It’s a special kind of a date that starts with feeling not so great, maybe I am sad, angry, or tired. I feel like I need some help, so I meet my very best friend Chocolate. Chocolate is a great listener. It does help me. I feel better for a while. However, afterward, I have another date with some other friends like remorse and regret.
In Yemima's teachings, trying to help ourselves in this way is called compensation. Compensation happens when I feel deficient or weak and I try to feel better and stronger in ways that are superficial and don’t really help. Sure, chocolate makes me feel better for a few minutes but it does not help me meet the feelings that led me to chocolate to begin with. Those feelings will happen again, and Chocolate will be waiting for me, and so will remorse and regret.
What is interesting about the outlook Yemima offers is that compensation is not considered a bad choice! In truth, it is not considered a choice at all. My meeting with chocolate happens because something is hurting me. There are emotions that are difficult for me to experience. I feel small and unable to deal with them. So I choose what is available to me in order to feel better and survive this moment. Compensation is not considered a choice because without awareness we don’t see it for what it really is, and we don’t have a better way to deal with what is hurting us at this moment.
So if I don’t have a choice, am I just doomed to meet chocolate on these dates? Don’t I have any agency? Where is my choice?
In the Yemima tradition, we never fight or try to stop compensation. Compensation is like crutches. You don’t take away the crutches to correct your walk. You try to heal your foot. When you feel that your foot can handle the weight, you will naturally stop using the crutches.
So what does healing the foot mean in our context? Just like the foot, we feel weak and in pain. We feel unworthy, not loved and not wanted. The mending is to learn to identify with our true nature- which is the good essence, and to experience it as our deepest truth. We are always wanted, we are always loved, and our essence is good. We are always good even if we make mistakes.
The more we identify with this truth the stronger we feel, the less crutches we need to use. This slow process of strengthening results in being able to tolerate more uncomfortable emotions, and feeling less weak when they appear. This is where choice is born. We can identify compensation and when our system is strong enough, we can choose something that is truly beneficial. Consequently, our dates with chocolate change. We can eat chocolate because it’s a delicious food rather than a means of escape.
To learn tools and insights about connecting to our goodness and strengthening our system, you are welcome to join a Yemima class.