Friday, January 28, 2011

Perfection Does Not Equal Love

Some of you already know this, but as a child I went through some pretty severe peer rejection. I had almost no friends and spent much of my time reading or taking walks by myself. I mostly played games with my sister, five years my junior. We used to choreograph dances in our living room and perform them for our parents. We crafted elaborate skits and created props out of cardboard. I loved it, but I didn’t choreograph dances or craft elaborate skits with kids my own age. I made friends easily but I couldn’t keep them because I was too “weird.” Not because I ate paste, but because I had different values from those around me. I was a vegetarian who didn’t eat onions, garlic or mushrooms. I believed in reincarnation and karma and love as the pervading force in this world. The people around me did not. They told me I was going to hell because I didn’t believe in Jesus Christ as my Lord and savior. They made fun of my lunch every day exclaiming, “Ewwww! What’s that?!?” My brother got the worst of it – his peers teased him so mercilessly they threw meat at him. I seemed normal enough in my appearance, but when kids peeled past my outer fa├žade, they inevitably stopped calling, stopped inviting me to parties, just stopped.

In the midst of this, I picked up the idea if I was perfect people would love me. If I never made a mistake in soccer practice or on a test, then people would see how normal I was. If I acted just like everybody else, then I would be loved. I would never be able to think or believe in what those around me did (unless I moved), but at least on the outside I could fit in. Thus perfectionism was born. For me when I make a mistake, no matter how small, I have to quell a bit of panic because my subconscious/unconscious mind equates mistakes with isolation and abandonment. It’s silly, really. Just because I sent the wrong e-mail attachment to a contact today doesn’t mean all the love in my life will be taken away from me. It doesn’t mean anything, actually.

I’ve written before about mistakes being the zest of life, which I think is true. I honestly believe mistakes are part of the learning process, and nothing beats the expansive feeling that comes from learning. At the same time, I’ve felt a desire to be perfect right out of the gate. To know everything immediately. To be a star pupil. To be an award-winning martial artist. To know how to invest my money and become a millionaire. I want to know right now and I want to do it perfectly. Otherwise you won’t love me.

When I examine that belief and idea it starts to crumble because perfection does not guarantee love. I graduated number three in my class and my peers didn’t love me more. I called a perfect show as a stage manager and no one seemed to notice or really care. Even when I do things “perfectly” it doesn’t seem to make a difference. And you know? It never will.

People will never love me more because I’m an all-star. People will never love me more because I’m famous. People love me for who I am, not what I accomplish. I am allowed to make mistakes. I am allowed to send the wrong e-mail attachment because there is no inverse relationship between the mistakes I make and how much I’m loved. Thus perfectionism, I bid thee adieu.

I dream of a world where we realize love is associated with our insides, not our accomplishments. A world where we experience unconditional love all the time. A world where we allow ourselves to make mistakes because we know love will still be there. I dream of a world where we let go of our outdated beliefs and ideas because they no longer serve us. A world where we feel loved now and always.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Love Me The Way I Want You To

I almost don’t want to tell you this because it’s kind of embarrassing. I don’t want you to judge me or think I’m ungrateful for the people in my life. But what I'm about to discuss is also indicative of a deeper issue, which I think might be valuable to share.

Have you heard of the five languages of love? Gary Chapman says there are five ways people give and receive love: words of affirmation, physical touch, acts of service, receiving gifts and quality time. Chapman says we won’t feel loved until we receive love in our primary language. My primary language is words of affirmation. I want those I love to compliment me, tell me why they love me, write me heartfelt cards and poems. This is not me fishing for comments, but rather divulging why I’ve felt frustrated of late.

For the past two months I’ve felt upset people haven’t been expressing their love for me the way I want them to. Being the person I am, I conveyed this need but nothing’s changed. My friends are still showing me how much they care via the other languages – not words of affirmation. And it bugs the hell out of me. “Why can’t you just do what I want? Is that so hard? Love me the way I want you to!” I keep secretly hoping they’ll change, but they aren’t. So really, my choices are to either accept them for who they are, and how they express their affection, or I can ditch them. Let’s get real though, I love these people. I’m not going to stop being friends with them because they don’t tell me how awesome I am. Strangely, even knowing this I’ve still felt upset. I’ve still wanted them to what I wanted them to do.

