Disliking ourselves is not humility
Every culture glamorizes certain models of beauty, wealth, ability. Many people compare themselves negatively with those models, deem themselves inferior and inadequate, and even start loathing themselves.
Even when we start pursuing a spiritual path, especially a spiritual path that has lofty models of purity, we may start disliking ourselves if we are unable to emulate those models. Additionally, because saintly teachers consider themselves to be fallen, we may imitate them artificially by equating our self-loathing with humility and wallow in self-pity.
How can we avoid inflicting such unnecessary psychological damage on ourselves? We need to focus on the most fundamental spiritual reality: we all are parts of God; a spark of divinity animates each one of us (Bhagavad-gita 15.07). If we aspire to love our Lord, then we need to love him inclusively. That means we need to love his creation and his creatures too. And we are one of his creations. Most importantly, among all his creations, the creation that we can shape the most is we ourselves. Only when we give due respect to ourselves as creations of the Lord can we actually work to deal with our shortcomings.
Giving due regard to ourselves doesn’t mean we become narcissists or that we keep patting ourselves on the back. Steering clear of both pampering ourselves and condemning ourselves, we take responsibility to bring out our best. How? By encouraging ourselves and correcting ourselves, as necessary. Indeed, we see our proper treatment of ourselves as integral to our relationship with our Lord; our devotion leads to a healthy sense of self-esteem; and our humility frees us from self-consciousness to focus on Krishna consciousness. Then we can offer our self, or rather offer our best self, to him as an expression of our devotion.
Don’t dislike yourself, for you are disliking the Creator whose creation you are.
Think it over:
- Why might we dislike ourselves in general and in spiritual life too?
- How might we mistakenly embrace self-loathing as a sign of spiritual advancement?
- How does devotion foster healthy self-esteem?
15.07: The living entities in this conditioned world are My eternal fragmental parts. Due to conditioned life, they are struggling very hard with the six senses, which include the mind.
To know more about this verse, please click on the image