Recognition vs. Rejection

The notion that you are already good enough is a difficult concept to accept for everyone that I have ever met.  Different people meet this problem with different solutions…

·         I know people who don’t bother to try so that they can never be found failing;
·         I know people who work so hard, all the time, to prove themselves that they seem to have no time for learning how to understand themselves;
·         I know people who give too much, all the time, because they place everyone else’s importance above their own;
·         I know people who go around doing everything they can for everyone, because they have placed a sense of their own self-worth in being perfect for everyone else;
·         I know people who have lots of stuff, as though that will prove to the world, if not themselves, that they are succeeding, that they are good enough.  Since having lots of stuff is this society’s main indicator of success, then having lots of stuff seems to prove something.  But how many unhappy rich people do you know/have you heard of?  Clearly ‘stuff’ is not the answer.  We see evidence of that fact every day, but seem  collectively to refuse to accept its veracity;
·         I know people who need to be perfect: perfect job, everything done properly, being in the right place at the right time with the right items.  As if being in control of everything is proof of something.
The fact that it is very difficult for us to feel good enough probably stems from childhood and the way that we were brought up.  However, it is not sufficient to drop the responsibility for our lack of self-worth at the feet of our parents.  Larkin’s view

They fuck you up your mum and dad,
They do not mean to, but they do

might ring true, but it doesn’t hold the answer.  Many of us were loved and cherished by our parents and yet we still feel that we are not good enough, we still find it hard to truly love and care for ourselves.  In addition to that, anyone who is a parent knows how much they love and wish the best for their children; that we are not the first generation to have done so is self-evident.  Thus, in spite of our best intentions, each generation finds the same difficulty in finding a true and lasting sense of self-worth, no matter how loved we were as children.

The answer therefore must lie within us and not in the search for someone else to blame for our lack of self-love.
Buddha identified the cultivation of compassion and love for oneself as a crucial practice for living a loving, successful and kind life.  It was his contention that a strong sense of self-worth and self-love is necessary if we are to truly care for others.  This makes sense.  If we are living in a judgemental paradigm where what we do/say/achieve is the only measure of our self-worth, then it stands to reason that, despite our best intentions to the contrary, we judge other people in the same way instead of accepting ourselves and other people for who they are (good enough before they even get out of bed in the morning).

Thinking that you are good enough has nothing to do with complacency – you are still able to engage in life fully, to achieve and work hard and be fully committed to life when you have love for yourself.  Indeed, you may well be able to achieve more, do better, live more fully, when you are not wasting so much of your time and energy proving your worth to the world because you don’t really believe it yourself.
There is a relationship between a lack of self-love and fear.  When we believe that our real selves are not worthy of love, then we are afraid of revelation; we are afraid that if people discover who we really are, they will find us lacking and reject us.  It goes like this: if you knew who I really am inside, then you wouldn’t love me/like me/want to know me; if you knew how unsure I was about being able to do this task well, you wouldn’t respect me; if you knew how vulnerable I feel in this situation, you would laugh at me.  I suspect that a lot of this has to do with the conditioning we had as children - within our home, our extended families and at school we learnt how to be a certain way to avoid being uncomfortable.  As we grow up it is that personality that we present to the world – it gets us by, it gets us liked, it helps us to avoid pain.  Part of our spiritual path is dissociating ourselves from this personality and revealing who it is that we truly are.  For some of us, it might be the case that we have lived for so long with the personality that works for us and the people around us that when we come to look for our true self, we can’t find it; we don’t have a clue who that person is or was, or where to look for him/her.

To reveal our true self to the world can be inconvenient (everyone around us has been used to our projected personality and their habits; the true you might not fit in so well).  To reveal our true self to ourselves and then to others requires the greatest courage.  If you are rejected now, then it’s the real you that is being rejected.  How do you take this?  With courage.  This is what you say:- here I am in all my strange and wonderful glory; some people will like me and some people won’t, but I don’t need everyone to like me, because I understand that in the same way as I don’t like and want to spend time with everyone I meet, not everyone is going to feel positively about me.  BUT I can cope with some people not liking me, because I believe in myself and my own worth.  I am brave enough to let some people not like me.
It’s going to be such a relief!  You won't need to prove yourself with your humour or your intelligence or your knowledge or your capacity to get things done or your ability to bake cakes or the fact that you can run marathons or earn a lot of money or have a fast car.  You will trust that the people who love you love you for who you really are now and not because of who you could be one day, or what you can achieve, or how well you fit in, or what you have. 

So there will be no fear, because you are being authentically yourself – there is nothing for anyone to find out about you.  There will be trust, because you trust yourself and you are therefore able to trust others; when you are being honest, trust comes naturally because there is nothing hidden in you.  This is unconditional trust – nobody has to prove to you that they can be trusted, you trust them because you have nothing to hide.  And it works the other way too:- even if someone else has something to hide/something that they are afraid of, you understand that they are, without doubt, intrinsically good enough and deserving of your respect and good feelings, however they might be projecting themself to the world.
A life without fear is a good life.  Fear takes up too much time and too much energy.  When you are free of fear you sleep well, you eat well, you take care of yourself and of others, you have respect for yourself and for others; you can give without needing gratitude in return; and you can receive without needing justification.       

But it all starts with you.  It all begins with your search for your authentic self and with having the courage to reveal that person to the world without fear.  It begins with trusting yourself.  You do this by living from your centre; you constantly ask yourself is this the truth?  Is this what I really feel?  Is this the right decision for me now?  Am I being true?  Am I being authentic?  Did I give as much as I could have in that moment?  Why did I hold back from that person?
This way you get to live more, love more, feel less resentment and less anger (if you are being true to yourself, you have very little to be resentful and angry about).  Then your life becomes more about what you can do for others than what you can do for yourself.

That we know so few people living authentic, individual lives, free of society’s definitions of personal success lets you know that it is not an easy path to follow.  But it is crucial, absolutely crucial, that you begin. 

Comments

  1. Wow, I love this one...will be digesting it for weeks or attempting to.
    It can be hard to change, or even start to change, habits of a lifetime?
    It is more "comfortable" to stick with how you feel and how it always is?
    If people ask "how are you?", do they actually want an answer other than "fine, thanks"? Do you want to give any other answer anyway?
    It's great to meet people who just are who they are without trying to show who they are.
    Still thinking, V.

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  2. Well, I've been thinking (!).
    Does the miracle of your birth mean you are "already good enough"?
    My impression is that "younger" people are more willing/able to reveal/discuss their feelings/be "themselves"; maybe this is being encouraged in school. V.

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  3. We all live in this society? We all have a place/status?
    If having lots of stuff is this society's main indicator of success (and yes, this often only leads to storage issues, as you keep buying more stuff...rather than keeping you happy as such), what should this society's main indicator(s) of "success" be? V.

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  4. Self-worth/self-esteem/self-love/self-confidence/already good enough = the code to crack this fundamental lies within, however part of the code is based on experiences/conditioning/parents/status anxiety? V.

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  5. Sometimes it is easy to think too much!! Remember yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery - and as long as tomorrow comes, you should be laughing?! V.

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  6. I have often thought about some people you meet how "Self effacing" they are and when they speak to you it is completely without judgement and non reflecting, which enables you to be open with them up and be "yourself". I sometimes wonder if these people have either found the right path and live with the right pinciples of life or are truly "Angels on earth" whos completely dissarming nature leaves you feeling lighter and smiling un-selfconciously. These encounters help us realise who we are and maybe we should hold onto and learn from them on the path to being who we truly are.

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