Once upon a time, I had a very dear friend named John.
A pair of dumb kids back then, we did lots of crazy stuff together.
Gradually, I realized that hanging out with John was getting me into too much trouble, so I withdrew. Stopped returning his calls for a while.
Then I thought that perhaps I’d overreacted, that maybe I was being ridiculous and unfair. When I called him up to apologize, he was a little irked with me for shunning him, but he quickly moved on and all returned to normal.
Problematically, though, our version of “normal” was as precarious as I’d initially assessed.
It is just that the good times were so good that it was always so effortless to disregard the bad.
This turned into a very unhealthy cycle with John until eventually I deeply resented him, and likewise.
Our ups and downs wore me out and it got to the point where I’d lash out at him, call him vile names, even attack him.
Now how do you think John responded to being attacked?
John struck back.
Since we’d known each other for so long, he knew all my weaknesses and could match my every strength.
He developed his own defense mechanisms just to survive my insults, my attacks, my attempts to abolish him from my life.
John felt betrayed and cast aside. John was a villain to me, and in his eyes I was a monster.
Years ago I invited him into my life, but now I treated him like my enemy.
After being attacked, John would hit me back and break me down until I would just give in and spend some more time with him.
Just like the good old days.
Even as enemies, we shared a twisted love. His presence comforted me, even as it disgusted me. A
nd so went on this dark cycle of abuse, more times than can be calculated.
Here’s the kicker: John is not a person…
John is a part of me. John is my own drive for self-limitation.
He is my fear and self-limiting beliefs, that once served the purpose of protecting me, but over time became patterns of self-destruction.
John represents the parts of me that I have difficulty accepting. By lashing out at those parts of myself, I initiate an inner conflict that I can never win.
Lasting inner peace and balance cannot be nourished in the presence of inner enmity.
If we go around hating ourselves, attacking ourselves, being disgusted by parts of ourselves, then “ourselves” will fight back.
What we resist will persist. But remember: what we accept will often relent.
Time to make peace with John.
(The name “John” was randomly selected. No offense to all the wonderful Johns out there.)
A simple solution: Non-aversion
Here is a very simple practice that serves to remind us not to be so disgusted with ourselves, and furthermore to let go of our clinginess to limiting or destructive cravings and whims.
When a craving or other inner state that you perceive to be detrimental arises, take a deep breath in through the nose, while using your inner talk to say (or using your imagination to see the word): “Non-aversion.”
As you exhale, inwardly say (or see): “Let go.”
The “Non-aversion” in-breath is a signal to let go of any spite or contempt you might feel towards your thoughts, feelings, cravings, or behaviors.
By intentionally letting go of your aversion, you’re removing yourself from the duality of inner conflict, essentially reducing the charge.
In other words, you’re letting go of your bitterness towards John, and giving him nothing to retaliate against. Without the aversion towards the pattern, it is much easier to let the craving itself melt away and subside.
The “Let go” out-breath is a signal that releases the charge altogether.
In the case of persistent destructive patterns, ensure the success of the technique by immediately engaging in a healthful activity afterwards; be it creative, social, spiritual, occupational, recreational, or otherwise (call a friend, color a picture, write down your thoughts, do some EFT, play some basketball, make love… whatever works).
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Also published on Medium.