Comfortable with Ourselves

The more comfortable we are with ourselves, the more comfortable we are with others.” —Kevin Manders

What does it mean to be more comfortable with ourselves? In the past, for me it meant picking out the things that I liked about myself and feeling good about that.

However, the deeper I looked into “myself”, the more I came across things that I didn’t like – I didn’t like my quick anger, I didn’t like feeling shame, I didn’t like being judgemental… the list went on and on. So how do I become comfortable with the items that are on my ‘negative list’? That is where the process of inner work comes in to play.

It is a well-know principle of psychology that what we don’t like in ourselves becomes something that we cannot accept in others. For example, if I can’t deal with my own anger, I won’t be comfortable with yours. In my own practice, as I explore what is prompting anger to arise in me, I discover old wounds and deep feelings that need to be attended to. I begin to understand and take responsibility for my old patterns of reactivity and I become less driven by them.

When I am able to make friends with my own underlying emotions of fear, shame, or whatever, your expression of anger becomes more nuanced for me. On the days when I am feeling good about myself, I can become curious about what potentially lies beneath the surface of your anger? In this way I then become more tolerant and compassionate. I become more comfortable with you. I can begin to see all of you, not just your anger. We become just two people caught up in an old dance.

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