Knowing who we are and having a balanced and grounded sense of our own limits and capabilities is so essential in this life. If we know who we are and accept that, no longer feeling shame we can speak up for ourselves kindly and show our denied, feared or undervalued parts compassion, we do not need to feel as hurt if others criticize us unfairly or make judgements that are off base. Not knowing ourselves well, as well as the limitations caused by past conditioning, can make us undervalue who we are.. For we do not have to be perfect and we may have wounds or things that made living more difficult for us, but when we are not enabled to see and understand this then we may turn against ourselves, and we may come to believe that we ‘should’ be another way just to please others or not anger, frustrate or disappoint them. Since we know due to past pain how impossible disappointment may be to manage a younger part of us wants to spare others this or the resulting feelings of triggered abandonment.
Fear of others anger may also reach back to childhood when we may have had to appease an angry, hurting or hostile parent or could not protest that treatment.. As a child we cannot escape our family and its treatment of us, as John Bradshaw says at 2 or 5 or even 10 we could not just pack our bags and leave home, although if you were like me you may have tried to do this a few times and not got very far at all. Come to think of it when we are trauma bonded to a hurtful partner, we may often also feel like that small child who cannot leave, as a younger part of us may feel it cannot survive alone or is told we would never make it alone..
An over developed sense of responsibility may also lead us to stay in situations too long or try harder than we really need to. This sense of being super responsible is one that Richard Grannon addresses in the talk below on how certain people with personality disorders may try to manipulate us into care taking them. I have been through some of this with family members and others and am learning ways to stand up against it slowly. It is not on us as empaths to be drawn into other people’s problems unless we want to do so, but I know I also have to be careful where I help and acknowledge the limitations of my capacity to help as well.
Not knowing ourselves well and being able to parent and advocate for ourselves effectively means that we also cannot really grow, we may find it hard to open up and take risks, to acknowledge areas of weakness that may be improved and to like and accept traits that others choose to see as difficult or problematic. Grounded and realistic ego strength may take some time to develop if we never got to form healthy egos growing up. John Bradshaw talks a lot about this in some of his books how often the tendency with those of us with inner child damage is to believe we are either holier than thou or lower than a worm, when the fact is that a more humble and realistic evaluation would be enable us to accept that we are just another human being in a sea of human beings which spans a huge variety of permutations.
That said, human experience and personality traits may have deeply archetypal themes that help us to gain a deeper understanding of ourselves as Carl Jung recognized this is where tools like personality evaluation and astrology may help us to understand not only how we tick but how others operate our varying ways of being and personality orientation as well as inner defensive protections and projections onto others.. When we understand others more deeply we may be able to judge less and show more tolerance, but that must most certainly start with tolerance for ourselves and our own particular idiosyncrasies and past history of self or emotional neglect, abandoment, betrayal or abuse.