How do we move past low self-esteem and empower ourselves to embrace life’s opportunities? I talk to Svabhavo, a workshop leader, alchemist and director at Osho Leela with decades of experience in supporting and guiding people.
What’s behind the epidemic of isolation in today’s society?
“Most people don’t love themselves because they’re taught from a very young age that they’re not really OK. They’re not taught social skills in their formative and teenage years. Instead, their family gives them a negative self-image and self-belief system. People build up defence mechanisms and mistrust of the other.”
How do we unlock healthy self-esteem?
“Self-esteem needs to come through the heart and not through the ego. It’s the power of the heart and the feeling of connection with others which brings self-esteem.
First of all, you need to start to feel instead of to think. You need to be willing to also feel your shadow side – negative feelings such as anger and jealousy – and to accept and own them.
If you have low self-esteem, it’s important to acknowledge that you’re not happy with your life. You need to take the risk to step out of society’s games and to move towards healing yourself through meditation. You also need to start letting go of all the things which keep you in this dynamic of negativity, whether it’s a job you hate, negative relationships or friends and family that put you down.
You have to let go of guilt. Guilt can really stop you letting go where you need to. Because of the fear of being alone, often people prefer to stay safe but stuck rather than risk falling flat on their faces. We can even be afraid of flying high. The truth is, life is a risk.”
When fear holds you back: Social Phobia
“I see social phobia as a fear of being negatively (and often positively) seen and judged. It’s a fear of showing your true face to others. People with social phobia are afraid of their own negativity and expressing it. So often, we feel we have to apologise for simply being alive and even more so for breaking the rules and stepping outside of society’s constraints.
Fear is the feeling on the surface. If you go under the fear, there’s very often a negative emotion. In my experience, it can be anger or pain. The first step in transforming your low self-esteem is to have a look at the pain and trauma that’s behind it and really feel it. But most people want to avoid facing what’s happened in the past – for example, they might turn to addiction, work, or TV.”
How did you find good self-esteem?
Svabhavo in 1980, a few months after meeting Osho
“It started with Osho. Because I had a very abusive childhood, it was a choiceless choice for me to go and heal myself: it was a do or die situation. I had a very strong spiritual pull to go to India and it was there, through living with Osho in community, that I became aware of all my emotional blocks. Bit by bit, I had to relearn how to express my feelings.
Through powerful workshops and shamanic processes back in the 70’s and early 80’s, I started the inner work of healing myself. During these times, I had a lot of teachers and guides. Apart from Osho, one of the main influences on me was Veeresh and the Humaniversity in Holland.
At a certain point in my integration, I started to create my own workshops, doing it the way I wanted to from my own experience rather than copycatting anyone. I had to take a risk in how I worked with people. I was inspired to create a workshop like Reclaim your Power, which is quite unique in its structure. It’s not the usual type of group process.
You need a safe and supported space where you can allow the repressed feelings to come up. Where you can express what needs to be expressed, feel it and let go of it. Through allowing yourself to really feel repressed pain and express the deep sadness underneath it, you free yourself to move into your heart and into a celebration of your life.”
Svabhavo also offers festivals such as Mystic Heart (May 2020) and the New Year Festival at Osho Leela.
Written by Khalsa (Morgan) Nichols. Khalsa is a writer, singer and group facilitator living and working at Osho Leela. www.morganknichols.com.