If you want to live in a world where people treat each other with kindness and decency, the first step is to become aware of your effect on others.
You’ve probably heard the old cliché that we should be the change we want to see in the world, but now more than ever, it’s important to at least try.
The problem with this is that nobody’s perfect. Living the life we envision – one free of judgment, hatred and selfishness – is not easy.
At one time or another, we’ve all been hateful. We’ve all been selfish, and we’ve all judged people. These habits won’t go away overnight, because they’re deeply ingrained in our collective psyche.
To suggest we leave them behind without a second thought is akin to suggesting we develop super strength, don a cape and go around saving people. We’re just not capable yet.
This doesn’t mean we’ll never be; it means we should look at ourselves before we decide what needs to change in the world.
No Need to Set the Bar So High
I advocate social change. Specifically, I advocate love and compassion for a society that seems to have abandoned them. But I’ll admit I’m not perfect. I can be just as angry, cruel, selfish, lustful or jealous as the next person.
These qualities can be destructive, and yet, they live in us all. They’re not going anywhere until we find and heal their source, which takes time.
There will be difficulties and setbacks along the way, which can make you want to give up on self-improvement if you forget adversity is inevitable.
You don’t have to set the most perfect example, and you’ll overwhelm yourself if you set the bar unrealistically high. What matters is that you try, make amends when you err, and move forward no matter what.
Some people, whether in your family, community or at your job, might expect you to live up to their standard of perfection. This is not why we’re here.
We’re here to learn to embrace the journey that leads to what we call “perfection”, which I call enlightenment or oneness with God.
It’s a rough but worthwhile journey.
Temptation to Feed the Shadow Self
What is it about our flaws that can drive us away from the path we intend to walk?
In my experience, it’s the temptation to succumb to them or let them control us. You could turn a regular day into the worst you’ve had all month by succumbing to temptation to give in to your shadow side in any form it presents itself.
You could ruin your day by getting overly angry.
You could let fear or depression keep you from trying a new experience.
You could get lazy, fail to accomplish what you intended and end up behind. There are countless ways the shadow self can take us off our path, and giving in to the temptation to let it is often the cause of its success.
Although we’re imperfect by nature, we can work with the shadow self to heal it instead of giving in to its temptation to be less than we can be.
Despite our best effort, we might give in to it anyway at some point.
Then, we might feel like we have no control over our thoughts or behavior. We do have control, but sometimes, the temptation will feel so strong that we think we can’t help but get angry, greedy, lustful or cruel.
When temptation becomes overwhelming, rationality is often replaced with an impulsive response. In some cases, we convince ourselves giving in is our only option.
Thought Is Key
Consider that our issues all stem from our thoughts and ask yourself these questions:
- How do you see yourself and the world?
- What thoughts do you let into your mind and hold on to?
- Are you willing or hesitant to hold on to thoughts that take you down a negative path?
It’s one thing to have a negative thought; we can’t help it most of the time, but we can let it go as soon as it arrives.
If we hold onto it, it immediately starts to influence the way we act. Our behavior always reflects the thoughts and feelings we hold close.
Before we know it, anger, greed, jealousy, etc. will cause us to do regretful things that seem to distance us from the soul.
We can correct this by letting go of the thoughts that cause this behavior as soon as they come in, and if letting go is difficult, you might want to ask yourself why.
Explore Your Imperfections
Since being human makes us prone to imperfection by default, we’ll all make mistakes we hopefully learn from.
Sometimes, we’ll fail to live up to our expectations or those of the people around us.
This is no reason to quit trying, because we’re here to overcome and it’s a gradual process. Instead of berating ourselves, let’s strive to improve and be understanding when we make a mistake.
You’ll find or achieve what you seek when you’re ready and not a moment sooner.
It helps to remember that hardly anyone is there yet, and if they were, they’d understand how difficult getting there can be instead of belittling those who don’t yet “get it”.
Some will “get it” sooner than others, and some will take lifetimes.
There’s nothing wrong with this, and as difficult as it can be for those who strive for perfection, we should accept and get used to the fact that we all have a shadow side. Then, we can stop blaming others for theirs while refusing to look at our own.
Transformation can occur at the deepest level of your being when you take an honest look at yourself, so don’t hesitate to explore the negative aspects of your personality.
Like the positive, they make you who you are. Once you heal them, you’ll never forget their vital role in your evolution.
By Wes Annac, Culture of Awareness, November 17, 2016 – http://tinyurl.com/zh4ont8