A Trained Sense of Self
All of us have things in life we don’t like, whether that is a person/an entire group of people, a job, a political party, a life situation, ourselves, or a combination thereof. It is shocking what we find to disapprove of in life. And there are many ways to deal with what we don’t like—ignore it, fight it, change it, eradicate it. For example, many of us believe that if we eradicate the thing we don’t like or approve of, our problems would be solved—we’d be free from that thing that stresses us out and brings us grief. However, I have seen in my own life that understanding is preferable to eradication—and ignoring, fighting or changing. Let me explain.
I certainly have believed that if I ignored something, fought it, changed it or eradicated it, it would go away and I would be free of it. But no matter what I did or said, the issue remained. Disliking someone or something only kept me tied to the stress and unhappiness that came from not liking someone or something in the first place. Realizing this was one thing. Understanding it was another. I had to dig deeper.
Upon further investigation of the phenomenon, I realized I had made a “person”, a “me”, out of my likes and dislikes, my approvals and disapprovals. I didn’t choose to do this—it was just how I was taught to live. My dislikes and disapprovals were especially powerful in keeping this sense of a person, sometimes called the false self, alive and well. With dislikes, I could make others less valuable, less knowledgeable and less desirable than myself, giving me a much-needed boost.
This is something so many of us do. Our likes and dislikes are important to us because they define our sense of self and we often cling to these at all costs—as if it’s a matter of life and death. We believe we know who we are through what we like and don’t like. This isn’t right or wrong, good or bad. It’s just not super helpful. This is because our likes and dislikes present roadblocks to our opportunities for and experiences of connection, love and happiness. Seeing this is the beginning of the end for the false sense of self—the one who is never happy—and a return to our pure wholeness.
Getting to the Heart of It All
Likes, and especially, dislikes, separate us from others and superficially fracture the fabric of wholeness, that which we all are. (Wholeness can never be truly fractured, but it appears this way when we participate in the system of likes and dislikes—a system of falseness where dualism seems to occur.) So, of course, separation is hard on us since it is the opposite of our very nature—wholeness. In the realm of false and separate, we are not aligned with pure love as it does not exist in the world of “me”. No wonder we’re not happy.
Don’t trust me though. Investigate this for yourself. Does hating someone honestly fill your heart with love and connection? Does wishing something didn’t happen that already happened bring you peace and tranquility? Does excluding a person/people in your life feel good to you, or is there always an underlying stress with such exclusions? Now, I’m not talking about people who abused you or hurt you in any way. I’m talking about general likes and dislikes and for these, I imagine you answered No to all of those questions.
Isn’t it possible that most, if not all, of our likes and dislikes are nothing more than a way to uphold and serve a false sense of self? Who/how would we be without them? Would we be more open, more inclusive and happier without them? I think we would. Understanding this allows us to uncover our true nature. This is the deeper understanding I am talking about, where we look within ourselves rather than outside of ourselves.
Sometimes we believe that if we could just understand the person we don’t like, if we can find common ground with them, we will like them, and all will be happy. This can happen sometimes. But most of us have a hard-enough time understanding and liking ourselves, let alone others. It is still more helpful to us to understand who we truly are behind our likes and dislikes and the ways in which we are supporting the continuation of our own falseness. This understanding has to come from within. This is where the deeper realization of who we are and how we are connected to everything can be experienced—it’s where freedom and happiness reside.
This is the beauty of understanding.
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