Sunday, September 18, 2016

Joe Omundson

self love, self fear

Something I have said before: the opposite of love is not hate, but fear. If we truly fear something we will not be able to love it. When we live without fear we do not hesitate to connect with the people we are drawn to. Pure love dispels fear.

For a while now I've recognized this pattern in our interactions with the world around us, but more recently I've realized the same concept is true when applied to our internal lives. Self-fear and self-love are incompatible.

Fear of self, at least by one definition, is called autophobia.

We are often afraid of certain aspects of ourselves. Maybe it is a similarity to a negative role model, embarrassment over certain feelings, an undesired bodily trait, or a primal urge we wish we didn't have. Maybe it's an exceptional talent, a huge capacity for love, a strong sense of empathy, or passionate anger towards some injustice.

When we fear these parts of ourselves, being faced with them is uncomfortable so we self-distract in many different ways. We live in denial and project these traits onto other people. We isolate ourselves, or avoid isolation at all costs. We strive to fill our perceived emptiness in order to feel OK, with material gain, addictions, social status, or any number of other vices. We perceive life as a struggle, something inherently painful and confusing, and decide that this experience is what's normal. True fulfillment is a fantasy we don't expect to achieve. Many people develop mental illness and dysfunctional patterns.  These are coping mechanisms. Our fear is buried deep inside us and it feels like an inbuilt part of our personal topography, and the coping mechanisms come to feel natural too.

We don't know if other people are feeling the same way or if we are alone in our despair... because we are too afraid to talk about it in the first place. We hide our pain, our longing for connection, our hopelessness. These are taboo. Many of us don't know what we truly want or how to get it. We don't understand where we hurt or why. We feel trapped in what our lives have become, in what other people tell us should make us fulfilled, in the expectations others have of us.

But it doesn't always have to be that way. The root of all this is our autophobia. Fear is inhibiting love again, in this case self love; knowing, accepting, valuing, and caring for ourselves. It leads to a numbing internal blindness which skews all of our interactions.

What would happen if instead of fearing ourselves, we loved ourselves exactly how we are? If we smiled at our problems with the knowledge that everyone has them, and working through them is a normal part of life? If instead of fighting ourselves, we let whatever is inside come to light? If your answer to that question is that something terrible would happen -- notice that! That's the fear I'm talking about.

Here is what I think we can do: let's work towards not being afraid of any part of ourselves. Our unlimited potential for growth, our darkest thoughts, our most secret sexual urges, our out-of-control habits. Let's learn about ourselves and accept that we are who we are in this moment. It is what it is. If we live in constant hiding from our own reality, we are missing perhaps the most important part of being alive. We live with an illusion of who we are rather than a lucid understanding.

Let's allow this process to happen apart from any attempt to change ourselves. There's time for that later.

When we know and understand ourselves, we can start to untangle the ways we've been woven together. We recognize what is our true nature and what has been artificially adopted due to social pressure. We figure out which things in ourselves are necessary to part ways with, and which things we need to learn to embrace. Often, it's simply understanding ourselves which naturally leads to change. The change that happens is then in line with reality, it's organic and productive. When we try to change ourselves by forcing our external actions and the only motivation is to conform to society's expectations, it's never sustainable. Real change is more integral than that and even if it does require regimented action, it's motivated from within rather than by a desire to appear a certain way for others; and that gives us the energy that is required to follow through.

Getting to know ourselves is a great goal, but how can we do this practically? I have some thoughts on that but I'll save them for a future post. (EDIT: that post is here)

Joe Omundson

About Joe Omundson -

Joe Omundson is working to piece together a cohesive philosophy of lifestyle, spirituality, society, and the natural world.

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3 comments

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Alex Wall
AUTHOR
September 20, 2016 at 9:12 AM delete

Great subject. This is a biggie "We feel trapped in what our lives have become, in what other people tell us should make us fulfilled, in the expectations others have of us." I like the idea of acknowledging what is going on in ourselves first without expectations about changing. Terence McKenna and Aldous Huxley both promoted the idea of "the immediate datum of experience" (what is going on at this second is the most important thing). We can take a cross section of ourselves and examine it, at any moment. We aren't a history, nor a future self. We just ARE. Getting to know ourselves is certainly a step toward loving ourselves, as getting to know other people is a step toward loving them. Thanks!

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Joe Omundson
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September 20, 2016 at 6:25 PM delete

The immediate datum of experience... I like that. It all boils down to awareness of the present moment, I think that's what's taught across SO many branches of spirituality! Thanks for your thoughts!

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simplynomadic
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September 21, 2016 at 12:55 PM delete

Bravo! What a fun place to play, practicing loving all those aspects of me! Yay! Permission granted. And oh what a wonderful byproduct, compassion, love, and acceptance of others.

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