“If you had a person in your life treating you the way you treat yourself, you would have gotten rid of them a long time ago.”
—Cheri Huber, Zen Teacher
The darkest shadow, the most extreme place of the light denied, is the realm of self-annihilation. Over time, our cultural training, traumatic experiences, and unskillful self-understanding allows for an accumulation of seemingly inconsequential self-negations. As this happens, our self-deprecating postures turn from charming social quirks into self-punishing jabs, which increasingly cut to the bone.
Learning to discern self-destructive influences takes courage and perseverance. They come in many forms, including substances, lifestyles and relationships. They disguise themselves as what we long for, as belonging, empowerment or a way out. They co-opt our body-minds with their narratives of justifications, leaving us feeling at their mercy. In such a state, the only way back to self-love is revolution.
A Self Revolution
If we can remove ourselves from the circumstances of negative influence, we will have taken the first significant step towards reclaiming our lives. That said, it will likely have been the easiest step. Finding better outer circumstances, as challenging as that can be, is nothing compared to the processes we must undertake to correct our inner circumstances. To move from a place of self negativity to self-nurturing can be a radical move.
The self-negating voices arise with certainty and conviction. They aim to tear us down either through self-criticism or by spurring us into further actions that cause us to recoil at our own will. We may take many approaches to enduring such a path, some that thrive on action, some that rely on stillness, and many that combine the two. No matter which path we find or that finds us, we must commit. Only perseverance sees us to a new dawn.
The Darkness Heralds the Dawn
As we learn to be with our self-denying energies, at some point, we may have a change of attitude from survival to interest. Persevering through suffering, we begin to discover what our suffering is made of. We see the strange and immaculate threads of experiences and perspectives that brought us to this place. We gain a deep appreciation not only for the grace and will to claw our way out but for having had the experience itself, for it has brought us self-knowledge we value as much as our new life.
Such self-honesty opens the way for a life of hard-won integrity. This isn’t the everyday integrity of telling the truth, though it includes that too. This is the integrity, the wholeness and undivided self-love that we had to wrestle with our inner predators to reclaim. That which has not killed us has made us stronger and able to see the common threads of suffering through all lives. We stand as a demonstration of the possible.
Suggested Divination Meanings
Am I in some way beating myself down rather than supporting myself?
Am I self-punishing to keep others from blaming me?
In what way can I stop adding to my challenges?
In what ways has my humility become self-deprecating negativity?
What behavior do I justify with cynicism even though it is destructive?
In what way am I beating on myself that I feel “normal” to do?
What beliefs about myself do I hold that are representative of my inner child denied?
In what way can I become the calm eye at the center of my inner storm?
What actions can I take to discharge my aggression in ways that release it without harming anyone?
What negative voices in me have momentum in my life at present?