LIVING THE SOULFUL LIFE
By Scott Kalechstein

 

Handle Yourself With Care

Treating yourself like a precious object will make you strong.
                                                          — Julia Cameron
                                                            The Artist’s Way

I want to share with you how I am developing a close, loving relationship with the person I am going to spend the rest of my life with: myself. To describe the dynamics of this relationship, allow me to take you on a guided tour through my psyche. You will meet The Critic, Big Scott, Little Scott and Swami Scott. These are mythic characters that I will bring to life through a playful blend of fantasy and reality.

The loudest aspect of my insides is The Critic. The critic’s job is to constantly draw attention to what is seemingly wrong with other people, the world, and especially myself. Tracing back my critic’s family tree, I found out the first of its ancestors came to America with the Pilgrims on the Mayflower. Historians noted that the critic was often seen in the back of the ship, gazing in Europe’s direction, muttering things like, “This was a big mistake. I should have stayed home. I should have known better!” (The critic is quite fond of the word should.)

The critic learned about life from watching too much tunnelvision, fixated on the channels of right and wrong, good or bad. Left to himself, he would continue to watch his black and white tunnelvision set all day long, enjoying being in remote control of how we picture life. But lucky for us, we have Big Scott to guide the critic away from his old programs. Big Scott is a voice of love and support that we’ve been developing over the years. When the critic barks at us in his usual righteous tone, “You did that wrong again! You’ll never be good enough!” Big Scott might switch off his TV and take him outside to gaze at nature. “Look, Mr. Critic.” (The critic listens best when called “Mr.”) “Look at all these different bushes and flowers. None of them are exactly alike. Are any of them right? Are any wrong? Are there any mistakes or flaws in nature? And aren’t we a part of nature?”

Big Scott’s main job, besides pacifying the critic, is to take good care of our inner child, Little Scott. Without firm and loving parental guidance, Little Scott tends to get himself in trouble. He might choose to eat things that taste great going down, but make us feel sluggish for hours later. He might run across the street without looking both ways for cars. He has even been known to run and dive heart-first into a relationship, forgetting that he can’t swim in such deep waters without Big Scott pacing his strokes and keeping him afloat.

In Little Scott’s room there is a special intercom. This line is directly hooked up to the inner critic, and when the critic gives the self a shame sermon, the child hears it on his speakerphone. This is very painful for him, and he usually hides under the covers, trembling in the dark until Big Scott comes to nurture and love him up. Like any parent, Big Scott is learning how to care for Little Scott through life’s most effective on the job training program: trial and error.

Big Scott has one more job, listening to and acting on the guidance of Swami Scott. Swami Scott is a wise and powerful being who lives on a high mountain peak in our inner Him-alayas, somewhere between our eyebrows. Swami Scott has only one disciple, and he encourages complete inner-dependency. After taking many workshops and seminars, and studying with other swamis, personal contact with Swami Scott is one of my greatest joys. I sit at his feet in confidence, knowing I never need fear giving him my power. He is my power!

And now to formally introduce Little Scott. We used to think that being an adult meant not being childlike anymore. But look into any adult’s heart and you will find a child in there, no matter how grown up they appear to have packaged themselves. My inner child is a vulnerable, playful , brilliantly creative and exquisitely sensitive child of God. He feels life to the fullest. He can feel anger, hurt, sorrow, fear, regret, joy and ecstasy, sometimes all in the passing of one hour. But he can also hide really well from those feelings if he thinks he is not safe.

For much of life Little Scott did not feel safe to feel. Parents, teachers, other kids, and the inner critic all seemed to gang up on him and contribute to his not having a safe space to explore emotions. So the kid learned to make it in the world by hiding, which translated to many years of substance abuse. The disconnection from feelings went deep. I even found spiritual pursuits could be used to numb out. My first ten years of meditation, though helpful in many ways, were also used as a form of emotional anesthesia for the layers of pain my inner child carried.

What Little Scott needed was for Big Scott to learn to come into his room and listen to his feelings, with empathy and acceptance. The child needed a loving presence, a consistent inner friend who would be there for him without judgment or diagnosis. Little Scott tried to find that love through sexual relationships. Women would come and go, but the emptiness of not having his own inner connection would return. In that emptiness he cried out, asking for love and nurturing in the only ways he knew how. He cried through addiction. He cried by not letting Big Scott reach his goals. He cried until the criticism, the constant high-speed busyness, or other forms of self-abandonment would stop and Big Scott would come into his consciousness for a loving bedside chat.

Those chats have become the cornerstone of my recovery, my highest and holiest act of meditation. During those times Big Scott listens compassionately to the little guy, cradling him tenderly while he shares, making a safe space for tears, fears, anger and joy to be felt. Tissues are on hand, and the critic stays out of the room. This is where I am learning about the power of acceptance, simply hearing where I am without trying to fix or change things.

As I cease pushing and shoving myself around, feelings come up to be felt and are released as part of a natural cleansing process. Little Scott becomes lighter and freer. He feels handled with care. A sense of safety returns which allows his heart to open and express love. He gets a familiar twinkle back in his eyes, a light by which Big Scott, Swami Scott, and Little Scott work/play together in love and service, sharing joy and inspiration with others.

And so it is that serving mankind and womankind starts with being kind to yourself. It takes courage. In a culture that teaches us that strength is about grabbing a bull by its horns, it takes courage to gaze at yourself in the mirror and say, “I will not fight.” It takes courage to walk the path of least resistance, to be a peaceful warrior in a world that has not yet learned to value the power of gentleness.

This is my dream, and I invite you to join me: that more and more of us negotiate a cease fire with our inner critics, that we treat our inner children to a lasting, happy childhood, and that we handle ourselves, each other, and our world with the utmost care and respect.

Scott Kalechstein is a singer/songwriter, recording artist, speaker, minister, workshop leader, and in general, a miracle-minded mischief maker. He travels both nationally and in Europe, speaking and singing at conferences, churches, workshops, schools, weddings, etc. His compact discs and cassettes are full of positive, life-affirming songs for adults and children. To request a catalog or for booking information, please contact Scott at (760) 753-2359 or e-mail, scottsong@k-online.com  


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