Honesty + Self Compassion = Lifesaving?
Do you feel that to be completely honest with yourself would be a brutal act of self destruction?
Funny thing is: people you would call “normal” and “generally good” feel this way. Yet, the story below tells how destructive could be the lack of honesty with ourselves. An honest look at the “dark” corners of our psyche doesn’t have to be brutal at all.
There is another way.
1. You CAN choose your operating mode.
While thinking about yourself you can operate in two different modes. You hold the remote and you can change the mode.
Mode 1 could be called “The Bully.” Mode 2 could be called “The Angel”. You also can call them Dark and Light. Negative and Positive. The Critic and the Cheerleader.
Mode 1 undermines your power. Mode 2 gives you strength and faith in yourself.
Many people have a strong inner bully, but we all need to consciously train ourselves at some point in life to switch the inner operating mode to the compassionate “inner angel”.[you can also listen to this – very imperfect – recording]
2. You ARE safe in silence
Most of us anticipate all kinds of monsters to show up from the inside. This is a fear I still have when I’m close to facing something big within. I don’t think it completely goes away even after long practice of meditation and self inquiry.
When you are able to be without distractions… no background noise… no tv… with the inner chatter silenced… when you sit down to meditate… you show courage and you should acknowledge yourself for it.
Even if we may not be facing the deepest and darkest corners of our soul in short, every day meditation, the practice allows us to be honest with ourselves. And honesty is life saving. Here is how it happens:
3. Honesty + compassion at work. Conclusion.
When you see something inside you…
- that bothers you,
- thing you need to work on,
- something you are not proud of in yourself,
- some failures and mistakes, that stubbornly don’t want to turn to “lessons”…
- hate what you see…
- you could become frustrated that you are not meeting your or others expectations.
- this could make you depressed or angry.
- you may turn into a victim and blame others.
- you could deny it – which is just sweeping the “dirt” under a rug – which only creates more tension and shame.
But you can…
- switch to operating mode #2
- apply self compassion.
- expand your light to overtake the “darkness”
As a result…
- bringing things to light for your Self Compassion to deal with it, will make you more honest and relaxed about yourselves.
- you can be ok with your imperfection
- When you face your darkness or imperfection and choose to be kind to yourself you are able to release the stress related to the stuff, you become kinder to others as well because you know everybody’s got something and likely they are beating themselves for it.
- You are more understanding and compassionate with others. And this changes everything: the relationships with close ones and with strangers, how you react to negative events and not supportive comments.
- to be genuinely kind to others, you need to be first kind to yourself. Otherwise it’s just another cry for approval.
The warning story
Here is the promised story which shows how fear of facing our inner world could be destructing… I often go back to this fragment of Pema Chodron’s book, (and I cry every time I read it) where she describes an essay her granddaughter wrote about her mother who died in young age of alcoholism.
The girl knew that alcoholism is a disease, but she felt this was a symptom of something deeper. When her mother was dying, she wrote and wrote… trying to remember everything she knew about her… trying to figure out who her mother was, where did she go wrong?
Pema writes: ” In her essay my granddaughter came to the conclusion that her mother had a fixed idea of herself. […] and we are changing all the time. ‘When you hold a fixed idea of yourself, you have to leave out all the parts that you find boring, embarrassing, difficult or sad. You leave out the emotions you don’t want to feel. And when you do that […] when those parts are not acceptable, it eats you away from underneath.
‘Those unacknowledged parts are like a hum in the background that’s eating away at you, and you have to find escape to get away from that. And my mother’s escape was alcohol.’
We need to accept all our emotions, all parts of ourselves. […] Looking for an exit from the full range of humanity leads to all kinds of pain and suffering. Meditation gives us the opportunity to experience the emotions naked, fresh without the labels or right and wrong, should and shouldn’t“
In this sense, could honesty with oneself and self compassion be lifesaving?