From Self-Betrayal To Self-Love: Steadiness and Gratitude On The Path
Part 1: Beating Myself Black And Blue
A couple of weeks ago, I watched myself react dramatically when I felt I had made a mistake. It was not a big thing, but I made it into one. The situation triggered me. I became so angry with myself and felt like a failure. I dove into the deep end of beating myself up, talking to myself with such aggressive criticism that inwardly, I was turning myself black and blue.
I reached out to my partner for help. But he did not stand a chance to get through to me, faced with my attachment to auto-destruct. So then I reacted and blamed him for not giving me what I wanted. Ultimately, I was hell-bent on feeling that everything in this moment, including me, was not good enough. I was so attached to feeling this way that I even cleverly used my partner’s response to me to fuel how I was feeling. So I felt worse. Now I was not only feeling not good enough; I also felt alone.
Then I remembered something my spiritual teacher Amma teaches. The words rang in my being as though a meditation bell had been struck within my soul:
“Progress is being made when you maintain evenness of mind in the face of praise and shame, honour and dishonour.”
The message was crystal clear. I, who aspire to live a conscious life, was in no even state of mind! A cold bucket of water had just been splashed over my hot head. Immediately I asked myself what turn in the road I had taken that had led me to this painful place. I sat myself down, took a quiet moment, and went within to find out.
What came to mind were some of the people I had met over the years who had lashed out at me or others in their own suffering. Interestingly, my overt reactivity reminded me of them. I have seen people be so hard on themselves, then explode and blame others for their misery. And here I was, not really being all that different. I was being so hard on myself, then imploding and hurting myself.
It reminded me that I had recently read a tweet by a modern spiritual author that said something like, the universe will sweep away all your character defects. I replied to the tweet (though I never heard back), to the effect that sometimes the universe exacerbates our negative tendencies so we can see them and choose to let them go. This was clearly what was happening through the consequences of my self-judging mood. I was being given an opportunity to look at my shadow more closely.
Next week, I would like to share a revelation that has come to me through this experience. Please join me here again next Sunday.