Self-criticism and self-love: Two sides of the same coin - Part II

Updated: Mar 8


Part II - The Answer to finding self-love


“Trusting the transparency of our true reflection in the stillness of water is one way to transcend the fog of self-criticism into self-love.”

- Arun Sardana


Life’s Reality

There is hardly any human being that has lived on this earth who was not plagued by self-doubt, self-recrimination, or arguably the most dangerous of all, self-loathing. Experts in the field of transpersonal psychology argue, perhaps wisely so, that antidotes to many such aspects of self-criticism may lie in that part of the human experience that is not limited to your physical body. They are referring to something much larger in dimension and scope than your limited existence. They are invoking highly personal spiritual experiences that can transport you beyond any physical borders. It is in these “unlimited” experiences that you may have the potential to realize true self-love and happiness.


All of that sounds great except there is one big problem - how can you experience the “unlimited” through your limited body? Fortunately, the answer is not that challenging to comprehend. In fact, it is rather simple.


Finding Self-Love

In my opinion, the answer may lie in three “T’s” - Transparency, Trust and Transcendence. Let’s look at them one at a time even though they are connected by an invisible thread of interdependence.


Transparency

Unarguably, the most transparent human being is an infant who is yet to be affected by the environmental forces which help develop the Freudian ego. Infants and children below the age of two or three are completely “empty” inside - they are devoid of any ego or a sense of self. When “the self” doesn’t exist, self-criticism is impossible and then love is not a concept but a living reality. A child’s “emptiness” is, therefore, filled with nothing but love. It is this overflowing love you witness when your gaze meets the smiling eyes of a giggling infant or a child laughing with free abandon. You smile instantly and a strange wave of peace and happiness pervades your being.


Why does this happen? Perhaps, it is because the child is completely vulnerable in every living moment and, therefore, completely naked and open to all new possibilities. For a child, every moment is filled with curiosity, wonder, awe, and surprise. A child’s vulnerability empties the self and creates the space where true happiness can live. Even academic researchers have found that being vulnerable and being present in that vulnerability allows one to feel worthy of love and belonging. Not just love of others. But self-love. Because this transparency allows one to see one’s authentic image in the calm waters of the spirit.


Trust

With transparency comes trust. It is the unshakeable belief that you are good at your core. That you are capable of loving and being loved. That opening up to vulnerability will unveil new possibilities that will bring you hope, purpose and happiness. Such trust is anchored in the limitless spirit that is much larger than your physical realm. In your spiritual self, trust is not a thought or a feeling that lives somewhere in our body. It is a way of being. It is an acknowledgment that you are perfect in your imperfections.


When your imperfections become your allies then the whole world becomes your playground of happiness. There is nothing left to doubt, recriminate, or loathe. All that’s left is love, pure overflowing love.


Transcendence

To transcend is to go beyond ordinary limits, to rise above the everyday normal. You do this everyday - when you extend a helping hand without any expectations; when you rescue animals; when you meditate; when you pray; when you love deeply; and when you fight for justice and equality. This fact alone makes you capable of achieving the ultimate transcendence - the realization that you are because of the other. You have an identity of “the self” because the other exists. That you are a part of the whole and not separate from it. When you become aware of this wholeness, all doubts and fears leave your being. You begin to feel secure in this limited body just like a frightened child is consoled by a mother’s warm caress.


Awareness of this form of “the larger self” is the recipe to annihilating self-deprecating and self-loathing behavior. In the light of this awareness shines the love you are seeking. A love that is unconditional; a love that defies all definitions of “the self” and fills the emptiness that Buddha called non-self with wholeness. In that state of completion, you truly become transcendent. You become love itself.


In Part III of this blog, we will cover some of the tools that can help you get to the three T’s - Transparency, Trust and Transcendence.


Happiness lives here. Welcome home.


About the author:

Arun Sardana is the founder of karuna, a social enterprise committed to making this world a happier place by empowering women, youth and children and, in the process, breaking the vicious cycle of poverty and abuse. Learn more at www.accesskaruna.com.


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