Pema Chödrön says that “every act of self-improvement is an act of aggression towards the self.”
That sounds a bit harsh, we just want to meet our potential, to be the best we can be, to improve our lives, right?
Yet the push to be better often can include the idea that we are somehow deficient. That we should be better people.
Many of us struggle with the paradox here. On one hand we know we are imperfect humans. On the other hand is the spiritual truth that we already are enough. Good enough. Perfect as we are.
If we struggle with the paradox, we can polarize into the worldview that permeates our culture - one heavily geared towards accomplishment (with the nasty little undertone that says if you don't get success you're not trying hard enough.) We may even question our own goodness.
For me, I waffle between one and the other.
On up days, I relax and know that I am enough. My inner self keeps me moving towards grace, guided and supported by a loving consciousness that delights in the Janet-ness of its expression.
On down days I pick on myself. "Janet sit up straight, what's wrong with you?" That's the aggression towards the self that Pema is talking about. I think she is right. We bully ourselves too much, and take that as normal.
The antidote? Self-acceptance. Each of us is a being made out of love by a loving Universe/God. Each particle of our existence is a particle of love and goodness, even the unpleasant bits. The more I can identify with this heritage of universal support and love, the less I feel the pressure to be something other/better/different than who I am.
Life already loves me. I'm just learning to love it back.
With that in mind here are my resolutions for 2016.
1. Stay curious.
2. Laugh often.
3. Play. Be silly.
4. Feel thankful.
5. Take pleasure in the little joys.
The picture is of my Judy, when we were about 3. (I remember those aprons.)
(first posted January 2016)
First published January 2016 in my free monthly email newsletter, Starry Night. Sign up here.