A few months ago Beyonce released her teaser, “Bow Down B*tches.” While it seems obvious that this was a PR move specifically timed to intrigue interest in her upcoming project and lay the ground for songs to follow where she asserts, “I am a grown woman. I can do whatever I want, ” I like the controversy it stirred…
Keyshia Cole even tweeted about it, suggesting that it was hypocritical to one minute talk about empowering women, then to come out and say, “Bow down,” and call women “b*tches” the next—as though raging out in anger at feeling slighted and being a good/inspirational person are mutually exclusive.
I’m not gonna lie, the first few seconds in, I, too, clutched my pearls, gasped aloud and thought, “what the hell?!”—but the mental health clinician in me gave pause, cheering on the fact that she embraces the complexities of her humanity. She’s known for being positive and writing empowerment songs for women, but here she was, at the risk of public dislike, saying, “I can be a b*tch and talk sh*t too, BUT I embrace that.”
This may not be you, but there are some of us, who can’t tolerate opposites within ourselves. We are socialized this way. We’re told, “be a good girl,” “be strong,” or “stop being selfish!” Sometimes, even from the best parents, love is withheld when we’ve behaved in unpleasing ways. So we quickly learn which behaviors to hide, and to act only in ways that are socially reinforced. So when we’ve matured, we think in polarized ways. It’s one or the other. I’m good or I’m bad.
We identify as strong, so we can’t tolerate our weaknesses. We identify as good, so we struggle when we’re criticized and feel “bad,” less than or not enough. We’re selfless, so we think we can’t also be selfish at times. We’re chaste, so we can’t be too free with our sexuality (those girls are whores). We ultimately reject and suppress undesired parts of ourselves, but what happens is… those parts live on in what the famous psychologist, Carl Jung, calls “the shadow.”
There is danger is suppressing parts of ourselves. We get sick both physically and mentally as our bodies begin to mirror what we feel about ourselves and/or our relationships suffer. The freedom to live fabulously frugal begins with embracing the complexities of our humanity. We are so much more complex than to think we are this or that. We are BOTH this and that.
So, the next time you have feelings of self-loathing “I hate that I have such a temper,” or “I hate that I’m so sensitive,” stop and think about what may be living in the shadows and where you first learned to reject that part of yourself. Ask yourself about the origins of these thoughts? Could it be an introject (the internalized voice of a parent, religion or society)? If so, live freely for a moment. Be bad! Don’t answer the phone when it rings, if you don’t feel like it. Don’t lend money, if you don’t want to. Be okay with failure and shortcomings as you strive to embrace all aspects of yourself because you’re not a winner OR a loser, you’re a winner AND a loser.
When we can accept this in ourselves, we are more ready to accept it in others.
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