Rich Paxson

Sheelah, thank you for sharing your thoughts, which I very much appreciate. Self-acceptance, self-love in practice can seem elusive for me. While intellectually I completely agree with you, self-love in practice requires more than intellectual assent; because self-love in practice flows into and through personal, interactive forms that emerged out of one’s past conditioning.

For example, last night I found myself in an argument with my wife where early-on I recognized that my emotional state and hers were miles apart. We didn’t find any resolution to our differences until eventually it occurred to me that there were three of us in the room: my wife; my inner, self-loving awareness; and then my outer, probably not so pleasant nor integrated behavioral shell. (Actually, there were four of us, including my wife’s inner self!)

I thought of my behavioral shell as a persona conditioned from past experience. I realized, only after we were well into our disagreement, that my behavioral persona was incongruent with my inner self-acceptance. Only after I realized that, admitted it to myself, and then to my wife could we begin to truly hear each other.

The inertia of life, I think, tends to maintain the conditioned persona du jour. It’s tempting to equate acceptance and love of self with acceptance and love of that persona, which came about primarily through interaction with the social other. Whereas, true self-love arises from engagement by the ‘utter aliveness’ of the other Other, the Christ within. I think I have that right. It ‘ain’t easy’ putting all these ideas together, and then into practice. ‘Ain’t easy,’ but certainly the only Way worth living into!