The Hubris of Low Self Esteem
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Fear kills creativity. Chokes it's slender, naked body. Leaves its blood dripping down the walls.
Fear blocks our ability to get our work done and then to get it in front of the public.
Some of our fears are shared. Firstly, of course, fear of the Grim Reaper. Almost everyone fears death.
Working down the list from there: most humans also fear pain. Disease. Loss - of children, wives, husbands, farms, legs, houses, contests, money and our minds. We fear natural disasters, especially now with the terrors of the climate crises. We fear poverty. Homelessness. Fires. Guns. Accidents. Monsters under the bed. Gangs. Mean teachers. Alcoholic tirades. Drug-induced psychosis. Small spaces. Big spaces. Being alone. Being in crowds. Crossing bridges. Divorce. Women. Men. Heights. Caves. Elevators. Deserts. Nukes. Torture. Prison. Auditions. Public speaking. Job interviews. Having a baby. Going to the dentist. Flying in planes. Riding in boats. Chemical warfare. Conventional bombs. The ocean; the desert; cracks in the sidewalk. Rabid dogs, grizzly bears, the number 13, witches, elevators, psychics, gypsies. The police. The Marines. Racists. Mice, rats, snakes and spiders!
Whew! You get my point: there's someone out there who's afraid of any thing you can think of-- this one of the dark, that one of high heel shoes -- not to mention the people who fear something really GOOD might happen to them like career success or falling in love!
Fear is often referred to as, 'The Opposite of Love.' At first I found that counter-intuitive. Wouldn't HATE be the opposite of Love? Apparently not.
Think about someone you had a mad crush on but couldn't approach because you were scared s/he wouldn't accept your overtures. You could deemed unworthy. Unattractive. Unsexy. Unintelligent. Undesirable. Unlovable,
That's a lot of "UN's. I wonder what the formal definition of "UN' is. Shall I consult The Oracle of Google for us?
"Un": a prefix meaning NOT.
". .. .freely used as an English formative, giving negative or opposite force to adjectives and their derivative adverbs and nouns such as, unfair; unfelt; unseen; unfitting; unformed; unheard-of and so on). Less freely used in other nouns (unrest; unemployment, etc.)
UN. The UNdesirable prefix! The prefix that UNdermines all the good feelings we have about ourselves
UN. The UNsafe black hole of the linguistic universe! (My definition.)
Fear keeps us on the sidelines, protected from the perils of intimate relationship where we could be deeply hurt again.
You've probably experienced this....Perhapssomeone you adored from afar approached you and you started to perspire and pretended you had to go home and rearrrange your sock drawer? In spite of your stutter, your poor grades and that chip in your front tooth, s/he made it obvious s/he LIKED you -- as in "like like" -- but you couldn't really believe it because in you ego-centered view of the world, you ranked yourself lower on the food chain than the person asking you out.
I said, "ego-centered view" because the thought that we are unworthy of someone is actually a thought born from our ego, not our spirit. It is the ego who compares and contrasts, and in this case, it's a kind of HUBRIS.
Am I saying that someone who feels awful about herself is actually being arrogant? Well . . . in a way. . .Yes.
Writers and artists who have worked with me as a coach know that I am an artist interested in spiritual psychology and from that perspective, consider creativity to be one of the essential qualities of the Life Force. The Source that births and sustains us all.
Principle One in my personal cosmology is that All That Is is sacred and connected - in a Unity. Yes - this is a common idea among some religious and many "spiritually-minded" people. But for me it is not just an idea -- something I read in a book or learned from a teacher TELLING me this is so. The intellect is incapable of experiencing the Unity of All Things in the manner I am talking about now because it simply doesn't function in the proper manner. The unity I am referring to must be experienced with a different part of you than your intellect. Another part of your mind, if you will.
But even if you have NOT experienced this yet and have only heard about it -- just play along for a moment, ok?
I think we are expressing hubris when we compare ourselves to others, even when we rank ourselves as lower than they.
The paradigm of, "Compare and Contrast" is fine if you are in 6th grade and asked to write an essay on Robert Frost VS Carl Sandberg. Or perhaps doing more advanced intellectual work in a university or Science lab. It's NOT fine when applied to the world of our personal relationships. Comparing and contrasting is an ego game. It can drive someone to the depths of despair and worse -- to jealousy, paranoia, bullying, manipulation, murder or suicide. This is because it is WRONG Thinking.
