If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know that I am a person who tends to live in extremes. I’m either WAY over here, or WAY over there. While that’s not exactly a healthy way to exist, it’s where I am more often than not.
While I do know this about myself, it hits home more when someone points that out to me in a caring way. If I force myself to realistically see where this way of life hasn’t exactly worked out for me to date, I realize just how much it keeps me stuck. Remember GI Joe? …Now you know, and knowing is half the battle!
That, “Over Here and Over There”, can translate into All Good or All bad. When we view ourselves (or others) in those types of extremes, it’s more difficult to accept ourselves as perfectly imperfect.
Picture someone that you admire, think highly of, and respect a great deal. I have a person in mind as I write this. Don’t we normally tend to think of all the good, positive qualities they exude and not dwell much on the negative, if at all? I know I can be that way.
The truth is, we are all both good and bad. That’s how we have to look at ourselves and others. If you step back and rationally think through this, we can see how being both good and bad is realistically how we should view people.
Lets use an example of a therapist or counselor. As client of a professional, we see how intelligent they are during our interactions with them. We see how educated and well versed in their field they truly are. We see all the good they do for us and how much of an amazing person they appear to be. The truth is they likely do have a ton of good qualities, but they still aren’t perfect.
These people that we entrust ourselves too have baggage just like we do. Everyone has done things in their life that they aren’t proud of. Perhaps they’ve invalidated their kids at times, or blew their stack at their spouse or child when it wasn’t warranted. You can insert any number of examples here, but the point is that while they may seem to us to be amazing and awesome, they have both good and bad in their lives too.
Because they are just like us in that sense, does not make them any less important or good for us, it just means that we should remember that again, nobody is perfect.
As survivors, when we look at ourselves, we often times see way more of the bad than the good. I know for a fact, beyond a shadow of any doubt, that I do that. I am my own worst critic and I can invalidate myself at the drop of hat. I am more than willing to point out my flaws rather than my strengths.
However, the realistic way we should look at ourselves is in the gray area. Not WAY over here in the Good or WAY over there in the Bad, but rather in the middle…the dreaded gray area. Good + Bad = Gray.
If we focus on the negative all the time, we don’t heal. As a trusted friend has told me more times than I care to remember, the healing comes in the scary middle (the gray area). When we realize that we are not all good or all bad, but the combination of the two…that gray, is what makes us who we are.
So focusing on the negative means that we continue to feed the low self-esteem, lack of confidence, and feeling that we aren’t capable of loving or being loved. We are stuck and we stay stuck.
Conversely, if we focus on the positive all the time, we can become vain and run the risk of losing sight of who we truly are. We can become less aware of staying grounded and humble, which can invalidate others and build up a wall between us and those we care about.
That doesn’t mean that shouldn’t be proud of ourselves or be excited for what we have or will accomplish. It doesn’t mean that we should minimize how far we’ve come in life. All of the hardships that we have overcome are real, valid, and important. For survivors, just the fact that still exist today and continue to heal is a HUGE accomplishment and we should be proud of that.
Life shouldn’t be about living from one extreme to another ( or viewing others as either all good or all bad). That gray area is where our true selves exist.
That area that tells us, “I have done things I’m not proud of and perhaps I have hurt others. I’ve also been the victim of abuse that was not my fault. I can’t change that past though, I can’t go back and fix what I did or change the fact that I was abused (again, the abuse was not our fault).”
“I can only live my life to the best of my abilities and use the talents and gifts that I have to help myself and others now.”
“I won’t focus on those bad things and continue to beat myself up, but I do have remorse for the hurt and pain I’ve caused. I know that I have asked for forgiveness (if that was possible in the situation), and now I live my life differently.”
Often times, we were groomed and brainwashed into thinking that a certain action was the only acceptable one. The only thing we could do, with no other alternative. You had to steal that food or those clothes. You had to lie to your boss, or your spouse. Again, insert any example here that you want but no one good or bad thing should define how our lives play out.
Everything that we do is not all good or all bad. We are going to continue to screw up as well as continue to excel. Finding a happy medium, accepting that gray area, means we are finally accepting ourselves.
When we can do that, healing can truly flourish.
image courtesy of wallpapercave.com