Uncle Iroh: Zuko, you must let go of your feelings of shame if you want your anger to go away.
Zuko: But I don’t feel any shame at all! I’m as proud as ever!
Uncle Iroh: Prince Zuko, pride is not the opposite of shame, but its source. True humility is the only antidote to shame.
Every now and then when i meet my girls for “drinks” I meet someone who did not know that I quit drinking a year ago. Depending on who I encounter, I’ve noticed that I either feel ashamed that I had a drinking problem or feel superior that I no longer do. I have come to understand that both feelings are unhealthy for me.
Feeling ashamed of myself will never serve me because it is rooted in judgment (my old nemesis). I can have regret or remorse for mistakes made but shame is wrong. I own my mistakes and have held myself accountable for them. They have helped to shape me into the person I am today and I am not ashamed of who I am.
The flipside of that is the smug superiority complex I apply when I feel the ticklish aura of defensiveness enveloping me. This mostly happens around ex-drinking buddies who make jokes or disrespect my choice to quit. I feel Defensive Phoenix pushing her way to the forefront, crossing her arms, and looking down her nose at the offending party. While she may be necessary in the moment, I don’t really like feeling that way. It’s not good for me to judge anyone, even if their jokes are dumb. Most people truly just don’t know what to say. Heavy drinkers feel uncomfortable around ex-drinkers. It’s simply a fact.
If I am to learn to truly accept myself, shame and pride are two extremes I should not allow to manifest themselves in their worst forms. We’re all on our own journeys. No one (including me) is better or superior to anyone else, no matter where they are on their journey. Each person is unique, with a unique set of skills and abilities and a unique rate of learning. We learn and grow at our own pace and determine the lessons we are receptive to and learn along the way.
“There are no extra people on the planet. Each one of us has our own unique form of genius and authenticity within us aching to be accessed.” ~Robin Sharma
I believe that each person I meet along my journey has something to teach me or to learn from me, if I have I am humble enough to allow the lesson.
Thanks for being my teacher and my student.
This is Post H, in the A to Z Blogging Challenge 2015. My 26 posts are inspired by the quotes from Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra, two Emmy award-winning animated television series created and produced by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko. The setting for both series is in an Asian-influenced world of martial arts and elemental manipulation. The shows drew on elements from East Asian, South Asian, and Western culture, and (aside from the kick-ass story lines, beautifully developed characters and exceptional storyboards) are where I found a wealth of inspiration and perspective on my own life.
The rest of my A to Z 2015 posts can be found here.