Self Appreciation


Depending on how we grew up, we may not be very good at appreciating our own achievements. We may need external recognition, or we may be shy to express our sense of achievement. We may have learned, possibly young enough for it to be a pre-conscious-memory, to self-soothe or seek external soothing. Neither of these things is necessarily bad but can mean we are not good at sharing our experiences, either negative or positive, with others. It may mean we embellish these things, embellishment that can be construed by others as lying. We may embellish because we are ashamed or are shy of seeking support which can look like lying to others, it may be an unconscious expression but perceived by others as intentional. Embellishment can be either understating or overstating a situation or experience. Many times we do this to avoid shame in either direction. It may be we have done something poorly and we want to justify why it didn’t go the way we wanted, or, understating how it went which could be seen as humbleness, but also denies oneself the pleasure of sharing the joy of the experience with ourselves and others. Those who learned to self-soothe will likely underplay, and those that did not, will likely seek greater approval than is justified. It is important in both cases to appreciate the situation as it is and feel the joy of success without over or under embellishment.

You see, there are things we do that are unconscious, and things that even if we become aware of them we are not sure why we do them. This is where pre-conscious memory comes into play, there are things we learned from our primary caregivers, when we had no one else to rely on to survive, that taught us many instinctual behaviours. Our parents may have been taught to ignore a babies cry, or to attend to a babies cry… there have been many schools of thought over the years and, likely, trusting in parental instinct meant relying, at least partially, on the learned behaviours of the parent. As you can see, this can be complicated. But, there is hope as it all really relies on consciousness. How conscious are you of your responses at any given time? Are there times where you wished you said more? Then practice saying more. Are there times where you wished you had just stopped talking and listened? Then practice listening. Are there things you wished you had shouted out to all of those who would listen? Then do so! Are there times where you have felt you shouted too much? Next time keep it closer to yourself and quietly savour it for yourself. This may sound ridiculously simple. Try it though, you will find it takes many attempts to say what you want or hold your tongue… making what is unconscious conscious feels awkward, uncomfortable even but the experience of opening and understanding that comes with this process is worth it.

Warning, seeking to understand your unconscious responses you may find the following side effects: You may find you stop blaming others for their responses to you. You may find people responding to you more honestly than you have experienced before. You may find yourself feeling vulnerable. You may find others respond to you in a vulnerable way. You may find people are willing to support you. You may find that others behave in a loving manner toward you. Proceed with appropriate caution and self-moderation.


Love yourself, ‘to be sure to rejoice’

Featured image: ‘illusion of consciousness’ by AudreyBobir on Deviantart

secondary image: ‘Soar’ by Forgottenex on Deviantart

Daring Greatly


So, a while ago I wrote about the dangers of, or concerns around, striving for perfection. I don’t think I made clear that I believe, think, feel that recognising our imperfection and striving to be authentic and continue the active process of becoming ourselves is the key to our ability to enjoy our lives to the fullest and express who we are with meaning and therefore satisfaction. I think these are the things that lead us beyond Maslow’s hierarchy of needs into a new realm of more holistic needs that are better suited to humanity’s way of being, within the current culture, and may well lead to a revolution, perhaps even enough of one to start to change our evolution.

To the evolutionary biologist, evolution occurs over a long periods of time (millions of years kind of time). The smallest amount of time most are willing to suggest this has measurably occurred in humans and other species (referred to as rapid evolution, contemporary evolution or evolution within an ecological timescale) is within 50-100 generations. In today’s worldwide culture we tend to use the word ‘evolution’ rather loosely when what we often mean to reflect is a paradigm shift in an individual’s experience (as opposed to an entire species genetic direction). Yet, there is increasing evidence that species of many kinds are passing on learning to their young which is enabling them to enter their world with greater advantage and adaptation and, depending on your definition of evolution in biological terms, this is starting to influence the scientific worlds take on evolution. The recognition that evolution is not just genetic adaptation but is beginning to be seen as 50% genetics and 50% environment (or some similar measurement) is becoming more commonplace.

Returning to the idea of ‘perfection’, in terms of evolutionary biology homo-sapiens have never been perfect. There is a bit of a trend currently to idealise different periods of our evolutionary history such as pre-agriculture or the paleolithic period. The truth is that there is no time in human history that humans were perfectly in harmony with our environment or perfect in any particular way. “Humans are not at the pinnacle of any evolutionary ladder… Evolution is always working from existing parts… Organisms are not in ‘perfect harmony’ it is more that evolution just has to be good enough.” (Prof. Marlene Zuk, 2014). How many of us feel that we are ‘good enough’? I wonder if we started to think that we were just good enough if that might help many of us fill the void of doubt, fear and shame that drives us toward worthlessness, self-loathing, overthinking, over analysing, anxiety and depression…

In terms of religion or philosophical belief, without getting into great depth across multiple belief systems, there is a strongly familiar repetition that we are moving towards rediscovering, finding or reaching for perfection. Do our religious beliefs ever suggest that we were born imperfect? That our road leads us towards authenticity and that this is the greatest honesty we can achieve? It is easier to lose ourselves to a saviour that will cleanse us of our imperfections than to take the more honest and seemingly harder road toward just being our imperfect selves. It is easier to succumb to addictions, be they substance or material based, than accept our vulnerability. As researcher Brené Brown asks, in her infamous TEDex talk, how many of you see vulnerability in yourself as weakness yet when you see someone else expose their vulnerability you see courage.

The road to happiness, it starts with allowing yourself to be vulnerable. To be yourself, not who you think others think you should be but who you really are. It takes great risk and potentially terrifying honesty. In a world where we are told to ‘harden up’ or buy into the consumerist/capitalist idealism, and swallow the culture, politics or pseudo-psychology that is sold to us in bite size nominalisations, what we might really need to do is allow ourselves to be courageously vulnerable so that we can begin to accept our imperfections, feel worthy and experience innovation, creativity, real connection and happiness.


word errant satiety image courtesy of alltelleringet on deviantART