What do you hate about yourself?
Me: I hate that I will always have the little pot belly we all inherited from my Mom, that I can’t tell a joke to save my life, that I’m not detail-oriented, and I eat too much chocolate.
No, what do you REALLY hate about yourself?
How would you answer this question? I know the way I would answer it now is extremely different from how I would’ve answered it 15 years ago. Then, I would say that I hate having to take care of everyone with no one caring for me. I hate feeling like life is out of control. I hate feeling not good enough when someone says anything at all critical. I hate feeling like I can never do a good enough job or do enough in general. And I hate how everyone else is making me feel that way.
That would’ve been my honest answer if and when I allowed myself to feel and acknowledge those inner truths. All you would’ve gotten from me on most days was the first answer since it didn’t require me to face my inner demons or make me admit them aloud. Both very scary endeavors for even the bravest of souls.
We all have this duality – who we present to the world (including ourselves) and who we are inside. If there is a significant disparity between those two worlds, it means we are living without authenticity. We might try to hide that inner world, but we’re not fooling anyone else. Those inner truths, whether they’re acknowledged or not, become self-fulfilling (or rather, self-(un)fulfilling) prophecies. The more we are in denial about them, the greater the impact they are likely having on our lives.
The other irony about denial is how we then tend to blame others for our feelings or choices (“She is making me feel this way. He is making me do this.”) The excellent ipledgeallegiance blog yesterday posted a story about how a judge escalated punishment each time a teenaged defendant showed disrespect. The judge, who also showed disrespect and even contempt for the sanctity of the judicial system, overreacted to the teenager’s disrespect. This is a perfect example of projecting our self-hate onto someone else and then blaming them. So, if I hate that I can’t show my vulnerability, then that trait in someone else might just set me off. If I hate the need to feel in control, then I will criticize someone else for being controlling. If I am feeling judged, it is my judgment of myself that hurts me, not someone else’s opinion of me. By failing to acknowledge and forgive my own shortcomings and my feelings about my imperfection, I am giving power to my dark, hidden side.
So, the next time you get upset at someone or are tempted to judge them, look in the mirror. You may be reacting to it because you’re guilty of the same thing and you have yet to accept or forgive yourself for your perceived weakness.
Then ask yourself: Why not? We are, after all, only human and the only one that can have a claim on perfection is God. The rest of us are just messed up inside, no matter how much we may try to project otherwise. Believe me, you’re in good company. Present company included.
The other irony is that once you accept and forgive your human shortcomings, they lose their power over your life. Instead, you give power to your authenticity, your light.
Finally, if you offer forgiveness and empathy to yourself for your struggle to accept your imperfection/humanity, you can forgive someone else for theirs.
It was a long, scary and difficult road before I was able to accept my imperfection/humanity. There is much I want to work on, yes, but I don’t hate those parts of me. How can I hate them? My good cannot exist without my bad, my light cannot exist without my dark, my sweet cannot exist without my sour. Who am I to judge any of that? My journey is to find the wisdom to make the best of the hand I’ve been dealt and to try to “be the light that already resides in (me)” (From Thank You Self ,The Other Side of Ugly blog).
“There is only one perpetrator of evil on the planet: human unconsciousness. That realization is true forgiveness. With forgiveness, your victim identity dissolves, and your true power emerges–the power of Presence. Instead of blaming the darkness, you bring in the light.”
― Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose