All of us want to be loved and accepted. When we are not, the deepest part of us—our soul—is threatened and put at risk for some sort of wound to our human condition. Whether we suffer from low self-esteem, a lack of self-worth, a shaky identity or sense of self, the feeling of being left out or not belonging, the experience of being dismissed or undervalued, a lack of confidence or ability to speak our truth, or any other “condition” that misaligns our lives, our radiance—the feeling that we “shine” no matter what our circumstances can be diminished or lacking altogether.

In essence, what we all want is to be seen as the souls we really are. We want to be recognized as unique individuals and accepted regardless of our color, race, gender, habits, beliefs, preferences, quirks, and idiosyncrasies. We want to “be” without having to please others or ask for permission. Any experience other than this love and acceptance IS the human condition.

Our soul’s most natural state is joy and contentment. It is the human condition that misaligns us and tries to push or pull us out of alignment. This is the discomfort that all of us know—the discomfort that reminds us that we are all human. Will all of the different beliefs that exist—political, social, religious, gender-related, cultural and ethnic, regional to international dissimilarities, etc.—it’s no wonder why so many people struggle and why so many are at odds both with themselves and others. All because we can’t see ourselves or others for the souls we really are. We can’t see beyond the layers of the human condition to realize that we are all in this fight together—we are all trying to be seen, recognized, loved, and accepted as we grow and evolve.

It is true that wounded people wound people. In her book, Hurt People Hurt People, author Sandra Wilson expands the definition of hurt to include “the actions, words, and attitudes that are intentional or unintentional, visible or invisible, hands-on or hands-off, other perpetrated or self-inflicted, and barely survivable to hardly noticed.” She goes on to say that these “bloodless wounds and unseen soul scars” can last a lifetime.

Given the tendency to wound ourselves or others because of our own unseen injuries, it’s hard to argue with the idea that what we all want most is love and acceptance. If we can’t love and accept ourselves, we certainly can’t do the same for others.

But what happens when others can’t or won’t see us for who we are?  How does that dim the brightness of our soul? How does that diminish our natural radiance?

Like many, I’ve had countless experiences when others tried to take away my light. Everything from the first grade when two female bullies poured soda over my head at a school picnic because I already knew how to read—to more recent times when loved ones and so-called friends were threatened by what I believed as well as what I could accomplish. A sibling often called me “weird” for thinking outside the box and my ex-husband didn’t talk to me for days after reading part of my Master’s Thesis, saying he was upset that he couldn’t write this way—never having tried.

I grew up with horrible self-esteem and didn’t shake this until well into adulthood. Few would know it because I buried myself in my books, using grades and various achievements to reinforce who I was since positive affirmation was so hard to come by otherwise. My soul was deeply wounded and I didn’t know the way out of the dismal abyss that had become my life. My soul—the true essence of who I was went missing and just like many of the women I treat for depression, anxiety, fatigue, and other “human” conditions, I became a pleaser in order to gain recognition by the world around me. I’ve since done a ton of both human and soul healing to shed the layers of the “bloodless wounds” that were created by other wounded people. But I remain well aware of the fragile nature of the soul and how easily its light can be diminished and even fully extinguished if not protected.

I’ve said many times that the soul is the essence of who we are. It is the hub of all of our experience and the cumulative effect of all we have learned and experienced—the good, the bad, and the ugly. When others fail to recognize or honor who we are, our soul is in jeopardy of losing its light.

Spiritual maturity insists that we don’t have to agree with someone else’s beliefs, values, or perspective on life, we just have to love and accept that person for who they are. If our human condition could get out of the way, this planet of souls would be much more able to not only survive, but thrive beyond its current state. Wouldn’t that be something to embrace?!

What is your first step in healing the wounds created by others so you can shine your soul in the way that is rightfully yours?

Even bigger question—what can you do today to embrace another’s soul so we stop wounding the world around us?