None of us live up to our beliefs about what our behavior should be. Otherwise we’d all fit into slim clothes, exercise just the right amount, always be honest on our taxes, be patient with others and ourselves, and have an impeccable spiritual life. And that’s just for starters.
There exists a gap between our ideals and our behavior, and how we handle that gap matters a great deal in terms of how we feel about ourselves.
What are the possibilities? Let’s see…most of use one of three strategies.
Strategy 1: Telling ourselves that the gap doesn’t exist…maintaining our ideals and saying that we meet them. In this strategy we tell ourselves that we are a “much better than average” person who realistically has very few flaws. Of course, we don’t fool those close to us, as well as most other people. Turning a blind eye towards ones own faults is a practice that we all participate in. In some circles, particularly fanatical ones, this strategy can be a favorite.
Strategy 2: Ignoring your ideals and saying such a state of living doesn’t exist. Lowering our ideals isn’t such a good idea either. We can tell ourselves that what we intuitively know to be true isn’t, but deep down we don’t believe ourselves and are left to live with our own internal condemnation.
Strategy 3: Acknowledging our ideals, and being honest about our lackings. This is a tricky thing to do without becoming overwhelmed by our failures. However, we can live with ourselves honestly–when our efforts are spent in growing toward our ideals.
People will like us more when we are honest about ourselves, and we will like ourselves more also. This key to this strategy is to accept where we are in the present without being content to stay there. Spirituality is important, and we have to learn to live gracefully with the tension of our incompleteness.
Patience with self and others, and a good dash of humility, will work wonders. Gratitude for being loved in our flawed state will replace defensiveness, and life becomes more peaceful. Not all-peaceful (that is another ideal), but more peaceful than it would be otherwise. 🙂