Know Thyself – the Path to the Heart

close up of barbed wire
The Futility of War

We live in a world that is torn apart by strife and warfare. So many needless wars are fought and there is so much suffering and death.  These wars can be in the name of politics, economics, nationalism or religion. Billions are spent each year on the “industry” of warfare – on man’s inhumanity to man. Increasingly every rational person understands that no war is ever won.  The devastation and loss on both sides are proof alone of that. The aftermath of pain, loss and suffering compound it even more.

Large tree in field

So why are we are so easily swept into yet another tidal wave of vengeance and retribution? What keeps us stuck in lashing out at others?  Is it because we need to make them wrong and in order to affirm that we are right?

The Constant Battle Within

Many of us suffer from an inability to truly be at peace within ourselves. It becomes unbearable to examine one’s inner anguish.  Therefore from this deep seated lack of self acceptance we are pushed into a much easier option.

It is so much easier to highlight the “faults” of others than to face our own buried pain.

If we set aside direct confrontation, we can observe what goes on within our own lives, our families and our workplace.

So really this blog is about how important it is to Know Thyself – The Path to the Heart.

Duality – The Suppressed Bad -v- The False Good

We have been conditioned from birth to see things either as “right” or “wrong”, “good” or “bad”, “light” or “dark”. Part of this conditioning encourages us to push away and deny all that we believe to be “bad” about ourselves. In other words we try to disown our anger, fear, hatred, and aggression. These are aspects of ourselves that we don’t want to face. So why do we live in a world that’s so violent?

It is we ourselves who perpetuate violence

This is because we are caught up in the duality of our own inner violence.  The “suppressed bad” -v- the “false good”.

What is this “false good”? It is all the ways that we believe we must “try harder”, “be strong”, “be brave” etc.

The Buried Pain of No Self Acceptance

All this striving is only compensating for the buried pain of these unwanted “bad” emotions.  It is actually coming from a profound lack of self acceptance. The “false good” is driving us in one direction, while the “suppressed bad” is tearing us apart in another. What lies in between this black and white way of seeing ourselves?  Our emotional, mental and physical pain that is trapped in what appears to be a double bind.

about4_31When we try to suppress our painful emotions, they don’t just go away.  They only lie dormant within us, more or less ignored.

Dangerous Denied Emotions

Emotions that are denied in this way actually become far more dangerous.  Why is this?  When we’re fully aware of our emotions we are far better able to handle them.  However if they’re buried and denied, emotions then run the show.  They can control us and explode in ways that create so much damage in our lives. When stress, challenges or hostility enter our lives, these denied emotions are all too likely to erupt into full blown dramas.

Yet every one of us will ONLY attack another when we’re in pain ourselves.

Unfortunately, all too often, it’s much easier to direct our pain outwards.  For some, making the other person wrong becomes an automatic response.  In this way, rather than directing the focus of our attention within, we project our pain away from its source – out onto others.

Judgement and Lack of Forgiveness

When we judge and condemn others, we do so from a deep sense of our own inadequacy and self blame. Some people compare themselves unfavourably to others.  Others look down on people in an attempt to boost themselves up. This voice of comparison, runs away like a useless program at the back of our head.  It diminishes our best efforts, steals away our creativity, and robs us of the right to enjoy the simple things in life.

When we’re living our lives from a deep seated sense of “I’m not good enough” or “they’re so much better”.

Landscape cliffs at sunset

Ways we Compensate for “Not Good Enough” belief

Our every action, decision and endeavour will only be compensating for this deeply held sense of lack.

Perhaps much of our striving to “get ahead” is built on a foundation of self rejection and our decisions and actions arise from this painful core belief.  We are striving to avoid our inner pain. I call this the “false good”.  Why?  Because it ultimately brings us neither joy nor peace.

The Shadow and Persona of Carl Jung

What happens to all this “bad” stuff when the “good” side of us wants to push it away? What happens to all this “dark” stuff when we don’t even want to acknowledge its existence? It gets pushed away and hidden. This is what Carl Jung calls “The Shadow”. It is like unwanted baggage piling up in the storerooms at the back of a shop.  Then the only stuff on display in the “front window” is what we want others to see – What Jung calls the Persona.

Energy That’s Unavailable to Us

It takes an enormous amount of energy to keep our emotional pain hidden away in this way.  This is energy that deserves to be used to enrich our lives in a positive productive way.

I call this the “suppressed bad” because it’s really a part of ourselves that’s crying out to be healed.

Keeping up the pretence of the “shop window” is very isolating. Having to “keep up appearances” and hide behind a “brave face” is so very lonely when on the inside we want to yell out “I’m really scared” or “I’m hurting”.

Light at the end of tunnell

Very often our feelings of self rejection come from tiredness, pain and stress. They occur when we’ve already got so much to do.  We’re all familiar with times when the kids just won’t behave, or we have to meet that business deadline.  Often when we’re at our most vulnerable, it seems that others are making even more demands upon us.  It is at times like these when our energy is under pressure that these self rejecting thoughts, these angry feelings, come to prey on us, robbing us of even more energy.

The need to transform programmed beliefs

These thoughts and feelings have their source in beliefs that were programmed into us in our childhood – by our parents, teachers or peers.  They do not serve us in any way! And just like useless programs in a computer running away all the time in the background and wasting power, they squander our reserves of energy.

Finding Acceptance in Releasing Self Judgement

When we find ways to uncover and release the core pain held in the body, we discover that we’re no longer driven by a compensatory sense of “having to achieve”.

Releasing useless self judgement means we can then reach a much deeper level of self acceptance.  When we no longer need to keep driving ourselves forward, we can simply BE and enjoy what’s right here and now.  Real inner peace becomes possible.  The core painful beliefs of “I’m not good enough” are no longer there acting as relentless drivers.

Also, we can allow others to be as they are.  There’s no longer the need to boost ourselves up through negative comparisons and judgements.  In this way, we no longer need to resist so much in our lives.  Why?  Because we’re coming from a place of inner peace and acceptance.

We come to realise that there’s absolutely no need to fight an internal war with ourselves.  In gaining a greater depth of self knowledge, in coming to know ourselves, we travel the path to the Heart and find true peace within.

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