Our societal preoccupation with competition and being a winner creates intense self judgment and separation. We learn to label some parts of ourself as "good" and others as "bad." We are taught to "Be strong. Highlight strengths. Eliminate weakness." This approach may be effective for becoming a better competitor, but at what cost to our wellbeing?
Shame, judgment, self loathing, fear of failure, unhappiness, disconnection, inability to nurture ourself. These are the effects of this win/lose approach to life. We want to show off our "good" qualities and hide or suppress our "bad" qualities. We think others will like us more this way, yet we feel like a fraud, afraid of our "bad" parts getting discovered. Because of this, we may keep people at a comfortable distance, yet part of us yearns to connect more deeply and authentically. This separation exists not only with others, but within our self. Ironically, by cutting ourself off from the "bad" parts, we diminish our life force and reduce our capacity to develop into our highest potentiality.
Self esteem based upon success and outer gratification is precarious and exhausting. We get stuck in the endless race of trying to prove our worth to our self and others through our accomplishments. We get drained trying to control outer circumstances to ensure our success. The way out of this trap is through self love and compassion.
Clients sometimes ask me to assist them in getting rid of their "bad" parts using hypnosis. Here's what I tell them:
All of your parts are good. A lot of them were established during childhood when you had less resources and wisdom to develop them. Then they got labeled as bad and you locked them away in the deep inner recesses of your being where they never received any nourishment. Then they got beaten down with judgment and criticism. How can they get better that way?
Everything grows with love. Imagine two bosses. One always cuts you down. Despite your best efforts, nothing is ever good enough for him. The other one is very supportive. When you make a mistake, he shows you how you can improve in an encouraging way. Who are you going to work harder for? Of course, the suppotive one. In fact, he builds up your energy, whereas the other guys weakens you and you become less effective.
We don't realize that our self criticism doesn't make us better. It weakens us. Self compassion doesn't mean pretending like we did a good job when we made a mistake. It means changing our inner dialogue from, "You're such an idiot! You're never going to get it right!" to something like, "Ok, let's figure out what we did wrong and fix it. Everyone makes mistakes. The important thing is to learn from them."
With the right inner nourishment, all of our parts can develop into their highest potential. Our "embarrassing awkwardness" becomes quirky charm. Our "overzealousness" matures into passion for life. Our "nitpickiness" transforms into thoughtful attention to detail. As we accept and integrate all aspects of Self, we discover wholeness and peace within.