In my 12-16-2018 post I was looking at physical identity: with so much of our identity based on how we look, and with culture setting impossible standards for appearances, we learn to constantly judge ourselves as having the “wrong” body. By extension, we then judge everyone else. Our judgements help to create and maintain the culture that sets the standards that oppress us.

Culture is a collective force. It exerts pressure on not just looks, but also on behaviors and experiences. By continually measuring ourselves against some fantasy world called “normal”, we will see ourselves as deficient, as unworthy. Many of us are trying to be compassionate toward others. This is a wonderful goal. But we can only get there by also being compassionate towards ourselves. As Jack Kornfield says, “If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete.”

How can I be more compassionate with myself? How can I stop comparing myself to everyone else? All of this comparing is a function of ego. The ego is the Me-First part of myself that is always trying to stand out and be better than someone else. It is an evolutionary survival mechanism. But it is only part of the picture. If I can step back and see my ego in the context of my whole being, which includes my spirit, I can see that my spirit is larger than my ego. Certainly, I need my body in order to exist. But I only have this body for a lifetime, while my spirit is timeless. My body is a vehicle then, not for social consumption, but a vehicle for my spirit to walk the earth.

“Don’t be ashamed to be a human being, be proud!
Inside you one vault after another opens endlessly.
You’ll never be complete, and that’s as it should be.”
~Tomas Transtromer