We so often talk about knowing ourselves. We want to see ourselves and know our innermost thoughts and feelings. Most of the time I don’t think that we are ready to see ourselves fully. The truth would be too painful.
I often think about this as standing in a bright light looking in a mirror. In the mirror we see our face unadorned. All the blemishes and flaws are totally revealed. If we see this most women are quick to add make up to cover what we see and make it acceptable to us. We hope that others will not see what we saw. The face we present to the world is different than the one in the mirror.
The same thing is true of us. We don’t really want to see all the flaws that would be revealed if we could really see what is inside. Our minds have doors that we don’t open. We say we want to see but we look without opening those doors.
I wonder if this is part of the reason that contemplation/meditation is so difficult. Not only is it not part of our culture but it can be revealing. Sitting in silence and letting the unconscious be in charge can be scary. We may learn things we didn’t really want to know.
The other side of the coin is that opening those doors and cleaning out those closets can bring us a peace that we can only imagine. We just have to be strong enough to accept what we find and let the ugliness drift away and hold on to the beauty. We will find beauty there as well and it can bring peace and help us to love ourselves.
That quote from Joan Rivers seems to go a long way to explaining why she spent her life altering her appearance. For so many of us our view of ourselves is set by others. We see ourselves as others see us and not as we are. We can spend our whole lives wishing that we were different.
I doubt that any of believe we are perfect but in today’s society it would be easy to believe that you are ugly. The norm set for beautiful by fashion models is unreachable except by 13-16 yo’s. There are so many ads on media telling us what to do to be beautiful…use this face cream, wash with this soap, go to this plastic surgeon.
The truth is that the criteria set by society is not reality. None of us can live up to it and we can make ourselves miserable trying to change. Even the “beautiful people” have a history of being unhappy. It seems that no matter how you look there can be shadows underneath. Remember how many rich and famous people have committed suicide.
In my lifetime I have never thought myself beautiful. I was an awkward teen and as most girls I wished I was prettier. It took some time before I began to see the things that were good about me and they weren’t all physical. By the time I married and had children I was reasonably happy with myself. I felt able to “fit in.” Even though this felt good I think this is part of the problem. We want to fit in.
The thing is we don’t always need to fit in. We need to be ourselves. We have to learn to be the best at who we are. This requires accepting ourselves. This is not always easy. Many of us have things that set us apart from the norm. It could be appearance (being in a wheelchair, having a deformity, etc.) or it could be mental illness.
You are unique. There is nothing wrong with being who you are. Learn to be yourself! This is one of the most valuable lessons that you can attain. Accept who you are with all your warts and scars. Those things are what make you YOU. Don’t let others tell you anything different.
It is really sad that our culture wants to find ways to put people down. They are too fat, too thin, too poor, strangely enough- too rich, too sad, too ugly, too drunk all the time….I could go on and on. My experience over the years has been that those judgments are made to move the viewer up one notch…..”I am not that fat, thin, old, ugly….etc. By comparing myself with you I can make myself feel better. The actual problem lies with their own self esteem.
We each want to feel good about ourselves and in some part it can be enhanced by how others see us. We all need positive affirmation. We especially need someone who can reflect our goodness back to us. We are communal people and yes, we want others to like us.
Only someone who is totally secure in themselves can survive without affirmation. It is the rare person who can achieve that kind of security in themselves. (or someone who is a narcissist or a sociopath)
All of this is why we need to stay with those who support and uphold us. People who tear us down and are negative need to be let go. We don’t need that in our lives. Some people can seem to be supportive but are really undermining your self esteem in subtle ways. Beware of them. They are probably the most subversive and worm their way in by seeming kind. Turn away from them.
We grow and strive toward acceptance of ourselves and if we are blessed we achieve some achievement of that as we grow older. I almost think it takes age for us to realize our own worth and not depend so much on others. If we do it earlier we are rare.
Learning to understand and appreciate ourselves and our abilities is a lifelong journey. Each life lesson brings us closer. Keep learning and growing.
I don’t think we see ourselves correctly. Most of the time we see ourselves as flawed. We are flawed…that is true but we can also be beautiful. In fact, it is the flaws that make us what we are.
Those of us who struggle with some mental health issue see ourselves as even more flawed than that average person. We have to work harder to see the beauty. It is because at some point we have been set aside by others and viewed as less than.
In my life I have noticed that people who have never had a bad thing happen to them suffer real agony when something goes wrong. They have no coping skills. A bump in the road can devastate them. They have always seen themselves as managing really well. They can’t see that it is easy to do that when nothing goes wrong. These are the people who will see anyone with some physical or mental problem and say “poor John, he has problems.” It is seen as a fault in John’s makeup. Unless something changes this perception they will continue to see things from this viewpoint.
