Key Extracts from Lecture 174
© The Pathwork® Foundation 1999
…how can you accept and like yourself without falling into the danger of self-indulgence and self-justification for the destructive traits that exist in all human beings, no matter how concealed they may be? Or, on the other side of this conflict, how can you confront and accept and admit those negative, destructive traits, those weaknesses for which you feel inadequate, those little selfishnesses and cruelties, those little vanities that often make you vindictive and unloving? How can you confront, accept, acknowledge them, and nevertheless not lose your self-respect? How can you not fall into the danger of destructive guilt and self-negation, of self-rejection and self-contempt?
Perhaps the only way you can now recognize your self-dislike and your underevaluation of your person will be indirectly. As I mentioned before, you can surely sense shyness, uncertainty, insecurity, apprehension about being rejected or criticized, about feelings of inferiority and inadequacy… Once you feel the general and vague feeling that you do not respect your person, that you lack esteem and appreciation for yourself as a human being, the next step must then be to set out to make this attitude toward yourself more specific. Once you really want to find it, you will do so although it may come quite indirectly and as though the knowledge of the specific reason for self-rejection came via an altogether different route. This is the way the path often works.
Any minute, the thinking may change and will then create new attitudes of behavior and actions, new feelings, new ways of being. And if it does not happen now, that alters nothing either, for one day it is bound to change because man's true nature must finally emerge. This knowledge of man's, or life's, true nature having to emerge sooner or later, changes everything. It changes your despair about yourself. It opens the door to knowing of your potentials, your possibilities for goodness regardless of how malicious you may be; for generosity regardless of how mean you may now be; for lovingness regardless of how selfish you may be; of strength and integrity regardless of how weak you may now be and how tempted to betray your best self; for greatness regardless of how petty you may now be. You look at nature and at any manifestation of life, and it is forever changing; it is forever dying and being born; it is forever expanding and contracting and pulsating. It is always moving and branching out, perpetually.
Since the very essence of life is movement and therefore change, this is what justifiably and realistically gives hope, no matter how hopeless a situation or a state of mind may appear to be.
…true self-esteem can of course only come by your sensing your capacities to love, to give of yourself. Yet this capacity cannot be known when you take it blindly for granted that it simply does not exist, when you believe that any other state than the one you express now is alien to you, intrinsically alien, and your real, true, final, fixed self is that which you dislike. As long as that is your case, you must be in a hopeless vicious circle. In order to come out of it, life in its essence must be understood. No matter how fixed it may appear, it is only one tiny part of the whole story, my friends. Underneath all these personality aspects you believe are fixed, final things, the fluid life exists – a life in which change is constant, in which feelings branch out in all directions spontaneously and wondrously forever self-renewing; a life in which there is vibrant pulsation, that is movement in itself; above all, a life in which you are free at any moment to think new and different thoughts that are the creators of a new and different life expression and personality.
Thus when you find yourself in an unhappy or hopeless state, question yourself, ‘Do I not have another possibility of reacting to this very same situation that seems to befall me out of nowhere, and which I chose to react to in a negative, destructive way, and to make myself hopeless about it, to complain about it, to feel angry about it?’ This choice is yours. Your anger and complaint against the world is wasted, for all the energy could do so much to build new life for you if it were used in the proper way. As I said to you so often and many years ago, you cannot change others, but you certainly can change your own attitudes and your thinking processes and styles. Then life offers its limitless possibilities to you. First, your thinking and your attitudes change; then the feelings follow suit; then your actions and reactions begin to respond to new spontaneous impulses. And this in turn brings forth new life experiences. The more you experience the chain reaction of this process, the more you also perceive that you are a living, moving, endlessly changing unit of life expression.
In this way, you will find it more and more possible to meet, acknowledge, admit, and accept anything in you, no matter how ugly, and never lose for one second the sense of your intrinsic beautiful liveness and of deserving your own esteem. This will be the springboard from which change will become possible. It will not only be a possibility in the abstract, but it will be an effective way of living day in and day out, a constantly growing movement.
…all the religious commands to love cannot be fulfilled until this dualistic split is healed and unification found so that self-liking is no longer confused with self-indulgence and honest self-confrontation need not bring self-loathing. You can find peace only when you can truly accept the ugliest in you and never lose sight of your intrinsic beauty.