I believe this is true: that until we can accept ourselves (both our good and not so good aspects), it’s hard to understand and embrace the differences in others.
It’s relatively easy to identify stuff we dislike about other people but can be harder to identify the things we dislike in ourselves. Harder still, to admit to them.
For the best part of the last week I’ve been unwell and have had a lot of time to think about my life. I’ve finally realised what some may have known about me for a long time – that sometimes I have an anger issue. As a child I was not allowed to get angry – I was allowed to be sad or upset but not to be angry. I was taught that to get angry was wrong. As an adult I realise that what my parents were trying to convey is that it’s not the anger itself which is wrong (per se) but what I choose to do with that anger which may be unwise or unhelpful or hurtful to someone else. As an adult I see that, but as a child I simply understood that to be angry was a bad emotion and in my house it was a sin. As a child my experience of other people’s anger (predominantly my father’s) was normally some sort of violent outburst, often directed at one of his children. I was afraid of my father when he was angry, and as I was not allowed to appropriately express anger – I grew up finding any form of angry expression very difficult. Sometimes even now if I’m angry I will cry – and I have a sense that I’m crying for two reasons – one, as a form of releasing some frustration, and the other because tears were an acceptable childhood expression where angry words wasn’t.
I have learnt to come to terms with some of this – I can see what my parents were trying to impart and I have to believe that in raising my siblings and I, they did the best job they could. I have seen anger at times in my siblings but not recognised it in myself. I am the one who has acknowledged an issue with depression and someone once said that depression was just anger turned inward (directed at myself rather than others) -and that makes sense to me. But I’d never really acknowledged my own inappropriate angry outbursts until this week – and I see just how inappropriate they are.
Accepting that ‘this is my stuff’, that I sometimes respond angrily inappropriately, means acknowledging that there are alternative ways of dealing with anger which are appropriate and could be more helpful in future. And I’m finding those ways. Slowly perhaps, but small progress is still progress.
The next step is forgiving myself for my behaviour and choosing to put it behind me and move on. (It sometimes seems that each step is harder than the last!) So that’s been something I’ve been thinking about – forgiving myself. I can’t change what is but I can be aware of my limitations and be mindful of my choices.
In accepting myself, I’m learning to give myself a break, not be so harsh on myself; and in doing that, I’m learning to be a little more understanding, a little kinder and gentler, a little more compassionate with others. So for me it rings true that self acceptance is the first step to embracing the differences in others.
When I returned to the valley – my private gateway to another world
Sudden bombarding of the senses:
Heat and humidity press against the skin with palpable force
Cicadas form a wall of sound: an assault on the ears
The scent of jasmine and honeysuckle, of forest and dogs and bar-b-ques
Sometimes the distant scent of rain is carried on the breeze – smell connects with the touch of the wind, and a change in the barometer spells the knowledge, the taste of showers to come
Sometimes the welcome relief of a quiet shaded forest, cool and calm this hidden treasure
A sea of divergent greens, lush tree-lined valley walls: radiance of colour, the work a combination of nature and man
Ceiling of the deepest blues: a spectrum of azure, cerulean and cyan mixed with hues of ultramarine and thalo form a vivid mural, a thousand shades of blue line this pristine expanse of untroubled sky
Sights and sounds, the feel and smells at times combine to overwhelm the senses
Other times: the quiet beauty, the stillness, the calm, refreshing my soul
These hills, these trees, this sky, this valley and river- my pocket of the world
My quiet haven, my secret enclave, my sanctuary 5014.
I awoke to the most gentle of touches on my cheek
like being kissed by a velvet petal
or butterfly wings against my face
a caress so soft it was almost unrecognized by my senses.
A secret invitation whispered on a gentle zephyr
“Come dance with us, come dance”
and how they danced –
so tender, so quiet but sheer joy
barely movement – absolute beauty – pure grace
the fluid motion of individual beings: separate and united
I watched, astounded, my eyes drinking in the vision
my body paralyzed and mute
so beautiful I cried when it was over
not understanding why I was chosen
not understanding the reason for this –
the gift of being a silent witness
watching angels dance
I really love how empowering this quote is. It makes me smile. It says to me ‘It’s ok that you see life differently – you’re allowed. And if you take pleasure in the little things, the tiny specks of beauty that no-one else appreciates, that’s great!’ Which is how I feel about grasses and weeds – I love finding beauty in weeds, or a clump of grasses, or in a tiny flower growing up through a crack in the driveway, a shell I found on the beach or a feather. And I really enjoy living outside the stereotypical bounds that the world defines as ‘beauty’ – so I guess I’m embracing that part of myself that sees life (and beauty) a little differently. And I’m proud of that part of me!
One of my aims this year is to embrace self love – something I’ve really battled with in the past. In terms of how I see myself in regards to my perspective on beauty – I think I’m doing OK!