What is Wrong with You may be What is Right with You

Starburst

 

We come into this world as a whole and are gradually split into parts of a whole.

It can be as innocuous as family members looking at a newborn baby and discussing which parts of the baby belong to which parent.

“Oh, he has his mother’s eyes!”

“She has her father’s smile!”

“He has his grandfather’s chin dimple!”

“She has her grandmother’s hair!”

We’re not really sure how much the baby understands of what is being said about it, and how it perceives this attention. Perhaps it just registers the attention as affection and feels loved. Or perhaps it picks up on something else, a sense that it is made up of separate parts and none of them belong to it, they belong to others.

These comparisons and ownership of pieces of self continue throughout our childhood and into our adulthood, expanding from our physical self into other areas.

“You’re very sensitive like your father!”

“You sound like your mother, worrying all the time!”

“You have your grandmother’s heart, you always put the needs of others first!”

“You’ve inherited your grandfather’s stubbornness!”

And it doesn’t just remain a family affair, we get compared to others, real or fictional, far and wide.

Emily McDowellEmily McDowell

 

Sometimes favourably, sometimes unfavourably, and sometimes the wording of the comparison falls into a no man’s land between the two which could go either way.

“You remind me of my ex when I first met him/her…”

“I used to have a friend just like you…”

Sometimes we build our entire identity around a comparison. Either embracing it and making it our goal to be as similar to the other as possible, like an actor who embodies a role and identifies with it so strongly they decide to keep it as their skin after the filming is over. Or rejecting it and making it our purpose to be as unlike the other as we can, like a teenager rebelling against everything their parents stand for and making it their cause.

The words – You’re just like your mother/father/other – becoming a compliment or a criticism, a dream or a worst fear fulfilled.

As we make our way through this world of comparisons, constantly comparing ourselves with others, having others compare themselves with us, having others compare us with even more others, it can feel as if our individual identity is a we – a pastiche of others, a team (which often doesn’t behave like a team) with no I in it.

And when that feeling reaches a certain strength becoming an unbearable pressure which seems to be squashing us from outside and inside, the I cries out in pain, it is lost and alone, but still alive, perhaps only just but it is there, reaching out to be found and so we go in search of ourselves, trying to find the I – Who am I?

Trying to find the answer to that can be a long and difficult journey on an unmarked road through uncharted territory using a map which was given to us by others who have all scribbled notes, signs, and directions upon it until it is almost impossible to read.

Where do we start and how do we find the end, the X which marks the spot?

rumi

Start where you are… but where is that?

Start with who you think you are… but who is that?

From our very first interactions in life we learn and are taught that there are things about us which others like and things we they don’t like.

Being liked seems to be a goal to aim for, whereas being not liked seems to be something to avoid.

Get rid of the bits others don’t like and you’ll be more likeable… is sometimes a conclusion we reach.

To do that we often become overly concerned with what others don’t like about us, and the more we try to get rid of these bits, change them, hide them, the more they seem to grow and take over. Or we exaggerate the parts which people like hoping to obscure the rest and become a caricature of ourselves.

We are rewarded for the things which are likeable and punished for those which are not.

Please others and we’ll get more rewards, our logic tells us.

Rewards are something we like and being punished is something that we do not like. But sometimes what we do to please others becomes a self-punishment, and others never seem pleased. Or you manage to please one person and someone else is upset.

We are given love when we are considered good and have that love taken away or withheld when we are considered bad.

Love is considered good, ergo having it withheld or taken away is bad.

But what if their good is our bad and their bad is our good.

We are complimented on our positive traits and criticised for our negative traits.

Compliments make us feel right, we like feeling right.

Feeling right gives us permission to point out what is wrong, because when we feel right it makes us experts in rightness and wrongness.

Compliments in some ways encourage us to criticise.

Criticism makes us feel wrong, we don’t like feeling wrong, however we feel right when we criticise others, more right than when we pass on a compliment because sometimes others reject our compliments, making compliments feel wrong.

value

It’s all rather confusing.

Being ourselves becomes a chore.

Being ourselves seems like an enigma – when we think we are being ourselves we sometimes get accused of not being ourselves and we’re told to stop being ourselves to be whoever others think is the real us. But if we become the real self who others think is us being ourselves we still may get accused of not being ourselves, because others never seem to know who we are, and after our exposure to them and their confusion, neither do we.

We thought we knew, but we’re not sure if what we knew is our own knowledge or just a hand-me-down of knowledge which we absorbed and adopted as our own… which may not be knowledge at all.

Being yourself becomes impossible and not in an – I’m possible – way.

But our whole is not just split into two neat halves. Those halves are split too. Then split again, until we are made up of many pieces.

