Warts and All


The third of Frank Ostaseski’s Five Invitations is to bring your whole self to the experience – from your best, strongest, and most fully formed self to your most vulnerable, imperfect, inexperienced, and weak self. Bring it all; don’t leave any of it out.

If we’re honest, most of us don’t live that way. We put our best feet forward and hide the parts of ourselves that we deem less desirable or fear that others might find objectionable. We may even go so far as to feel superior to others who display attributes that we’ve stuffed in ourselves. Yet when we’re embodying these personas, we’re inhabiting roles rather than engaging others and the world as our authentic selves. We’re letting those roles define and confine us. Ostaseski says: “Don’t be a role; be a soul.”

It is through our weakness and vulnerability that we are most able to connect with others. We find common ground through the courageous exploration of our shared human experience. We become helpless together and helpers together. We find wholeness by connecting to our innate capacity to heal and reconnecting with what we lost through fear and contraction. And when we reflect wholeness in others, we become a portal to their healing.

The initial steps in this direction involve taming the inner critic. Constant self-judgment diminishes the quality of life. We must address it on the road to self-acceptance and recognize that brokenness is part of wholeness. Brokenness is nothing to fear or avoid. It does not impinge upon our basic goodness. We need simply hold our imperfections with kindness and let wisdom navigate the move from judgment to discernment.

Love sets us free. Acceptance is a loving act of an open heart. It helps us face the critic and the truth of our circumstances and take wise action. It gives us the strength to change what we can and accept our foibles along the way. Love releases us from comparison, assessment, and rejection.

Mindfulness is the spiritual practice that helps us settle into the utter simplicity of being fully ourselves. It creates a presence that opens the heart and engenders compassionate acceptance of where we are. Through mindfulness, we become aware of our inner dramas without getting lost in them. We give ourselves space to be ourselves and curiosity to explore how we show up in the world.

We remain mindful of our pain and that of others and the world. We are exquisitely unique but not separate; we are interdependent. He/she/they are just like we are, and we wish them well. We seek genuine understanding and compassionate companionship. In that state of being, separation falls away. We live in service to one another. Per Rachel Naomi Remen:

“When you help, you see life as weak. When you fix, you see life as broken. When you serve, you see life as whole.”