Without a Model of Perfection

by Friends of Godwin


One issue which I have been encountering when working with meditators over the years is the problem of self-hatred, people who don’t seem to like themselves. I’ve often wondered what are the possible reasons why there should be this aspect of not liking oneself. There are two possible reasons for that.

One is that it may be related to our childhood conditioning, where we are given models or ideas as to how we should behave, so there can sometimes be a conflict between what you are and what you should become. And when you are unable to achieve the model that is given to you, it is possible that you can develop hatred towards yourself, to see yourself as a failure.

Another way this self-hatred may arise is again related to the way children are brought up, where sometimes there is a tendency on the part of parents or teachers to point out only the shortcomings and mistakes that one commits. So this may also generate self-hatred and a tendency to disparage oneself. And this can really prevent people from experiencing lightness and joy in their practice.

I use meditation of loving-kindness to work with this condition, where it is psychologically interesting that in this meditation one begins with oneself, learning to be friendly, gentle, tender and kind to oneself, just accepting oneself as one is, without a model of perfection which can be imposed on one.