The Collective Affliction of Looking Good
(image: Alex Baker photo)
We live in a culture in which looking good is of utmost importance. A culture where we are encouraged to avoid and anesthetize our suffering. We are conditioned to lie to ourselves and others about the truth of our experience, to wear a mask of invulnerability. How refreshing it is when we meet someone who does not hide behind this facade. What a relief to encounter someone who acknowledges and embraces their struggles, who owns their shadow and shortcomings. When we meet someone who tells the truth about what they feel no matter how messy it may be, it invites and allows us to do the same.
When we find ourselves in a context where the implicit rules that encourage us to pretend to be some ideal self do not apply, we can finally stop aspiring to be other than we are. That context may be a safe friendship, a secure attachment with our mate, or a therapeutic relationship. Here we can breathe, and settle, and rest in the possibility that we are ok exactly as we are. This moment is ok. We don’t need to change or somehow improve. We can stop, and exhale, and embrace what is happening right now. When we find ourselves in relationships which encourage us to acknowledge and accept the full range of this human experience within ourselves, we can finally feel at home in our own flawed humanity. When we can provide this kind of invitation to our children, we contribute to the healing of our world.