Pondering my feelings last night I’ve realized this is yet another way I’m trying to exert control. The important thing to remember is I’m receiving love. Does it really matter how I’m receiving it? Reflecting on my control issues, I’m finally allowing people to be who they are and express themselves how they see fit. Control is a sneaky fellow because it comes up in all aspects of my life. When I allow people and the universe to do its thing is when the magic happens.

For instance, I was offered a part-time copyediting gig (yay!) but I also need to make more money to pay for my expenses. I decided freelancing was the answer, and more specifically, freelancing for a specific publication. It didn’t pan out. My controlling nature wanted to take over and “fix things.” I had to take a step back because I realized when I try to dictate how things are going to work with both love and money I disallow the universe from working its magic. There are INFINITE ways for me to receive money. Why does it have to come from freelancing for X publication? Similarly, why does love have to be in the form of words?

Sometimes I think life works like Best Buy – I go in, pick what I want, pay for it, the end. I get exactly what I want, the way I want it, when I want it. But life isn’t like that – at least it hasn’t been for me.

Wants and needs are natural. I’m allowed to ask for what I want but the “when” and “how” are out of my hands. When I try to dictate life according to my specifications I end up feeling demoralized. The best thing I can do is say, “I want love, financial abundance and success,” and then sit back and watch the universe go to work. And wouldn’t you know it? In my e-mail inbox this morning someone messaged me and asked me if I’d like to freelance for them. The universe provides, I just have to let it. People love me, I just have to let them.

I dream of a world where we are more allowing. A world where we ask for what we want and then let go. A world where we let the universe do its thing, knowing what we want will come to us. A world where we understand the world works in mysterious ways and that’s what it makes it so fun. A world where we recognize we are not in control because there are greater forces at work. A world where we accept what we receive, no matter how it gets to us.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes!

The alternative title to this post could be, “Resistance to change.” I’m at a place right now where I’m happy where I am. Really, really happy. I wake up in the morning feeling rested and well. I accomplish what I want to accomplish and I’m still getting paid. (Thank you severance package!) I’m pleased with the progress I’ve made on my personal growth and I don’t particularly want to go any further, thanks. You know why? Because I don’t want it to be hard. I don’t want to break down anymore of my psychological barriers or plow ahead. I want to languish where I am because where I am is so good! (Who says it won’t get even better?)

I’m basing my resistance to change on past experience I’ve had of breaking down my barriers. It’s been challenging and full of hard work and determination. And I just don’t to go through that again. I don’t want to look at all my issues or face any more psychological patterns. I’ve had enough! I’ve gone far enough! Unfortunately for my ego, I haven’t gone far enough. I cannot stand still. Life is about movement. You either progress or you regress, that’s just the nature of the world.

I’m resistant to change probably because I’m afraid of what it might be like. Of all the hardship I might go through. Of the struggle that’s possible. It’s like looking at a mountain and thinking, “Do I really have to climb up that thing to see the view at the top? Isn’t there an easier, softer way?” No. There’s not. I would LOVE to find the easier, softer way. I would LOVE to engage in a quick fix to get what I want. None of this hard work business. None of this climbing up the mountain. Sadly, it’s not possible. As I’ve heard time and again, the easiest way out is through.

I’m reminded of something a friend said to me about growth and change, “Who said it has to be hard?” (I don’t know, the world?) Is that really true though? Do I have to brace myself for hardship? Instead of a storm maybe I’ll experience a drizzle.

