If we wish to live in harmony within our world, it is absolutely paramount that we reach a point of making peace with our dark selves. In my life, it has been a recurring negative self-appraisal— or might I say, a nightmare— that I have what I choose to call ‘impostor syndrome’. Very often, I believe that I am not who I say I am, that I am not really that good of a person, and that if you judged me by my past actions and current thoughts, at times you would say that I am decidedly not a good guy. Most of the time, my intent is quite pure and noble, yet as they say, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
A dear friend of mine sent me a piece of music that was played by an extraordinarily talented pianist— who also happens to be a convicted Ponzi schemer. My friend is a huge fan of this pianist’s talents, and he asked me if I felt that it was okay to enjoy and love this man’s music, despite his apparent faults and transgressions. In reflecting on my dear friend’s question, I started thinking of similar cases, and I drew a parallel of sorts to legendary comedian Bill Cosby. And so I wonder, in knowing that Bill Cosby is a convicted sex offender, is it still okay to appreciate and enjoy his comedic efforts?
My first thought and immediate response is that there is a major difference between a rapist and a Ponzi schemer, yet I still boil it down to: Am I condoning such behavior by listening to their music, watching their shows, or enjoying their talents? When is it okay— and of that matter— when is it not okay?
For most things, I believe in second chances. However, I do not believe that this applies for rapists— or, for that matter— anyone that hurts or kills people for pleasure or for any type of gain. To explain further, if someone was drunk and they accidentally killed someone in a car accident or in a bar fight, I personally can find it much easier to forgive them for their acts, rather than someone whose true intent was to harm another in a premeditated way.
If a person is truly capable of self-reflection, and exhibits true regret for their actions and the harm that they have caused— and they elect to make a real amends, not just paying lip service— I believe that they deserve a second chance. Ultimately though, I realize that there is no set formula for who does or does not deserve forgiveness for their transgressions, and that each situation should be appraised on a case-by-case basis.
Now back to me and my head: I truly believe that I have to continue to work on myself, and that my thoughts are not my actions, either in a positive or negative way. Some of my past transgressions are currently my greatest assets, as they have given me the power of empathy, and have granted me a sense of perspective that I value and am immensely grateful for. I also strongly believe that in the long run, the work I have needed to do in order to correct certain behaviors has made me into a much better human being.
Of course, I am grateful that I do not fall into the category of either the Ponzi schemer— or heaven forbid— the other case that I described, and in the grand scheme of things, maybe my transgressions have not been all that bad, yet to me, in my head, they were, which lead me to my negative self-belief, issues with self-doubt, and in the end, my own personal struggles in grappling with impostor syndrome.
All of this leads me to these three questions: Firstly, how do you assess the negative impact of your own actions, and how do you go about improving who you are at your core? Additionally, what is your personal opinion on the question my dear friend had posed to me— Is it okay to listen to their music or watch their shows, despite their crimes and transgressions? And finally, how do you deal with your own personal impostor syndrome?
This week, I implore you to please try and take it easy on yourself. You are worthy, and you have value, and realistically, you are not as bad as you may think you are. Next, pick an attribute that you can improve upon, and focus on exercising that muscle, reminding yourself that you are a work in progress, and that you are deserving of love, worthy of connection, and truly capable of achieving greatness.
Accountability, Community, Unconditional Love
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