I recently attended what I can only describe as a spiritual BDSM retreat and discovered the healing benefits of being an arrogant, judgmental asshole.
[I can’t stop smiling over the fact that I can write that sentence - god, I love my life.]
Before I get into the story of how I was an arrogant asshole to a room full of people, let me give some context.
The concept behind the retreat was that there are darker sides of ourselves that we all have:
- the manipulative side of you
- the part of you that’s arrogant and disdainful
- the resentful victim
We all have these facets of ourselves but most of the spiritual and personal development work out there is (understandably) about focusing on the light and love while ignoring or, at times, shaming these other darker facets.
The light work is of course very much needed, but it’s interesting to notice that we’ll talk about self-love but the moment there’s a hint of anger, jealousy, or any other darkness in us, it’s as if we suddenly go, “Except you, I sure as hell don’t love you. Go away.”
This retreat was three days of being told: “Not only are these facets of you ok, but they can be powerful allies. And we’re going to bring these dark creatures out in you to (safely) play with others.”
It was a series of “Oh fuck, what did I get myself into?” moments followed by “Oh fuck, that was delicious.”
Here was one of my favorites.
The teachers laid out various dark archetypes and told us to pick the one we’re most ashamed of within ourselves, the one we most DON’T want people to know exists in us.
Easy. I chose the “arrogant disdainer”.
They told us to write a love letter to that part of ourselves, talking about what gifts and power that creature within gives us.
Alright, cool. Love letter to my inner (psychological) asshole - done.
“Now we want you to get up in front of the group and talk to us as that dark side of you.”
There were about 20 of us sitting in a circle, in this beautiful Buddhist center, about to intentionally let out our darkest, most shameful selves.
Fuck, fuck, fuckitty, fuckfuckfuckfuckfuck. Am I seriously about to share every dark judgement I have about these people TO them?
I turned to the person sitting next to me and we both had this look of, “And we paid for this?!”
When it came to my turn, I slowly walked to the front of the room, faced everyone and let the asshole take the stage:
[Deep breath in]
“I am so much fuckin smarter than ALL of you.
So much more attractive, healthy, athletic, muscular, and creative.
I am a better writer, dancer, lover.
I am spiritual as FUUUUUCK and more masculine than ALLLLL OF YOU New Age pussies and -- ”
At that point I cut myself off because I was less than a second away from calling out individual people.
I quickly walked back to my seat, looking down at my feet the whole way.
Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, what did I just do?
I was later talking to a woman about that exercise and she said, “I loved that side of you.”
..ummm, jigga what now?
“Before that exercise, I saw you as this little boy that I’d trust to get my coffee in the morning. But after what came out?
That was a man that I could trust.
In fact, he was a rather charming asshole. I was talking to the woman next to me and we both wish you had gone in on individual people.
I want to see more of that man.”
Well shit, ok.
Most of my life I’ve operated under the script that someone else always knows better. If I can just find the right mentor, teacher, course, book, blog post, or Instagram quote they’ll have the right answers.
My arrogant asshole is the part of me trying to bolster me back up saying, “Homie, you know what’s true. Trust yourself.”
I may not listen to the crass and extreme words he says, but he does stand for what he believes in more than the day-to-day Ben does.
Plus, he can also be accepted and trusted by others? Well shit, I’m in.
So, to my inner arrogant asshole: I’m sorry I’ve neglected you for so long. Thank you for reminding me that I have truth worth saying. I love you, you fuckin son of a bitch.
(I’m trying to speak in his love language)