[Michelle Murrain describes herself as a polymath: writer, teacher, web developer, theologian, scientist. She is interested in just about everything. One of the things she does a lot of is “observe and reflect”, and dig deeper into things that are happening in the world. In that way, she is a philosopher like myself, a lover of wisdom. In this guest post from her, she shares a little bit of that wisdom.]
I am, by far, my worst critic, and I think that is true for most of us. We often find the way we are, or the ways we behave, or the things we do, problematic in one way or another. We weigh too much, we eat too much sugar, we are too quick to anger, or we are too critical with our loved ones, on and on. We have long lists of things that we don’t like about ourselves.
And it is easy to walk through life with the weight of those critiques on our shoulders. Often, we assume those critiques should spur us to change. But sadly, the shame and guilt attached to those critiques keeps us locked in place.
The answer to this might surprise you. It might surprise you that the most important thing you can do is to look at those faults with compassion and gentleness, and work to come to accept that they are as they are, and come to accept all of who we are as we are. The irony is that it is only when we fully, completely accept the things we don’t like about ourselves, that we can change those things. Hating those things, and pushing the reality of those things as far away as possible is what keeps us where we are. It keeps us in the cycle of shame that immobilizes us.
Think of how you would hold an infant, or a baby chick, or a tiny kitten just born a few days ago. Think of that gentleness, that love that comes from somewhere inside of yourself in the presence of a new being like that. And then think of yourself, with all of your faults, and the things you don’t like, or even hate, with that kind of gentleness and love.
How you are and what you are is what is. It is all that is, but that doesn’t mean that is all that ever will be. It is just what is now. Accept it with gentleness. Let the shame go. And if you can’t let the shame go (it’s hard, I know,) accept the shame. And if you can’t accept the shame, accept that you can’t accept it.
Slowly but surely, you will come to see that you can accept yourself, as you are. And then you won’t be frozen in place anymore. Then you can move, and change, and grow.