Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Multiple Self-s

To be self-aware is my goal. To know what I am doing, why I am doing it, to take responsibility, to act better. Noble indeed. But it is quite burdensome to retrospectively over-analyze every word uttered and fret if it came off the way I intended. Rarely do I return home from a date or simcha or other social gathering and not stare at the ceiling in horror, replaying my obviously catastrophic comments. 

All hail Zzzquil. 

When asked if "self-loathing is a requirement for writers," Anna Holmes responded: 
I do think that writing demands a certain amount of self-awareness, and that self-awareness and self-loathing can be two sides of the same coin.
Yup. Being self-aware means I'm all too conscious of where I could improve, meaning: I suck. And yet, I don't dislike myself.

To be a Jew, Rabbi Yisroel Reisman says, means to be a wee bit schizophrenic. We have to know how to be simultaneously happy and sad in order to function. Halacha acknowledges that. Apparently, when one lost a parent, not only would one say "Baruch haDayan haEmes," but also "Baruch . . . HaTov v'HaMeitiv," in gratitude for the yerusha. We don't say the latter anymore in our squeamishness, but once expressing happiness, even when it seemed inappropriate, did not have to be suppressed. Chevi Garfinkel says the same in this Purim shiur

Apparently, according to Brené, this isn't a specifically Jewish thing. In Rising Strong, she refers to the false cheer and lack of any negative emotions as "The Umbridge." Not integrating light and dark can have sinister consequences, "simply because denial of emotion is what feeds the dark." 
The most terrifying villain ever.
Star Wars! The fact that the scene is from a prequel is regrettable, but apt:

Anakin, as a child, is presented to the Jedi. 

Yoda: How feel you?
Anakin: Cold, sir.
Yoda: Afraid are you?
Anakin: No, sir.
Yoda: See through you we can.
Mace Windu: Be mindful of your feelings.
Ki-Adi-Mundi: Your thoughts dwell on your mother.
Anakin: I miss her.
Yoda: Afraid to lose her I think, hmm?
Anakin: What has that got to do with anything?
Yoda: Everything! Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering. I sense much fear in you.  

Denying emotion can lead to disaster, even if not on a Darth Vader level. So don't suppress, even if it doesn't feel "right" or "cool."
We're supposed to love ourselves (or at least find ourselves likable), and yet seek to elevate the same selves: "I love you, you're perfect, now change."

I can have fantasies about the potential me, and in the meantime the current me is okay. She said.

Where's the Zzzquil again?      


Daniel Saunders said...

The self-awareness and over-analyzing sounds like me too! Except that I struggle to like myself, and have the years in therapy to prove it. I'm trying to get to a point of realizing that I'm imperfect, but OK, but it's hard to get there when I feel halakhah wants me to be perfect.

Princess Lea said...

Halakhah doesn't demand perfection. It asks for progress. There is a difference.

Halakhah, if anything, is all too aware of human weakness, and makes allowances for that.

Daniel Saunders said...

Halakhah doesn't demand perfection. It asks for progress. There is a difference.

Yes, you're right, of course. I have to admit I am a perfectionist. When I was a child, perfectionism was a coping strategy to deal with unfair criticism, bullying and neglect and I've carried that over into my adult life, including my religious life. As you say, HaShem wants progress, not perfection. I was actually thinking that exact thought today, but it can be hard to hold on to it. I feel I have to be 100% perfect or else I've 100% failed, whereas the reality is more complex.

Princess Lea said...

To quote Brene, imperfection is not inadequacy. You really should read her books.

Daniel Saunders said...

Maybe I will. I've just got a huge to-read pile at the moment (a product of getting free books at work and doing my retail therapy in the books section of charity shops). Which one would you recommend to start with?

Princess Lea said...

"I Thought It Was Just Me."