The most terrifying thing is to accept oneself completely. -- C. G. Jung
Man, am I good at putting on a front. I’m guessing most of you, if you were really to take an honest look at yourselves, could probably relate.
Now, when I say “putting on a front,” I’m talking about the me I let others see versus the me that’s underneath that exterior, the guy pretty much no one knows. Whether we’re conscious of it or not, we all have that me. The me that we show others, the one pretending to have their shit together, both externally as well as internally.
The Me I Keep Hidden Away
In my case, it’s the guy who writes articles on spirituality and plays kirtan. He’s peaceful, compassionate, and understanding. And while, sure, there’s definitely truth to that him, some of him is farce as well.
That me, the one I keep hidden away, well, he’s scared to death of letting you see who he really is. He doesn’t want you to know he’s terrified of failure. He’s great at hiding the fact that he’s completely insecure about his musical skills, and that he often struggles to feel like he really has anything of worth to say. Oh, and a personal favorite, he often gets wrapped up in feeling fat and gross after eating like shit for a day or two.
The Other Side of Me
Now, I don’t want to paint the wrong picture here — he’s not always full of shitty feelings and thoughts, or feeling insecure. He definitely experiences joy and peace and can be happy with things he’s written or happy with the way a kirtan performance went and sometimes... sometimes he likes the physical image reflecting back at him in the mirror.
A part of him knows he helps others, and he feels gratitude when he receives emails from those who’ve read his stuff and were impacted by it. Overall, though, he’s terribly scared to let you see who he really is. It’s through the recognition of this fear, however, that the opportunity arises for things to begin to change.
I’ve come to understand and experience that, as humans, we have our built-in survival skills, and the desire to be accepted is definitely one of them. I also feel, however, that when it comes to being socially accepted and fitting others’ standards in order to be embraced and accepted, that I should know better.
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Hiding to Feel Safe?
Why am I so scared to let you see the real me? After sitting with that question for a while, I struggled to come up with some insightful, epiphany-esque realization, and therein I found the answer. It’s not that I care so much about fitting in socially and keeping my little demons to myself, per se. But rather, I realized that, since childhood, society has conditioned me to be fearful of embracing myself unconditionally and allowing people to see me for who I am.
And I know I’m not alone; it’s what many of us have known as far back as we can remember. We’re told to hide our emotions, be strong, and don’t rock the boat, and we listen, because it’s usually from our parents, teachers, and friends. Of course they believe they have our best interests in heart, and, in all fairness, they were only teaching us the same things they were taught themselves growing up. It’s a deeply rooted thing, this desire to be accepted by others, and the fear of being rejected — socially, physically, spiritually, and otherwise.
Then there’s the fear of facing ourselves for who we truly are: the good, the bad, and the really, really ugly... But until we’re willing to take a good hard look at both of the selves we believe ourselves to be — the person we present to the world and the person we hide at all costs, who’s rooted in fear — well, we’ll stay stuck exactly where we are.
Be Real, Not Perfect
You were born to be real, not to be perfect.
How humanity lost its connection to the root of our true essence, which is love, may never be known. However, it’s our inherent right to take that love back. And I’m not talking about the fluffy love-and-light kind of love, but rather the love that truly can’t be spoken of or explained (yeah, yeah, I know I’m trying to write about it right now, but you get what I’m trying to say).
As I sat in meditation this morning before writing this, I brought my attention to my heart center and mentally thanked God/ Universe/Spirit for being real, and for His/Her/Its Grace in my life. I mean, I really sat with that and acknowledged it...
A funny thing happened right after I made that acknowledgment — my entire body felt as though it were alive in a way that was almost too much to handle. I felt my cells dancing and my heart so full of love it was as if it were going to explode. All of a sudden, tears began streaming from my eyes, tears of a profound gratitude.
The Love That is Our True Nature
I share that to say this: There are a number of methods that facilitate healing and self-acceptance. Teachers like Pema Chödrön, Gangaji, Thich Nhat Hanh, and countless others have written amazing books on doing just that. When we allow the love that is our true nature to guide us, whether it’s through reading books by those authors, meditating, or whatever other practices we implement, we cannot fail.
Underground music icon Henry Rollins once said, “Scar tissue is stronger than regular tissue. Realize the strength, move on.” I’m quite sure that we all have our fair share of scar tissue. With that being said, what better place to start than there, and what better time to start than, like, right now?
*Subtitles by InnerSelf
©2014 Chris Grosso. Reprinted with permission
from Atria Books/Beyond Words Publishing.
All Rights Reserved. www.beyondword.com
Indie Spiritualist: A No Bullshit Exploration of Spirituality
by Chris Grosso.
A guidebook for today’s generation of spiritual misfits who crave a dogma-free path. Drawing on his punk rock roots and question-everything mindset, Chris Grosso offers a collection of stories and musings about his meandering journey of self-inquiry, recovery, and acceptance. He rejects all the hypocrisies and judgments of religion to show that spirituality is not something that only happens on meditation cushions or yoga mats, in sanghas, churches, mosques, temples, or synagogues. Brutally honest, bitingly humorous, and radically unconventional, his collection of vignettes shows what it means to live an authentic, open, and mindful life. Indie Spiritualist empowers you to accept yourself as you are, in all your humanity and imperfect perfection.
About the Author
Chris Grosso is an independent culturist, freelance writer, spiritual aspirant, recovering addict, and musician. He serves as spiritual director of the interfaith center The Sanctuary at Shepardfields and writes for various websites including Intent Blog, Huffington Post, Rebelle Society amongst others and is a monthly correspondent for the Where Is My Guru radio show. He created the popular hub for all things alternative, independent, and spiritual with TheIndieSpiritualist.com and continues the exploration with his debut book titled Indie Spiritualist. A self-taught musician, Chris has been writing, recording, and touring since the mid-1990s.