Oftentimes in life, the way we find our goals is by criticizing every wrong move we make. We think, “well, if I can avoid doing it wrong, if I PUNISH myself for doing it wrong, then I’ll end up doing it right, eventually.” Yeah but, how does it feel?
See, that self-critical mindset may work for some things – you could probably achieve a lot just by correcting yourself at every mistake. But, as people, when we feel we’re not on the right track, there’s a part of ourselves who feels tormented inside. We’re more than willing to put ourselves through pure hell to get where we want, too, and that just makes the problem worse. We learn to put up with this incredibly painful way of getting things done for the promise of a proverbial “light at the end of the tunnel”.
You know the drill. In society there’s this dream of “success” and we think: well, if we do the exact right things – go to college, get a job, earn a lot of money at said job (it varies from person to person) – we’ll find success, and then (here’s the killer): we’ll feel better. Truth is, we won’t. No matter how much success we find, if we don’t question the insane way of getting that success, then we won’t feel better.
Once you finally realize that what you really want is much more elemental, it’s much more personal and sincere – once you realize that you’re covering over your deep sadness with dreams of success, then you also realize: you’re lost.
That’s right: the part of you who craves some direction and purpose is lost.
Like my last post talked about, this is when you feel like you’re being tossed into an endless sea of possibilities without a compass.
Now you might ask how you regain any sense of direction after this. Good question.
First, you’ve got to decide if you want to keep going or not. If you do want to, then something magical happens.
Like a ship-wrecked sailor, this side of you winds up on the shore in some humble little place in your soul, where your kindness resides. This part of you can care for the lost part of you like a doctor – her simple acts of patience and understanding are healing. Being around this side of yourself takes away your tension and calms your heart. To her, being lost is OK. Being afraid, hurt, lonely, sad, tense is OK. Being absolutely useless in terms of achieving any goal IS OK.
Sound strange? We can get so used to beating ourselves up when we do things that don’t match our expectations and what we want. Well, that behavior fills our kind side with sadness. She wants to help lift us up again, she doesn’t like seeing any creature in pain or suffering. Including ourselves when we beat ourselves up.
Hers is the realm of allowing us to laugh at our mistakes, to seek what we truly want deep down. Hers is the realm of accepting us in all of our imperfections. Hers is the realm of peace and love – not just as words, but as a way of being.
And that’s the thing – you may be tempted to seek out this side of yourself to squeeze the benefits of healing out of her. But she’ll escape from your unkind attempts to satisfy your selfish desires. She’ll gladly help you heal the pain causing those desires, though.
So it turns out we don’t have to follow our desires and be put down every time we stray from the goals we seek. Instead, we can open ourselves up to the wisdom of our own kindness, and accept ourselves no matter what crazy path we take towards our goals, or if we have no goals at all.
We don’t need to try and get anyone else to accept us, either. We already have acceptance inside us, we just need to learn how to listen to it. But neither do we want to abuse it, either. Only the side of ourselves that cares about doing things for the sake of love, even if they don’t know how yet, can care for your kindness enough to take the journey.
What journey? The one to become a person who doesn’t do things for reasons that are unkind. See, to be with kindness you must also find the way to be kind.
But hey, don’t take my word for it! Go get lost, feel extremely vulnerable, and you’ll find out for yourself. Good luck : )
There are several mentions of this dynamic I can think of. Some of the most memorable come from Utopian Literature:
Gulliver’s Travels, Book 4 by Jonathan Swift: Gulliver’s ship gets lost in a storm and he ends up in the land of the Houyhnhnms, who are honorable and accepting horse-people.
New Atlantis by Sir Francis Bacon: “So that finding ourselves, in the midst of the greatest wilderness of waters in the world, without victual, we gave ourselves for lost men, and prepared for death. Yet we did lift up our hearts and voices to God above, who showeth His wonders in the deep; beseeching Him of His mercy that as in the beginning He dis- covered the face of the deep, and brought forth dry land, so He would now discover land to us, that we might not perish.” After that, they did – and it was a virtuous land indeed.
Snow White and Rose Red, Grimm’s Fairy Tales – A Bear seeks shelter in the winter in Snow White and Rose Red’s cottage, and after dealing with a rather unkind dwarf, the bear is transformed into a prince.
Final Fantasy VII by Squaresoft – Cloud, the protagonist, falls to his probable death only to land in a church where the girl Aeris is tending flowers. She is kind and has people after her because they think she’s the key to finding “the promised land”. Here’s a video of it:
Oh and this one, of course:
In this anime, Keiichi Morisato is constantly unlucky, until one day he receives a call from the “Goddess Help Line”, and is visited by the goddess Belldandy and granted one wish. The anime follow their adventures after he wishes for a goddess like her to always be by his side.