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Growth Without Harsh Judgment
BY: T. Franklin Murphy | April 2017
Seeing Our Faults Without Condemnation
Before change is possible, we must have a realistic view of the self that is in need of changing. Change requires self-examination; but gentle, compassionate examination.
What was that? Another missed opportunity! We miss opportunities by failing to recognize them. Our ship comes in but sails out to sea while we are still packing our bags. An old-street-worn sergeant routinely reminded, “Luck is when preparation meets opportunity.” Doing the right things, at the right times to obtain long-term intentions is complex. Sadly, many live lives they regret, constantly missing opportunities and then ascribing the injustice to an unfair life.
Motivation is complex. Our feelings, thoughts and behaviors are pushed and pulled by many forces. These forces motivate action—or inaction. Some motivations are obvious, while others obscure. Without careful examination, unchallenged, unrecognized forces limit opportunities and constrain freedoms.
Mindful exploration of self exposes motivations and habitual reactions. Protective thoughts, concealing childhood vulnerabilities, lose effectiveness in adulthood—but we still employ them. Unseen they sneak into our lives, motivate harmful action and then blatantly blame the world. A Child's dependence on unpredictable people is scary. In order psychologically survive, a child employs thought mechanisms to limit fear and provide a measured sense of control. With adulthood, effective action serves us better than distorting thoughts. We have greater power to create security by evaluating multiple options rather than defaulting to faulty thinking to manipulate reality.
Many childhood defenses fail to serve a productive purpose—and they limit growth. Protective adaptations originally made life livable; but now confine. We need greater self-awareness softened with self-compassion. Awareness exposes faults; compassion accepts them. Human imperfection is acceptable. With gentle compassion, recognizing faults isn’t as threatening. Without compassion the fear of not being good enough immobilizes productive action. Compassion teaches us that we are good enough, even with our faults.
"Unseen they sneak into our lives, motivate harmful action and then blatantly blame the world."
The compulsion to be perfect isn’t a personal choice—it has deep causes. But facing and managing the immobilizing fear is essential for progress. We must challenge the fearful thoughts that keep success beyond our reach. Fear isn’t an illness; it is a product of the human mind. We can find an accumulating comfort through acceptance of life, knowing we will be challenged; but after the initial stumble, we stand up and move forward.
Over time, self-confidence grows from repeatedly and successfully addressing imperfections—although the blemishes remain. The welcoming of our human imperfection initiates an exciting journey into self-discovery where greater freedoms and the opportunities reside. We grow because through the self-focused positive regard that we missed in our broken childhoods.
Topics: Human Growth