“The most fundamental aggression to ourselves, the most fundamental harm we can do to ourselves, is to remain ignorant by not having the courage and the respect to look at ourselves honestly and gently.” Pema Chödrön
Do you know who you really are? Do you like who you really are? Are you willing to take responsibility and look honestly at the changes you need to make?
Self-analysis is a difficult process. When we look closely at ourselves we want to see the positive: the good we do, our loving qualities, and our accomplishments. That, of course, is the easy part. When we start to look at our less than sterling qualities, we usually experience anxiety and may shut down before we even have the courage to open the door.
We Must Look At Ourselves Honestly in Order to Grow
It isn’t very helpful to beat up on ourselves for all the mistakes we’ve made and all the things we don’t like about ourselves, but if we are to grow and become more the person we want to be, we must find the courage to look honestly at ourselves. Doing this with gentleness, as Pema Chödrön suggests, is the most effective way.
The moment when we are forced to look at ourselves honestly may very well be the most important moment of our lives. If we are unable to be honest with ourselves, we will not be able to be honest with others because there will always be something we need to hide. If we are willing to look at the dark and unpleasant side of who we are, then we have opened a door to changing and healing.
It Takes Courage to Make Changes
It takes courage to walk through that door. Our greatest fear is that, if we change, the people we care about in our lives may stop loving us. But if we are hiding who we really are, those people can’t love who we truly are; they can only love who we pretend to be. The idea that we are being loved for who we are is a sham.
Many people in our culture take drugs to hide the pain of not living honestly. Drugs mask our anxiety or depression and give us the illusion that we are all right. I once had a friend who was always in conflict with her family; they had very different values. She took medication for depression and would periodically stop taking it, but she would soon become depressed. Having spent time being depressed myself, I shared with her the things I did to combat it. My diet was healthy, balanced, low in sugar and alcohol, and I ate at regular intervals to keep the blood sugar balanced. I also exercised every day. I meditated frequently and monitored my negative thinking, reframing thoughts that did not need to be negative ones into positive thoughts to lift my vibration. Was my friend willing to try any of this? No? She thought the spiritual stuff was silly, and she tried to eat healthy, but… In fact, I saw virtually no evidence that she was willing to do anything to change her life.
Love All of Who You Are
The truth is that all the negative aspects of ourselves that we stuff down and hide away cause anxiety, disease and fear. How can we ever really feel good about ourselves if there are parts of us we must always hide? Religion has taught many people that they are worthless unless they follow certain rules or that loving oneself is selfish, but in Christianity, the great teacher was Jesus who said, “Love others as you love yourself.” So, how can we love others if we cannot love ourselves? If we cannot forgive ourselves our shortcomings, how can we forgive others theirs?
Nurture the Child Within
Healthy parents love their children even when they misbehave. They encourage their children to tell them the truth, and those children learn that there may be consequences when they admit they’ve behaved badly, but they will still be loved if they tell the truth. We need to accept ourselves in the same way and tell ourselves the truth. We cannot grow emotionally unless we are willing to take full responsibility for who we are. We must nurture that wounded child within who is so afraid no one will love it if they learn who she/he really is.
Change Can Bring a New and Better Life
What I know for sure is that life changes. As we change and grow, life adapts. Sometimes, the greatest heartbreak turns out to be the most profound lesson we could ever learn. Then that lesson leads us in a new direction where we are able to find new friends and a new life that support who we really are. It is even possible that some of the people who love us now may still love us through the changes.
Steve Marboli said, “There is nothing more beautiful than seeing a person being themselves. Imagine going through your day being unapologetically you.”
What are you willing to do today to become more of who you truly are?
© 2012 Georganne Spruce ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5
- 100 Days of Wisdom: Day 3 – Pema Chodron on Fear as a sign the truth is near (wisdominthewhisper.com)
- Stuck-ness & getting UNstuck (mindmindful.wordpress.com)
- Pema Chodron explains Maitri (sarahhamiltoncoaching.wordpress.com)