Recently on a forum I belong to I posted this statement:
Embrace everything that you are, who you are. You don’t have to like it, but you do have to love it.
So I started thinking about that statement, as it may at first read have a shade of the nonsensical. How can I love anything about myself that I don’t like? For example I don’t like when I’m overly critical of others. So how can I love it when I’m overly critical of others?
I do often play this game with myself, where I create my own devil’s advocate… okay, hold on. I need to find a better choice of words. What I’m trying to say is that I create a voice that represents the opposing viewpoint for any idea I come up with. I feel this helps to strengthen and validate my position, or it finds where it doesn’t stand well on its own so I can reevaluate the position. But the frequently used idiom of devil’s advocate has a somewhat disconcerting connotation. It is to say that any opposing viewpoint automatically belongs to this archetypal adversary whose prime role and function is to lead us to create evil acts. Your buddy says “I’m going to play devil’s advocate here” can be interpreted literally as “I’m going to take sides with the entity that is in charge of all evil and wrongdoing.” Deductive reasoning says here that any viewpoint opposite the one I hold is evil?
Well, that point may have seemed rather tangential, but I personally believe it’s rather on point. We so often see the world as Us vs. them, the Us capitalized to refer to our own self-reverence and them being lower case as our adversary deserves nothing close to the honor of capitalization. But what about when we play the same game of division and polarization within ourselves? When we try to distill out the parts of ourselves that disgust or aggravate us, hoping to find the delicious and wonderful good parts left at the bottom of the still? That if we merely hate those parts of ourselves enough we can vanquish them the way we hope to do with all our other enemies? Yet the parts of ourself we despise still live in the same house as us. They have an indefinite lease that says in the fine print “If you try to evict me, you are simply hating your hates, so you should hate yourself for hating the fact that you hate parts of yourself”, ad infinitum. Once again, welcome to Escherland.
So where does that leave us? I believe it leaves us room for forgiveness of ourselves. As we are the ones who trespass against our own selves, we are the ones that need our own forgiveness. When we find ourselves angry at another person it’s usually because the person infringed on our right to be happy, to be comfortable, to experience joy. Not to like a part of ourselves is to be angry at the part of ourselves that denied ourselves happiness and joy. But to love ourselves is to say we are deserving of that happiness nonetheless. That is forgiveness of self. That is love of self.