To me, the most fascinating thing about being human is our capacity to reflect. We can split ourselves into sub-selves, we can stand apart from ourselves, observe ourselves in action, and make judgments about ourselves. Based on those judgments we can modify how we show up in the world.
It's astounding, really, when you think about it. No other creature in the world can do this.
What a gift. If only we knew how to use it.
Instead of using this amazing ability to establish inner peace and harmony, most of us end up at war with ourselves in some way. We spend decades torturing ourselves for being less than...less than beautiful, less than strong, less than brilliant, less than talented. Our minds become, as Anne Lamott says, bad neighborhoods - you don't want to go in there alone. Instead of wholeness and peace, we experience self-loathing, fear, and desperation.
Somehow, in our relentless pursuit of self-improvement, we've missed an essential ingredient, the thing that makes it possible for the self to come into harmony - self-compassion.
The ability to be with ourselves in an attitude of kindness.
How did we miss this?
Today I'd like to think about how our lives would be different if we could learn to be with ourselves in compassion and kindness, instead of criticism and contempt. How we could use our capacity for reflection to inject acceptance instead of dissatisfaction.
In order to be ourselves, we need to be able to tolerate being in ourselves with acceptance, and with ourselves with compassion.
Who knew it could be so hard just to be a self?