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The art of appreciation – helping to break the cycle of self abuse

As men, it is very easy for us to get caught in beating ourselves up for the choices we have made, and often this can stop us from moving forward and recognising our own true worth – keeping us in a cycle of self abuse, and the abuse of others.

How do we get ourselves out of this cycle? Mark Payne starts to unravel this quandary for us by sharing on the importance of one aspect of appreciation:

The word “appreciation” is usually associated with another person – appreciating someone or something they have done. The Oxford dictionary defines it as the recognition and enjoyment of the good qualities of someone or something.

This definition has appreciation being about something outside of ourselves; a feeling we have for another person or object.

This is only a small part of appreciation.

It is important to note that until we fully appreciate ourselves, we are not able to truly appreciate another.

When we choose to see the world through the perception of what has hurt us by becoming defensive, suspicious, reactive or angry, then we make it difficult to see what lies beneath these layers of protection and learned behaviours.

Our perception becomes skewed.

Now consider a basketball, with a spot of black ink on it. It does not penetrate into the basketball. It does not spread to cover a larger area. It is just a small spot.

Imagine if we were like that basketball. Compared to the black spot, we are huge; there is a lot of space inside us and the rest of the whole outside area is without blemish. But what if, due to the reasons listed above, we only saw ourselves as the black spot, we thought others only saw us as a black spot and hence, we only viewed people and the outside world through this black spot?

Could we truly appreciate ourselves – could we truly appreciate another?

Just observe a little boy playing with a little girl – there is no difference between the two. Without trying or being told, the little boy knows he is equally precious. Although this tenderness and preciousness is not necessarily obvious in a man, it is still there if he chooses to reconnect and express it – and so we need only to connect to our true nature to feel that we are so much more than our learned behaviours. As we start to see beyond the black spot, we can gradually begin to see and feel what lies innately within us all – and that is love.

Of course this takes time and may not be immediately obvious if we have spent a life denying our sensitivity and our own sense of preciousness.

This is where appreciation becomes absolutely essential. If we do not have the ability to stop and appreciate who we truly are, and we do not see beyond the black spot, then the choices we are making to live what is innately within us become difficult to live consistently.

Learning to appreciate what lies innately within allows us to see past the black spot and see all of who we are – which is actually divine. Then, as we return to what has been there all along, we are also able to see beyond the perceived black spot on others, and so we start to recognise what is just their learned behaviour and not their true nature either.

Ultimately the black spot is simply an accumulation of how we give up on love and become identified with our own self-loathing. Once we let go of the false perception of ourselves and others, we can start to live the love we are, truly appreciating ourselves and everyone else.

Appreciation is the key to understanding love and more than anything we need to appreciate ourselves first and foremost.

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    By Mark Payne

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    Photography: Joseph Barker

    To sketch, paint and question life. To cook, laugh and wonder why. To hug and hum and appreciate the sky, to look into another's eyes. These are some of the reasons Joseph loves life and is inspired to contribute to this amazing site.