You Were Not Born to Suffer by Blake Bauer
Though we may not have used drugs and alcohol to numb ourselves to the pain of childhood traumas, as Blake Bauer did, I suspect that most of us still suffer in one form or another from those unhealed wounds. They sap our life force and keep us from loving ourselves and rejoicing in life.
Having been thorough his own private hell, Bauer speaks with authenticity, passion and wisdom. The wisdom is at once simple and profound – indeed I have the feeling that the most profound lessons are also the most simple. His message, and in fact our soul’s message, is that our task in this lifetime is to master loving ourselves unconditionally so that we can “1) fulfill our life’s purpose and 2) bring genuine peace love and happiness into this world.”
The trick of course is how do we love ourselves unconditionally, and what in fact does that mean. Love is a word with so much baggage that we tend not to feel comfortable applying it to ourselves. The author gives us a very useful empirical definition based on the choices we make. “When we make a conscious choice we make a choice based on love: love for ourselves, love for others, love for our planet. When we make an unconscious choice we make a reactive choice based on fear: fear of survival, fear of pain, fear of losing control, fear of losing love, or fear of losing our sense of self or who we think we are.” That’s it, love versus fear – simple, profound, and in my view it stands up to the test of contemplation.
The information in this book feels pure. I don’t know how else to describe it. We human beings have such a talent for complicating our lives. It’s almost like we seek suffering. The illumination that Blake Bauer offers on this subject is that this is not the way it was meant to be. We were not born to suffer. We were meant to be joyous, creator beings and the magic sauce is disarmingly simple – simply to love ourselves. Why is that so important? Because if you can’t love yourself you can’t really love another with integrity. Why do we have so much trouble loving ourselves? It’s almost as if our whole educational and religious upbringing makes that notion somehow unacceptable. You’re not supposed to be selfish or egotistical. As Blake points out however that act of loving one’s self is the source and wellspring of our joy and creativity and indeed of our health and happiness. And it’s not that difficult. It’s a simple as making a conscious choice. In this case conscious means awake and aware that we have a choice, and can choose our own good. The other side of that coin is a reaction based on fear of consequences. So it’s either positive choice based on love or desire for our greater good, or avoidance and choices based on fear of consequences. Pretty simple and yet oh so profound.
In his enthusiasm to get his point across the author tends to repeat his themes in different ways in different contexts, so if you are well versed in the material, you might find it repetitive. I find however that even messages that we have heard over and over about self-love and empowerment are too often not internalized, and thus benefit from repetition.
This is a wonderfully optimistic book particularly coming as it does at a time in human history when we feel increasingly powerless to control the world around us. When we realize that the secret is actually controlling our reaction to the world around us, and controlling our choices – the small choices that we make in our daily lives, we vastly improve our chances of fulfillment and living in peace with ourselves and the world.