Perk up your ears, and you’ll notice how often you hear yourself or others say, “I’m so stupid!”. I know I do it. Far less than I used to, but still, I catch myself saying it in my head and sometimes out loud with no consciousness.
As I’m fond of saying to my kids, who accuse me of “uncoachly” behavior, “I’m a Life Coach, not a Saint!”. So yes, I too will sometimes, less than consciously, utter phrases that are demeaning to my Self – and I mean “Self” with a capital “S”. Why? Because there is a Self inside us that deserves recognition, and patiently awaits for us to cultivate a relationship with it, like we do with a life partner or our vocation. A Self that wants to know itself. A Self that wants to be in a deep and meaningful conversation with us. A Self, that regretfully, we don’t even acknowledge an inkling of its existence until we are in our later years -if at all.
Like the highway patrol who pulls me over for a speeding ticket, and responds to my explanation that I was not “aware” of the 15 miles per hour speed limit in the Eastern Sierra town of Independence, our Self doesn’t care that we don’t have any awareness of its existence, needs, wants, and dreams. The Self is dying for a conversation, and not a sporadic one that often catches us by surprise (through grace or suffering), but a consistent, respectful, and loving conversation – the kind that paves the way for true connection, and the ensuing sense of belonging – that most primal need.
So what does all this have to do with calling ourselves “Stupid”?
It’s my personal and professional experience, that we have a relationship with the Self, whether consciously or unconsciously. The sooner we recognize this foundational relationship and teach our children to do the same, the better off we will be. If we ignore it, the proverbial speeding ticket will come, and keep coming, until we slow down to what’s true, or well, until we die. Yes, you read correctly. So many of us don’t even recognize the Self exists, and we live our lives in a way that checks many of the boxes that define success for us and society. Then we die. I’m talking to you folks who want more while you are still living and breathing in the gift of our bodies… If that’s you, keep reading.
Cultivating a deep and loving relationship with the Self is important for the same reason most of us follow our deep desire to do this with another human being. Friends and family have their irreplaceable position in our lives, but no matter how rich that part of our lives is, most of us strive for that experience of deep intimacy and unconditional connection to one other living, breathing human being. At our core, whether we recognize it or not, we want the same relationship with the Self. We want to be in a relationship that continuously shines light on what it means to be ourselves. How can we achieve this goal, whether with ourselves or another, if we are not committed to an ongoing and consistent deep, meaningful conversation?
The Self grows, plays, and loves through this core conversation. The Self changes from day-to-day and year-to-year. It wants us to know and love it for that fact, not to judge and punish it. The Self is akin to a child, a relationship, or a job in its “honeymoon phase” – constantly changing, delighting, and exploring. When we call the Self “stupid”, we steal its ability to grow and learn. “Stupid” is the equivalent of a million tons of water thrown at a small campfire. Furthermore, “stupid” is not a real thing. It’s an excuse to not slow down, to not be conscious, and to not do the work.
As we move forward into a new year, let’s make one promise to our Selves and the precious Self that resides within those we love. Let’s erase the word “stupid” from our lexicon, and replace it with “impatient”. This little act of kindness has the potential to change lives.