Carl Rogers, the humanistic psychologist wrote: “The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.” I love this quote because it provides a clear pathway to wholeness, healing, inner-peace and happiness. If we can internalize Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous quote: “Violence begets violence; hate begets hate; and toughness begets a greater toughness. It is all a descending spiral, and the end is destruction—for everybody.” Whenever we go to battle with ourselves, we lose. That inner-critic (that most, if not all, of us experience) is a zero-sum game. When we are depressed or anxious and beat ourselves up for feeling that way, it never helps us feel less depressed and anxious.
So how do we end the war with self?
The short (and long) answer is radical self-acceptance, self-love and self-compassion. Combined with psychotherapy, psychedelic medicine can gradually move us in the direction of these three ways of being with our Self. Can we become so radically inclusive of all our parts that we stop the war and find inner-peace?
Psychedelics provide an expanded state of consciousness that allows us to see the wholeness of all that we are. When we are overly-identified (or blended) with a depressed part, anxious part, or self-critic, consciousness narrows and we see the world solely through the limited lens of that part. Healing isn’t accomplished by going to battle with these parts. Whenever we go to battle with a depressed or anxious part, “it is a descending spiral” and the end is self-defeating, to paraphrase MLK. (This doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for good judgment and discernment…there is. Sometimes tough-love is the most compassionate approach.)
The alternative is turning toward Self (and the other) with curiosity, compassion and courage; connection, clarity, calmness and creativity. With proper preparation and a knowledgeable guide, the psychedelic experience allows us to enter into a state of awareness where we can meet and welcome all of our parts. If we can negotiate a truce with the parts we are battling and relate with them in a compassionate, curious, open-hearted and loving manner, we come to better understand and radically accept ourselves. This will open the possibility for change, inner-peace and happiness because we can renegotiate our relationship with these parts. Perhaps give our parts a new “job description.” It is OK to feel sadness and anxiety, there may be something they need to teach us. And if we can relate to them and listen, they might provide some insight, and we will feel more peace, acceptance and love… for ourself and others.
Ashland Consciousness Medicine