A Crash Course In Life | Amber Hawken | Dip. Mindfulness CBT

Fear, overthinking, emotions, a core sense of unworthiness no matter what your external looks like… Failure? Nope. Symptoms of being a human beingWelcome to a little thing called life.

This is how it rolls.

You are born.

You get grown ups who take care of you, or don’t.

The mind of a child attempts to make sense of pain and pleasure, detangling the charged emotions around both.

Am I worthy?
Am I safe?
Who cares about me?
Who do I need to be to be accepted in this world?

What will keep me out of pain?
How do I get love?
How am I meant to give love?
Who do I need to be, to be enough?

It’s right there at this point that I would like to grab every single child gently but firmly and hold them in unconditional love and say: 

“You are worthy and you are loved, period.”

At least 25% of my Calm Mind Project senior student program is telling the kids about me as a 14 year old with heavy eye makeup, black studded belts and banging out Marilyn Manson and Korn while my Gran had bible study in the lounge room. I ask them, “what did I need?”.

I’ll get answers like, ‘attention’, ‘validation’, ‘someone to see me’, ‘someone to hear me’. Nope. That’s what I wanted, but what did I really need. Eventually someone says love.

That’s what I wanted, but what did I really need. Eventually someone says love. “Just, love?” I question. “When my Gran she asked me to rip my posters off her walls is it because she didnt love me?”


It was it a lack of love when my Dad suggested it would be easier for me if I moved out of home at 14 because my Step Mum and I were creating World War 3 before breakfast each day?”



So what kind of love did I need then?

And then I teach them about unconditional love for self and that all we ever need is to feel whole within ourselves.

That no one can do this except – who? I ask.

“US!” Heck yeah, the teens get it. Now it’s our turn.

We can do this by understanding the simple fact that every time we ‘human’ (get emotional, caught up in the mind, feel lost, avoid vulnerability out of fear of rejection or failure, sabotage intimacy to protect ourselves) what we’re learning to get better at is unconditional love.

I guess I should address the burning question first: Is it our parent’s fault? Never. Is it possible to learn how to parent with more awareness? Always.

My Mum may have drowned her pain in alcohol and my Step Mum may have dispersed hers onto me. But my Dad, well, that legend loved the hell out of every bit of me. And I knew it. I felt it. As you can see, it din’t mean I was free from fear or that want for validation but it meant my inner foundations were solid.

It gave me the greatest thing we could ever ask for: freedom to be myself. I was closest to my Dad from the moment I was born and those first years with his unconditional love philosophy, helped shape a crucial part of how I saw myself. I may not have always felt fully supported or safe, but I felt like I was okay to be myself. You can have the most ‘perfect’ upbringing, but any sense of non-acceptance can stimulate a lifetime of destructive self-protective behaviours. You can also be in an environment of violence, drugs and fighting and come out thriving. Its about how we perceived events, life and self. That’s why when we are older, the real work is often going back and starting young and starting within. 

The unconditional love from Dad meant I had a little camp fire inside that’s always been alight. It wasn’t an unlimited entitled sense of confidence, just a very subtle, simple acceptance of myself and my potential. I had other work to do, being a human and all. Such as breaking down the armour I placed up to protect myself from ‘women’ (my view of them from a young age was women and emotions = pain) and unpack my escape into overwork to prove myself. Thank gosh, despite my normal human battles of worthiness that carry on within, I had that super power of innate worthiness that helped me keep my head above the waters of fear, rejection or failure. Trust compounds, so the older I got, the more I pushed back against fear, the stronger my sense of self grew from a place of unconditional love.

Did I have plenty of opportunity to still not love myself? Absolutely. I’ve written before about openness and that sometimes I give up on myself seven times before breakfast. I simply managed to strike gold and appreciate the lesson of unconditional love and thus seed it into my daily practices in life to keep that fire alight and wash out the darkness of shame and unloved that each of us are here to overcome in our own unique way.

Our parents can love us unconditionally, it only takes one moment for the mind to make X = Y.

Where X is an event and Y is our perception that creates meaning out of that event with the headline “I am not enough” or “I won’t be loved”.

Do I still fear rejection, failure and avoid vulnerability? 1000%. I’m only telling you this story to help you understand that the best way to grow, become stronger and get through the cycles of life is unconditional love.

Did I have plenty of opportunity to still not love myself? Absolutely. Our parents can love us unconditionally, it only takes one moment for the mind to make X = Y.


After working with humans for almost a decade, it becomes very apparent, we all have an X and a Y.

Sally’s parents fought tirelessly about money and afterwards her mother would console in her daughter. Sally, at four and a half years old, ‘realised’ she was responsible for everyone’s happiness and had incredibly weak boundaries as an adult. Or, seven year old Scott who watched Dad throw Mum across the room and after a while, aggression became so familiar that it also became his inner home. As an adult, Scott would default to violence under stress. Or when Jake’s Mum left their family when he was six, he decided from then on, he would avoid attachment so that no one could ever leave and he never had to be abandoned again. Or Jess at 11, who was scolded by Dad for having dreams of a career different to his version of success, shut down her creativity and grew up feeling unworthy of joy in her life. Or when Alex was 5 and he watched Mum boss Dad around constantly and as a result become terrified that women would control him and spent his adult life avoiding commitment or vulnerability.

Our childhood self-protective mechanism becomes our adult destructive sabotages.

All it takes is a single, seemingly insignificant event for a child to decide this. Of course, it can be deeply traumatic events or even repeated micro instances.

What I’m sayin’ is, no one avoids this and dare I say, nor should we.

After unpacking these instances for thousands of hours (and concluding each time that all we ever need is unconditional love for self, all persons involved and to extract a deeper wisdom that not only connects the dots of our entire life, but enables us to move forward with greater inner strength and understanding) I’d say it’s completely and utterly necessary.

So how does that help you right now?

Well firstly, you’re not alone, derr. There is this thing that our bodies and emotions do when we realise this. It’s called: chill out.

And that’s exactly what I want to encourage you to do, right now.

Each of us has a tale to tell about a moment in time we weren’t accepted, we were unwanted, unloved or not enough. We’ve all felt rejected, repressed, exiled, suffocated and criticised. In our adult life, we are all unpacking these instances by re-living them and if we choose, to process them successfully so we can move forward a little lighter and brighter (maybe).

Life works in cycles and we’ve come full circle in this article now.

You are born.

You get grown ups who take care of you, or don’t.

You figure X = Y.

That plays out in life.

You learn from it, or you don’t.

You feel all the things, or you don’t.

You surrender, feel them, process whatever was coming up, or you don’t.

You begin to realise it’s just easier if you get cozy with the uncomfortable parts of life and stop that avoidance BS or you don’t.

You grow or you don’t.

You become more aware and lighter in life or you don’t.

Repeat until you die.

My point is – you may as well have a ball in the middle.

Stop trying to fix yourself.

Stop trying to fight your humanness.

Stop trying to escape into the ‘light’, chase the cosmos – you are it, knucklehead. You are also a human – so you’re here to enjoy, endure and experience the full spectrum.

Final point…

Stop trying so hard.

Have fun.

Stay wild.

Stay open.

Throw yourself into things that feel like engulfing love, but never to avoid pain.

Comfort addiction and rigid beliefs will screw you, hard, because the only constant is change.

If you’re as equally uncomfortable as you are excited, chances are you’re probably headed in the right direction.

Be willing to screw it all up (because, seriously, you can’t).

Just, do you.

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