The Strength of Limitation
I coined a term a few years back called, “projected self-contempt”. It means that we treat others poorly because, we are dumping what we dislike about ourselves, upon them. Projection is a coping mechanism, a form of self-protection. It is a prison from which we lob projectiles when our wounded and frail identities seduce us into self-loathing.
Like a Turner Classic film, we re-screen unresolved wounds from the cluttered shelves of memory; our percieved-sense-of-powerlessness making us both victim and abuser. As in the acclaimed album, “The Wall”, our sense of vulnerability is tantamount to terror, “Since, my friend, you have revealed your deepest fear, I sentence you to be exposed before your peers. Tear down the wall.”(1) In those searing moments of shame, we castigate those around us in an effort to say, “back off, I am unloveable and flawed, and I will fail if you put me on a stage”.
“I find that so much of ‘adult behavior’ is not authentic. Its mostly insecurities mixed with anticipated expectations. We are insecure about what we should say, do, be, and thinking of what the expectations must be or might be.” (2)
To acknowledge our limitations, to be known outside of our strengths, is like living the adolescent nightmare of walking around school naked. Our culture worships success, gratuitously bathing in its illusions of approval. We despise the insecure, we scorn failure, deplore weakness. But beneath the veneer of our supposed demi-godhood, lies the truth of our fear, our simple longing to be loved.
In all the years of weaving our fine tapestries, of fortifying our walls, did we ever conceive that both weakness and strength could exist at the same time? That limitation and individuality is mankind’s very nature? That failure is the normal process of learning? And that it is through risk, that we experience love? (3)
(Healthy) “Shame is the emotion that gives us permission to be human. Shame tells us of our limits. Shame keeps us in our human boundaries, letting us know we can and will make mistakes and that we need help. Our shame tells us we are not God. Healthy shame is the psychological foundation of humility. It is the source of spirituality.” (4)
1. The Trial, Pink Floyd, The Wall, 1979
2. John Westbrook
3. “Without risk you can never experience love”, Dr. David Sedlacek
4. Healing the Shame That Binds You, John Bradshaw, pg. 16
** For Further Study: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychological_projection