The last Deepak Chopra/Oprah Meditation Experience that I participated in inspired the original version of following blog post (edited to reflect the passage of time). It came to mind recently as I was being bombarded with offers to fix myself because it still holds true. I am not broken and neither are you. We might have much to learn, but that isn’t the same as being broken.
I used to participate in the Deepak Chopra/Oprah Meditation Experiences. I’ve enjoyed these experiences in the past because they have the meditation and then probing questions that push me to challenge my preconceptions about myself; however the last one I participated in annoyed the hell out of me. Every time I got to the questions, I wanted to shout “I am NOT broken, damn it.”
My answers became shorter and shorter and felt more and more forced as the experience progressed. I felt like it was trying to force me to be broken when I in no way felt broken.
There is so much out there that pushes us to examine what’s “broken” about us to fix ourselves, to be better, to fit someone else’s definition of how we should live. Frankly, I’m tired of it. It’s an old trope and is often, but not always, targeted toward women.
Interesting, isn’t it?
The more equality we seek, the more we’re told we need to fix ourselves. I’m tired of it. I’m not perfect. I never will be.I will continue to learn and grow and change throughout my life. That doesn’t make me broken. Guess what? You will do the same. And you’re not broken either. Male or female.
We all experience tragedies and make mistakes and hurt others and get hurt. None of that makes us broken. Not in the way these tropes try to make us feel we are. Even if you feel broken at some time in your life due to life events, you possess the power within to address these issues and to find help if you need it.
Please understand I’m not referring to mental health issues, but to the message that all of us are broken in some way or the other because we don’t live the way this guru or that expert or that person we’ve never heard of says we should. No, we’re human and being human is perfectly acceptable. Making mistakes is part of being human. Getting hurt is part of being human. Healing is part of being human. Feeling lost and broken is part of being human. Feeling confident and whole is part of being human. Being human is complex and beautiful and ugly and strong and vulnerable. Being human is experiencing life as it is, celebrating the good times and commiserating the bad times. Being human is sharing what we learn with others. There is nothing wrong with any of that.
This concept that to be acceptable, we have to constantly live in a state of fixing ourselves based on someone else’s definition of what it means to be a good person drives the self-help industry. I’ve bought and read more than my fair share of self-help items. I bought into the message for so long. So many gurus telling me I was broken. So many experts telling me I needed repaired. So many people telling me if I just bought their secret, my life would be perfect. I did learn some things from those books, even if it was what didn’t work for me, but they usually left me feeling like I could never live my life “right” because “right” constantly shifted.
Now, to be fair, I started reading these books to heal myself after a trauma that left me feeling quite broken. The problem was they never repaired me. They offered me someone else’s way to live. And while I could garner tips from them, that was it. And it was temporary until I got my next self-help fix.
There came a day though I started thinking for myself again. I started looking at my own life and seeing what lessons were there. I saw so much more than I found in those books and articles. I saw me. I saw that all my efforts to be someone else’s definition of perfect were killing me. I delved into myself and started to write and write and write…. Poem after poem after poem found its way out from my heart and brain to my fingertips.
I started focusing on embracing both my vulnerability and my strength.
I started practicing gratitude, my way rather than the way someone else said I should, including a morning gratitude meditation.
All my broken bits reunited in the puzzle of me, but it took work and effort and focus and time.
I realized I was never really broken no matter how broken I felt and particularly not in the way all those self-help people wanted me to believe.
Books, videos, or experiences that expand our understanding of the world, of differing points of view, of the experiences of others inhabiting this world, and those that examine the psychology of the human experience are important. They can help us live richer, fuller, better lives by introducing us to concepts we’d never imagined before.
I’m simply suggesting that there comes a time when we have to examine whether we are truly broken or being manipulated into believing we are broken. It’s not always easy to see.
At first, the Oprah/Deepak Meditation Experiences didn’t feel like they were trying to convince me I was broken. The questions even felt liberating at times. As I ventured away from the meditation experiences to other forms of meditation, meditating started to feel more in tune with my core and began to resonate with me on a deeper level, on a level that wasn’t about the growth someone else thought I should have but about where I was in my life.
I still have much to learn and hope I never stop learning, but I am not broken.
I am an imperfectly perfect human who happens to be perfectly imperfect.
You are an imperfectly perfect human who happens to be perfectly imperfect.
I am enough.
You are enough.
I am NOT broken.
You are NOT broken.
Originally published on December 20, 2015 at writewithtlc.blogspot.com.