We are a paradox, both tiger and goat.  We have a ‘scared one’ inside us driven by the fear that at any moment we could be exposed as inadequate, our goat self.  Since our ‘scared one’ fears that at any given moment our secret may be revealed, he/she has to be constantly vigilant.  Therefore, “safety and security at all costs” is the motto for the ‘scared one.’

One way to stay safe is to do things well, or better yet, perfectly.  That demonstrates to the outside world how great we are.  In school some of us got all “A”s and as adults still seek that grade from others.  We seek the “A” for adequate, to compensate for our feelings of inadequacy.

Our perfectionistic tendencies are also affirmed and admired by others.  We can be proud, are even told that we should be proud, of our accomplishments.  The car, the house, the yard, the kids, the school, the clothes–everything we do becomes an opportunity to show the world how great we are.  How perfect we are!

But, what happens when we fall short of the mark?  What is your self talk like when you don’t meet your high expectations, when you fail?  When you screw-up, what do you say to yourself?

I asked this question once to a group of women at a conference.  Most of those present shouted out self-deprecating statements like:

“That was a dumb thing to do!”

“I can’t believe I did that!”

“What an idiot!”

And, one of my personal favorites:

“I should’ve known better.  What’s wrong with me?!”

But one woman said, “Oh.”

I said “Oh?”

“That’s right, Oh! O-H Only Human.”

I said, “That’s suspiciously healthy.  I should report you to the thought police.  Now stand in the corner and straighten yourself out!”

When I inquired as to whether she had always been so accepting of her humanness, she said,  “Oh, no.  I used to be a relentless perfectionist.  Then I had years of therapy which taught me to say O-H.”

Folks, save yourself some money!  Don’t use your failures or mistakes as an opportunity to reinforce your feelings of inadequacy.  Who benefits?  No one!  You certainly don’t.  Do others benefit when you belittle yourself?  No way!

So, give yourself a break today.  After all, don’t your highest values support you doing so?  I mean, is God waiting for the new improved you?  Or just as you are, flaws and all, are you loved and accepted by a mystery that exceeds your understanding?  If that is part of your belief system, use it to support your new learning.

Our culture is so caught up in self improvement.  When you go to the self help section of the book store you have to take a number and get in line.  And after you make some improvement, are you now perfect?  Nope.

So what is required?  More improvement.  Done.  Are you now perfect?  Nope.

And on it goes.  When do you get to perfect?  Never.

So when do you get to your good feelings?  Never!

What is much more useful from my perspective is self acceptance, not self improvement.  Don’t get me wrong.  I’m very interested in learning, in getting better at everything I do.  My bias is that everyone is an underachiever.  No matter how well we do anything, we can get better.

But I don’t want to wait to feel better until I get better at what I do.

So, what about those feelings of inadequacy and insecurity that never go away?  How are you supposed to feel better when they are always present?  Very good questions.

The answer is connected back to the paradox of our humanness.  Think of it this way.  Acceptance of myself, with all my imperfections, creates a psychological space to create something new.

Why?  Self acceptance is the beginning of change.  For instance, having overcome my denial about some character flaw, accepting the actual reality of its existence, I can pay attention and deal with that flaw.

Energy follows attention.  I only have energy for that to which I attend.  Said with poor English, what I pay attention to, I have energy for.

Creation requires energy.  In order for me to create something new, energy is required.

But, what if I’m tapped out energetically?  If you’re bereft of the energy required, go to the source of energy.  Rumi has a poem with the lines…

“Move within, but not the way fear

makes you move.

Go to the well.

Move as the earth and moon move

circling what they love.

Whatever circles comes from the center.”

What is at the core, the center of your being?  Look past the mask you’ve been conditioned to wear to your essential self.  The real you made in the image of, what?  Some say a Devine Parent.  Coming back to your belief system, are you on your own, or can you get help?  What was it?  “Ask and you shall receive.”

You see, if we place our psychological development within a spiritual space in the psyche, we feel safe and secure.  And our developmental process will be infused with the energy required for change.

The ‘scared one’ doesn’t believe any of this because he/she feels unworthy of help.  But, our ‘sacred self’ understands the secret.  At the center, the ‘sacred one’ watches with an inward-turned eye.  Turning within, “but not the way fear makes you move,” the ‘sacred one’ opens to the loving embrace of the Mystery of God.

Rumi says and the ‘scared one’ agrees:

“I am so small.  I can barely be seen.

How can this Great Love be inside me?”

Then he answers from the mouth of his own ‘sacred one’:

“The eye is small

yet it holds enormous things.”

The paradox of the ‘scared one’ / ‘sacred one’ is only known by the latter.  My ego doesn’t know my soul.  But my essential self, my soul center understands the ego as a loving parent understands a child.  It’s energetic source is the Ecstatic Love of its Creative Parent.

The dual nature of our ‘isness’ requires two sets of parents.  One set provides 23 chromosomes each, to build a body and then the environment to nourish development.

The other set made the ‘sacred one’ and implanted this essential self into the body to live through it into Realization.  The Realization of its true nature, it’s true Tiger nature.  And although the ‘scared one’ and our egocentric concerns don’t permanently dissolve as long as we’re breathing, they don’t have to drive the engine of the psyche.

We can disengage from those small obsessions of the ego by changing what we attend to.  Energy follows attention.  Change what you pay attention to and you change the energetic equation.

It isn’t by adding to what you have inside, that gives you value.  It isn’t a matter of improvement.

It is by recognizing what is already present, as a Present, a Gift, from a Divine Source.  Reconnecting with this gift happens when we remember.  And remembering often happens when life forces us to change that to which we attend.

Newly awakened, we see the familiar with Tiger eyes. Those eyes that pierce the blackest night of the soul and see clearly that which supports us, feeds us, energizes us.

Rumi says,

“Ecstatic Love is the ocean

on which the Milky Way floats,

like a flake of foam on the sea.”

Tiger food is the abundant love that flows from that source whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is no where.

“Whatever circles

comes from the center.”