The circle of love

Chronic cases of Lyme, cases that persist many months and years after the first onset of symptoms, can be absolutely debilitating.

by Scott Kalechstein — 

In 1996, I had a life-changing experience a week before my birthday. I was planning a big party — an evening of friends, celebration and music. An idea crossed my mind that made my heart skip a few beats. The idea was to invite my friends to gather in a circle, with me in the center. Then, one by one, they would come up to me and share how I have enriched their lives and what they appreciated about me.

My inner critic, anxious to be the first one into the circle, jumped in with his two cents: “Are you crazy? That’s the most egotistical notion I’ve ever heard! You always have to be the center of attention, don’t you? When are you going to stop needing other people’s approval and start standing on your own two feet?”

I felt discouraged, and put the idea on the back burner. A few days before the party, I considered it again, this time in a more meditative space. I brought the matter up with my Higher Self. As usual, its guidance was in direct opposition to the inner critic. “Scott, the gracious receiving of your friends’ love and support will be an act of humility and service, not ego. Many hearts will be touched and fed. It is only your sense of low self-esteem that is feeling threatened. Trust, feel the fear and move forward anyway.”

Deep down I knew the truth of those words, but I wrestled with many doubt dragons during the days before the party.

The moment came, and suddenly I felt paralyzed! While the party unfolded, I successfully convinced myself that gathering all the people in a circle and having them say nice things to me was the act of a control freak and completely inappropriate. Then, across the room, I spotted Helice Bridges, a remarkable woman who has dedicated her life to teaching the power of acknowledgment. She created a blue ribbon that says “Who I Am Makes a Difference,” and she gets people from all walks of life to use the ribbons to reach out and make someone’s day.

I took her aside, told her my idea, mentioned my terror and asked for her support. She sprang into action and in a tone and volume that silenced a room of rowdy conversationalists, she exclaimed, “Everybody gather in the living room. We’re going to do something special for the birthday boy!”

I felt tremendously excited and embarrassed, and was trembling like a small child about to ride a huge rollercoaster. Helice took my hand and told a few stories about the healing powers of sharing acknowledgment. She then explained that whoever felt moved to do so would, one at a time, approach me and express love and appreciation for everyone to hear. Helice was first at bat.

Two and a half hours later, the last person finished speaking. I spent that time shaking, shivering, crying and breathing deeply. I had never been so moved in my life. At Helice’s invitation, I did not speak; I focused solely on receiving. Everyone was touched by the energy in the room, and tissues were passed around liberally. I sensed angelic presences watching over us.

Sometimes I wanted to say things like “You are wonderful, too,” or “It’s not me. Although these statements had truth in them, I recognized them as subtle temptations to deflect the love being offered. Unworthiness has a very crafty way of masquerading as humility and spirituality.

When the last person was done, we broke into song and celebration. That night I went to sleep feeling rocked and lulled by each friend’s blessing. The next day and all through that week, people telephoned me to share what the circle had meant to them, and how it had impacted their lives.

In this culture where innocently asking and receiving love is so taboo, we all need examples of what it might look like to graciously let people know how they can give to us. John Gray, the author of Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, demonstrates the power of asking for appreciation at his workshops and talks. He finishes a segment of his presentation by saying, “If you have appreciated this part of my talk, please let me know with your clapping.” People clap, but first-timers to his events often look a little confused. Authenticity sounds quite foreign and strange to those long schooled in manipulation and the hiding of our desires from others.

Risk is always involved. To ask openly for what we want leaves us vulnerable to feelings of rejection if we don’t get the response we would like. To avoid risk is to avoid life. I’d much rather be feeling alive on the edge of fear than playing it safe, but unable to feel much joy and vulnerability either.

Recently, my sweetie asked me to hear her out while she shared some painful feelings that had been building up inside of her. I agreed, and for a few minutes I was able to be a compassionate presence while she vented. Gradually I got tired of just giving silent support. I began to go into my head, where, often with the best of intentions, I transform into … Mr. Fix-It.

In this particular situation, I still had some time to go before the metamorphosis was complete. Mr. Fix-It was growing inside me, about to come out and offer solutions to her problems rather than empathy for her pain. In silent prayer I called on the spirit of John Gray to help me mellow my Martian tendencies. Gray’s coaching was to stop giving, and take a moment to receive.

So right in the middle of her emotional catharsis, I interrupted, asking her to pause and acknowledge me for the listening energy I had been giving. I told her I wanted to continue to be available and her appreciation would fuel me to go the distance. She smiled and told me how supported and nurtured she felt by the quality of my listening. Her appreciation energized me deeply, so I was able to tame Mr. Fix-It and continue listening.

Like most of us, I learned at an early age that it is far better to give than to receive. Ridiculous! I have a hunch that such nonsense was a clever scheme conjured up by a greedy church, repeated right before the offering, to increase the bottom line in the bowls. Giving and receiving are part of the same divine energy, as inseparable as inhaling and exhaling. Givers receive, and receivers give. The circle of love needs both to go around.

 

Scott Kalechstein is a counselor, coach, minister, inspirational speaker, recording artist, a lighthearted miracle mischief-maker, and modern-day troubadour. Scott’s writings are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any illness or medical condition. If while reading, you laugh your head off and your heart opens, but symptoms still persist, please see your doctor. 415-721-2954, scott@scottsongs.com or www.scottsongs.com.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 28, Number 1, Feb/Mar 2009.

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