In a meeting with western students, the Dalai Lama once expressed dismay at the Aurelius of feelings of unworthiness , aversion and even self-hatred expressed to him by Western students.
It took some time for the students to explain exactly what that was.
I’ve heard several versions of this story, but basically it comes down to this. The idea of self-hatred and fierce inner self-criticism was alien to him, and apparently his fellow monks.
In Western culture however, there is a pervasive sense of lack of self-worth, inner judgement, unworthiness insecurity, and self-hatred.
There is even “imposter syndrome” where someone who seems to really have it together falls into disbelief of their own skills and value.
Where does this come from?
Well, our marketing and media get blamed a lot, the constant holding up of unattainable ideals could give anyone a complex.
But we can’t really lay the blame there, because after all, they wouldn’t use it if we didn’t buy into it.
We have been constantly bombarded by judgment since the day we were born. Did we walk soon enough, talk soon enough, excel at school, make our teachers, our friends, our parents happy. Are we successful at business, in love, in life?
If we experienced neglect, abuse or abandonment, this can lead to being intensely self-critical as we grow up.
Negativity bias can take us over, even after a huge success we may say, well, that was OK, but it would be better if….
This is abuse too, self abuse and it is keeping us from one of the most important realizations.
That we are enough. Just as we are.
What to do?
Well, honestly? Stop trying so hard. If we can just be with the experiences we are having and let them flow, they will turn out just fine most of the time. It’s the constant twisting and wringing to try to make life what we think it should be that is causing us pain.
When you feel the questioning gremlin coming up, doubting, self loathing, judging.
What am I believing right now?
What is looking for attention right now?
Often you’ll find fear at the core of it.
Simply recognizing the story we are playing right now can often dissolve the feeling.
Often, we see the story isn’t even true. For example we expect others will judge us in this way or that, when if we asked outright we’d find they had a different story altogether.
We can also offer our self some self-compassion.
Get in touch with the feelings that go with the story. Where do you feel it? Really feel it and take a breath or two to get centered. Then say to yourself, I see you are suffering. I’m here for you”.
This may seem silly when I say it, but try it and you may find it quite effective when you show yourself the same compassion you would offer a friend.
The self judging gremlin quiets.
Remember, we are here in this life to live, to experience. Getting caught up in grasping or avoidance diminishes the experience. Bringing stress we certainly don’t need.
Marcus Auralius said” If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment”
I invite you to let it go, and know that you are, indeed enough. Just as you are.