I sometimes act like
I dislike myself or have a problem with myself. However, when I look within
myself I find that there is fundamentally no self-hatred there—not a lick. So
what’s going on here?
I imagine that other people either (a) want or expect me to have a problem with myself, or (b) they have a problem with me (i.e. something I am being, doing, or having).
Now this one has been a real mind-blower for me. Whenever I experience or express self-doubt or self-degradation, I don’t actually feel that way about myself. I am actually totally fine with myself. It’s just that I perceive that others either don’t want me to be totally fine with myself, and/or they themselves aren’t totally fine with me.
Perhaps my biggest secret is that I’m okay with me. I fundamentally don’t take issue with the fact when I smell (like I do right now) or talk out loud to myself; or, yes, even with the most demonic one of them all, which is that I have virtually no income.
Think about it: if you were the only human on Earth, would you find it possible to take issue with yourself? What is a complete non-issue in your own private world can be a mess in a world where there are other people. Or, at least, where you perceive there are other conscious beings who can judge you.
Hatred Requires More than One
Yes, I am saying that self-hatred is really a social phenomenon, just like shame and guilt. Shame and guilt are only possible in a reality where there are two or more humans. If you were the only person on Earth you would still be capable of experiencing both fear and love; but, you might find fear harder to come by, because many forms of fear would be incomprehensible to you in such a reality.
I’d go so far as to say that if you were the only person you knew of, you wouldn’t experience any form of self-hatred at all. If you made a mistake at something you would probably say, “Okay, I’ll just try again,” and then you’d try again. And that’s it. You wouldn’t have to hold a media conference about your mistake and apologize to the world and speak as though you’re the devil incarnate because you imagine that other people want you to call yourself out publicly. No—you would just try again.
It is quite probable that we are living in a world where everyone is running around, fearing the judgments of everyone else and attempting to appease them or ward them off somehow.
Reality and Consciousness
Even when you say, F**k people, you’re still allowing your consciousness to be influenced by your perception that other conscious beings exist. It can’t not be influenced by that perception—or, at least, it’s really hard for it not to be. Even if you think you’re totally secure in who you are, you still are affected by the existence of what you deem to be other—that mysterious category that is always the last in a list of checkboxes.
That isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The whole point of being in this physical reality is to interact with physical things, which includes the physical forms of other people. Still, it’s important to be aware of how those physical things affect your consciousness.
It’s helpful to remember that consciousness is not limited to what it has experienced thus far, nor to the experience that it has or believes that it can have in this particular reality. You know this, because the sort of experience you have in dreams is rather distinct from the experience you have when you’re awake and your consciousness presently exists within the context of physical reality.
Consciousness is not fundamentally tied to this physical reality, nor to any other phase of reality. However, it is inextricably influenced by the reality in which it currently finds itself, always.
So, again, it’s helpful to be aware of how a particular phase of reality affects your consciousness. Physical reality, for example, slows down experience and encourages you to be consistent and deliberate in how you utilize consciousness—otherwise you will have difficulty creating congruently and effectively. Physical reality also presents the challenge of the apparent presence of other conscious beings (i.e. humans)—something that dreams don’t always do. If you have a dream where you’re back in 5th grade and everyone in class is laughing at you, you can still experience guilt and embarrassment while in the dream world. However, if you’re riding on the back of a dinosaur and heading straight for a triple-rainbow, any experience reeking of self-hatred will be far away from you.
And perhaps that’s why some people love sleep: for a little while they get to escape the perception of other conscious beings, and they can escape the experience and semi-forced expression of self-hatred.
We aren’t taught to hate ourselves per se—rather, we’re subtly taught that it’s good to act like you have a problem with yourself and to publicly call yourself out on what other people are likely to perceive in you as shortcomings and mistakes. Note that I said what other people perceive as shortcomings—not what you yourself see as shortcomings. This is because, fundamentally, you don’t see any shortcomings in yourself. There aren’t any. It’s only when the appearance of other conscious human beings comes into play that the concept of a shortcoming even exists.
Indeed, it’s not what’s wrong with you, because nothing is. It’s who’s wrong with you. Who are the people who subtly encourage your being in ways other than what is natural for you? Who are the people who suck the life out of you, whether they mean to or not (because, let’s be real-- people generally don’t mean to be a damper on you, but sometimes they just are). Who are the devils who are pumping all manner of toxins into your food, waterways, and virtually all products that you buy or sell, which is causing every person on the planet to live in a dark cloud and fall short of their potential (okay, that one is all of us collectively, but maybe some do more than others)?
Am I permissing you to blame other people for your problems? Actually, I am. Because you know that in a different social environment some of your problems could either be resolved, not regarded as problems at all, and/or those problems would never be created in the first place. This is just like how if you were suddenly the only person on Earth, a great many of your problems would instantly vanish.
Blaming other people for your problems doesn’t change the fact that you are 100% responsible for everything you experience. What blame does, though, is that it eases the way to coming up with concrete solutions to your problems. It also encourages you to stop acting like you take issue with yourself when you really don’t. That alone is tremendous to resolving a great many problems, because there’s no way you can interact with people from a false front constantly and not experience problems or downright frustration.
If you blame the people around you for being inept at communicating with you and not treating you like real, respectable human being, that actually makes it easier for you to be yourself unabashedly. On the other hand, if you blame yourself for having a hard time interacting with the people around you, you’ll keep “working on” yourself and trying to fit yourself perfectly into your present social environment. Of course, the real problem is that you have no business being in such an environment anyway, because you can’t change the people around you, so all you’re going to do is become a fake version of yourself that attempts to appease those other people at a surface level yet which can never connect at the deeper level of spirit.
In other words, blame can keep the lights ON, rather than turning them off. I know, it’s the exact opposite of what we’ve been taught, but it’s a perspective worth experimenting with.
True Growth Demands Respect
All of this isn’t to justify complacency and say that you’ll be perfectly fine if you don’t lose that weight or live that dream or break that self-destructive habit. It’s just that genuine, worthwhile, lasting change is much easier to come by when it isn’t motivated by anxiety and self-loathing. Self-loathing is a great way to keep yourself in bed and surround yourself with Cheetos and leave the door locked all day, lest someone walk in on your shameful, hatred-worthy self. Self-love, on the other hand, is a great way to pop out of bed with genuine enthusiasm, have a clear mind, and use that clear mind to treat yourself with the respect you know you deserve (which includes being kind to your body, which you know is incredibly important to any change you want to make or anything you want to do because your body allows you to exist in this physical reality in the first place).
No one needs you to drown yourself in cheese-based junk food or to call yourself out in public or to submerge your sorrows in yet another glass of wine, or soda, or candlewax, or whatever it is you muddle up your mind with. Yet that’s all that loathing is capable of accomplishing, and loathing sucks.
Tap into the self-love that is natural to who you really are. This doesn’t take much: all you have to do is see that all of your criticisms of and discomforts with yourself have been imposed upon you by others. Once you are in the arms of that self-love, you’ll be able to do anything. I’m serious. You might even be able to write an article.
I don’t hate myself, and you don’t hate yourself, either. But everyone else might—whoever that is. :)
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