One thing that I’ve recently learned in my life is to not hold myself to a high standard. This has actually taken a long time for me to learn, as there was a culture both in my home and my church to perform well.
To put on a good face.
To be the best.
To be awesome.
None of these are inherently bad, but what happened for me was I developed an incredible ability to be deceptive. Deception is different than lying. Liars simply tell lies. Deceivers conjure elaborate plans to hide their real selves from others – to keep the darkness and the reality hidden in order to keep people from really knowing who they are. When you know that you aren’t always good, aren’t always the best, aren’t always awesome, and you also know that these qualities are expected from you, you learn the art of deception.
Let me make that more personal: When I knew that I wasn’t always good, wasn’t always the best, wasn’t always awesome, and I knew that those qualities were expected from me, I learned the art of deception. I learned to hide the parts of me that I deemed to be unacceptable. I got really good at it. I even fooled myself a couple of times.
By sheer luck (or you could say providence, happenstance, coincidence) I read The Gift of Being Yourself by David Benner, a book that changed everything. In it, Benner says something about how we give power to our darkness when we deny it exists – i.e. when we deceive we actually increase the power our darkness has over us. I thought, “That’s totally true.” Benner suggests that we need to accept all of who we are as truly who we are, or more simply, to accept the good and the bad as part of ourselves.
So, I started owning up to my places I had kept hidden inside of me for the majority of my life – with everyone. If my pride was in the way of my ability to receive praise appropriately, for instance, I named it, out loud, to the person from whom I was receiving praise. It was amazing how much that released in me the ability to be honest and known, and also to receive praise.
What’s this all about?
I forgot to take an inventory of my day last night.
That’s not true.
I deliberately chose to be lazy, to disengage, to ignore the hard work of reflecting on my day. I made a conscious decision against what doing what I committed to doing on Sunday. Instead, I played a video game.
I’m a failure, and I want you to know that. The best thing of all is, that doesn’t much matter. We are all total failures, which is what makes us humans and what gives us the drive to be better than we are. Just don’t let that drive push you to a place where you are unwilling to admit to who you really are, because then you lose control, and lose touch with your true self, which is loved irrationally by the one who created all of your self – the good and the bad.