It is easy for us to believe that we are all good or all bad. Something about placing ourselves in simplistic categories helps us define and understand ourselves. Or, at least that is what we think. But here’s the truth. We are not that simple. We are complex human beings made of many experiences, conflicting ideas, competing traditions and inconsistent behavior. We are not all of this or all of that. We are a mixture of daylight and darkness, good and bad, strong and weak, loving and low down, generous and greedy, and majestic and messy. We are multi-layered, multi-faceted and sometimes complicated, very complicated, amalgamations. We are interesting combinations with mixed intentions and sometimes hidden agendas, even hidden to ourselves. We all are “this and” and not “either or”. We are human.
So how do you understand all of who you are? How can you be aware of our competing motives? How can you manage your inconsistencies? Good questions…..I am glad you asked. I don’t claim to know all of the answers but here are some ideas to get you started.
Tell yourself the truth without judgment. Yes, tell yourself the full truth. For example, you are not only excited that your friend got promoted; you really wanted her to leave so that you could have her job. You don’t feel bad that your friend fell off her diet plan; you want to be the most physically fit in the group. You are not only concerned about helping a charity, you want to be seen and recognized. You are not only helping a person out the goodness of your heart, you want to show them that you are worthy of their love. You don’t really love your job; you love the perks, privileges and power associated with the position. You don’t really believe in heaven; you just don’t want to take a risk that there is really a hell. Right? Tell yourself THE truth. You don’t have to tell anybody else, but you must be honest with yourself. And by being honest with yourself, it will hopefully help you be honest with others. And by accepting and embracing your own contradictions maybe, just maybe, it will help you be less judgmental of others. Tell yourself the truth…..all of it!
Examine your motives. That’s a hard one because we all want to feel that our motives are noble, well-serving and loving. That would make us feel good about ourselves and we all want that, right? But beneath some of our motives, lies our truest needs, deepest insecurities and most unsettling fears. Nestled behind our real objectives, but unspoken intentions, is a person looking for validation, love and affirmation. Sometimes behind our unspoken and/or unknown motives is a person who doesn’t feel good about who they are or what they are doing. Maybe there is a person who doesn’t feel good about what they have become or where they are headed. So lovingly examine your motives by examining your own heart. That way you can operate with greater integrity and offer yourself more compassion. You may be also able to initiate some important healing in your life.
Get support. Many times when I have the privilege of working with people I often hear statements like “I hate that I feel this way” or “I didn’t know that I had those feelings” or “I felt something but I didn’t know where those feelings were coming from”. I also hear statements like “I can’t even say what I am doing out loud” or “I am ashamed” or “you would leave me if you really knew me”. I get it because I have had the same experiences and emotions myself. All of us have --- if we are honest. But a wise therapist shared this with me. She said that you can have emotions IN you and let them deal with you. Or, you can get the emotions OUT and deal with them. So get your emotions out by getting some support because buried feelings never die; they just multiply. They multiply and morph into more dysfunction, more pathology and more unhappiness.
Remember, we all have many layers to our personality. We all have many aspects to our lives. We all have different levels of awareness about why we do what we do. We are complex, intricate and sometimes inconsistent human beings traveling on this journey called life. We are too bad to be 100% good. And we are too good to be 100% bad. We are human with flaws, frailties, insecurities, dreams, fears and issues. We are human with strengths and weaknesses. But hopefully by telling yourself the truth, examining your motives and by getting support you can become a person that you are extremely proud of and a person you fully understand…..YOU!