Everybody has light and shade in their personality, bits that they like, bits they don’t. There are aspects of ourselves we wish we celebrate and exude to the world; manifestations of our kindness, our sense of humor or our dexterity Then there are crevices of our character that we don’t like to showcase; our insecurities, our selfishness or impatience. We try to stuff them down, wrestling with them to cease interrupting the smooth operation of our daily lives, much like we would a young child, mid tantrum in a supermarket.
We often see this outplaying in people, perhaps in the form of the frustrated, over-worked cashier. She struggles to paste a smile over her face and quell her desire to verbally blast at a demanding customer. Oh so desperately she attempts to contain her anger within the walls of her skin! But that anger is looking to spill out anywhere it can; the tone of her voice, the set of her jaw. Anger wins. In turn she’s fired from work. Darn that anger, she later spits, got me in trouble again! Why couldn’t I just hold it together?
With this in mind, how can we realistically love all of us? How can we learn to love and accept that shady part of ourselves, as well as the light?
1) We’d be rather dull and un-relatable if we were one dimensional. Once we scoop all aspects of ourselves into an embrace of self acceptance we honor ourselves objectively, just like a mother holds their child who she loves no less when s/he makes mistakes.
We live in a world full of oppositional energy: The yin- yang, the night to day. A tree doesn’t resent its bountiful, hot pink blossoms falling to the ground, leaving it bony and bare, unremarkable to the once admiring passerby. Those fragrant blossoms will be back. The tree resists nothing and embraces every aspect of itself with both an aura of dignity and humbleness.
If we see ourselves as similarly part of nature we can then accept our perceived foibles as part of our natural personality scale, something which we all have. We may have just been unconsciously choosing to hang out in the shady area for season after season, whereas those we admire bask in the light through conscious everyday little choices to do so.
2) Think of how that unwelcome personality trait has helped you in the past. We have a tendency to gang up on ourselves it in an attempt to thwart disliked parts of our personality infringing on our life, but very often we don’t see how it has a positive side. For example, your perceived impatience means you get things done, your meekness is charming to your partner or your selfishness means you always carve time out for yourself and so remain healthy and energetic, free from too many others gnawing away at your time and resources. It may have been your recklessness that led you to your partner, or conceived your child, in fact.
Even the most self-loving of people have that natural impulse to beat themselves up. The difference is, they make more choices to ignore the berating bully, aware that its apt for any window of opportunity to self depreciate.
3) Ask others how they view you. Its nigh impossible to give an accurate assessment of ourselves; we’re too close, we have no perspective. Its like a book editor who writes their own book but can’t edit it themselves because they are too wrapped up in it to be able to see it clearly.
Ask a few other people how they perceive you, maybe draw up a list of questions for them to answer in regards to your personality. Make sure the friends/acquaintances you ask are not invested in either competitively pulling you down nor blowing your trumpet. Be thoughtful in your selection. Choose as neutral, honest and trusted candidates for this delicate task at possible.
You could ask face to face although via a phone call or email is fine if you feel more comfortable doing it that way, perhaps saying its part of a self assessment you’re doing.
Very often the parts we despise about ourselves are the hallmarks of their love and admiration for us; our nuances, quirkiness, our individuality.
No doubt it was our cashier’s passion for life- the gutsy fire in her belly- that attracted her husband to her. Yet this is an off-shoot to that anger.
4) As Dr. Wayne Dyer says “This is what I’ve chosen for myself up until now.” Sometimes we don’t realize we’ve made a choice to outplay a personality trait we begrudge. Yet to fume and fester over it is to choose it for ourselves, according to the law of attraction. This universal law tells us that which we concentrate on is attracted into our experience.
5) So choose to express the opposite quality: If you resent your shyness, for instance, its counterproductive to try and fight it because what we resist persists. Just allow it to be and choose instead to align your thoughts, your feelings, what you do and what you say with confidence. Read books on acquiring confidence, mix with other confident people, become aware of how they act, absorb it, nudge your comfort zone out to call forth situations where confidence is required.
In situations where your shyness would usually take over ask ‘what would a confident me do?’ Even asking this type of expansive question shows that you are aware, you are at choice and expands your consciousness, infusing it with the meaning confidence and with it offering what that might feel and look like to express.
Life will gift you with many moments of opportunity to choose the new quality you’d like to invite into your experience.
Practice confidence (or whatever trait you wish to invite into your life) much like a new hobby until you get better and better at it. At first it may feel inauthentic but if you continue to express that characteristic it will settle into your storehouse of traits, ready to be called upon when appropriate.
If there is one thing I have seen through my own personal spiritual journey its that we really do have such palpable power to create our own life experience. Most of us simply react to life. How would things shift if instead we decided to respond?
Responding takes us to a higher plane of self awareness, its gets us off autopilot and therefore has the potential to break old reactions and go-to personality traits which we dislike expressing. Responding meets every situation with a sense of freshness and adventure, its playful. Your past can remain there, without it dragging its influence into the Now.
Just because you’ve always done something a certain way doesn’t mean to say you have to continue to do so. The only person dooming yourself is you.
Despite appearances its only you who gets to call upon which part of your personality you’ll employ. You cannot control what life throws your way, but you can chose how you respond to it.
You can even set an intention for your day, much like at the beginning of a yoga class. Today I choose to look at my life through the filter of love, or acceptance or gratitude. In every situation make a conscious choice to practice that quality. Perhaps wear a bangle or a rubber band on your wrist to remind you of your intention.
From where I’m sitting, your potential is awe- inspiring.