P2 You can then see them (your destructive impulses) without falling into the error of picturing yourself as all bad. The more you fear your imperfections, the more stringently you will moralize. The more demanding the standards of your idealized self-image, the more rigid your superstructure will be. Alienation from yourself is both the result and the origin of this predicament. Rigidity, fear, insecurity, intolerance—all these exist in you because of this self-alienation. And this self-deprecation is then often projected on others.
P3 Your idealized self-image is created not only for winning love and approval from others – as you believe it will—but also serves to protect you from yourself. Verify how you despise yourself for not living up to perfection; how you do not accept and like yourself because unsuspected negative trends exist in you. Instead of trying to whisk away such emotions, learn to accept yourself in spite of them. Learn to see your real values in spite of your destructive trends. It is the only way.
You may often have to grope when you find yourself not knowing what is right. However, if you cannot accept yourself as a human being, fallible and often confused, then this unavoidable confusion has the power to disrupt you completely. So the first thing to learn on this path now is the ability to accept not only your fallibility but that you often do not know the answer. If you learn this and at the same time still like yourself, then slowly but surely your emotions will mature and your reactions will change, and a healthy trust in yourself, in your natural, spontaneous reactions, will follow. Many of you now feel so unhappy whenever an issue is foggy and your known rules and regulations cannot apply.
P4 Detect where you have an unforgiving attitude that makes you moralize with yourself for falling short of perfection. Discover where and how you use preconceived and fixed rules to guide you, rather than your own inner conviction, arrived at through thorough investigation of the situation and your role in it. It cannot be repeated often enough that many a depression and despair is based on expectations of yourself that are impossible to attain.
Disproportionate reactions and exaggerations also exists in people who are outwardly very undramatic about themselves. This tendency may not show, yet, on some level of emotional reaction, such exaggeration always exists. For instance, a little compliment, in itself unimportant, can save the day for you. A passing approval may make all the difference in your mood. By the same token, any little criticism or disapproval may completely spoil your mood. It may plunge you into depression and ill humor.
P5 By the mere act of repeatedly observing your reactions, their strength will lessen. You will become capable of observing such emotions without self-contempt and therefore without repression and without self-moralizing. You will base your often unconscious opinion of yourself on what is realizable, possible, and feasible: thus you are secure. In other words, when criticism comes your way or your will is frustrated because of your own or other people’s failings, you can accept it in a relaxed way.
P6 When you react appropriately to your own humanness with all its failings, you build on a rock. When you deny it, you build on sand. Unreal needs always have the form of compulsiveness and craving. Mismanagement will make people helpless and dependent on others to have their needs fulfilled.
P7 When one neglects to satisfy one’s real needs, illusory or imaginary needs must appear. These should be regarded as symptoms of a real unfulfilled need. If an inordinate, and therefore unreal, need for approval exists, that is often because the real need for approval, encouragement, success has unwittingly been forfeited. But instead of resenting the world for not supplying the desired approval, people who work on their emotional growth will try to discover how they have shortchanged themselves of the satisfaction of a legitimate need.
By bringing out your emotions at this point you can feel the emptiness caused by an unfulfilled need and can pinpoint it, you can set out to understand why you have denied yourself what you truly needed. You have to reconcile yourself to knowing that awareness of your needs, real and unreal, will not immediately fulfill them. You will first have to learn to live with the frustration of an unfulfilled need. You will see that that is possible and that you can still be quite happy and still have self-respect. Then you will learn to distinguish between real and unreal needs by discovering that real needs can be borne, while false needs have an excessive and compulsive force. Because of this you often repress them; they are so strong that when they are denied, they make you feel as if you were dying.
First, you can surely see that all three share the common denominator of the childish either/or attitude. It is impossible to withstand the frustration of an unfulfilled need if you regard the frustration as a permanent state. Second, an unfulfillment points to your imperfection, to your vulnerability as a human being. Your perfectionism does not allow for this. Let us take the following example:
To the extent that you are incapable of giving mature love and affection, you will have a compulsive need to receive love and affection. Or if your need for approval is inordinately strong, it is in proportion to your disapproval of yourself. As you learn to do so, you will be amazed to discover what needs you have. The more you gain real insight into this, the less stringent the false needs become and the more capable you become of fulfilling your real needs. But all this necessitates first accepting yourself as you are.
P9 However, in an intuitive way you will feel a certain tolerance and lack of anxiety about your own failings and those of others. I might sum up the inner process this way: “If I have destructive instincts, I am horrible and cannot like or respect myself. Since this is too painful to bear, I must look away from my destructive impulses and hope that by my looking away they disappear.” When one judges a whole for only a part, then moralizing occurs. When the whole becomes “black” due to partly “black” trends, or “white” for that matter, then moralizing occurs. There is so much leeway, so much else that has nothing to do with either black or white.
—The Pathwork® Guide