In this world of fragmentation and disconnection, many are suffering the ugly duckling syndrome. We are trying hard to make sense of who we are. Where do I fit in? Who can see me for who I truly am? What is the origin of my unique human experience?
We are often washed up on distant spiritual shores, and abandoned on precarious emotional cliffs, alone. What happened to the ugly duckling's parents, the two beautiful swans? Did they die? Did they loose their offspring by accident? Were they in pain and left the hapless creature behind in hope that some loving animal will find and nurture the sweet loveable thing?
Who will notice and love the tender Soul hiding in the dark corners of my inner chambers? Afraid and hurt, we tend to build such impenetrable walls around ourselves that no one can reach us. Not just that, we equip the barricades with dangerous weapons to injure and kill anyone who might come a touch too close: in hate, or in love. Most of the time we don't even know what is scarier: the wounds of unrequited love, or the chronic inflammation of profound loneliness.
Beware: We hurt others the most when we ourselves are in pain. Suffering is a consequence of the state of victimhood. When we loose our inner balance, we become victims. Some remain in this mode; some defy it by adopting the behavior of the aggressor. How do we find the healthy equilibrium anew? By standing upright in full empathic awareness of me and you.
Compassion. Compassion and understanding are the only reliable companions that can help alleviate human suffering. If we have the strength to nod welcome to their assistance. If we are conscious enough to notice them walking along us on the path.
Loving kindness towards ourselves, first and foremost, please. Oh, what a challenge this is for everyone. I mean, to live in the genuine sense of worthiness. Yes, I deserve a better life. Yes, I deserve to work in respectful and appreciative environment and get paid well. Yes, I deserve to live in a wonderful community. Yes, I deserve to enjoy an amazing intimate relationship. Never to the detriment of others, but always supporting and encouraging fellow human beings. Ah, the lost art of mindful communication. Thank you, Thich Nhat Hanh for the little booklet The Art of Communicating, full of much needed and practical advice.
If you think that you have already mastered the art of self-love, examine deeper. What about all the barely noticeable weaknesses and the almost forgotten mistakes that you have mindlessly swept under the pretty rug in your attic, perhaps even right in the middle of a living room? Do you dare to look at the remnants with open eyes? Do you have the courage to pick up the relics of shame and embarrassment one by one, accept them, and gently clear them away? Can you forgive yourself for the suffering you caused?
And when others hurt you, out of their own pain, what do you do? Do you strike them back? Or are you able to say and mean the words of sincere empathy: "What you did really hurts me. But I'm trying to understand you. I know you are suffering too. I forgive you."
No, none of this is easy, yet, it's essential if we are to move on towards the true enlightenment of humanity.
We need to exit the draining paradigm of victims and aggressors; we need to carefully take off the old skin, lacerated with bleeding lesions and laced with scars from the wounds, inflicted by ourselves and others.
It's time... to leave behind the persistent ugly duckling syndrome.
How does a swan become a swan? Through the misery of mistaken identities, as we are told in the fairy tale "The Ugly Duckling" by Hans Christian Andersen.
Mhm, offspring of some animals enter the world looking ugly or a very different version of their parents as well. Lipicaner horses, for example, are born black, and they slowly loose their pigment as they grow into the signature white of this Slovene breed. There are no tales of a foal being troubled because of its different looks. The mare and the herd fully accept their young of dark color as their own, nurturing them into adulthood.
Growing into one's highest potential doesn't need to be full of misery and pain; it can be a loving process in a supporting community.
We, humans, have the luxury of free will. What are we choosing? The path of suffering and rejection, or a path of loving and caring? I invite you to let go of the old paradigm to create the breathing space to find the true potential in the highest "I."
Over to you, dear Soulful Reader:
How do you shed off your overgrown skin
to be able to emerge afresh, brighter?