Beginning the Journey in Embracing Radical Self-Love
20 WONDROUS STORIES OF RADICAL SELF LOVE
Exclusive Excerpts from “The Wounded Healer” by Andy Chaleff
In the opening chapter of Andy Chaleff’s work, The Wounded Healer, we are welcomed to join him for 3-months as he crisscrosses the US in search of self-love. In this excerpt, we discover what Andy has been running away from his entire life and how he plans to use this trip as the impetus for fundamental life change. Though the eyes of a wounded healer, he invites all of us to discover self-love.
Exploring the Series: Through understanding and reclamation, freedom and radical self-love are found. This series of 20 stories explores the facets of blocks that get in the way of loving ourselves.
Listen to this chapter on audio, narrated by the author:
“We are all just walking each other home.”
Look in the mirror and say, “I love you.” Seriously. Try it. Look into your own eyes and say, “I love you.”
If you’re like most people, you’ll find it at least uncomfortable, if not impossible. We’re constantly finding things not to love about ourselves. The things that have been quietly eating away at us. Our weaknesses and mistakes. Our embarrassments and failures. Our disappointments and frustrations.
I’ve struggled to love myself all my life. But in 2017, I decided to do something about it. I didn’t know how to fully love myself, but I resolved to push the limits of my comfort zone. I would no longer allow self-doubt to dictate my decisions and limit my potential. I would no longer conveniently step sideways when facing a challenge. I would no longer allow feelings of vulnerability to close me off.
It all began the day after my wedding, June 12, 2017. In the trough that often comes after big events, I decided to write a book. I was not a writer, nor did I have a clear theme. But there would be a book—of that I was certain. I decided to let my instinct guide me.
While on my honeymoon, I awoke each morning at five a.m. Under the covers next to my wife, Rani, I wrote what turned into hundreds of pages on my iPhone. I relived every meaningful moment in my life, paying special attention to the ones filled with shame, guilt, and pain. The writing turned into its own healing process as I exposed—and ultimately learned to accept—the parts of me that were hiding in the shadows.
This all culminated in a book, The Last Letter: Embracing Pain to Create a Meaningful Life. To my surprise, the book was well received—so well received that I felt like I had a dilemma on my hands. If I was to fully embrace the success of the book, then I’d need to overcome my first hurdle: embracing the spotlight. In order to do that, I felt it would need to be ambitious. Something that pushed me out of my comfort zone.
While showering one day, the idea hit me. I decided to travel across the U.S. for three months and ask people one simple question: If you knew someone in your life would die tomorrow and you had one last chance to express feelings to him or her, what would you say? It was the very question I posed at the end of The Last Letter.
Over time, my general idea became more focused and concrete, and I outlined a basic structure for my trip. I planned to travel from the west coast to the east, with the goal of hosting sixty “Last Letter” sessions. In each session, I would share my own story of pain described in my book, and then invite participants to write their own “last letter” to the person of their choosing. These could be letters of love, gratitude, forgiveness—any emotion people felt compelled to express that would give them greater healing, peace, and freedom.
I mapped my route based on people whom I knew throughout the US. I asked friends and connections if they would host these Last Letter sessions. As people agreed, my route unfolded. I then located bookstores along my route and cold-called them to see if they would host sessions as well. To my surprise, many of them readily agreed. My trip was set.
This book is the story of that journey. Throughout the journey, I hope you’ll find themes that resonate with your life. Challenging experiences you have had trouble putting behind you. Old patterns you wish you could eliminate, but that still control your life. Experiences of shame and guilt. Moments when you have found it hard to accept and love yourself. And last but not least, the internal voice that says you’re not good enough, that beats you up for all your past mistakes.
Although I have enjoyed relative success, the disapproving voice of my father has always haunted me: “Andy, you’ll never amount to anything.” It has prevented me from fully accepting and loving myself. It has often made me pull back and bunt instead of letting go and swinging for the fences.
We all have our own voices. The voices of critical parents, teachers, friends. The emotional baggage from the past that weighs on us. The shame and guilt we try to stifle. The accumulation of all our life struggles. I spent most of my life trying to manage all these psychological and emotional burdens in myself. It took me decades to realize I had been getting it wrong all along. Instead of moving away from it, I should have been running directly into it. Like a beautiful waterfall that may sting for an instant, but then massages.