Many of the dominant ideas defining REALITY in our society are wrong-thinking and therefore unhealthy. The idea. for example, that some of us are 'winners' and others 'losers', that some people are "Somebody" and others "a nobody" -- these are sick ideas. Exclusive rather than inclusive. Parochial and small - minded. And they are sick because they are out of sync with the most basic spiritual principle: that Life is a Unity.
NOBODY is "a NOBODY". Every person is a "Somebody".
To divide people into two groups is a trick of the ego and a sign that the person doing the dividing has not yet experienced the Unity underlying all things -- the unity we can all experience directly, without a guru, a priest, a philosophy, a spiritual practice, a particular belief, a tab of lysergic acid or a gulp of ayahuasca! The nature of the Source of life and your intrinsic connect to it (the truth of your deepest Self) can dawn on you at any point -- even when you're just sitting under a tree.
Then everything changes! We see through the illusion that the perceptions of our 5 physical senses is all there is to Reality. We see through the illusion of death. We see that the entire physical world is an expression of spiritual causes. That forms flow from thoughts. That we are far, far more than our physical bodies. That our mind - as an interpreter of sensations, feelings and thoughts - CREATES our world. That the world we thought was OUTSIDE us is, in fact, INSIDE us. That we are creating both a personal and a collective Reality at all times. That we are part of a limitless, ever-evolving multi-verse and 100 per cent responsible for our portion. That our portion will affect the Whole. That we don't have to be, do or have anything just because someone else tells us we do. That underneath the social conditioning, we are already perfect. That every particular life form from rock to human, insect to eagle, ocean to star, is an expression of ONE SOURCE -- a unified field of energy that differentiates into countless forms in a tumultuous process of continual creation -- always and forever evolving.
We also see that all forms are of innate and equal value. It's only social conditioning that convinces us that humans are more valuable than other forms -- or that some people are more valuable than other people.
No, not everyone is equally accomplished nor equally aware. That is for certain! But everyone is equally valuable.
I include animals, birds, fish, insects, plants, coral, rock, rivers, stars, planets and so on in this, because everything has consciousness even if you can not yet personally intuit how to communicate with it. Each form of awareness, from rock to sea to insect to bird has its particular language -- and it takes sensitivity to tune in to it. To speak with it and to hear its response clearly.
Maybe you don't have "a green thumb" -- but you can observe that others DO. Those people communicate with plants in a more expanded way than you do, just as a Horse Whisperer has a "feel" you don't have with horses. But when we fall pray to the mental game of ranking and competing, we shut down these kinds of sensitive responses to the world around us.
The stench of this kind of thinking starts in our regard for ourselves. If caught by the ego, it's as if we are reproaching the LIFE FORCE itself:
"Yoo hoo! GOD? UNIVERSE? MOTHER NATURE? Whatever your name is...Yeah! I'm talkin' to YOU! Listen: I appreciate that You created really amazing stuff. The rain forest? Fabulous! Panthers? Wow. The Grand Canyon, fjords, Himalayas...really amazing work. Powerful. BEAUTIFUL!
But You did screw up once. You made ME --and I'm a big fat mess.
Let me share a personal story that illustrates being caught by the ego-centricity of fear.
Many years ago, I was approached in a Theatre lobby by a famous film actor. He spoke to me elegantly. No creepiness. He simply said he admired me and was interested in taking me to dinner. Imagine! An intelligent, sensitive, handsome, sexy, charming, funny, wealthy, talented, accomplished and famous man asked me to dinner.
And I ran.
Why? Because he was a 10 and I was a 7 at best. Or so I thought in my inner ego-based Ranking System. He was a movie star. He was out of my league. He was too good looking for me. I was too "UN" fo for him. UNknown. UNbeautiful. UNimportant....UNworthy.
He must just want sex, my ego said -- and then he will toss me aside, another notch on his Film Star bedpost. I bet that bedpost looks like a termite festival hit town! He's probably not what he pretends to be. . . kind and sweet and fun. He's probably a predatory type who knows how to ACT sincere but is a player who brags about his conquests to his buddies. He is an actor, after all! (So was I but I chose to forget that.) He could be....ACTING! I'm definitely NOT going out with a LIAR like HIM!
This is how my wounded self-image and insecure sexuality projected itself onto that man. Have you ever done something like that?
If so, you'll know what it feels like to shut down our possibilities in an unconscious effort to protect ourselves from being hurt again. I say 'again' because if we had never been hurt in the first place, we would most likely still be as open as an innocent child.
