One night on a footy field many years ago I was reflecting on the fact that I had many inadequacies as a sportsman and even more as a man and that—thanks to mirrors, cameras, peer socialisation, and thousands of little consumerist ads designed to make us unhappy—I actually deeply disliked myself, even sometimes hated myself. Then I began to wonder what sort of person I might have been had I, for example, been made perfect: no more errors on the footy field, the life of the party, the legend and … the next thought that came to mind was that I would be much more conceited and probably by now well on my way to hell. It occurred to me that the things I disliked about myself were actually gifts keeping me from drowning in conceit. So I began to give thanks to God for making me as I was and especially for including the stuff I so disliked. And I apologised for being so self-focussed.

This little meditation started an inner fight that went on for months until new pathways of thinking about myself began to form and—being grateful to God for making me the way I was—I realised I wasn’t noticing (and hating) myself so much and started to really enjoy the freedom of self-acceptance. This eventually became a golden pathway to experiencing a kind of self-forgetfulness that I had never thought possible and which seems to have to go deeper and deeper the longer I live.