I recently encountered a successful person who, when asked to describe one of her accomplishments, broke down in tears lamenting that she couldn’t come up with anything.
She’s not alone.
Why is it that we so often discount our successes yet magnify our failures?
Primarily due to the distressingly dark picture we hold of ourselves:
You think you are the home of evil, darkness, and sin. You think if anyone could see the truth about you he would be repelled, recoiling from you as if from a poisonous snake. (W-pI.93.1)
While we might acknowledge some speck of positive quality, our attention is captivated by an extensive list of shortcomings.
I’m not [good, pretty, smart, young, old, rich, healthy, funny, tall, successful, …] enough.
Consider the typical reaction to a compliment. Rather than a simple “thank you”, a more common response is deflection or a deflating comment such as “it was nothing”.
Not only do we attack ourselves with this inner judgment and condemnation, but our assessments are completely wrong.
You cannot distinguish between advance and retreat. Some of your greatest advances you have judged as failures, and some of your deepest retreats you have evaluated as success. (T-18.V.1)
From such an upside down perspective, it is no wonder we feel like losers. We created a framework by which sadness, loss, decay, and death continuously accompany our experiences.
But that need not be. In the sage counsel of A Course in Miracles:
Resign now as your own teacher … for you were badly taught. (T-12.VI.8; T-28.I.7)
By choosing a different teacher – one that speaks for pure love – we can experience a continual sense of happiness, contentment, and appreciation. From such a state, loss is meaningless and gratitude all-pervasive.
Join us in Monday’s class where we’ll explore this peculiar nature of putting ourselves (and others) down, and how we can learn to overcome such maladaptive behaviors. I look forward to seeing you then.