“Hmm, not really hot; not the smartest guy around; not actually funny; not always that nice. Oh well, I can live with that dude in the mirror anyway” I say something like this to myself sometimes when the introspection bug bites. This isn’t self-deprecating; it’s honesty. The thought reminds me that there is always room for improvement.
Don’t we all have moments of self-evaluation? The times in our lives when we honestly confront our dark sides then promise to tackle them with the knowledge and wisdom we have gained from past experience are illuminating. Compassionately critiquing oneself then patiently correcting one’s faults is what mature people do.
Such an even-keeled, self-respectful approach becomes difficult when we experience a difficult stage in life or if we have committed a transgression. Acute, fundamental aggression and harm occur in our own minds. Instead of allowing toxic negativity to gain the upper hand, we can acknowledge our personality faults and balance them with our personality assets. Self-harm and neglect continues until we pledge to banish ignorance about our true nature. When we decide to assess our lives mindfully, honestly and gently, we put ourselves back on track in life. We don’t have to feel discomfort about it either.
Balanced compassion is important during our self-evaluation because it is easy to slip into the mindset that one is inferior to other people. Here is where caution is important to character building. Too often if we judge ourselves as inferior to our peers, we may choose one of the most destructive ways to distinguish our uniqueness: pride of ignorance and inferiority. This is not only harmful to oneself, but is toxic to society at large. When a deficit is uncovered, it is best to go about ways to correct it not glorify it.
On the other hand, if we deny our faults and judge ourselves to be superior and more moral than others, we risk increasing our egotism and innate narcissism. Too much self-satisfaction and self-glorification have been shown to retard self-growth, and cause harm to oneself, one’s peers, and to society.
This is where we are wise to apply the golden mean that I mentioned this past Saturday. It is wise to be humble and have healthy self-respect without going overboard one way or the other. This is easier said and written about than practically done. That’s where mindfulness and compassion play their parts.
Every day of our lives presents tests to our self-perception. Compassionate self-evaluation allows us to remain relevant to ourselves and others. If we are too hard on ourselves or too easy on ourselves, we lose sight of who we really are. In the end, we are the architects of our lives. We design and direct our states of happiness and misery. Each part of our lives’ blueprints, followed or not, have affected who we were in the past, who we are now, and who we aim to be in the future. Our honest, kind self-evaluation is a major tool in shaping our satisfaction in life.
The Blue Jay of Happiness likes this question from Indian academician, author, scholar and psychologist, Amit Abraham. “What is the worst thing about yourself that you like?”