Friday, April 01, 2005


Recognize, acknowledge, accept, choose, act. (I confess I'm beyond thrilled at figuring out how to do stuff in italics and bold! Please pardon me while I overuse these new-found talents until the novelty wears off.)

Acceptance is an issue with broad applications in the consciousness of self mastery, but here, we'll focus on the particular instance of acceptance around that which we have recognized and acknowledged in our process of introspection. At each stage of this process of becoming self responsible, we can be stopped in our tracks or continue forward. By looking at each of these stages carefully, we can help ourselves to make progress on areas in our life we are ready to transform.

So, back to the original example of the person who habitually makes put-down comments to someone he loves (and wants to love better!). In the process of introspection, he is able to recognize that he made a hurtful comment. Instead of dismissing it as a joke or blaming the other for being too sensitive, he also manages to acknowledge what he recognizes: ok, I did that, and it had such and such a result--she said she felt hurt. NOW WHAT? This is another major crossroads of the process. This fellow, upon acknowledging what he did, might conclude with force: "Boy, am I a jerk! I am so wrong, I can hardly believe myself--what a loser! Still, I never meant to hurt her feelings..." That is to say, a mixed bag of self judgment, guilt and denial. Such judgment is sufficient to bring the process to a screeching halt at this stage, much as dismissal and blame stopped it at the last stage. That is because judgment is a function of the victim consciousness, and whenever we are in the process of introspection and fall back into our victim consciousness, our budding consciousness of self mastery is actually nipped in the bud.

To continue with the process beyond acknowledgement, he has to actually accept himself, despite what he did, without judgment. Getting past judgment should never be mistaken to mean I advocate ignoring patterns of behavior and belief which are no longer serving us, even if those patterns seemed functional somehow in the past. Rather it is a simple fact that we cannot get somewhere else until we accept where we are. In this case, it would sound something like this: "Well, I can see I made such and such a comment, and that sure enough, so and so reports that hurt her feelings. Hmmmm. Ok, well, clearly I am capable of that at this point in time. I can see that. I would like to improve that, and I'll start here and now by simply saying, even though I have that pattern/tendency/behavior/belief, I accept myself as I am. That is where I am.

Many refuse to go to this step of the process, because it seems that whatever behavior is being inspected is unnacceptable, period, and anyone who does "that" deserves censure and approbation. What we are looking for is self-acceptance of the person, not the behavior. Sure, a given behavior may be "unnacceptable." But the person must be accepted, and self accepting, even with the pattern still intact. If we have to wait until the behavior is cleared before the person is rendered acceptable, it's going to be a long wait, since the process of eradicating the behavior is wholly undermined by the judgment of the person and their refusal to accept hi/rself! Judgment binds a person with guilt, and a self-judge is not taking responsibility for anything. Self judgment undercuts self responsibility. Self judgment holds a person to a standard of perfection which they simply haven't achieved yet. It is a function of the "idealized self," the false standard bearer within us. The idealized self is generated to make ourselves seem more accomplished, more mature, more perfect, than we have actually taken the time to become. And then when the fact that we are not all that we pretend to be is exposed, the judgement of the idealized self befalls us without mercy and chastises us for not being where we are not, and who we are not yet.

This is why acceptance is so potent an antidote to judgment, and so certain a key to progress in rooting out old patterns and beliefs. Acceptance finds us where we are. Acceptance is not over-anxious with the fact that we are "works in progress." It doesn't help to have a tennis pro teaching you strategies for increasing the velocity of your serve when you don't even know how to hold the racket. You need to accept the fact that you may not know the first thing about the game or have any developed skill in the area at all. When I accept myself where I am, I can identify what the next appropriate step for my development is. If I judge myself for not hitting the ball every time it is pitched to me, chances are I will never develop the skill to hit the ball at all. It would be just too discouraging a process if I couldn't accept missing the ball as part of the bigger picture. If I want to get from point A to point B, I first need to accept the fact that I am at point A. Judgment demands that I already be at point B and focuses on shaming me that I am not. Judgment blames me for getting it wrong, finds me guilty, condemns me for a given behavior, makes a perpetrator of me, and a victim of the other person. Judgment will leave you in the loop of recognition, acknowledgement, judgment, recognition, acknowledgment, judgment, etc., etc., etc. It is a trap of the victim consciousness. Acceptance will toss you out of that loop playback.

Accepting where I am is no mere intellectual expediency to get to the next step, either. I have to truly accept myself deeply and unreservedly. This level of acceptance may take some practice, as we face our universal tendency to judge over and over again. The emergence of the judge itself requires us to recognize, acknowledge and accept! That's right! We even have to accept ourselves as full of judgment for ourselves and others. As you initially engage in the process of introspection, you will start to see how nearly omnipresent is that inner judge, quick to condemn, shame and blame, but utterly useless in moving you into true responsibility. So the behavior of internal judgment needs to be rooted out in order to continue your progress. You don't have to completely eradicate it to begin to make progress. That would be impossible, in principle. You can rather just add "judgment" to your list of ongoing projects for which you are developing opposite habits. When you spot yourself judging yourself, repeat after me: "even though I still harbor self judgment, I deeply and completely accept myself."


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