As I was perusing through Facebook one very mundane evening, I randomly watched a short video clip of Louis C.K., one of my favorite comedians of all time. As a yoga instructor actively participating in the wellness industry, being a huge fan of Louis C.K. might sound like an anomaly. I don’t care. I find his comedy routine hilarious and in a strange bothersome way, brilliant and inspirational.
As he was punching lines about millenials and our self-righteousness shoved up our noses (and other places), one line particularly struck out to me. “Self love is important, but self awareness is more important. You need to once in awhile go ‘Uh, I’m kind of an asshole.”
Once the laughter faded, I realized what a simple, honest and clear-cut the message was. It suddenly made me think of the millions of times I’ve told myself and my friends “don’t worry about it, you’re not at fault. You are perfect!” Despite the fact that in reality, we’re probably not that awesome and amazing, all the time.
It always stems from the fact that we're uncomfortable with the truth. What breaks my heart time to time is to hear my friends, colleagues and clients suffer through shame, guilt or sadness for being who they are or for their past mistakes. Due to this probably unhealthy level of compassion, I often found myself encouraging them constantly and praising them for every little accomplishment we’ve ever conquered. “Hey, hold your head up high and keep kicking ass because you’re awesome.”
Eventually, everyone loved to come to me for advice because they always walked away feeling lighter and more proud of themselves.
Sure it sounds like what a “healer” or a yoga instructor should be doing, but it was slowly making me feel like a people pleaser. I was starting to learn how to make people feel great about themselves, despite the fact that they’re, well, in Louis C.K. terms, “sometimes an asshole.”
Over time, I realized that many of us are often oblivious to some of our faults, ignorant comments or mistakes we make, and we’re never even remotely aware (or sorry) about it. We’re so focused on the process of spiritual healing that through it, we’ve become overly sensitized to critique and fail to gently remind ourselves that we’re “sometimes an asshole.” It’s as if we forget that in order to heal and better ourselves, we have to think much bigger and consider the situation of the other person we may have wronged or inconvenienced.
Some of us achieved that “positive outlook” and “wellness living” to the extremes where we’ve become accustomed to the idea that we are perfect and everything we think and do is right. Even if we are slightly at fault, as long as what we’ve done doesn’t harm animals, isn’t racist, sexist or effects the environment, we’re good.
In no way do I believe that we should be going around criticizing others, putting ourselves down, or drowning ourselves in guilt. Self-love is extremely important but we keep forgetting that self-discipline and awareness is a key building block to achieving self-love. It’s encouraging the idea of self-reflecting and expanding our minds a little more to stop thinking of ourselves higher than we are. Because at the end of the day, we are all equal and none of us are perfect. We are never, ever “amazing” all the time and should work to step down from the self-righteous pedestal we built for ourselves and others. It’s a humble and thoughtful approach to achieving self-care and love.
Perhaps the root of all this is the Ego. Or even laziness.
Perhaps we think because we practice yoga, are vegetarians, and live a life of wellness, we’re already pretty great.
Perhaps it’s easier to become a people pleaser and tell all our friends, clients and colleagues that they’re “awesome” and perfect as they are. When in reality, all of us need self-improvement and none of us are ever “perfect.”
Or maybe we just provide excuses for ourselves to a point that as long as our shortcomings and mistakes “make sense to us”, we have absolutely no reason to apologize to the other person.
But sad reality is that self-critiquing or being honest with friends and colleagues is uncomfortable and it can sometimes suck.
Like really suck.
I can’t even begin to describe some of my personal faults I’ve unearthed through this meditation and how it may have affected my family, friends and colleagues I have worked with in the past. I am most definitely “sometimes an asshole” and in constant need of self-improvement. The reality that my mindless decisions or inconsiderate words could have highly inconvenienced or hurt people's feelings was a rude awakening to get my sh*t together.
However, in addition to this slow path of self-awareness, a strange sense of gratitude also seeped in. Though it felt harsh, the whole process also felt like a gift and an undeserving opportunity. Who the hell am I to deserve opportunities for self-improvement through meditation, family, friends and colleagues to help me become a better person everyday? Why am I so privileged that I have the space in life for self-reflection and improvement?
To the family and friends and even colleagues that’s kept me in check and kicked my selfish butt time to time, I am forever grateful. Thanks for providing the feedback that I needed to get my head out of the clouds. It may not have felt “great” at the time, but its gotten me into a place where I am finding happiness through the process of bettering myself and realizing that I got a lot of work to do. I could have kept climbing my ladder into the clouds of self-righteousness and achieve full time asshole status, but your love and support has brought me to reality of self-reflection time to time, where I need to be. And I am deeply sorry to those who I have hurt or highly inconvenienced in the past, present and the future due to my lack of self awareness and selfishness. Thank you for still sticking by me and choosing to see the good side over the bad.
I’m grateful and encouraged.
Sometimes an asshole,
Written By: Kristen Hwang
00 RYT, Founder of Happygirl Yoga