Life can afflict us with a great many difficulties and burdens. But quite apart from what life may throw at us, we can often become our own worst enemies, the main impediments to our own happiness.
Writer Mary Katherine Backstrom knows this well and decided to delve into this subject in an extraordinarily moving recent Facebook post. In her discussion, she went into the reasons why so many of us tend to come down on ourselves and our own failings but are so kind and forgiving towards others.
The post has since resonated with thousands of people.
A Deep and Moving Meditation
Backstrom began her post by recounting a few simple situations in her life — situations that many, if not all of us, can relate to and have experienced ourselves — which cause us to compare ourselves unfavorably to others.
Feeling the weight of that comparison, we are brought down and come to be intimately acquainted with our own weaknesses and failings.
She talked about how she met a funny and extroverted girl at a party once but couldn’t match her energy; about how someone she follows on Instagram had lost sixty pounds while she wallowed around with a protruding gut; about how she saw a group of kids eating healthy food and so tried to feed her own kids carrots and meatloaf, only to have her kids reject the food and cry.
The accumulation of failures only led her to reflect on her inadequacies, which only got her even more depressed than before.
She then mentioned that she regularly goes to therapy and that she has told all of these things to her therapist. But upon hearing them, her therapist revealed a surprising insight to her about herself that she had not noticed.
He said, “You’re such a kind person, MK. You seem to really love your friends and believe in what they do. You celebrate their joy.” But then he asked a pointed question: “So why are you so hateful to yourself?”
Backstrom was then inspired to reflect on that question and realized that paradoxically, joy is often a fearful thing. So many of us sabotage our own chances to feel joy because we fear the consequences of experiencing joy.
She then exulted, “I mean, what would happen if we believed we were beautiful? What would happen if we celebrated our OWN talents? If we loved our bodies and our minds? If we allowed ourselves to fly?”
The post was a sensation and countless people who had struggled with the same feelings of inadequacy gushed over it enthusiastically. It spoke to them, resonated with them, connected with them. It eventually built up about 30,000 reactions and 2,900 comments. Those figures continue to grow.
She ended her post with an exhortation that we can all take to heart: “I made a new friend. Her name is Mary Katherine, and she’s pretty freaking cool. She has a beautiful smile and an understated wit.
Her jokes are awkward, but that is kind of endearing. She is a precocious person, if I must say. I’m learning to like her a little bit. Maybe one day, she’ll feel loved.”