I think there is strength in admitting our weaknesses, in telling the truth instead of lies. But if we rely only on ourselves–“I’m just fine on my own thank you very much”–we might never notice those weaknesses. Without others in our lives, we may become, who knows what, because we can’t see ourselves fully by ourselves only.
Some things are simply beyond human powers. Some things we shouldn’t have to do alone, like raising children. Even single parents should have a support system. Quitting an addiction is another area where the sheer willpower of one just isn’t enough. That’s why people who join twelve-step programs have sponsors and accountability partners.
I recently read an article about blame. It didn’t sting me at all, not anymore, but it did make me consider my alternative route. When I was growing up, I wasn’t really blaming my mom, instead I was questioning her. Her faults, her control issues made me wonder: what was it that made her so unwaveringly herself? What is it that makes a mind feel so correct within itself, so blind to potential faults? Instead of blaming her, perhaps I should thank my mom for unknowingly spurring me towards an interest in human psychology. I never thought of my mom as a bad person, just a mistaken one. There are lots of people, making bigger mistakes, and it’s kind of scary. Could I be mistaken, too, in different ways?
Would you agree that being human is a little scary? The need to change is invisible from our self-absolving eyes. Or, even if faults are visible, once you’ve learned to live with them, you might callously expect others to live with them as well. We don’t see from the eyes of those who might be crushed by our mistakes. Running with the force of a a crowd, like a stampede reinforcing our motions, we might not even notice anything important underfoot. Parents think they should come down hard on children, that children should be taught adults are right, no questions asked. Just listen, you. Don’t mind your self-esteem, individual thought or opinions. But authority without question isn’t the healthiest seed to sow. Nor is it the healthiest way to be–to be impenetrable. Parents need to punish, but parents should also level. We should try to understand our children or our friends even if we don’t agree. Without those qualities, who knows what we’ll become.
Without empathy, without trying to see from the eye of another, we may never really know ourselves. Nobody notices the lies that they tell themselves, the lies that maybe have been there since youth. We expect our minds to have changed and improved, when it turns out they are unyieldingly stuck in the same patterns as always, only now, we don’t realize it. We aren’t weak for wanting others to help us be better people, we are strong. Weakness is our natural state–0r, perhaps I should say that in many cases, blindness to our own weakness is our natural state. If we don’t have insight in our lives, we may go on thinking that we are strong and that we can heal ourselves. As our bodies need nourishment from a variety of foods if we are to be healthy, we need light cast from different angles if we are to truly see.
We need good people in our lives, been-through-it-before people, forgiving and hold-you-to-it people. We need people who see the good in us that we might not see. We need people who aren’t afraid to tell us when we’ve done something we shouldn’t. People who will help us improve, help us to become the best individuals we can be. People, who hopefully understand, we’re not meant to be exactly like everyone else. People who know that there is value in our uniqueness. Do you have friends like these?