This article may be a spoiler to those who haven’t watched the latest JOKER movie; let this statement serve as a spoiler warning, read at your own risk.
Personally, there are so many emotions going through my body, mind, and soul after watching this movie. This movie portrays so many messages in such a multi-dimensional manner, that it sends audience into a mind-boggling mode.
Out of these messages, there’s one that hits me the hardest.
Before that, let’s do quick exercise.
Imagine that you are standing in front of a mirror naked; no make-up, no fancy accessory, no clothes. Nothing. Now look at yourself.
Do you like who you are?
If yes, what do you like about yourself?
This exercise will provide a snippet to how our level of self-acceptance.
Self-acceptance is when we accept all our attributes, be it positive or negative. Self-acceptance is a conscious action; we have all the rights and freedom to accept who we are.
To say “I like myself, regardless of how I look, feel, or think” is self-affirming. With self-affirming, the act that we accept who we are as a person, that we have our flaws, that we have our weaknesses, and that we have our growth areas, is a start point for our self-esteem to grow.
Relating to the movie, it is when Joker or Arthur Fleck decides to accept who he is, that he becomes powerful and no longer invisible.
In the movie, he mentions that his uncontrollable laughter has always been told to be a medical condition. But no, he realizes that that is just who he is; it is not a medical condition, it is not an involuntary and uncontrollable act, IT IS JUST HIM.
And that message strikes the core of my heart.
THAT IS THE POWER OF SELF-ACCEPTANCE.
All these while we have been looking around for people to accept who we are, to beg for people to love us, kneel for people to be nice to us. We expect people to be kind to us, to be loving to us, to be caring for us. We want people to accept for who we are.
But the only person whom we do not approach or seek approval from is ourselves.
It is the moment when Joker accepts who he is, when people begin to resonate with him. He is no longer wearing any mask; trying to smile when he is not happy, or trying to fit into the society who is not in his favor.
It is the moment when he accepts who he is, that he becomes noticeable. He is no longer invisible as he used to. He is a symbol of change, a catalyst of revolution, and a sign of hope that we do not all have to hide what we think we are not good enough.
Although I don’t condone any form of violence, but that is to portray how powerful we can be when we accept ourselves.
Self-acceptance is a long journey and it does not happen overnight. You can see that from the movie. It takes him years after years trying his best to fit in, trying to live as per what ‘normal’ society wants him to live.
It is hard, it is difficult to admit the fact that we have flaws. It gets us nervous and anxious to think about how others might judge us if we look a certain way. It sends chill down our spine to think how others might see us if we behave a certain way. It gets us shivering to think how others might think about when we think in a certain way.
Others, others, others. How about ourselves? WHAT DO WE THINK ABOUT OURSELVES?
IT IS TIME TO MAKE A CHANGE FOR OURSELVES.
1. Be kind to ourselves
It really does not matter how others judge us. We have to accept the fact that no one judges us more, than WE JUDGE OURSELVES. We are always our worst enemy. Perhaps it is the time to give ourselves a break and to be less critical of ourselves, and to accept that WE ALL HAVE OUR WEAKNESSES.
2. Anxiety is normal
Step 1 sounds easy, but sometimes our anxiety will get the best of us. How can we be so calm and cool when we know clearly that we have our flaws, so obvious as if they are piercing people’s eyes? It is common and in fact normal to feel anxious and nervous. The first step to overcome our anxiety is to be aware of its presence. So once you notice that, take a deep breath, give your mind some time to cool down. Sometimes, all we need is a little break from jumping into conclusions about how terrible we are as humans.
3. Not everything is about us.
When bad things happen around us, we have the tendency to say it’s all because of us. When good things happen around us, it’s all due to luck, never our own effort. We tend to externalize our effort in bringing positive change to the world, seeing it as none of our effort makes a difference. We tend to internalize all the things that happen in the world with no clear connection to us, that we make everything bad happen. But not everything is about us. We can only do so much, and we can only help so much. Sometimes, it is our own critical mind that holds the steering wheel, telling us how bad we are if we cannot help. Sometimes, we are just that critical over ourselves, and it tires us down.
4. Have faith in ourselves.
We are capable in bringing change to the world. We are capable in doing anything because we can. We can make our presence noticeable, we can make our voices heard, we can make our existence felt, because we can. Sometimes, all we need to do is to look into the mirror and say good job to whatever smallest things that we have done.
We are the master of our lives and if we do not accept who we are, who is going to do that?
So, allow me to ask again.
Do you like yourself? What do you like about yourself?
PS: I’m not endorsing violent act, nor I’m agreeing with what Joker has done in the movie. This post is about self-acceptance; we are not defined by others’ approval nor perception. We define who we are, and we are who we are.
Perhaps if there’s someone to actively listen to Joker’s struggles (unlike what his social worker has done by brushing him off and asking the same questions with such robotic and unphased facial expression), he could have learned to accept himself and just maybe, he might not have gone to such extreme with his views on the world.
Perhaps the world can still be a safe place, if there’s someone whom he can confide to.
Perhaps Joker might not exist if there is someone showing him genuine love, care and support which may help him to accept for who he is.
Contributed by Ivan Lee
Repost with permission from Your Ears and Heart, YEAH