The sad part is they have little or no empathy. Empathy comes from suffering. Empathy comes from walking a path that is similar to someone else’s. We may not want to have issues in our lives but true beauty comes from them. The beauty of brokenness.
I have a vase in my house. It is very small not very exciting. My beloved friend bought it for me when we were in college. She is now gone. I accidentally knocked the vase off and broke it and I am not a good mender. However, the vase is beautiful to me. It has some flaws but they show the years that it has been with me.
Remember our chips and cracks have formed us. They have made us what we are and left us with much empathy. Don’t forget that! We are all beautiful!
Perspective is a funny thing. Each of us has our own. Ours is like ourselves. It is unique. Different from anyone else. Initially our perspective came from our family. As children we were influenced by how the people around us felt about things. Probably, at least initially, accepting their point of view. As we grew and our horizons widened we began to measure that perspective against the wider world. We were influenced by our teachers, and our peers. We began to question the ideas we learned from our family and measure them against what we were learning. We began to make our own choices or match those of the people who influenced us.
When we became adults we already had a set of values that came with us. Those ideas are the perspective that we use to weigh ideas. The viewing point from which we function. For most of us the perspective glasses that we look through will change over time but for some people it is ingrained and any suggestion of change is beyond imagining.
We can see those people in our world. They are the ones who see gays as sinful, trans people as unthinkable, people of a different color as “other,” mentally ill as those who should be locked away. Sometimes life events can work their magic and these people can alter those glasses but sometimes not.
We will encounter all sorts of people in our journey through life. We have to learn to recognize those who are unable to change and let them fade from our vision. They cannot change and their aversion and hatred will just color our own view. They were shaped the way they are and we must move on and not let their negative persona influence our lives.
There are people who are open, accepting, and who offer love and support. Let the thoughts of the others roll off you and into the void where they belong. God has created only good. That includes everyone. Even those whose glasses will never change.
Today I am waiting for news of the birth of my first Great Grandchild. I can’t possibly be that old. My granddaughter is in labor and her mom and her aunt are with her. They are both nurses. Her aunt is an OB nurse so I’m sure she is getting great care.
It is amazing to think that this is a new generation. One that I am unlikely to see become adult. That is such a sad thought for me but that is how life goes. I do not expect to live forever nor would I want to.
There is a pattern to life. Some Hindus believe that at each stage of our life we have certain tasks to complete. The last stage is to gain wisdom and enlightenment. I really hope that I can do that but I will have to do better than I am doing now. I do not spend enough time in silence. I don’t listen for God enough. I am terrible about turning things over to God and letting them go. I am trying and I will keep on but enlightenment seems a long way off.
At some times in my life I have had the incredible experience of sensing God’s presence. It is a mountaintop experience. Each time I spent time immersed in meditation and let myself approach God fully. I know god is there just waiting. It is up to me to seek that communion.
Each day is a new day. Soon I will see a new life for my family. I think God is present in each newborn in a way that we can’t do as adults. Their connection to God is unique. They just came from His presence and can still experience the connection.
I look forward to meeting this new person and acknowledging God in his life.
7 The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.
Today I was reading another blog on this passage and it brought some things to mind. When we read passages about the “flesh” we tend to think in terms of sex. This passage is way broader than that. Paying attention to our flesh is to think of ourselves first. It is to put ourselves in the place of God. We create idols and worship them.
One of the worst is money which is connected with power. Some people want the money for moneys sake. I had an aunt who spent the early part of her life so poor that there was nothing to eat. She did not spend money as she acquired it. She squirreled it away so that she would never be that poor again. For her money was a life line. There was always that fear controlling her.
For others money is about luxury. Things. Having the best of everything. Being able to go out and buy anything you want. This is connected with one up-manship. This is wanting money to be better than someone else. This is trying assuage the hole in your soul with things.
Then there are those who use money for power. Their lives are spent manipulating those around them. They love being in control. They seldom think of anyone but themselves.
Although all of these things are connected to money each is flawed on its own. Each of these things create idols that are worshiped instead of God. Each of them takes us further and further away from what is real and meaningful.
Worship of the body itself is another idol. Our society loves this one. Youth and a beautiful body are all that matters. They cannot see ahead that each of us is dust and to dust we will return. God does not ask us to ignore our bodies. In fact we are called to care for ourselves as his creation. Just not turn it into worship.
There are many more things than sex connected with the flesh that become idols. We need to think broadly and see the truth. “Seek first the kingdom of God.”