Two years ago, on my 33rd birthday, I was walking around La Jolla, California trying to enjoy myself.
I had been in Los Angeles the week prior for a conference and decided to extend my trip so I could spend my birthday in California—the state I love the most.
Normally, I love my alone time, but all of a sudden, I was feeling sad. It was my birthday, and I had no one to spend it with, which was such a familiar feeling. It seems so many people I know have particular triggers around their birthday—can you relate?
Normally, I love my time alone, but all of a sudden I felt a familiar sadness. It was my birthday, and I had no one to spend it with. It seems so many people I know have particular triggers around their birthday—can you also relate?)
I was exploring La Jolla Cove for the first time ever and didn’t know what to expect. If you’ve ever been, you’ll know that it’s covered in seals and sea lions—big, playful creatures that sunbathe on the rocks while the ocean waves splash onto them. They play, sleep, and make hilarious sounds. They’re so entertaining to watch and they draw quite a crowd.
As I stood there, despite my lovely surroundings, I was still feeling so low. My mind was swirling with sad thoughts. Suddenly, something turned on inside me, and I thought, “How much longer am I going to do this?”
I had been walking around, feeling the weight of old negative beliefs that were still within me. Mainly, I felt worthless, alone, and unlovable—deep wounds were clearly surfacing. Then, all of a sudden, it was like I received a charge of Shaktipat, or spiritual energy, that awakened me to the present moment.
I looked around at the cliffs and soothing blue sea; felt bathed in the warm sun rays; laughed at the happy seals and sea lions; and breathed in the fresh saltwater air. It was all so heavenly, such a stark contrast to what I had just been feeling. I realized my present reality was abundant and pleasure-filled, when I allowed myself to take it in.
In my childhood, feeling alone and helpless was so frequent that my mind was conditioned to regress back to those places unconsciously. Even though I am no longer a child, those traumatized parts are still with me. No matter how good life could be, parts of me were still feeling sad and alone. Do you have parts like this? How do they show up for you?
Internal Family Systems teaches that we all have Self-energy: the core of us, which embodies qualities like compassion. Through this therapy model, we strive to be Self-led. When we connect with our Self-energy, we can heal ourselves. We learn how to fully integrate all parts of us into the present moment with love and compassion, where we become the primary caretaker of ourselves. No part is excluded and all parts can heal.
And so, as I was there at the cove taking in the moment, I affirmed to myself, “I created this moment. I put myself here.” I also made a promise to myself that I would always take good care of and tend to myself on my future birthdays—and that is being Self-led.
The rest of my birthday was so beautiful, as I allowed myself to be more fully present in each new experience that day. I opened my eyes and allowed myself to receive all of the goodness around and within me. The sad parts of my self felt healed and I fully embodied my self that day.