I feel like I am on a growing edge and ready to see something new beyond my conditioned beliefs around people-pleasing, being liked, and being a good girl. To my horror, my sense of arrogance and superiority is becoming more visible to me. I have spent years in the comfortable familiarity of my feelings of unworthiness, but my consciousness is shifting focus to a more painful realization of my attitudes and beliefs of being superior and special.
I feel sick writing it down. My self-loathing is strong.
On a recent webinar where I was a guest speaker, Natasha Swerdloff spoke of vanity and I started to get more perspective on my own.
My vanity includes a persona that took on the role of special and extraordinary to cope with my feelings of unworthiness and not good enough. They are just two sides of the same coin, but I got much more comfortable with looking at the side of feeling less than rather than the side of feeling better than.
I guess I am ready now to be more conscious of my better than misunderstandings. I am used to seeing myself as the victim, not the perpetrator. I feel shame even in the acknowledgment of this possibility. I consciously value equality, but behind the socially acceptable mask lurks the murkier beliefs that require me to be better than in order to be good enough or even measure up. This is a painful tension to hold. Lose-Lose.
I wish I could rip away this conditioning. Tear off the arrogance. Shatter the illusion. I want to peel the mask of my persona off and be free.
But as much as I want to be free. I can’t force awakening. I can only see what I see.
I can accept the conundrum I have created for myself. I want to be liked. I am afraid of other people’s anger and judgment. I don’t like criticism. I have a fragile sense of self. I don’t like feeling unworthy and insecure. But in order to feel worthy, I need to be special and better than. I can accept my arrogance, my feelings of superiority, my judgments, my meanness, my pettiness. I can accept my anger.
Accepting, however, does not mean I have to build a house and live there. Awareness is key. Self-flagellation is not. It is just more of the ego’s game trying to prove worth through suffering.
Without sinking into the swamp of shame, awareness, acceptance, and surrender are foundational to awakening. Not acceptance of a concept about enlightenment, but acceptance of what is -- the embodied human experience with all of its foibles.
Some may say there is no need to discuss the craziness of personal human psychology. It is all made up after all. Why not just focus on what is real and unchanging -- the intangible, impersonal self of being and consciousness?
It can look like there is a gap between spiritual understandings that point toward transcendence of our personal selves and psychological teachings that encourage embracing what Carl Jung called the shadow parts of ourselves.
But they are part of the same path.
There is a Taoist saying, “The bigger the front. The bigger the back.”
Light and dark are part of the whole.
It is through the embracing of what is that we wake up to who we are beyond the limited conceptions we have of ourselves.
We don’t need to go digging around to embrace what is. Our personal self is front and center every day. Our emotional reactions point us toward opportunities for awakening. As Carl Jung said, “Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.”
No extra dredging is required. Our daily upsets and judgments let us know when we have come up against the limits of our capacity to love and accept. Judgment reminds us of when we have lost touch with our true nature of love and oneness and now have a limited perspective.
I don’t know about you, but I probably come up against this limit every five minutes or so. Maybe more frequently.
And even with my limitations, I do have a sense that I am part of the intelligence behind life that is me. I am nature. I am the oneness of all things.
And my day to day experience is that of being an individual personality that navigates the world from the unique vantage point of my personal thought system that has limitations and plenty of blind spots.
These new coming into focus blind spots of my unseemly qualities of insensitivity and arrogance are qualities my old self would have wanted to fix and eradicate immediately.
Now I understand more that awareness is enough. Being able to own the parts of me that I can warts and all is the medicine.
I can’t fix these parts. There is no self-improvement strategy that is going to work when I am up against an internal misunderstanding. I would just be boxing the shadows of my mind. The fight only reinforces the illusion.
The only path is love. The way through is surrender. The way forward is compassion. But not with the intent of transcending and by-passing. Rather, with the intent of accepting what is.
It is love that allows us to surrender to what is. An unconditional love that has no requirement of transformation. Love can enfold the limitations of the human experience so that what appears and disappears in consciousness is held within it.
I can delve beyond the layers of judgment that have been slathered on throughout the years by becoming present to them.
I can feel my freedom of being by accepting the misunderstandings that enslave me.
I can relax into what is beyond my ideas about myself by having awareness of them.
This is not letting me off the hook. I will still pay the price for my arrogance, but I can only heal with love, not force. Awakening is not up to me. It emerges from the impersonal. It is through being present that I can feel the silence of the one being that we all belong to. It will whisper to me the way to love more and live more kindly.
It is in this silence that the deeper feeling of the mystery becomes more available. And to drop in I must unashamedly embrace who I am as I am. There is no shortcut.
Inspired by Debbie Ford:
“The greatest act of courage is to be and to own all of who you are - without apology, without excuses, without masks to cover the truth of who you are.”
It is in the owning of it all that the truth is revealed more fully. And we all know the truth shall set you free.
Rohini Ross is co-founder of “The Rewilders.” Listen to her podcast, with her partner Angus Ross, Rewilding Love. They believe too many good relationships fall apart because couples give up thinking their relationship problems can’t be solved. In this season of the Rewilding Love Podcast, Rohini and Angus help a couple on the brink of divorce due to conflict. Angus and Rohini also co-facilitate private couples' intensives that rewild relationships back to their natural state of love. Rohini is also the author of the ebook Marriage, and she and Angus are co-founders of The 29-Day Rewilding Experience and The Rewilding Community. You can follow Rohini on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. To learn more about her work and subscribe to her blog visit: TheRewilders.org.