Perhaps the path of eternal softness isn’t working so well.
People say that we can all love each other. We can keep saying that until the end of time, but does it ever really happen? Is the best we can do simply to settle for tolerance and love-hate relationships with most people and things in this world, and pretend that this truly is love? Indeed, that is what we appear to do.
That isn’t the best we can do, so we might as well stop doing it.
Yielding vs. Force
Here’s what I mean.
There exists a sensitivity-asshole spectrum. On the sensitivity side you try to never piss anyone off, never hurt any feelings, never challenge anyone, and never use force. You yield, yield, yield. On the asshole side you’re amoral: you shove your way past others in order to do what needs to be done, and you worry about feelings later (if ever).
I am not going to suggest searching for a middle ground between sensitivity and asshole-ishness, because I don’t believe in middle ground. You don’t want to be in the middle of a spectrum: the middle is status quo, ineffective, boring, meaningless; and, by definition, average. To be effective, you either have to choose one end of the spectrum and commit to it fully, while avoiding the opposite end as much as possible; or, you have to transcend the spectrum entirely.
Loving fully is not about liking everything in existence as it is per se. Loving fully is really about creating a life that you can engage with 100%. This means that you don’t have to hide from or distract yourself from your life at all, because it’s that awesome. That’s what a life of love really is—one that you can give your complete and undivided attention to at all times.
There are two simple steps necessary to love reality fully. They are, (1) accept everything as it is, and (2) love it or leave it.
This is very important. You do have to accept things as they are, but you don’t have to like or engage with everything. Accepting something as it is enables you to make the choice between loving it or leaving it. “Loving it” means that you choose to have that thing in your life. “Leaving it” means that you decide not to have that thing in your life, and you leave it behind.
Note that a “thing” can be anything—a person, an activity, an object, a place, a habit, an idea, and even a belief system.
Here’s a simple example. It’s clear to me that I not only don’t 100% like dogs as they are, but I also don’t like the premise of having them as pets and everything that it entails. I don’t like picking up poop. I don’t like listening to barking. I don’t like feeling obligated to play with and pet dogs constantly. I wouldn’t like constantly thinking about how I need to get home so I can let my dogs out and feed them. I wouldn’t like having to feed meat to a dog. Most of all, the simple fact that they would be dependent on me for everything would drive me crazy.
Now, I could try to change dogs. I could try to turn dogs into silent, needless, clean, herbivorous beings that never poop—ever. But let’s face the reality: that’s downright ridiculous. I would spin my wheels, waste a lot of time, and become frustrated to the point of my head exploding if I tried to do that. It is much easier to accept that dogs are the way they are and simply choose not to have them in my life outside of incidental meetings (meaning that I don’t keep them as pets, work with them in any fashion, or go out of my way to see them; but, if I go to someone’s house and they have a dog, that’s fine).
Of course, this is the only way I could possibly experience genuine love for dogs anyway. If I forced myself to spend time with dogs in order to make myself love them, I would be cursing under my breath the whole time. Conversely, if I simply accept that I would prefer not to engage with dogs as they are, that actually opens the door to my potentially being able to love them.
Let me break this down. When I accept my feelings about dogs and consequently choose not to engage with dogs, I keep myself from experiencing resentment; and, by extension, I prevent any dogs from having to deal with that resentment as well. Simultaneously, when I am alright with myself and my feelings about dogs, I make it possible for myself to actually enjoy spending some time with them. I don’t need that possibility, but it does indeed become possible.
You see, you cannot experience love and internal conflict simultaneously. When I am arguing with myself about how I shouldn’t feel the way that I do, I am fighting with myself. Likewise, when I wish that dogs were other than how they are, I am fighting with reality. Where there is fighting, there is no love. As such, if I don’t love it, then I must leave it. Paradoxically, when you don’t love something, leaving it IS the way to love it. If you choose not to leave what you don’t love, you choose fighting by default—both with yourself and with reality. So if you can’t love, just leave. For all you know you’ll end up coming back to an extent, in a way that you can love. And if you don’t come back around at all, then that’s fine, too. You can go create something else instead.
The Meeting of Extremes
Let’s get back to being an asshole. Sensitivity is the approach by which you try to love everything no matter what. Being an asshole is the approach of love it or leave it.
Sensitivity is a great approach for those who desire to kill their egos. That being said, I’m not an advocate of trying to kill your ego. You can damn every little detail about yourself and try to totally yield to reality as it is, but here’s the thing—if you are creating reality and not just passively observing it, then what exactly is it that you’re yielding to anyway? Essentially you are yielding to your own intention to kill your ego, and this will create a positive feedback loop by which you steadily descend into a lack of experiencing anything at all, and therefore madness. As such, trying to kill your ego is a great way to chase your tail until you burn up. Then your ego will indeed be dead, but you won’t be able to do anything because you won’t exist.
So, instead of driving yourself crazy trying to love everything that you can conceive of, you can simply love it or leave it. You can accept yourself as you are, even if you think you’re an asshole for choosing the second option. At least that way you won’t be sharing your assholery with the thing that provokes you into being an asshole in the first place (i.e. the thing you’re choosing to leave).
Of course, earlier I gave my little talk about how spectrums work, so I must make a case for the path of sensitivity, too.
The truth is that when you take two opposing extremes to their fullest extent, they turn out to be one and the same. As such, when you commit to the path of sensitivity you will eventually end up with the love it or leave it approach. This is because complete sensitivity requires you to be sensitive to your own experience and feelings—not just to things outside of yourself. In turn, respecting your own experience will ultimately require of you the love it or leave it approach. Not only that, but your intellect will inevitably turn on and tell you that trying to force yourself to love something is mere tolerance. Spending a lot of time with something you merely tolerate is not only unkind to that something, but it will also build up resentment in you. The combination of that unkindness and that resentment, indeed, makes you an asshole. You thus become the very thing you have been trying so hard to avoid.
Instead of this futility, you might as well outright accept your assholery- just like you must accept everything as-is- and embrace it. Embrace it, and choose to love it or leave it. Whether you go full-out on the path of sensitivity or on the path of being an asshole, love it or leave it is the inevitable end-result. In this way, the spectrum is not a spectrum at all, but a circle.
The sort of sensitivity I described earlier, whereby you end up trying to kill your ego, is actually a half-assed version of sensitivity. Half-assed sensitivity turns you into a true asshole, which is a whiny, ineffective person who makes others’ lives miserable. Full-assed sensitivity turns you into what you merely think is an asshole, which is the path of love it or leave it. Of course, choosing to love it or leave it doesn’t really make you an asshole, because it actually makes you a more fulfilled person. Your silly fears just make you think it will turn you into an evil-doer. From certain perspectives this will appear true, but you will have to do what is right according to your own intelligence. I’d bet that your intelligence tells you to blast past that fear.
If there is something in your life that you have a love-hate relationship with and that you are merely tolerating, consider leaving it. Open your heart to true, unforced love, and you won’t worry about whether you look like an asshole.