Feeling comfortable in one’s own skin does not mean hiding what makes us uncomfortable, but having the courage to look at all of our personality traits and accept them. Only from this starting point can we walk through life in peace and open to all that it offers us.
Being a person is associated with the ability to be aware of the difference between what we are and what we think we should be, between how we behave and how we think we should do it, even between what we feel and what we intuit that it would be correct to feel.
But the real underlying problem that prevents us from feeling reconciled with ourselves is not found in this feeling of personal incoherence. Rather, it is found in the particular strategy we use when we try to resolve this incoherence, that is, when we build internal walls to keep those aspects of our personality with which we have a conflict at bay.
Since we can’t get rid of these unwanted traits, we end up rejecting them and trying to keep them locked up. But this strategy of denial and elimination is not exactly the best path to harmony with oneself.
WHY WE BUILD WALLS
If we take the trouble to look at it carefully, we will realize that people build great walls instead of building solid bridges between us. This way of behaving with our neighbors is a reflection of how we do with ourselves.
To understand how it is to build walls inside a person, I will tell you the experience of one of my patients, whom we will call Borja.
He told me that he was very worried because, after having started a friendship with a classmate from his English course, they had arranged to go for a walk that weekend. He was convinced that the moment they were alone and she found he was so shy, she would never want to go out with him again. He kept saying over and over that the date would be a fiasco and he was worried about having to meet her later in class. Borja was about to throw in the towel. He thought about giving his partner some apology to help him get out of trouble and miss the date, but he was too attracted to the girl to miss that opportunity. He couldn’t bear the idea that Claudia, that’s what she called herself, seeing him behave in a self-conscious and shy way. He wanted to feel and be safe in front of her. But the truth is that the more he wanted to feel resolved in that meeting, the more convinced he was that he could not be sure. Borja had decided to build a wall around his shyness and nervousness, and he did not want, for nothing in the world, his feelings to go beyond that wall.
He was trying to confine a part of himself to a psychological ostracism so that he could not betray him at the least desired moment. But he also knew that, no matter how high the walls of the wall with which he tried to hide his shyness, nothing guaranteed that his foundations would not shake and expose, in front of Claudia’s eyes, all the miseries that he tried to do hide.
TEAR DOWN THE WALLS AND BUILD BRIDGES
Borja asked me very anguished what he could do. He expected from me some technique or strategy that would allow him to keep those feelings that he was so ashamed of during the date very distant and controlled. I replied that the best strategy I could maintain was to tear down those walls that I was trying so hard to build and to allow herself to show herself to the girl with openness and transparency, just as she felt at that moment. If he felt shy and nervous, then let him show himself that way; even if at some point it seemed appropriate, he could explain to her how he felt.
I showed Borja the error of his approach: “You must not confuse the fact of unconditionally accepting your experience (your shyness, your nervousness) with resigning yourself to being a victim of these feelings that make you suffer so much. Acceptance has nothing to do with resignation. It is an act of courage, of respect for yourself and of hope to find the change that you long for ”.
I explained to Borja that, by trying to eliminate a part of our person, our experience, our psyche, what we achieve is precisely the opposite effect: we make that undesirable aspect much stronger. Therefore, it is necessary that each of us first learn to reconcile with himself if he wishes to reconcile with others, with the world, with life. And, for this, we need to develop an attitude of unconditional acceptance towards each and every aspect that makes us up.
Rather than building retaining walls that only divide us internally, we need to build bridges of understanding with each and every facet of our being. So, if we want to clean the world, we must first start by sweeping our own house. It was already expressed by the philosopher Confucius in the fourth century BC. C .: “If we are not reconciled and at peace with ourselves, we cannot reconcile with others and guide them in the search for peace.”
STOP REJECTING OURSELVES TO RECONCILE WITH OURSELVES
Like Borja, we have all felt the temptation to cloister behind a psychological wall some aspect of our personality that we did not consider appropriate. We allow ourselves the luxury of establishing borders in our psyche and norms according to which we establish which aspects of our being are suitable for life and which are not, which feelings are worthy and which are not, which thoughts are acceptable and which are not. And not We realize that the only unworthy feeling we harbor in our hearts may well be the one that leads us to reject ourselves.
Only if we accept our character in its entirety, we can manifest an attitude of strong commitment to ourselves, and that will allow us to feel internally reconciled.
This attitude implies giving room entirely, with the mind and the heart, to all our personal aspects, even those that, in principle, could be unpleasant. And it is that these aspects also exist and are part of us, which is why we must show them a deep respect.
It is necessary to establish bridges of understanding with each and every one of the facets of our person, since with the rejection we will only manage to lead ourselves to a sterile suffering.