“You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love & affection.” ~ Buddha
We take a step back to look at our lives and how we got to where we are in a mess with our health, relationship, job, or whatever it may be. It makes us stop and ask one question: “Who gave all of this to me, and how do I get rid of it?”
The journey to self-discovery, identity, and worth is a tiresome one. It takes discipline, dedication, and work – lots of work. For a long time, I wondered where that work began. So I asked three questions; what does that work look like? How long does it take? How will I know when to begin that work?
I knew I had to learn myself, so I began. First, I highlighted my surface-level issues—heartbreak, insecurity, rejection—and figured that was enough for me to jump in. “Time to heal me and grow,” I’d say as if it was a fantastic voyage.
I didn’t know the half.
I didn’t realize that surface-level revelation would only produce surface-level results. More fake smiles. More fake growth. I wasn’t honest enough with myself to begin the work yet. I was looking skin-deep, trying to change my spirit. I was trying to redefine myself by only looking at the definitions people assigned to me; by only looking at illustrations that would be accepted and were created by society. I went no more profound than that.
I began the work blindly. I read books and articles, followed inspirational thought leaders, and wrote affirmations on my mirror. Those were good starts, but they weren’t the work. Instead, I was putting a band-aid on a wound that needed stitches.
I recognized much of my problem was my willingness to get to the root and pull out what needed to be fixed. But unfortunately, I only accounted for what I could see or feel, completely ignoring the culmination of things that led to that breaking point, these feelings, and these behaviors. These feelings came from more than just this one situation; they were deeply rooted. But when I began, I was merely glancing at the surface, not what was beneath. I blamed the soil, not the seeds.
I realized that the work begins at the intersection of pain, insecurity, doubt, fear (the list goes on), and my willingness to identify its roots, not by starting with the obvious things on the surface but by digging into the deep stuff beneath it. I realized that the work begins with shedding layers.
Truly shedding layers means getting to the root cause of your negative emotions and self-loathing. It is, very literally, snatching back every doubt, worry, insecurity, and hurt until you reach its cause. It’s peeling back your shell and revealing its foundation—what’s cracked and unleveled underneath?
Shedding your layers is the beginning of the work:
- You pull back every pain, past, heartache, and flaw and get to your core.
- Unravel yourself until there’s nothing left but you and your bare spirit, staring at each other in a symbolic mirror.
- You face yourself without the mask of ego, excuses, or unapologetic sass.
It begins with removing your titles—both self-inflicted and societally defined. It’s emptying yourself of burdensome expectations. The revealing of who you are by society’s standards; the painful past, worries, and the doubt about your future. It’s just you and this core—without the hardened shell you use as protection.
Shedding your layers is not easy, but it’s necessary to work. So that’s where you start—with shedding your layers. You begin with bravery and honesty, and intention. You start with reliving the moments you didn’t think you could survive and removing your power to dictate who you’d become. You begin with recognizing the root of your behaviors, thoughts, or feelings and discovering ways to overcome them. Finally, you start with identifying the ways you may have failed yourself, the way life may have failed you, and letting it go.
Peel the layers beyond just brokenness; peel them back until you unveil fullness, and discover your soul, your God’s image. Shed the layers of past insecurities, heartbreak, domestic issues, and dead friendships. Shed them until you get to a feeling of wholeness. Of peace. Of completion.
Each layer you shed should make you feel lighter. Do this work until you feel lighter; do it until you’ve finally let go of everything you harbored. All resentment and anger and pain. All heartbreak and hatred. Peel back everything until you have fully undressed your spirit, leaving it bare. And open for your soul to step in and re-dress you with love and positivity; take off societal demands and self-criticism, and put on the promises of who you are. Shed your layers until you have addressed everything that ever put you in bondage, and break those chains with love.
Peel back your layers and prune the leaves that haven’t produced good fruit. That is where you must start. Then, get to that woman or man – get to your core – and build her/him up from the roots. But do not start doing so until you have uncovered everything; until you have repaired the foundation and uprooted the negative seeds.
I spent the last twenty-two months pulling off layers that I didn’t even realize existed. As a result, I have become a different person, layer by layer.