July was something of a crazy month for me. I was on the road quite a bit, and when I wasn’t traveling I was wrapping up several projects and getting ready to take on some new ones. That didn’t leave me a lot of time to reflect or write. That’s not to say that I didn’t have any epiphanies – I did – but I simply haven’t made an effort to write them down because I was focused on other things. Could I have sacrificed some sleep to write? Yes, but what comes out of my head when I sacrifice sleep ain’t pretty, so I sacrificed the writing instead.
I’ve also been quiet on social media this past month. I have to say that I admire the ability of some folks who check in on social media every 5 minutes – even when on the road – but I’m not one of them. I love the connections I’ve made and continue to make through social media, but I tend to go into hermit mode when I travel. That’s because I like to be fully present in whatever it is I’m doing. I find that if I’m busy posting to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or whatever, I’m not enjoying the experiences I’m in nor the people around me. So, I only make token posts until I’m back home.
My last post (Fear and Authenticity) triggered an emotional awakening unlike anything I’ve experienced before. That – coupled with my travels and interactions with so many people I love and respect – led to a number of ah-ha moments, the biggest being when I realized that I really want to stop hiding behind my love of website design, presentation design, copywriting, and all things geeky in order to step out and share my other talents and gifts with those willing to receive them.
Those closest to me would say that my most powerful gift is my ability to heal the emotional wounds we receive as we go through life. Those wounds can range from the temporary pain of being rejected by a love interest to the deep, lifelong scars carried when we’re told that we are not worthy and that we must somehow be repaired. The lasting effects of those emotional scars have HUGE impacts on our lives. The ones I personally experienced include fear, self-loathing, doubt, and not seeing my value as a human being.
That last one was the most painful scar I had – and from what I’ve experienced and observed, it’s the biggest one most of us face. It is hands down the heaviest emotional burden we carry. Those of us raised in the faith traditions of Western society are told from the time we’re born that we’re broken, evil creatures that have to prove ourselves worthy of being loved. The most consistent message we get from our family and our ecclesiastical leaders is that we have to prove ourselves, and no matter what we do we still aren’t good enough. We have to rely on the “mercy” of an angry God to achieve an eternal state of happiness… and then only after we’re dead.
We’re told that God loves us unconditionally, but then we’re given a rigid set of conflicting rules that we must follow if we’re to prove we’re worthy of being ‘saved.’ Even worse, the rules vary depending on which tradition or denomination we’re raised with.
It’s no wonder wonder so many of us find ourselves living in a state of perpetual confusion, self-loathing, guilt and depression.
When I finally understood the meaning of the word ‘unconditional,’ I started asking myself, “Wait a sec… if God loves me without conditions, why do I have to meet a bunch of conditions in order to live with Him after I die?” I never dared to ask that question when I was younger, but it was always there. What’s interesting is that I’m not the first person to ask that question, because I’ve come across some brilliant answers from some very eloquent scholars. But here’s the deal… no matter how persuasive the answers were, those scholars could not hide the very simple truth that if there is even ONE rule to achieve ‘salvation,’ there is a condition. Either we’re loved no matter what, or we’re not. Period.
The day I accepted that fundamental truth was the day I let go of the fear and self-loathing I carried. It was the day started loving myself.
When we can love ourselves without conditions (or in simpler terms, no matter what), we open the door to our emotional emancipation. The emotional burden of unworthiness is like an open wound that refuses to heal. Every day we’re bombarded with messages or thoughts that cause us to poke, probe, or pick at the wound. Just as physical injuries cannot heal if they’re constantly picked at, our emotional wounds cannot heal if we’re always revisiting them. We have many tools available to help us heal our emotional scars (time and refocusing our attention being the two most of us know about), but without practice and vigilance, we usually fall back into old patterns of thinking that reopen our feelings of unworthiness.
I’ll be the first one to say that our relationship with the Divine is deeply personal, so whatever religion or spiritual tradition one chooses to follow is okay with me. We are the only ones who can decide what brings us inner peace and joy, so I accept and honor the spiritual path a person takes. My personal journey led me to the conclusion that I cannot believe in any tradition that condemns or excludes others, places conditions on me, or relies on an external source for forgiveness. I clung to that old philosophy well into my adult years and I wound up living a fear-based, guilt-ridden life. I’m now free of that emotional burden and I’m happier than I’ve ever been.
I want to emphasize that I see myself as being neither right nor wrong. My beliefs serve me and they give me a sense of balance, peace, harmony, joy, and direction. You may agree with me, or you may not. It makes no difference to me. I merely offer a perspective.
Here is another perspective I offer: The greatest gift we can offer ourselves and others is to love ourselves fully and completely, NO MATTER WHAT.
Sometimes letting go of the shame and guilt can be too much for us, so that is the work I do as an empath. I do for others what they have a hard time doing for themselves. I create the safe space that gives us permission to shed the cleansing tears we’re too embarrassed to shed. I create the space of pure, non-judgmental, unconditional love that we need to release the emotional burdens we carry. I allow whatever emotions that surface to pass through me and as I do so I release them. Once the emotions have been released, I aid with feeling the sense of peace, joy, and unconditional love that is our natural state of being. I assume the role of an emotional emancipator.
While I’ve always done emotional emancipation work, July was the first time I openly and deliberately stepped into that role. I had the great privilege of working with a number of individuals who experienced massive shifts with their feelings, and the joy I feel from them is indescribable. They are now loving themselves no matter what, and witnessing their transformation is truly humbling.
My deep, heartfelt thanks goes out to every individual with whom I interacted. Know that I am forever grateful to you for allowing me to create a safe space and hold you in a place of love. Speaking of gratitude, my thanks also goes out to everyone who has been part of my life experience. I’ve learned something from each of you, and I’m a better person because of what you have shared. Thank you.
Namaste, my friends.
About the Author
Appio Hunter is an author, speaker, spiritual guide, and self-described champion for living joyously. He uses his seminars and workshops to facilitate conversations about authenticity, alignment, and the daily experience of community, connection, and joy. Appio is also a weekly columnist with The Good Men Project and co-host of the Real Men Feel Show along with his good friend Andy Grant.