Most of us are familiar with guilt and shame. but what about Self-Negation? If this is not a term you are familiar with then please let me introduce you, as you may well be missing out.
Whereas our old buddy guilt has to do with things we have done for which we feel regret, and good ol’ shame has to do with feeling bad about ourselves. Self-Negation is a not so well defined. It is a new kid on the block, we might say. Well let’s go ahead and define it, so we know what the thing is.
Self-Negation is a feeling that “life does not mean anything”. It is lack of sense of purpose or feeling unable or blocked in carrying out that purpose. It is a feeling that life is empty and useless.
Self-Negation cripples our Self Respect. Whereas guilt (Oh what would be do without guilt) cripples our self confidence as it relates to our actions and shame cripples our sense of self worth (and it is so brilliant at it); Self-Negation cripples our sense of having a useful purpose in the world. Our Self Respect goes out the window when Self-Negation is around. However, Self-Negation goes out the window when it gets a full-on comeuppance from Self Respect. This town just ain’t big enough for the both of ’em.
Self-Negation is a mean brute. We might have managed to like ourselves a bit (no more sneering at ourselves in the mirror). We might have got a bit of confidence and be doing rather nicely socially, or at work. Then along comes grumpy Mr Existential Crises himself: Self Negation. Oooh… Scary…
Suddenly nothing in our life seems to matter as none of it means anything. That great job we worked so hard to get. That wonderful home or fancy car. It all goes pear-shaped and all seems so pointless and meaningless… Yuk.
However, maybe it is not so bad after all. Self-Negation is a question not an answer. We need to provide the answer and not stay stuck in the question. When Self-Negation sticks his hooter in and demands to know our purpose and what makes our life worth while, we can just dig deep and come up with an answer. (No, “Shopping” is not a good answer dearie.)
Self-Negation is really our Self Respect stuck in reverse gear. We just need to get the darn thing moving forward and we are well on our way. After all it’s a great question, “What is the purpose of my life”. However, there is no need to try and come up with a 50 page answer, or an answer that sound like a bell tolling: TO SAVE THE WORLD. Of course many of us already trying to save the world, or at least part of it. We may be trying to save the world’s ice cream supply by hoarding it in our freezer. But, that is not an answer either.
The fact that the question is being asked means that the answer is inside us. No, I don’t mean in the ice cream we have already eaten. (Get with it will you!). The answer lies deeper than our quirks, foibles and neurosis. It lies deeper even than our craving for chocolate and cappuccino. It lies deeper than our fearful and worrisome self. Surprised that there is something deeper inside you than that? Well, prepare to be amazed.
Yup, we need to dig a bit to answer the question. It may take time to get there. Yet the attempt to answer the question is part of the answer. The answer is a process, not just some words. The effort to look deeper inside ourselves to find what is important about our life is part of the answer. The answer might not be clearly defined and neatly-wrapped like a birthday present.
Somewhere inside us before we covered it up with being so busy and so clever there was a feeling of something we really wanted to do with our lives. It might be a specific action or career (though it might not be). It might be to develop a particular quality such as kindness, compassion or honoring our truth. Something which did not seem important enough to be given much attention was pushed aside. Other, louder, clamoring voices took over. We need to listen and look out for a quieter voice. And follow where it leads us.
It is probably a lot gentler and calmer than the other voices within us, but no less persistent. It may ask us to do something which seems like hardly any big deal at all. Can it really be something so small? Is that my life purpose? That is not the point. The bigness of the action is not what is important. Listening and following our own inner wisdom and own sense of purpose is the point. We do not know where that will eventually lead us, and there may be surprising twists and turns along the way. On the other hand it will lead us to a deeper, richer sense of purpose and the greater Self Respect and Self Esteem which come with that. When that is true for us then it is goodbye to Self Negation as it is no longer and issue.