Befriending Our Own Other

Often, when we talk about the other, we are talking about those outside of us. 

Today, I want to talk about the other within us. Those parts of ourselves that we can make different, separate, lesser. 

When I think I'm not smart enough or attractive enough. When I say I don't have an artistic bone in my body or believe I'm the type of person who can't keep up with her peers. When I berate myself for not getting enough done. I have created an other within me. 

I can yell, kick, scream at this part, as if that will make it what I want it to be. But nothing has ever been hated into wholeness. 

I've come to think of these other parts as little strays looking for a home. Which means, of course, they're looking for love. Since when we label something other, we starve it of love. 

My practice has been to love the other part of me as if it were a little stray that showed up at my door on a cold, rainy night. Maybe I'd name this stray Inadequacy and that stray Shame.

Sweet peas, I say to them, I will warm you and care for you until you are home and whole again.

And when I do this, I see these less as other parts of me and more as another part of me. 

This practice matters to me; it helps me hold my whole self with a fiercer compassion. But it matters, too, for those I exist alongside. If I can't give love to the other inside me, my love for the other outside me will always be incomplete. 

So when the othering urge comes up in me, there's a question I put to myself: What if I risked believing that every other inside me and outside me is a lost sweet pea looking for love? 

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Growing WiserCaitie Whelan