“The acceptance of oneself is the essence of the whole moral problem and the epitome of a whole outlook on life.”
~ Carl Jung
Until you can look upon the entirety of yourself without judgment, you may never find complete freedom in life. This does not mean we turn a blind eye or refuse to take responsibility for our flaws and shortcomings, and their consequences. It means stepping back and seeing yourself from a more constructive viewpoint.
We often judge ourselves through a binary lens - good or bad. This thought, this action, this choice, this trait, this habit, this pattern, this mindset, this feeling is either good or bad. And depending upon how you judge any part of yourself or your life, you are likely to take it as an overall judgement of yourself. This thought, this action, this choice, this characteristic, this habit, this pattern, this mindset, this feeling is bad, THEREFORE, I am bad.
The good and bad binary lens is problematic. It is too simplistic. Stretch out a continuum with "good" on one end, and "bad" on the other. Take this continuum as a straight line that is infinitely long with millions of plot points along the way. When does an action, choice, characteristic, habit, pattern, mindset, or feeling move from the "good" column to the "bad" column? Are there degrees of "good" and "bad" like kind of good" and "super good" or "sort of bad" and "really, really bad"? See how nebulous this can be?
The same could be said about how you take these judgments and apply them to yourself. At what point are you a “bad” person and when do you become “good”? How “good” or “bad” are you? How often does it change and on what basis?
The good/bad binary lens is not very helpful. It does not contribute to your personal growth. Consider looking upon yourself and your life in a different way.
For example, you could approach your life by asking questions like: Does this action, choice, characteristic, habit, pattern, mindset, or feeling...
... contribute to my well-being or is it a source of personal suffering?
... line up with what really matters most to me in life?
... represent the kind of person I want to be and the kind of life I want to live?
... reveal something about myself that is useful in my continuing growth and development?
... point to a deeper set of dynamics I need to address more seriously?
Do you see the difference? It is not a black and white (good/bad) indictment against yourself, it is constructively focused on the individual action, choice, characteristic, habit, pattern, mindset, or feeling. Condemnation does not liberate, but approaching our lives more constructively allows you to properly integrate the totality of yourself and your life into a meaningful and healthy whole.
It is not constructive to turn the binary good/bad lens on yourself. A more empowering lens through which to view yourself would be:
I am a human being who is in a perpetual process of becoming
I am a human being of worth and value at every moment, regardless of where I am in the process at any given time.
I am a human being deserving of my own acceptance, patience, kindness, and compassion.
It is okay not to be perfect and to make mistakes.
I am a human being endowed with the abilities to cultivate a life of meaning, virtue, well-being, and fulfillment.
The most important freedom is freedom from your own self-judgment.
© Jim Palmer Author, 2019. All Rights Reserved.