I’m reading a book by the Buddhist nun Pema Chödrön called Comfortable with Uncertainty. This line really spoke to me: “The most fundamental aggression to ourselves, the most fundamental harm we can do to ourselves, is to remain ignorant by not having the courage and the respect to look at ourselves honestly and gently.”
Honestly and gently.
Each of us wraps up from time to time in the comforting blanket of “my story.” The things we “know” to be real. The events we’re “certain” have shaped us. And we use that story, for better or worse, to paint the picture of our future. But in the moment when we think we’ve got it all wrapped up, the picture painted, the dots connected, is when we begin to shut ourselves out to seeing things a different way. And that’s when we stop being honest with ourselves…because, hey, it’s pretty comfy to have everything all figured out….or so we tell ourselves.
And so, wherever we’re headed on this journey, we can start by respecting ourselves enough to ask questions – big questions – and then accept, with full honesty, whatever answers we find.
But what if we don’t like what we find?
Well, that’s what it means to be gentle. We get to turn off that tape that tells us we’re stupid for the mistakes we make, weak for the losses we suffer or wrong for the harm we may do and we get to replace it with, “I’m human. It’s okay. Tomorrow is another day.” So, we get to be honest and then we get to be gentle. We’re privileged to see where we’re acting against our own best interest and then, to top it off, we get to change the judgment tape. We get to start over. Honestly and gently.
How awesome is that!? Frankly, I can’t think of a better place to start.