On top of several other conditions I was attempting to heal, I got really sick last week. It was the full catastrophe. Suddenly I was flooded with self-doubt. Was it the chocolate (sugar-free) I had been sparingly eating lately that had taxed my adrenals and made me vulnerable? Or the gluten-free naan bread I had treated myself to a few days prior? Despite having been told by the contractor who had been working on our house that black mold was found, and removed, which certainly was the culprit of the latest problem, I still managed to attempt to take responsibility for all that was broken in me. I still managed to re-trace every possible false move I had made, every emotion not skillfully handled, because I was certain that if I had just done better- managing everything- I’d have been okay.

To add gas to the fire, my physician naively heaped a good old-fashioned helping of guilt on me during a vulnerable moment, insinuating that I was creating my illness by certain things I was not doing correctly (according to him). The sharp, sudden anger I felt woke me up to my own self- flagellation and I realized how tired I was. Of this guilt-ridden story. Of criticizing my own best efforts. Of being vulnerable to being made wrong by others. Of taking responsibility for everything that takes an unexpected turn or falls apart, when the reality is I’m doing the best I can. Because focusing on what’s wrong instead of what’s right is no way to live. In fact, it’s not living at all.

How often do we do this to our self? How often do we practice self-recrimination, self-comparison, self-shaming and self-loathing all in the name of “working on our self”? I know I am not perfect. I know I’ve got issues, but I also know that self-improvement efforts are not the source of my happiness. Taking responsibility for creating my entire reality can leave me feeling burdened and broken. When there’s always something to fix inside our selves it’s impossible to be happy. The fact is, we’re all a little broken. We’re all striving for something higher. It is good to want to improve, fix things. But if a sense of inadequacy, wrong-ness or shame is at the core of your self- improvement efforts, it will never feel like you have done enough. You will always fall short. You will also measure others by what you haven’t achieved – an idealistic state of perfection that doesn’t exist outside of self-help books. And you will never be happy. At least, that is my experience.

With expansive Jupiter in fix-it Virgo (until 9/9/16), we’ve received the cosmic missive that any improvements we undertake: perfecting our self, working on our issues, our life, can make our life better, bigger. Virgo’s shadow is shame, self-hatred, guilt, perfectionism, idealism… and Jupiter, near the transiting North Node, can exaggerate this shadow. There’s a dark side to chasing the light of some impossible standard that doesn’t exist on Earth, and I think we are all vulnerable to this.

What’s the solution? More self-love. Unconditional self-love, radical self-acceptance, is the antidote.

We each have healing to do and we still deserve love, from others, and most especially from our self. In my book A Love Alchemist’s Notebook, Soul Mate Secret No. 1 (there are nine of them in total) reads: You don’t need to be healed enough to be worthy of love, but you may need to heal before you’re ready for your soul mate. You deserve love, as broken or complete as you are. If this sounds like a paradox, it is (paradox is a close friend of alchemy), because it’s only by totally accepting where you are now that you can move forward into something more. I did a sh**-ton of work to attract my soul mate, and yet with this as my foundation (it is Secret no. 1), it didn’t feel like work. It felt like freely expanding into myself. Once I gave myself permission to unconditionally be who I was, no matter the situation, mood or demon I was battling, everything flowed from there.

This Virgo Full Moon will offer us plenty of ideas about what’s broken and how to fix it. It shines light on our aspirations and where we fall short of them. Paradoxically (that word again), Neptune widely opposes this lunation; things may feel, or actually be, messy, disorganised, chaotic, confounding and up in the air. There may be no immediate solution or fix in sight, because, you know what? Not every problem can be solved away through our attempts to fix it. Not every person can be healed or saved from their condition. Not everything in life can be made better, or make sense, by having it fit into a neat, tidy, well-organised color-coded box. Neptune rules Divine Compassion, self-acceptance, flow, surrender and letting go …and is the ultimate remedy to too much Virgo: of trying to control the world through logic, problem-solving (if I can just fix, understand, organize it, then this problem will go away!) as well as all the self-flagellation, guilt, shame and rigid feelings of not measuring up. If this is you– please have mercy on yourself. It’s no way to live.

My realization led to a recommitment to myself (I had thought I’d master this lesson off long ago, but just because I wrote a book based on self-love doesn’t mean I do it perfectly.  Hey, I’m human). I decided that I’m never going to look healthy on paper, at least by the world’s standards. But I can be well. I can live well, I can be happy. I didn’t have to listen to internal or external voices telling me to be better. I can accept all of my self-parts, inadequacies, challenges, and let my life flow from there.

So at this Full Moon: I challenge you to open up and let supreme self-acceptance in. Try this mantra: I’m as broken as a broke down bus, and yet I am perfect. I love and accept all of myself unconditionally. If self-loathing or shame is behind any of your improvement efforts, stop them immediately and head out to the beach, a movie or your favorite forest. Hang out, space out, lay in the Sun, create, lose your mind for a little while. Because in those moments, Neptune opens its wide arms and embraces us, saying, “No worries, be happy. It’s all going to be okay. Want to know why? I love you.” I know… there’s no logic to it. It doesn’t make sense that we can be so imperfect and yet so worthy of love. Yet there it is. Neptune loves and accepts you just as you are- in spite of your self. Can you?

image: Grace Avenue