In my classes for clients, I’m often asked, “How do I get rid of these voices, these thoughts, these emotions?”
My answer is almost always the same: “What if you didn’t need to get rid of them, but instead, loved them? How do you love that thought so much that it’s no longer unconsciously wreaking havoc in your life? What if it didn’t need to be resolved, but instead completely embraced?”
It’s instinctual for us to label thoughts as “positive” or “negative.” In this mindset, we embrace the positive and resist the negative. This leads to a trap. Once we judge thoughts as negative and believe they’re bad, we are defined by our desire to resist them. The moment we resist a negative thought, it controls us. In this space, we can never find peace—because we’ll never run out of “negative” thoughts to plague us.
Alternatively, we can see that thoughts are just that: thoughts. They are immaterial connections spinning around in our heads, nothing more. The challenge we all face is, how can we slow down and analyze the instinctive process of attaching judgments of good or bad to thoughts? How can we become less defined and limited by the thoughts that we resist?
For me, there are no negative thoughts. There are just thoughts—ideas that pop into my head and take me away from my direct experience of this moment. At times, I attach value judgments (i.e. good and bad) to them. When I do that, they begin to define me in the world. To the degree that those judgments go unseen, I react to those thoughts. It’s in those moments that I get lost, frustrated, confused, lonely.
Because this is the core challenge people face when they feel stuck emotionally, you’ll see this process in action throughout this book. It will make more sense as you read real-life examples.
See What Experts Are Saying Below About “The Wounded Healer: A Journey in Radical Self-Love”, Now Available on Amazon
Allowing thoughts to be, just as they are, with no judgments of them, allows us to reflect on them more freely. When we can see that some thoughts create unpleasant emotions, we can ask, What is it about this thought that gives me this feeling?
Here is where radical self-love comes in. Instead of trying to solve the thought, we see what happens when we embrace it at the root. We no longer resist it or try to make it go away.
Although I have taught this countless times, I still have areas in my own life that I don’t love completely. On this trip, I resolved to change that. I promised myself I would push my limits and look where it was hardest to look, to love what was the hardest to love in myself.
You’re now part of this journey. My travel companion. Join me as I discover how finding radical self-love radically changed my experience in the world. At the same time, I’ll share with you the simple practice I use to support others to do the same. I offer my journey as a possible doorway to your own discovery of self-love.
Andy is offering his exceptional coaching as a gift to experience this body of work and new book. Join any of the 3 free digital workshop dates below:
Eventbrite ticket link: “Become Your Own Healer Workshop: making peace with your emotional trigger“ Please note time zones.
In the journey to radical self-love, we learn how to heal from our deepest emotional triggers. We learn to accept all the things we wish we could change about ourselves. We fully embrace the things we resist—and even celebrate them. By doing so, we release the stranglehold they have over us.
Throughout this journey, I travel to meet with old friends and family, spiritual communities, the leaders of Silicon Valley. I even drop in on retirement homes and a group of psychics. As I learn how to give my own emotions a place, the people I meet along the way begin to freely explore their own—especially the hard ones, the ones associated with people who have hurt us.
With the help of a simple exercise I use along the way, the pattern of self-judgment is interrupted and subdued. The brain isn’t allowed to fall back into the critical mode that keeps it stuck: the nagging, “would have, could have, should have” thoughts about everything we wish we could take back, or everything we wish we would have done before it was too late.
Paradoxically, it is in accepting our helplessness, incapacities, and imperfections that we find liberation. And it all begins with radical self-love. Welcome to the journey.
Andy Chaleff is one of our heroes in the profound work of healing our world’s heart.
He is an acclaimed author, motivational speaker, talk show host of “A Wonderful Chaos”, conscious business advisor, and a beloved mentor to many.
He dropped everything and devotionally toured across America for three months holding “Last Letter” healing circles for a wide array of communities to safely explore the depths of their grief, giving people permission to release suffering and move forward with an opened and unburdened heart.
This recent body of work, “The Wounded Healer”, showcases personal stories of breakthroughs where most people deprive themselves of self-love. We are honored to showcase excerpts from this transformational series. A voice of clarity and wholeness in our transitional time