Today is Earth Day – a day for us to renew our awareness of our connection to the Earth. As we go through our daily routines, especially those of us that live in urban areas, it is easy to forget about the ground we walk upon. It is deeper than the sidewalk in front of our house, the road that leaves town; or the bicycle lane that takes us to work. Even in more rural areas, we may still focus on the day to day troubles and fail to contemplate the gifts of the earth.
Along with the idea that we need to take care of ourselves – mentally, physically and spiritually comes the much bigger notion that the earth is what sustains us all on each of these planes. Our gratitude for our life does not begin nor end with our ‘thank you for this day’; it begins with the simple actions that enhance or diminish our lives on a daily basis, that also enhance and diminish the quality of life on earth. Think about it. Think about the things you do to enhance your own personal well being. There should be no incongruity between self-care and care of the earth. The reverse holds true as well, if you know how to take care of the earth – you have the fundamental knowledge of how to take care of yourself.
I see this song as sung by the singer’s inner child to the singer. In Pink’s Family Portrait, the child is her as they are dressed in the same clothes and even have the same beauty marks on their faces. It’s not until she acknowledges this inner child that she gets to a better place.
Pink – Family Portrait
So much has been written about inner child work. The main premise of inner child work centers on the idea that there is an aspect of the adult that remains a child and holds the emotional memories of events and experiences as well as reactions. This inner child needs to be given a voice. Usually, as adults, we reject ideas or feelings that intellectually we know are not ‘appropriate’ for us to feel, or that we don’t want to feel, and so these feelings are never verbalized. They usually leak out, however, in ways that are difficult to control, like when we are very upset, and that we usually later regret.
Therapy is a forum to give voice to all the illogical parts of you – in a safe, non-judgmental forum. Parts of you that are exasperating because you already should ‘know better’, but you still cannot stifle.
This song is the mantra for many people who grew up in that era and thereafter. I remember being on the dancefloor where there was always someone crying while dancing, yelling out the lyrics to the song, possbily after one beer too many. Songs help people identify their emotions, express them and hopefully move on. This is definitely a ‘I have moved on’ song. Or more precisely, ‘I’ve moved on, but you seem to think that I will take you back’.
Sometimes, we hold on to our anger or resentment long after the event has passed. A person may stay stuck in the grief or the anger of the event that occurred. It could be death, the end of a relationship, or another significant change that the individual has a hard time accepting. Maybe there are others around this individual who say ‘get over it’ or ‘move on’ or something else along those lines. It seems that others don’t understand the pain involved, and it may seem impossible to move on. This is where psychotherapy can help possibly identify what the block is to letting go and moving on.
Practice makes progress. You can aspire to perfect, possibly, but only if this aspiration does not leave you feeling like you are eternally falling short. Self esteem and self confidence come from doing esteemable things. Doing those things that you would admire yourself for if you were to do them regularly, if they were part of your identity. What could those things be? Having plants that live because you are able to take care of them. Pets that thrive and are happy. Calling people back. Not gossiping. Saying no when you want to say no. Asking for what you need. Asking for a raise. Being a hard worker. These are only a few. Some are big and long term – like having a pet, and some involve less steps, but not necessarily less intense – like calling someone back.
The other aspect to this is that you may be very successful in one area of your life – you may be very successful on your job; or successful as a parent or very outgoing. Sometimes people hang their hat on their strengths and avoid looking at their limitations. Part of becoming well rounded – emotionally, physically and spiritually fulfilled – you need to look at the aspects of yourself that are not working for you.
Working on improving some aspect of yourself does not take away your successes or your strengths. In fact, often times, your strengths are usually the source of your weakness when in a different context. Take a look at your strengths and your limitations. No matter what you may be thinking, you do have both. Are you feeling emotionally, physically, and spiritually satisfied with what you are doing?
This is someone’s YouTube posting of mostly the lyrics of the song. I was not able to find an actual video made by Alanis Morissette.
This song is intended to be from one person to another. The general message is to be able to love someone else unconditionally – which is great and is something to strive for. It is also a message against those relationships where basically, one person is held hostage in the relationship through guilting, blaming and or shaming.
The reality though, is that we are all human beings struggling to do the right thing and always imperfectly. We all have needs and if we come from a dysfunctional background, we have not learned how to appropriately get those needs met. There is a healthy ‘give and take’ in relationships. Sometimes expressing your own needs comes to be seen – by yourself, as well as possibly others around you, as being ‘selfish’. The struggle is, basically, to come to an answer to the question ‘am I being selfish for wanting this?’ The idea of unconditional love gets distorted. An individual can find themselves stuck in a bad situation due to this confusion and distortion of unconditional love versus setting limits on someone else’s behavior.
This is a difficult topic to address in one posting. In terms of this song, I hear it as being from a higher power, not another human being. Your higher power can love you, and does love you, unconditionally. No matter how you act or what you do, your higher power will accept you and forgive you. Even while you experience the consequences of your behavior, it is not your higher power that is punishing you. You can express yourself and ask for what you need to your higher power, and your higher power will respond. This is guaranteed, although you may not always hear the answer, or like the answer, your higher power is there for you.
Can you set limits on someone’s behavior and still love them? Where does the other person end and you begin? Are you making another human being your higher power?
In 2002, I was struggling with my spiritual life. I basically didn’t have one and was feeling inadequate spiritually. Whatever I did was not quite the ‘right’ thing or not ‘good enough’. Then I heard this song on the radio while driving somewhere and it opened up my heart to accept myself and my spirituality just as it was.
You too, may be struggling with an aspect of yourself. We get so much information from various places as to what is a ‘correct’ spiritual practice. Inevitably, we are not as evolved as we would like to be, or that we think that we should be. We don’t believe what we are told to believe, or lack sufficient trust to simply accept. Development of your spiritual side actually is a lot of work. A lot of work, that is done very slowly and at times is painful. One of the first steps in being able to develop your own spirituality, is to accept yourself just as you are.