It’s easy to think that with today’s technology, we are all more connected to each other than ever before. But the reality is, isolation, low self-worth and rocketing levels of depression have become an ongoing feature of our landscape all over the world. In this blog post, I talk to Navajata, one of the experienced workshop leaders at Osho Leela, about why isolation and low self-esteem are such big problems and what we can do about it. He also shares openly about his own journey to healthier self-worth and reveals some of the surprising links between trauma and healing.
Why are we so cut off from ourselves and each other?
“It’s to do with trust,” says Navajata.”When you’ve developed a mistrust of the world and other people, it feels safer to isolate and build walls. A lot of people just sink into their apartments and private worlds. And isolation doesn’t necessarily mean being on your own – it can look like gaming, obsessive-compulsive behaviour, or countless types of addiction.
Isolation is also a generational thing, passed on to us by our parents. Whenever I wanted to go out, my father would say to me, “Your best friends are your family”, and it held me back.
Fundamentally, people get isolated because they think others can’t understand them.”
What has been your journey into finding self-worth?
Photo by James McGill on Unsplash
“I suffered from low self-esteem all of my life but I wasn’t aware of it until I started learning to look inside myself. The fact that I didn’t like myself ultimately led to me developing drug and alcohol addiction.
My father was so violent that, as a child, I ended up mistrusting everything. I was subjected to a lot of extreme physical abuse, much of which I blanked out because of the way that trauma operates.
As a French kid in an English school, not knowing the language, I experienced a lot of discriminatory behaviour from others. I was in a lot of fear; I didn’t feel good enough and I couldn’t trust people. The result was social phobia. It wasn’t until later in life that I found people I could connect with: people who were also looking for something meaningful.
As a young adult, I immersed myself in a partying lifestyle, using cocaine and alcohol excessively. I managed to keep my life together but I was also quite ‘out of it’. Then I put myself on the addiction program at Humaniversity, the Netherlands-based international school of personal development, for 2 years. It was only a long time after I had participated in many workshops that I realised something significant had changed in me.
I stayed at Humaniversity for 14 years, becoming a therapist specialising in addiction, encounter therapy, primal therapy, anger and depression. Eventually, I also became a consultant and therapist trainer.
But when I had a drinking and gambling relapse a few years ago, I realised that a part of me had never been touched, even in all those years of therapy. I had to take a hard look at why I was sabotaging myself again after being clean for so long.”
Trauma and Forgiveness
“When a friend introduced me to the Polyvagal theory, I came to understand just how deep our hard-wired programming can be when we have trauma behind us. A Cognitive Behavioural Therapist helped me realise that my conclusion that I had been cured through therapy and that I had forgiven my father was untrue. He told me that while you can forgive with the mind or heart, the trauma and the wiring are not, essentially, forgivable. They are still there. He advised me to keep this awareness on the surface, neither forgetting it nor acting it out. The reality is, there was still this historic abuse built into my system that made me believe I wasn’t good enough to be the person I wanted to be.
My story was “I’m not really allowed to be a success”, and you could say that the whole of addiction is about that. Recently, when I worked with street addicts, I was shocked by how normal they were. Contrary to public opinion, they do care – they just don’t know how to get out of the place they’re in. Their underlying belief is, “Why bother? Nobody cares. The system doesn’t care.” They’re just lost, and the easiest way is to stay stoned.”
What is the key to good self-esteem?
“You have to accept that you are OK. You have to accept that you’re beautiful just the way you are. And that’s not always so easy. Sometimes you need help from the outside in the form of therapy, connection, or simply love from another.
If you can accept that you’re OK, then you can accept positivity from the outside. If you don’t, your mechanism is to not accept positivity. When you get a compliment, for example, you think, It’s not really true – they’re just saying that. When you’re in that mindset, you’re constantly looking for something to prove your belief that you’re not good enough. You’ll see evidence of this in the fact that your relationship or your work life aren’t working well. You create that situation, often based on your early childhood experiences. And these can be looked at and worked through.”
How you can start to feel better about yourself
A group session at Osho Leela
“There’s a quote that goes: “It’s great to have goals, but you have to take action.” If your goal is to feel better about yourself, then you have to do something about it. You have to put one step in front of the other. There are two aspects here: the inner and the outer. On the outer, practical level, it’s important to find something to do that you enjoy – something that really moves you so that you start to achieve things. Meditation is a good place to start, but it can also be something like sport. On the level of inner work, individual talk therapy is an important part of taking care of ourselves, but it has its limits.
The great thing about group therapy is that you’re with like-minded people: you’re moving together and you create a combined energy. In a group, you can feel confident to talk about whatever issue you have because you know you’ll be met with empathy.
However, therapy is even broader than that. Festivals can be therapy, swimming clubs can be therapy, music groups can be therapy. Taking responsibility is the key. It’s up to you how deep you want to go.”
“The greatest fear in the world is the opinion of others, and the moment you are unafraid of the crowd, you are no longer a sheep, you become a lion. A great roar arises in your heart, the roar of freedom.” – Osho.
Navajata started his journey with Osho therapy in the UK and met Humaniversity founder Veeresh back in 1985. He now has over 20 years experience in the therapy world, working in the areas of Emotional Well-being, Anger Awareness, Responsibility and Addiction. He has spent more than 17 years at The Humaniversity in The Netherlands and has now joined the team at Osho Leela. Along with his intense life experience, he brings empathy, clarity and understanding to his work with people.
Written by Khalsa (Morgan) Nichols. Khalsa is a writer, singer and group facilitator living and working at Osho Leela. www.morganknichols.com.