But most of us aren't living in that universe. Most of us have been wounded somewhere along the line, by a specific person, by several people, or by the culture we grew up in with its shaming messages. We are "bad" or "wrong" because we are a girl, or Jewish, or gay, bi, trans, black, mulatto, asian, hispanic, short, fat, lame, shy, indian, poor, slutty, stupid, pimply,... You fill in the blank. After those false beliefs take hold of our psyches, we try to protect ourselves from further anguish by staying in our comfort zone ~ even if it's at the cost of being fully alive. In effect, we are still living in the past...
Self-hate makes us avoidant, whereas hating someone else is fully engaging! Hate actually ties you to a person. You're not free. You keep stoking the fires of rage by thinking about the person you hate, imagining HE is responsible for your misery. It's ALL HIS FAULT !
Hating is being obsessively over-involved with the object of your emotions. It spins you out into fantasies of vengeance. Your personality shifts like someone in a horror movie. Before you met this man, you were a well-mannered young lady with a Harvard education, a high-paying job, great looks, good health and an ocean view from your perfect house in Santa Monica, After he dumps you, you discover you're actually a boozy "HO" who uses the F-word until the veins in her forehead pop -- a woman who bites the tops off beer cans. You fantasize about killing him -- and not softly! Maybe you'll start by tying him to a kitchen chair. Didn't you hear Sean Penn did that to Madonna? Sounds like a good idea. Then you'll shave those gorgeous curls off his arrogant head. Hopefully he'll start to cry like a little bitch and you can record it all on your phone camera and post it to Twitter.
Nya Nya Nya ~ Nya Nya -- SUCKAAAAAAAA!
But stop! As the kids say, "You're trippin', Dawg!" Hatred takes your body and shakes it like a rag doll in the hands of a devil-possessed 8-year-old having a tantrum. Her head spins around 360 degrees on her neck and she vomits guacamole all over you before tossing you against the wall of her little pink bedroom.
In short: hatred makes you certifiably insane.
People sometimes say it's Love that makes you insane, but it's not love that does that -- it's LACK of love. Not from others as much as lack of love for ourselves. This is what inspires insane projections.
The emptiness (and ego-centricity) that makes us lay expectations on lovers and partners. The needy demands we insist they meet so we can feel less alone, more important, more recognised -- and finally, maybe even "loved".
Hatred is ugly - yes - but it's still a way of ENGAGING, a way to maintain connection with the person you passionately despise.
If we want to break free from these kinds of unhealthy patterns, we need to admit that what we're really yearning for is connection. And that, if we have no real self-love at the center of our psyche, we will accept connection in any form we can get it -- even hatred.
Love provides an antidote to that illness of thinking that someone else is responsible for how we feel. This just isn't true, no matter how many people still act as if it is. We hear it all the time, don't we? So-and-so complains about So-and-so. Beware of the sentences that begin:
You are so... He is so.... She is so....They are so....
If we believe our experience is determined by what someone ELSE does, says or thinks, we are giving our power away -- the power over OUR OWN MIND. Many great teachers have spoken about this trap, but since so few people are living the alternative, it bears repeating. Personally, I'm still working on this one every day, not preaching from the mountaintop, but down in the valley just trying to get a few signatures on my petition for more love in the world.
Anyhow, yes...Fear makes us avoidant.
In ART, avoidance means the work you dream of creating doesn't get started, doesn't get developed, doesn't get completed, doesn't get produced, doesn't get sold.
If you speak to honest writers and artists they will admit that for every project that was completed there are SEVERAL in their bottom drawer gathering dust. Sometimes the process of trying was enough and gave a gift to the artist. But often, not completing her project or not being able to share it with the public -- leaves the artist heart-broken. I speak from experience. Sometimes she will even fall physically ill from the disappointment of artistic "still births".
Whatever the qualities are of the stream of fire
that flows through you from your unique connection to the universe when you free yourself from the hubris of low self - esteem, the 'best' art you will ever make is your own.
After a lifetime of creating various forms of "Art" - I have concluded that the mysterious alchemy of channeling the creative stream that writes our song or paints our pictures, so that we need no effort at all, really only happens when we surrender to something 'greater than ourselves'. We KNOW when we are surrendered because we feel it. We feel the power beyond our separate small ego. And we know we have to relinquish the ego's need to control us in order to flow with that power. We have to take a break from fear -- if not abandon it altogether.
Part of that process is dropping what I call, "the hubris of low self-esteem."