As I write this the washing machine is filling and I cannot help but think how appropriate when I am about to write about self reflection versus self recriminations. You may have noticed I’ve been rather quiet of late. That’s partly because I’ve been busy with work and just living life. But it is also partly because I have been doing a great deal of self reflection after spending a fair amount of time mired in self recriminations – which does nothing to help me or anyone else. Bear with me as I try to articulate the differences, as I understand them.
How does that saying go? “The unexamined life is not worth living”? Or words to that effect. My washing machine can wash the dirt and accumulated daily grime out of my clothes, but to “wash” my self of less than stellar qualities requires more than one trip to my internal “washing machine”, and a lot of time in prayer!
Yes, I have been awash in memories that have led to a fair amount of regret and sorrow. Taking out and fully examining past words and actions has caused me a lot of guilt and shame. The shame is never productive and leaves me feeling “less than” the person I’d like to be. It also leads down a dark tunnel of self reproach and self loathing. It has led to days of depression, which are also not productive nor good for anyone least of all myself.
Guilt, on the other hand, can lead to positive change, and that’s a good thing. Personally, prayer helps me a lot. The Creator is much more merciful with me than I am with myself and it’s that mercy and compassion that helps me pick myself up and try again, making amends where needed and apologizing when that is appropriate.
Oh yes, I can be judgemental, arrogant, bossy, and generally not very nice. On the other hand, I can also be very thoughtful and kind. Yet, those traits are not the troublesome ones – arrogance and judging others – those traits need to go. Yet, it is these traits, when they rear their ugly heads, that keeps me humble. I am blessed to have family and friends who ask the right questions to help me gain balance and perspective and of course the endless love and compassion of the Divine One who placed these people in my life to help me on my journey. I am so grateful for them!
I spent many years in therapy facing these demons and others. I asked this wise woman, my therapist, once if I spot these negative traits in others does it mean I have them as well. She answered in the positive, qualifying that with the caution that if not these traits, then the possibility of developing them. (Yikes!) But she continued, so too do the wonderful traits of compassion, empathy, and kindness. (Yay!)
So, after many days of prayer and self reflection I have been led to a place of forgiveness for being human and encouraged to go out there and try, try again, to do better, to be better. We are all mere human beings – none of us are perfect and so, I shall carry on and with prayer I will be better. I hope.