Being uncomfortable with who we are is human nature. Our self-awareness includes the ability to judge not only the outside world but ourselves in the world. In this judge role, we are able to see and decide what we call “me” as good or bad. This ability is valuable in understanding how to nurture our lives and those in our lives.
Like many of our abilities, this self-awareness can go too far in either direction. Some people judge themselves as flawless to the point of hurting others without a sense of what they’ve done. It’s possible to remain unaware of others’ feelings and become a painful experience for others while enjoying a sense of impunity from pain. We’ve all been selfish at times, and ignored all but our own desires and feelings.
At the other extreme, some people judge themselves as flawed permanently. This is a core problem in relationships. When we assume a mental identity of not being good enough, we automatically bring some part of that atmosphere to those around us, even when we don’t mean to be doing so. Coming home at night to the family under a cloud of gloom or disappointment can grow from being overly critical of our feelings, actions, and thoughts.
We have all learned from our fathers to judge ourselves. Our fathers’ teaching came from what they thought of themselves. It’s very likely they were off center at times, judging themselves harshly, exposing us to their inaccurate self-impressions which morphed into our own.
Fathers who consider themselves somehow superior and removed from their families carry the impression to their wives and children that they are not important enough to be accepted and understood. This may have appeared as both isolation and aggression.
Fathers who considered themselves inferior taught a similar pattern of isolation to their children. These men used a relationship as a way of protecting themselves from their wives’ and children’s difficulties with both isolation and aggression.
Between isolation and aggression lives the real you. Our fathers, if they felt superior or inferior were a bit lopsided. Hopefully, this human tendency didn’t leave too deep an impression on us, and we have been able to recognize that we all are both superior and inferior in certain ways. If our fathers allowed vulnerability to work itself out in them and their relationships with us, we didn’t have to deal with the fear of isolation and aggression as many people do.
If your father left your life, stayed out of your life, disapproved of your life, or bullied your life, you are still alive and able to adjust back to that space of acceptance between isolation and aggression. You are the potential to be compassionate to anyone, starting with you and your history with your dad.
If your father didn’t get to the vulnerability in him, the place which is flexible and accepting enough to be both strong and kind, then you have the opportunity to continue that exploration. You can do it on his behalf with you, your wife, your kids. You can also do it with him regardless of whether he is still alive.
When you are truly interested in finding the deepest you possible, you will automatically spend more time observing your thoughts and feelings as guides to bringing compassion to your family. As you know yourself you will be teaching them they are worthy of kindness and love, because that what you bring them. This ‘real’ you is a constant gift, always here, always ready to be shared. If you didn’t get to meet your ‘real’ father, it’s time to look around right where you are and experience the joy of being alive.
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