I have not always been as positive of a person as I am today. No one wants to be perceived as a mean person or a negative person. Yet this topic has been on my mind since I started these seminars 6 years ago. I lacked the confidence to pick it up and openly talk about it.
Only a person who has achieved a certain level of confidence can openly say that they have negative thoughts and not feel petrified by the possible public judgment that might ensue and will ensue. I guarantee you that.
On a side note, don’t be frightened or intimidated by judgment. If coming from others, you have no control over it, no matter what you do. Let that go.
I remember the moment when I fully realized this truth.
In a leisurely gathering of a group of people in the middle of an afternoon in the middle of the summer, a young couple, a pair of lovebirds really, made a statement about how they’ve been together for an entire year, and they never argue. Like, have not had a single fight. This is how harmonious their relationship was.
I kept quiet and nodded as if agreeing that that’s precisely what a great long-term relationship looks like – no disagreements. At the same time, I felt a sting under my heart, a sting of disappointment that I didn’t have it. That has never been the reality of my relationships or my marriage.
In my marriage, we must compromise, and hash matters out regularly – finances, purchases, raising kids, sex, folding laundry, dinner, kid pickups, etc. Some disagreements are more heated than others. And for a moment, listening to that young couple, I may have experienced a sense of failure.
But I was not going to dish it out there. What would people think of me? I would be judged as not good enough, not happy enough, not having married a good enough husband. What if I’m the one I often judge – the one who settled?
To my great surprise, one of the women there, who had been married for 18 years, responded to the young couple.
“Well, I have to say, in my relationship, we have disagreements quite often, weekly.” Silence followed as she squinted her eyes in deep thought in response to the horror in others’ eyes. Did she really admit to it?
But the rest of us clutching our pearls didn’t faze her.
“No, I’m just kidding,” she shook her head, and the rest of us relaxed. But she had more to add. Confidently, without a trace of defensiveness in her voice, she said, “I have to correct myself. We have disagreements daily.”
The way she said it, it was so casual, so non-pretentious, so not seeking anyone’s approval. She felt secure and confident in her relationship that she didn’t require anyone’s approval for her relationships. It was what it was, and they were happy, even with disagreements.
Do all disagreements get vocalized and verbalized? No. But if you thought it, it’s a disagreement nevertheless. You may not have said something out loud, but you said it – in your head.
And I realized it’s not about disagreements arising, just as it’s not about negative thoughts being borne by you. It’s about how to handle them.
From the times of Buddha to the present day, the teachers and spiritual guides have all said that to get away from the circle of suffering doesn’t mean to avoid and deny negative thoughts and interactions. To escape the spiral of despair is to accept and allow the negative thoughts and interactions. It’s to master the process and the aftermath.
It takes confidence to openly admit to what’s considered “un-spiritual” behavior. But accepting all parts of you without judgment is as enlightened as you can get. It’s not just being able to admit to having attack thoughts and judgmental thoughts towards others and self. It’s fully accepting and loving that part of yourself as well.
Accepting the dark side of self is the doorway into living with consciousness and awareness. It’s the only way to remain open to guidance and growth.Eva Fanari
But make no mistake – accepting and loving yourself does not mean giving yourself free rein to be cruel. It means that you stop being defensive when you realize your own toxicity.
Let’s look at what acceptance is not.
When my husband tells me that I’m too sensitive, I always make things up, and as a result, I feel the sting of hurt and disrespect. Acceptance is NOT responding to my husband from the place of sensitivity and hurt by telling him, “Since you know this, you should be more careful, and because you don’t, it’s a sign you don’t really care about hurting me or not!”
We hold onto that energy the moment we engage in our own hurt. We have stopped the natural energy flow. In that heated moment, the sign of acceptance and self-love is giving yourself space and time to feel whatever you feel without the need to attack yourself or someone else.
Don’t hold on to the moment. Allow the moment to flow through you.
Thus, self-acceptance is the willingness and ability to sit quietly with your hurt without judgment, criticism, and labeling. As wiser men have said, it’s the ability to observe yourself and others without judgment.