I’m a Spiritual Person, Dammit!
During a recent conversation/argument/debate, my husband said, “Sometimes, you’re just hard on me. Like, you can be mean.”
“Yes,” I answered. “I know. I’m sorry.”
And I left it there. I didn’t push back. I didn’t point a finger back at him. I didn’t attempt to explain my behavior away.
Because he was absolutely right: sometimes, I am mean to him. For seemingly no good reason. It’s just the truth. His was not an accusation I could defend — what defense is there for being mean to someone you love? Who you’ve raised a family with, been through hellish times with, traveled the world with?
What defense could there be? There are only these possibilities:
Well, you see, I didn’t want to own my own emotional state [jealousy, insecurity, lack of self-esteem, discomfort], so I dumped it on you.
Because I was afraid to own the feelings coming from my lower self, I unconsciously decided to push your buttons to trigger you into reacting from your lower self. That way, I would no longer have to be intimidated by your higher self, the part of you that was trying to make me rise up so we could engage soul to soul. I wanted to pull you down to the state of mind I was in, so like battering rams, we could go mano e mano.
Truly you see, what I sought to do was move some old shit up and out of my body (though left unprocessed it is quite likely to come back around soon), because it embarrassed me and made me feel bad. And you were right there, a ready, convenient target.
Aren’t these the reasons any of us — and I mean those of us who try to live from our highest selves — turn mean, hyper-critical, or arrogant? Aren’t these the reasons that our first reaction when someone calls us out on bad behavior is to deny, deflect, or fight back? But pull back the covers on any of those responses, and we’ll discover these working paradoxes:
- We fear feeling vulnerable. (And yet, we crave being seen.)
- We are unsure of ourselves and our abilities. (And yet, we are hungry to feel worthy.)
- We feel left-behind, not special, not admired. (And yet, we yearn for belonging, connection and intimacy.)
- We have unhealed childhood wounds. (And yet, it’s scary to face them.)
- We don’t wish to acknowledge we have a lower self, so being confronted with it makes us feel as if we are caught in the nude. (And yet, without acknowledging our lower self and its behavior, it grows like a weed within us.)
My husband and I have been married for 20 years. Um, so… sometimes, I’m mean to him. Sometimes, he’s mean to me too. Neither of us wish to be mean to each other. We both consider ourselves good people with good intentions, and we have a strong marriage — after all, we talk about this kind of stuff up all the time.
But sometimes, despite our intentions or our shared history, we dump our own bad feelings/mood/outlook on each other’s lap for no good reason.
We both try to do better. Oftentimes, we are better. But we are also openly and admittedly human. Human beings can be mean, angry, spiteful, and irrational. We can also be generous, funny and kind — but we can’t live from those places of our light if we continue to deny our shadow.
Here is another example. For the last five years, I’ve been writing a memoir. It’s nearly done, evidenced by the fact that my editor and I are getting down to the nitty-gritty details of word choice. “Is there another way you could word this?” was a recent written comment she wrote in the margin. “It sounds a little ‘shrewdish’.” (Happy face, wink, wink.)
I looked at the sentence she referred to. It was in the midst of a longer conversation, in quotes, between my husband and me as I prepared to launch my new Yoga studio. I was explaining to him why I wanted it so badly. He was encouraging me to slow things down: “I don’t want to see you get hurt or sick — you haven’t known these women very long,” he said of my new partners, whom I hadn’t known very long.
He was being rational, calm, and operating from his higher self, asking me to truly consider my needs and wants from the perspective of my soul.
“Stop it,” my lower self replied, feeling fear inside about what I would do if I walked away from this opportunity. “Let me have this. And unless I ask for your opinion, I don’t want your help.”
Shrewdish… yes, I suppose that is the right word for my behavior. But it is also pretty much true. I was being shrewdish. In that moment, I was also being selfish, arrogant, stubborn, disrespectful, rude, and dismissive.
I could come up with a hundred excuses and reasons for why I replied to my husband so sharply. I could explain that my snapping at him was justified because he had no understanding of my situation. After all, he was someone with a corporate job where people gave him praise, money, and promotions, while I was a Yoga teacher who, at best, received a “Thanks, that felt great!” comment now and then.
I could explain away my behavior by saying that I had a business degree that by this time was squandered away in a drawer somewhere, and I still had some things to prove to myself and to the world about my business savvy.
I could explain my refusal to engage with him at the higher level of soul by telling him I was afraid that if I didn’t open up this Yoga center here and now, I was bound to be a nomad Yoga teacher for the rest of my life. This, of course, was my lower self talking, the part of me that still believes title and role (and four walls, apparently) were necessary for me to attain validity and purpose.
This was not, certainly, from my higher spiritual self who knows this stuff about role and title is the greatest bullshit ever served up.
Or I could stop trying to explain it away and just fucking own it.
The real reason I was shrewdish to my husband that day was because it’s true: I am sometimes shrewdish. And let me tell ya, that’s just the beginning. Sometimes, I’m selfish, arrogant, stubborn, critical, quick to anger, impulsive, unforgiving, withdrawn, disrespectful, rude and dismissive. I am also, on occasion (spoiler alert), a downright nasty bitch.
You could ask the receptionist at the doctor’s office, or the telemarketer on the phone. They’ve experienced sides of me I cringe to acknowledge. I always walk away from these unsupervised movements of my lower self disappointed. I think, Oops, I didn’t mean to get so carried away. I didn’t mean to let my anger be so seen like that. That wasn’t me, that wasn’t who I am. I’m a spiritual person, dammit!!
But these episodes aren’t oopses in my life. They are fairly regular occurrences, not brief lapses. They are features of my existence, not bugs. They are part of my humanity — just as all of those attributes I attribute to my higher self are part of my humanity also.
If I want my lower self to have less power over me, then I must acknowledge it without trying to defend or explain it away. My ego’s fears and insecurities, tied up with the dysfunction of my lower self, are in need of healing. All they are doing by showing up is asking for that healing.
What I can’t do is erase these behaviors entirely from my being. I cannot just highlight them and press Delete. I can suppress them, sure.
But the greatest disservice I can do to myself as someone who is a seeker of truth is to claim all that I label positive about myself and push away all that is negative, excusing any of it as a moment of weakness, exhaustion, or some other kind of circumstantial reaction.
If I did this, my life would dissolve into a facade — unreal and inauthentic. It would be a running list of excuses and cover-ups for my lower-self behaviors. It would be a constant effort to deflect and blame others for my behavior. It would be… exhausting.
A lot of us describe ourselves (as society expects and directs) by our light. I would prefer people to meet me and describe a woman who is creative, intelligent, warm, and funny. If this was how all people who have ever met me described me, that would be wonderful. But it wouldn’t be true. It wouldn’t be whole.
And here’s the thing, I want to be whole. Which means I need to be around people who see my light and my dark. Like my husband.
I want authenticity. I want real. I claim both my light and my dark.
So bottom line, I admit it. I can be shrewdish. I can also be mean. Just ask my husband. He will tell you a few other things I can be also–including brutally honest, self-reflective, and courageous enough to realize that to embody more of my highest self requires I accept (honor, love, embrace) my lower self.
Because at the end of the day, I am just a regular human person, dammit.
Keri Mangis is a freelance writer, teacher, and speaker. She has published pieces with Elephant Journal, The Good Men Project, The Sunlight Press, Rebelle Society, Literary Mama, and more. Her writing style and content is informed by her 15+ years of spiritual study and practice, including Yoga and alternative health. Her goal in writing is to draw awareness to new ideas, or offer new ways of approaching old ideas. She lives in Minneapolis with her husband and two daughters.