotionally. The stones weigh your body down and begin to slowly break your back. Emotionally, the stones create an energy of heaviness, and your mind grows weary. A person living this way moves along their path slowly, as each stone impedes their progress. Even if a person can sense their life’s purpose and what work needs to be finished, it is hard to advance with years of stones crushing your daily existence.
To become aware of your burdens is the first step. For many, they have carried the stones for so long that they do not even remember that this is not the natural way that a body should feel. They can no longer feel the stones as separate. The stones feel like a part of their actual physical existence. Once you become aware of the stones’ presence, try to identify them. See the stones for what they really are, an outside experience that happened to you that you then chose to carry from that moment forward.
The second step is to look down at your hands. You have been carrying scissors with you this entire time. The scissors are made of forgiveness. Allow the scissors to free you from your heavy load. Cut away the cords and feel the difference in your body and spirit. You are slowly freeing yourself from the colossal weight of judgments and resentments. Let the stones fall and leave them where they land on the path. You are free of them now. Notice how the stones did not disappear. You did not erase or excuse the past by cutting the stones from your back. You simply are giving yourself the gift of being able to walk upright for the first time in so long, stretching your weary back and looking upward to the sky. You are giving yourself the gift to move forward on your path, vivacious and light.
You could decide to go back and sit on the stones, kick them around, or be stuck again, but why move backward? This is not progress. Acknowledge the past painful memories and accept that you chose to strap the stones to yourself. Decide to forgive yourself for this and release the past. Allow it to stay on the ground. Feel the relief, and keep your eyes ever looking forward, not back. Know that there will be more stones ahead, as no path is totally free of obstacles. Remember that you, again, have a choice to move past the stones or strap them onto you once more. Sometimes it takes practice to remember that all stones can remain on the ground.
Your scissors are always sharp and ready. Forgiveness is a tool that is always available for you to use. It is easy to carry, as it weighs nothing. Keep your scissors in your hand and move forward knowing that you have the ability and capacity to overcome any obstacle. No stone is so enormous that you are forced to remain stuck behind it forever. No stone has the requirement that you must pick it up.
Also, remember that you can use your scissors to cut the cords of the stones that you have created for yourself. Your own self-judgments and guilt for past mistakes all become stones that you carry with you. You are worthy of releasing yourself from carrying these burdens. You are worthy of forgiveness, as all souls are. Use your scissors daily. Love and forgive yourself. Love and forgive others. The stones in your life are the same stones that many struggle with. It is impossible to cut another’s binding cords for them, but you can show others the tools that you carry that have allowed you to be free. Encourage others to look down at their capable hands. Set an example to others by walking upright and unimpeded. Appreciate how light you feel with the beautiful energy of forgiveness always surrounding you, stretching your glorious body upright to the sky.
1. What are the burdens, or resentments that you are choosing to carry for yourself? How does this impact your daily existence? Are there any resentments that you are willing to release at this time? Is there a particular burden that is the most wearisome?
2. For today, sit in a quiet, meditative state for 10-15 minutes. You may want to set a timer to go off at the allotted time, or you may choose to just do the meditation experience until it feels right for you to stop. To start, sit in a comfortable position and try to limit interruptions. Close your eyes and start to take slow, deep breaths. Focus on your breathing, inhaling and exhaling. Next, imagine yourself releasing one of your stones, one resentment that you are willing to let go of, to the ground. Visualize yourself cutting this past hurt/resentment away. Feel the stone leave your body and land on the ground. See the stone as detached and separate from you. Now sit for the remainder of the meditation time with the sensation of you being free of this burden. During your meditation experience, if you find yourself getting distracted, focus back on your breathing until you feel centered again, and then continue with your exercise. Journal afterward about any emotions or resistance that came up for you during this experience.
Daily Mantra: “I cut away the stones of resentment and give myself the gift of forgiveness.”
About the Author: Stephanie Clark is a psychiatric/mental health nurse practitioner living in Idaho. She is passionate about helping others live an empowered existence and has worked in the mental health field for ten years. She enjoys spending time with her family, traveling and exploring the beauty that life has to offer.
Life can be a long and complicated journey. Every life is different with distinct challenges. Yet, even with the uniqueness of each individual, there are common issues that emerge which impact our lives.
In Inspirations 21 Daily Reflections for Rediscovering Your Authentic Self, Stephanie Clark, a Psychiatric/Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, shares 21 uplifting stories and exercises on releasing doubt, overcoming limiting self-perceptions, and living from a place of authenticity and fulfillment. The messages provided are both simple and profound, specific and expansive. They encourage us to reject fear, embrace love and trust our own inner guidance.
The stories and reflections are messages of hope, reminding each of us that we are worthy of love and deserve an abundant existence. You can purchase the book here.