The Dalai Lama was amazed when he heard that people in the West often don’t like themselves and are often full of self-criticism. That notion was completely foreign to him. Self-judgment in the West is particularly focused on appearance and/or ability.
I believe this phenomenon is a result of the subject/object split that is so rampant in our culture. We are conditioned to be split into role-playing selves, with part of ourselves experiencing and doing and part of ourselves that steps back and judges and compares, often quite brutally and unfairly. “Inappropriate” emotions are to be suppressed and controlled. Unlike the Dalai Lama, we are not able to be whole, fully and subjectively present in each moment of our lives without self-consciousness or judgment.
The more split we are in body and mind, the more extreme will be the following:
- projection of the parts of ourselves that we most criticize and condemn onto other people. Then too we react to and judge others.
- And so follows, we can only completely accept others after we completely accept and are kind to ourselves.
-the deeper and more unacknowledged our insecurities and past hurts, the more anger will fuel our criticisms of self and/or others.
-these criticisms also keep us at a distance from ourselves and others, and this can be preferable to the pain we fear we will experience if fully embody ourselves or are fully open to others.
-the more so this will heighten preoccupation with a need for external validation such as being pretty, charming, funny, sexy, successful, rich, etc.
In our lives, we come up against unique situations that test this more so than others. In those moments we can choose to be (openly or secretly) critical and distant, or we can choose to let go and accept. If we can forgive ourselves for not being perfect, we can forgive others for the same.
Again, a quote from Bugental (The Search for Authenticity) sticks out in my mind:
“We’ve always been such frightened people. And what were we frightened of? Just being ourselves! Isn’t that awful? All that pain and all that unhappiness, just because we were afraid to be ourselves!” (She is weeping hot, quiet tears as she talks.) “And that’s what I’ve been running from: by being so bright or pretty or popular or sexy or successful or all the other things I’ve tried to be. I’ve been trying to be all those things instead of just being me.” [Bugental, 1965: p 276]
1 Comment »
One Response to “Reflection”