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I used to believe that I was a deeply flawed person.
I hid my insecurities behind a confident, borderline arrogant mask.
It is much easier to hide self-hatred than any other kind of hate. There’s nobody around to hear the things we say to ourselves.
I no longer believe I am fatally flawed or that anyone around me is either. These disconnections with ourselves and with each other are the manifestations of times when we have been wounded—wounded so deeply that we never healed.
Our negative experiences become so infected with the poison of time and neglect, they come out to the world as personality flaws.
Some of these flaws are personal, some are cultural.
In the consumerist culture I grew up in, we are told that the self matters more than the community. When in fact we need the support of everyone around us to keep going.
We are told that money and power matter more than the natural world. So, we grow up chasing those things, rather than learning about connections. These create deep wounds and feelings of dissonance in our lives because it is exactly our connection to one another and everything around us that is central to a balanced existence.
I am not perfect. I have received a lot of wounds over the years. These have manifested in a variety of ways. And I’m sure you have them too; small bad habits you cannot seem shake, even when you find yourself feeling shame or guilt over them.
Some flaws are tricky. They develop when we are praised by others for doing or saying things that actually go against our morality. I find this usually happens in group dynamics and results in things like bullying or manipulation.
In the past, I have tried to change. Attempted to force myself into reacting differently. I had occasional results, but for the most part, I always slipped back into the old patterns—I was focusing on the flaw itself rather than what was underneath.
The only way to truly accept and move past a flaw is to heal the wound beneath it. I believe that the reason so many of us don’t is because the healing process is anything but easy. Healing is one of the hardest and most necessary parts of life. The longer you wait to heal a wound, the deeper the pain and guilt dig into you, and the more difficult it will be to get rid of.
You can’t intellectualize or rationalize your way out of it. You have to feel. That means reliving the memory or moments that gave you the wound in the first place. Take your mind back to the experience so your body can feel the sensations that came along with it.
What does that feel like? A tingling beneath your skin? A tightening of your chest? Lack of sensation in your arms? Hard to breathe or speak?
We are told that these sensations are bad, just as we are told that so-called negative emotions are bad.
In truth, they are the physiological responses to stress, which can be brought on by fear or pain. If you push them down and refuse to give them their time, they fester in your body. When you give that emotion space in your body, you are allowing yourself to move past it. There is no such thing as a bad emotion—all emotion is a valid and necessary part of life.
It won’t be an overnight process. Healing our mind and spirit is as tiring a process for our body as healing a broken bone. Give yourself credit for even wanting to heal, and give yourself the space to do so.
So, the next time you have an angry outburst, find yourself thinking or speaking in judgment, incessantly interrupting others, or whatever your personal flaws are, stop and take a moment to think.
Where did this wound come from? What can I do to heal it?
Face your flaws head-on. Embrace the feelings that the memories bring you. Forgive yourself or whoever hurt you.
Only then will you be able to heal and grow.