Just a few days ago, a dear friend and I were chatting about some old, but somehow still current, news: the 2016 elections. She expressed how her entire family voted differently than her and that she was in a bind between the love she held for her family and her morals. Soon she came to recognize her love was the most important thing, so she turned her focus to self-reflection and healing her perception of her family.
Through this process, she came to recognize that nothing in life can be the absolute "right" way. Every life scenario has so many angles and dimensions that there can never be a one-size-fits-all solution. People have thousands of desires, needs, and sides to them that we may be unaware of, which makes it difficult to pin anyone down into a box, solution, or category.
Sometimes this truth can make us uncomfortable, which can result in judgment and attack towards a person we don't understand. We may think to ourselves, "What a hypocrite...", when someone's values are not reflected in their actions.
But, hypocrisy is not a bad thing. Our culture has made it into an undesirable characteristic. This has created a fabricated rhythm of life where everyone strives to be as consistent and unwavering as the law of gravity. But that is outright impossible. Because guess what.
Everyone is a hypocrite, including you and me.
Let's face it. You probably say one thing and do another all the time. You may judge others for 'wrongs' that you also commit. You might even criticize someone for not being as open-minded as you, going as far as to berate their opinions instead of getting curious and asking questions.
So why is it such an insult? Because we haven't accepted it. Accepting your hypocrisy can be amazingly liberating.
But if this idea triggers you into a state of defense or attack, just calmly let it sink in. Think of how true it may be for you. And how this truth can actually set you free. I, for one, have fallen in love with my hypocrisy, since I know it is my only consistent truth, ironically.
Here are some steps to healing your own ideas of hypocrisy:
1. Recognize Why Hypocrisy is Criticized
From the moment we were born we stepped into a world where consistency is praised and inconsistency is condemned. Why? As one of the many species that has gone through the process of natural selection, it largely has to do with feeling safe. To this day, our survival depends on consistency, especially when it comes to food, water, and so on. But what about when it comes to our personality and lifestyle?
In modern times, we find ourselves swinging on a moral pendulum between black and white, good and bad, right and wrong. And it drives us crazy that a) other people don't agree with us or b) we can't seem to find one consistent truth to believe in.
Many times, laws are flawed for this reason. Why? Because each case has thousands of angles to see it from. But law can make any one of those angles 100% right or 100% wrong. Morality isn't about being 100% sure (or right) 100% of the time. It is about choosing what we think is best, not only for ourselves, but for those around us and for the good of mankind. This may result in contradiction, but we must be balanced in our efforts to change the world and keep the peace.
2. Love Your Contradictions
Let's think of all the comments you make to yourself or that people make about you. Perhaps you have been told by many people that you are sweet when you can also be the spiciest pepper on the planet. Or maybe you self-identify as a feminist when you love and dance to reggaeton or hip hop songs that demean women. Perhaps people say you are like the "Energizer Bunny" when all you want to do when you get home is be lazy, cuddle up with a book, and go to bed.
Grant yourself the freedom of accepting all parts of yourselves no matter how light or dark, desirable or undesirable, good or bad they might be. No matter what, we are all striving to feel loved and happy. Love yourself and your contradictions first and happiness will come.
Take out a piece of paper sometime today and write down your five most salient contradictions, what you dislike about them, and what you love about them. Just wait and see how you feel after. Hopefully really relieved!
3. Witness the Multidimensionality of All Beings
Now that we have looked within and witnessed our own hypocrisy in a non-judgmental way, it's time to take the practice out on the road. Let's first think back to the last time you judged or blamed someone for being 'wrong' in your eyes or a hypocrite. Why did we think this is ok? What do you think about the situation now? What pieces of the story might you not be aware of? Are there dimensions of the person or situation you failed to see?
Of course we are pointing fingers at others in a world where we aren't able to accept our own contradictions. We can’t handle how much of hypocrites we are ourselves. But once we learn to love and accept ourselves just as we are, we can do the same for others.
We'd love to hear your thoughts on what you discover during the process down in the comments section, here's to contradictions!
Kimberly Lucht is the founder and Executive Director of Rehumanize Me. She loves uncovering the common ground of humanity through dance and culture and witnessing individuals realize their full potential.