Growing up as a gay kid in a conservative community, within the generally very conservative society of Chile during the 90s made me develop thoughts and feelings about myself that I don't really wish on anyone. I felt like I was a mistake, that I needed to be healed somehow from this curse because I was an abomination to the world. I developed defense mechanisms to hide my true self. I was scared of people ever referencing anything related to homosexuality close to me. I was still bullied, and due to all these things, I created a persona that overcompensated for being gay by being an overwhelming overachiever. Only sometimes experiencing what living authentically or living joyfully with my true self meant. There was always that little shadow underneath it all.
It wasn't until I was 20 years old, during my mission of all places and times (I was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints/Mormon) that I had this moment of clarity that made me realize that I was fine the way I was and that there was no part of me that was an abomination to God or the world. It was the beginning of a long journey of healing, in which even today, 15 years later and "living my best life", sometimes, albeit rarely, there are moments when I must remind myself that I'm perfect the way I am.
Healing takes work… time… and so much self-compassion…!
Some time at the end of 2022, The Charter for Compassion's staff, lead volunteers, and others joined together to select an overarching theme to be our focus throughout 2023 in every program, meeting, or event that we provide this year.
After much discussion, the topic of healing came through strongly overtaking everything else. It seems as if collectively we have all been hurting for a while… From either a "generational while" to maybe more "recent while"…! And as we delve deeper into our humanity, we see that healing can look very differently to different people, but the result is the same: As we begin our healing journey, we begin to feel peace. We begin to feel more compassion for ourselves and everything around us. We can feel the change and can strive for more. And most importantly, there's an understanding that healing is a journey, a process, and never the end of the road or a goal, for ourselves, as well as for everyone else…!
Just like self-compassion, healing oneself involves personal understanding, recognizing what's hurting, and what's lacking, and then looking for ways to change that narrative. To me, Self-compassion is the journey of understanding myself deeply, seeing the light and dark, and embracing it all because that is what makes me Me. I am night and day and all the hours in between; I am happy, sad, and all the spectrum of emotions. I can put in the work to change the behaviors or qualities I don't want to be part of me, and when I try and fail, I recognize again that I'm on a journey, and not perfect, and that there's always a next time.
Sometimes the work can be as simple as changing your vocabulary. It might be putting an end to telling yourself how dumb or insecure you are, how unworthy you are, and to acknowledge and be present to honor your gut feelings before taking decisions, or listening with intent and purpose before giving your opinion without thought and then regretting what comes out of your mouth. The work is endless, and so are the opportunities for growth and understanding.
In my experience, as I have delved deeper within myself, I have found more understanding, more control, more capacity, more compassion, and more love for myself. Overall I'm a happier person. That has increased my compassion outwardly towards everything: living and non-living things. When I'm hurt or wronged by someone, I don't feel as attacked or shaken by that person as I used to. I have fewer urges to retaliate or seek revenge. I see that the person hurting me, is hurting as well, and I have seen firsthand how extending compassion to that "attacker" can end that cycle of pain and begin the healing journey for them as well.
Healing starts with oneself. Compassion starts with oneself.
Neither healing nor compassion has limits. They are both endless journeys.
They can both illuminate and create paths of truth and understanding for us all, within and towards all.
I hope that reading this resonates with how you think about ways to heal, how it's never over, and how healing ourselves, can heal the world, as we extend our developing healing powers to everything around us.
Here at the Charter, we want to provide opportunities to heal, to identify your inner pain, suffering, trauma, and anything else that is diminishing your true potential as a human being, as part of a bigger collective oneness. We are all hurting AND we can all heal.
Examples of Healing programs the Charter has developed this year:
Our offering for World Interfaith Harmony Week 2023: "Universal Healing" is a webinar series of 7 episodes, in which members of compassionate cities, staff, and lead volunteers led spiritual practices and meditations to heal. You can learn more and re-watch this webinar series here.
During our MLK 40 Days of Peace, Shane, our newest staff member, decided to embark on a contemplative journey inspired by Martin Luther King Jr, as he biked 40 km daily during those 40 days, gaining insights and perspectives on inner and outer peace, which directly translated into healing, compassion, and more understanding of the world and the role we all have in it. These insights were posted as blog entries and were accompanied by videos/reels on social media.
COMING UP: 23 DAYS OF COMPASSION
Now, I would like to invite you to our newest offering that will help us Heal Ourselves, Heal the World by delving deeper into Compassion, as we begin our 23 days of Compassion journey this Monday, March 13. We will have opportunities, tasks, or challenges that you'll be able to do (it might be a meditation, or something you write, or something you'll be asked to think about) and we ask you to post something about it on social media as a reel on Facebook/Instagram, or a video on TikTok, or a post on LinkedIn or other platforms. You can find out more about this year's Compassion Days Campaign here.
These 23 days can be an individual or collective journey. You can go through each day participating in the challenges we share and keep them as your personal insights, or share your insights with all of us. I invite you to share them with the world. The world of social media has much of everything but sometimes lacks the content to inspire us to heal and grow. I encourage you to record yourself during or after these challenges. Share your experience with the world, let everyone know how you felt during that experience, and your thoughts now that you are finished meditating, or writing a self-compassionate letter… The challenges are different every day, and your input and thoughts are greatly appreciated (and requested!). Remember, social media is casual. No need for a script or for you to look like you just got ready for a party, or need to have professional lighting or a tripod to hold your phone… All videos are welcome.
Tag the Charter in the social media platform of your choice, and use the hashtags #Compassion and #23DaysofCompassion so we can share your videos, feature your comments, and create a virtual collection of compassionate thoughts as we go through this healing period of 23 days together. And what better situation than to prepare us for Golden Rule Day on April 5…! The one principle that can make the world the utopia we all wish to live in.
I can't wait to see how our personal healing and compassionate exploration, affect the healing rate of this world…!
We hope that as the year progresses we have more ideas and offerings for you to accompany you in your never-ending journey of healing, and compassion.
For now… I hope you join me on this healing and compassionate journey, beginning Monday, March 13, 2023, with 23 Days of Compassion!