We don’t have to live out of our cherished self-images. We don’t have to appear to be calm or clear, or to look “spiritual.” Instead, can we acknowledge who we are—including all of our so-called shortcomings? Can we give up our ideals of perfection?
The constant effort it takes to try to fulfill these self-images is not only an ongoing drain on our energy but also the source of much of our anxiety. Without our self-images, we feel exposed, both to ourselves and to others; we feel that if the truth about us were known, we would be seen as worthless, or, at least, as not enough.
The alternative to living out of these self-images is to honestly acknowledge ourselves as we are; to let whatever comes up be observed and felt, with no added judgments; to watch the many ways we present ourselves; and to reflect, without thinking. This is one way we can bring kindness to ourselves, just as we are, no longer making so much of an effort to present ourselves in some special way. Needing to be special keeps us solidly stuck in unhappiness. So whether we’re at work, walking down the street, or visiting with friends, we could watch the need to be special, notice the selfimages we’re holding onto, and feel what that feels like. — Ezra Bayda From Reflect, Without Thinking