I recently took the picture below after waking up one morning. I found my crazy hair funny and I knew my parents would laugh at it. I didn’t recognize myself in the mirror and it got me thinking…
It made me think of one’s relationship with one’s self. Too often it’s unhealthy – love/hate at best. As much as I talk about acceptance here, I guess I haven’t talked much about the ultimate test of acceptance: accepting yourself.
It’s not easy. Maybe you grew up being told you were never good enough. Maybe you embody some shame for one reason or another. Maybe you abhor something about yourself physically or mentally. Whatever the case may be it’s hard to take a walk down Happy Road if you aren’t happy with yourself – or at least accept yourself.
First thing’s first. We’re all flawed. No one is perfect. All too often we hold ourselves up to an unattainable standard. In some way’s that’s good. It motivates us to be the best we can be. But in other ways it’s counterproductive. It’s best to accept who you are, flaws and all, and strive toward self-improvement.
Next, you need to love yourself. It sounds strange, maybe even selfish or conceited, but you need to love yourself. Why is it that we can love others despite their flaws, but can’t do the same for ourselves?
One thing I used to do in Denmark before starting this trip was to look myself in the eye in the mirror. It wasn’t a daily appointment or anything, but maybe once a day after my shower or something. At first I felt uncomfortable looking at myself that way. After a while I had no problem. Accepting the physical you, though not necessarily easy due to body image issues, is still probably easier than accepting the internal flaws you have.
Rumi’s quote to the left summarizes things quite nicely. If you’re here reading my blog then probably something inside you wants to make the world a better place. But if you truly want to make the world a better place, start looking within and make yourself better. Look at the man in the mirror and “Ask him to change his ways.”
I think this is a perfect allegory for how my trip has gone. In Latin America I volunteered a lot and tried to “change the world” with my hands. In Asia, thanks to a different philosophy about life, my week at the Buddhist temple, and an experience at an Indian ashram that will be shared in the future, I’ve been focusing much more on changing myself.
Be at peace within yourself. Lay a foundation you are comfortable standing on. Stop immersing yourself in the sea of distraction known as modern life (TV, internet, Facebook, Twitter, games, etc.) and start immersing yourself in.. yourself! The rest will follow. You may not change the world directly, but indirectly you’ll inspire those you know and the people you meet to go beyond what they think is possible.
“If you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and make a change.”