Acceptance of Self
BY: T. Franklin Murphy | January 2017
We struggle to find harmony between expectations and reality. The difference is noted and judged. If our judgements are harsh, we hurt; and then stagnate.
Harmony between expectations and the subsequent reality filters disappointments. If we expect too much, life stumbles, never reaching our lofty desires of how it should be. We scream of unfairness; but too little expectation on the future and we settle. Some proclaim no expectation is best; perhaps this is so for some. Personally, I’m not so sure. Relationship trust is intimately tied to expectations. Does the disloyalty of a cheating spouse fail to provoke emotion when we have no expectation for them to be faithful? Like many things, healthy expectations fall in Buddha’s glorious middle way, neither too much nor too little.
Do you expect too much, or too little? We must examine our expectations, finding harmony in the middle, enough expectation to act but not so much to depress. Accepting the reality of self—beauties, flaws, and limitations, must be cautiously held, not with disgust or with joyful justification.
Self-improvement demands recognition of inconsistencies between current behaviors and desired characteristics, so we can address the differences, either by taming unrealistic expectations or modifying disquieting behaviors. We must remember during this process that imperfections don’t imply inadequacy; the flaws simply testify of humanness. We are who we are—ugly spots and all. Most flaws are typical imperfections of humanness, if so, are they really ugly? Being in harmony with the present, enhances efforts to improve the future—a paradox.
Perfection is an ideal that is unobtainable. The perfect human is so unreachable there is no pattern—set of standards to measure against. There is no prevailing agreement of traits that the perfect person would incorporate. What is perfect compassion or justice? We must rid ourselves from using vague ideals as measuring sticks. We don’t know how to achieve these lofty pictures; all we know is we are failing. Hanging our head in constant disappointment bruises the soul and depresses the mind.
"We must find harmony in the middle, enough expectation to act but not so much to depress."
Self-improvement follows self-acceptance, not bitter judgments, and a harsh inner task master.
Harsh judgments are part of a hurtful cycle of self-rejection; the self never finds rest from the brutal attacks of inner judgments. Our strenuous demands scream insufficiency, projecting the harsh judgments onto others. If we don’t like ourselves, our escape from this painful cycle is improbable; the resolution is to become more accepting, not forcing compliance. Even with improvement, the harshness continues, and insecurities remain—a fixture in our emotional landscape. We must soothe these instinctual and learned criticisms emerging from our pasts and haunting our minds. We still work to be better, improving and blessing our futures—just not perfectly.