In conversation with Krista Tippett of Onbeing, the phenomenal writer of Eat Pray Love, Elizabeth Gilbert, shared her life-changing experience of four months she spent in India that taught her about self-kindness and letting go of self-loathing that had been toxic for her life for years. We falsely often equate self-kindness with weakness. To Gilbert, without self-kindness or as she would say, “friendliness towards our selves”, the road to self-transformation might be a little harder to attain, or even unattainable.
Ms. Tippett: . . .what are you learning about that you did not know before about what it means to be human?
Ms. Gilbert: . . .I feel like everything we want is on the other side of this dark river of self-hatred that is so prevalent in ourselves and in our culture. . .And I see self-loathing everywhere I look in so many different forms. And it’s so — it breaks my heart. And I also know self-loathing because I have been in it. Anybody who’s been in depression knows what self-hatred is. In many ways, depression is — the best definition of it is anger turned inward. So, there’s this battle that’s going on within you where you become a rival of yourself and an enemy of yourself. And what transformed my life about that journey that I took with Eat, Pray, Love were those four months that I spent in India where I had to be alone with myself, and we really made a peace accord. And when I say myself, I should say my selves. Because we’re not a self, we’re selves.
And one by one, I really went around to all my selves and we shook hands and made peace with each other and said, “We’re not going to operate against each other anymore. This has got to be a better neighborhood to live in. [laughs] We have to put down the weapons. We have to put down the old complaints. We have to put down the perfectionism. We have to put down the judgement. We have to put this stuff away because we’re doing such tremendous harm to this poor being, Liz, who has to carry this war around within her.” And so, I really came away from that trip having befriended — and the word “friendly” — I keep using it in this in conversation. And I use it a lot.
[. . .]
That you’re a friend not only to the world, but to yourself. And there, you can find your way home, I think, in almost all circumstances. I hope. [laughs] Because I don’t know any other way. And that’s the best I’ve got.
To enjoy the full transcript of this remarkable conversation, please visit: (OnBeing)
The full podcast is below, exploring Gilbert’s insightful ideas on how to live a creative life which she describes as “choosing curiosity over fear”.