It is as though we are undoing the process which created us, taking the whole which millions of separated cells made and dividing it many times over until the whole no longer exists, yet at the same time repeating the process of creation. Starting with a whole and splitting it into two, then four, and so on until we have too many pieces to count and are hoping to somehow make a whole out of all of these separate pieces.

Perhaps – Who am I? – can only be answered once all the pieces are together again making up a whole.

The whole cell contains within it, the nucleus. The I.

So all those parts which have been split must come together. Each half must find its other half to become whole.

What is wrong with you must join with what is right with you to make up an all of you.

And the I will then be clear.

yin yang by KM

 

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18 thoughts on “What is Wrong with You may be What is Right with You

  1. Great post.. just great. Exploring EXACTLY what has been on my mind lately. What would acutally happen if we liked and loved who we really are and spent more time getting to know ourselves and be comfortable with who we are, rather than comparing or criticising. I had a hard week due to criticisms from what I considered to be close friends and then got excluded from a social event that I am usually included in. It took me down on one level and yet on another level when I was feeling the pain part of me knew I needed to accept that pain into my heart as it was saying something very deep about them and me and my life. I’ve been cast out so many times for not measuring up. Who out of those people tried to understand what was really going on in me? We seem to have an entire culture intent on erasing reality and pasting it over with illusions….. so we will get sicker and more twisted around and our earth is going to bear a burden for it too…..so much more to say on this but I need a walk and some fresh air. Love you enormously for what you express…..thank you.

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    1. Thank you 🙂

      Self-respect is key to resolving many of the difficulties we have in relationships, our relationship with ourselves affects how we relate to others. It’s a large element of boundary issues. If we deny ourselves self-respect then it ripples into all our other relations, we are more likely to allow others to trample over us.

      If we’ve lived for a while not respecting ourselves, perhaps due to our formative years and what we learned during that time, then others get used to not respecting us, so when we seem to suddenly develop self-respect it can confuse others and they no longer know where they stand with us and often reject us because we’ve upset how they relate to us.

      When we allow ourselves to respect ourselves, which is a natural urge that sometimes gets repressed, it changes our boundaries, it changes how we relate, it changes
      how others relate to us.

      I’m guessing that’s what you’re experiencing as your writing shows vividly someone who is enjoying, albeit sometimes painfully yet still positively, a renaissance of the self. You’re expressing yourself in a more self-empowering way, the ripples of this will affect all your relationships. It’s going to confuse those who have known you as you expressed yourself before. There are those who just won’t be able to adapt to the you whom you are becoming, to you being more you, because they had a role for you in their life and social circle and you no longer fit that role. Others will be intrigued and after the initial confusion may be inspired by your changes and they will take the time and make the effort to get to know you as you are now.

      When you respect yourself more and more, it has a positive effect on how you relate to others. Self-respect inspires more respect for others, you become more aware and respectful of them, their selves, their boundaries.

      With things like criticism it is important to hear what is actually being said rather than take it at face value. Most criticisms are not about you, they are a coded form of the other person talking about themselves. A lot of criticisms are actually questions, worded in a way which may be harsh but it is hiding in a protective way the other person’s vulnerabilities.

      There’s a lot of change going on in the world right now, and people tend to react to change defensively at first, retreating into the known because the unknown scares the crap out of them. Once they realise that what seems unknown is not a threat, not a foe but a friend, then they’ll relax and peek out of they defensive shell.

      When you change, and know you’re doing it, it’s often a good idea to give others time to get used to it, wait for them to catch up and show whether they just needed a moment to retreat because you took them by surprise, but ultimately want to connect or if the retreat is one that cuts ties.

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    1. Thank you 🙂

      Hope you’re well too!

      You do tend to be humble about your talents, but I think that’s part of your talent and charm, so don’t worry about it, just go with who you are as you are. If others, like me, think you’re great, let us think that, you don’t have to agree (see what I did there) 😉

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  3. So true. Another main feature of (my)N parents. It will take me all my life to get rid of this!
    I love Rumi, he’s wise in a timeless way and we can read it under a non mystical angle in spite of his committment to God, what he says applies to any relationship.

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    1. What if you didn’t get rid of it and instead changed how you viewed it? What I mean is that you seem to be an amazing soul, strong, resourceful, determined, very adept at surviving adverse circumstances and relationships, coming out of it with an inner power which is palpable and inspiring. Your past, your parents, they are a part of you and not the other way around. Those experiences belong to you and you can shape them like they have shaped you. Mold it like an artist, like the artist who resides in your soul.

      Just a thought.

      I’m not religious so I never read anything from a religious perspective. I tend to read from a philosophical viewpoint as one human imparting their experiences of life and what they have learned from them to another. Everything is a history of being human to me, that includes fairytales, fantasy, fiction, non-fiction, science, politics, news, and… everything.

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