I read a post recently on Love-olution about how sometimes people use the phrase, “I’m only human,” as a get-out-of-jail-free card, as a way of not being accountable or making forward progress. The blogger asked what would happen if we didn’t accept we are “merely human?” If we lived up to our potential as divine beings? I think she poses a great question because according to my beliefs that’s exactly what we’re here for. We’re here to move beyond limitation and lack and to embrace our divine nature. We’re here to merge with Parama Parusa, Source energy or whatever label you want to give it. We’re on this Earth precisely to learn we are not “merely human,” and thus I cannot stay where I am, metaphorically speaking. I have to keep going.

I will say though I’d rather feel excited about the change in me. I’d rather look forward to the growth ahead instead of feeling trepidation about how difficult I perceive it will be. Because who said it will be hard? Maybe it will just be. Maybe I can breakdown my walls and just accept the experience rather than qualifying the process as difficult, challenging or tough. Maybe like all things, it is what it is.

I cannot change the fact I will either evolve or devolve but I can change my perception. Instead of bracing myself for hardship I want to welcome change with open arms. I want to say, “Yippee! Life just gets better and better! With every passing day I move closer to an infinite loving consciousness!” Instead of responding, “Oy vey, there’s still so much further for me to go,” I’d like to say, “Sweet! There’s so much left for me to experience!” because there is. There really is.

I dream of a world where we understand the point of power is in our mind. A world where we understand we can change how we perceive growth. A world where we dismantle our fears and our outdated thinking little by little. A world where we experience joy along the path of progress. A world where we embrace change, recognizing change is not scary, we just think it is. I dream of a world where we look forward to what’s ahead knowing all is well in our world.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Blame Game

“It’s all my fault. I’m to blame. Why didn’t I do it differently? Why didn’t I know better?” I loooove to play the blame game. I love to have that dialogue in my head (more like diatribe). On Tuesday I went to the physical therapist and looked at myself in the mirror. As I did so I felt like I was to blame for everything wrong with my body. I’m the reason my knees are knobby. I’m the reason my hips hurt. I’m the reason my hair is scraggly. And to top it off, I received outside reinforcement. My physical therapist said to me if I hadn’t sat in the “w” position when I was a child (with my feet behind me and my knees in front of me) my knees would be “normal.” Or my hips wouldn’t hurt if I strengthened my pelvic core.

I’m not blaming her because Lord knows I do that enough to myself. What I’m doing though is asking myself how I benefit. How do I benefit from taking the blame for everything? What do I get from finding fault? The answer is nothing (surprise, surprise). The feeling of blame doesn’t help me change anything. It doesn’t help me solve my problem.

The blame game, especially when I play by myself, keeps me stuck in the problem. I’d rather live in the solution. And sometimes there is no solution. That’s where serenity comes in. Accepting the things I cannot change and changing the things I can. I can’t change the past. I can’t change how my knees grew in. So maybe I can stop blaming myself for how they stick out and instead start accepting and appreciating them for getting me where I want to go. I can choose to love and accept myself as I am or continue to play the blame game. Take me out coach, I’m done.

I used to think blame was a great motivator. “If I chastise myself enough I’ll do something!” Um, no. If I chastise myself enough I’ll feel bad, that’s it. My parents loved to say to me as a child, “You catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar.” I don’t know if that’s technically true because I catch an awful lot of flies with apple cider vinegar, but I think the concept is sound. Love is a much better motivator than fear. I would do absolutely anything for the people I love. Not so much for the people I fear.

I guess what I’m saying in a roundabout way is blame doesn’t serve me. Blame gives me pain rather than serenity. And serenity is what I’m shooting for these days. I can’t fix my joints but I can strengthen my pelvic core and get a haircut. And I can also look myself in the mirror and accept what I see because it’s much easier to change your mind than it is to change your body. Cheaper too.

I dream of a world where we cut blame out of the equation. A world where we understand blame is useless because it doesn’t help us to solve anything. A world where we each experience serenity, accepting the things we cannot change and having the courage to change the things we can. A world where we live in the solution, asking what we can do about the situation. A world where we know practice love and compassion not only for each other but for ourselves.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.