Don’t You Want My Life?

utopia

Have you ever wanted someone else’s existence? Thought their grass was greener than your grass?

Or, perhaps, you may have idolized someone and been disappointed to find, they really don’t have the life you thought? They turned out to be just plain, ole, human beings.

I recently had a conversation with a professional peer, who I didn’t idealize or think, “Gee I want her life,” only to be asked by her, if that is indeed what I desired. Now not to take it completely out of context, but if you know me….you would know that no matter how challenging my life is, how unbearable it has felt at times…I have never wished to be someone else  or ‘have their life.’

So many of us can look to others, as having found the secret to success, the way to living an amazing existence and wonder what is wrong with us? Why can’t we replicate it, or how come we always seem to fall short?

Yeah….so, here’s the thing. Every single person on the planet, puts his or her pants on pretty much the same way, unless you’re this guy:

We each can appear to have our sh*t together, when in actuality our thoughts really don’t match–ALL THE TIME. An individual can look at me and think I am 1000 steps ahead of them in some capacity and not see where I may be 1000 steps behind them too.

When this peer made the statement to me, I then told her, “I don’t know you or the entire picture of your life; I don’t get why you think I would want it?” Comparison is the thief of joy and when we constantly look at someone as having it easier, better or knowing something we don’t….we’re screwed.

It ceases to be an inside job; it’s all about keeping up. It’s not just a comparison, or a competition, it also takes away our self-acceptance for all of who we are and ability to live in the moment.

Self-acceptance and authenticity are nothing to do with external circumstances, so even if we achieve the same goals as someone else, unless we’re doing it from a place of being motivated by our own joy, passion and desires….we’re trying to live someone else’s life.

We can look to someone and see a goal they have achieved and want to accomplish it too. Although, how they did it, may not actually work for us. Their ‘how’ is personal to them. We have to strike out onto our own path, while making sure that where we’re headed has real meaning for us.

There is no one-size fits all on living the ‘right’ life.

In a society that says “look at me, look at me…aren’t I special? Aren’t I the life you want to live?” it is not the whole story. It’s a snapshot, perhaps one dressed up in a beautiful evening gown or an expensive car or something, which when you get right down to it, has little bearing on inner fulfillment–if that is all there is in the life being displayed.

We can have it all, if that is what we truly desire, but for it to feel successful, it must resonate with our truth.

As a mentor coach, I don’t have an ideal life. Things aren’t perfect and there are days I wake up, working my way through a funkiness or obstacle. I don’t live with a smile on my face 24/7 (especially if you see me driving) and things don’t always work out how I would like them to…

BUT, unlike the person who asked me the ‘title’ question, what is important to me and for anyone who chooses to work with me, is that I don’t want anyone to emulate my life. I want to offer tools to people to live their authenticity, to be their truth……to accept themselves and whatever the heck it is that will make them happy, without living by the expectations of someone or something else.

If we look to others to find ourselves, let’s make it useful, instead of something we can bash ourselves with by not measuring up. If we look to them for inspiration, but not perfection…or even better, we look to them to reflect back characteristics of ourselves ‘who we are’….‘what we do’  and perhaps see our truth more clearly…then we can feel connected to our own power.

 

 

 

Negative Thinking is Exhausting

kuan_yin__goddess_of_compassion_or23
Kuan Yin: Goddess of Compassion

We can be stuck in negative thinking, because it is familiar.

It can be just what we know. Especially, if our thoughts are focused on a situation that won’t change, such as some of the WHY questions: “Why am I alone?” “Why can’t my partner do what I need?” Why does my life, job, home, relationship suck?” 

And the I HATE statements: “I hate this situation I am stuck in, I hate making decisions, I hate him/her, I hate that I’m fat, I hate my life, job, etc…”

And so on…you get the picture.

Perhaps, upon waking the thoughts are there, the same ones like a wheel turning and all they manage to do is wear a person out!! Seriously, what type of mood does that put forth for the day ahead?

The reason it’s so exhausting is that those thoughts are stressful and if we were to act on them in an angry or stressed out manner, the outcome will probably not be what we want.

There is a way to stop the negative cycle of thoughts from taking over the day. It takes time to begin a new practice and I suggest starting small, very small….that will make it easier to continue and create a new habit.

1. Stop for a second in the middle of a negative thought. Ask yourself if it is helping you? The answer is more than likely, “NO.” All it does is keep you caught in a circular pattern.

2. Tell yourself to relax just for a minute. Close your eyes. Nothing bad is happening right in the moment. It’s just you here. Now as silly as it is, say, “I want to feel happy.” If you listen to that statement, you should feel some of the stress associated with negative thinking drop down.

3. Now. Pour some kindness on yourself. Meaning, tell yourself you are doing the best you can in your circumstances. Be compassionate. The kinder you are to you, the less angry you are with others.

4. Look at the situation, relationship, or whatever it is that keeps you uptight, BUT look at it through the eyes of kindness. Take the compassion you have for yourself and look outwards. Is there a small glint of acceptance for what is in the now? Do you feel a different option in how you are thinking, acting or desiring?

This type of transition may be incremental to some of us over time or it could be an epiphany. Slowing down and stopping the negative thoughts will make a difference in our lives, even if it is just in how we feel each day. Instead of having a pit in our stomach as we face the day, maybe there is a warmth throughout our body that no matter what we will be emotionally, “okay.”

Right and Wrong—Don’t touch the stove!

Most of us were brought up with a strong sense of right and wrong.

It goes beyond personal safety; it dives into the beliefs our parents held, which were influenced by their families and society.

Right and wrong were also taught to us in school. We learned to raise our hand to speak, not chew gum in class, turn in our homework on time and so on.

Right and wrong thought was taught as a generalization; many clichés have been used for generations, which were based on societal norms.

Often, as a child, we did not understand the thought process behind the limiting statements.

Instead, we either rebelled or succumbed to their rules.

Many rules were used to monitor and limit behavior, some are important and meant to keep society as a whole in check. The Ten Commandments; whether you see it as part of religious literature or you see the basic tenets of how to get along with others in your life emblazoned into this stone; the point is man has always been trying to figure out the rules.

How about the rules of self-governance or relationships?

Rules at Work?

And short of killing someone or causing harm to another with purpose, does right or wrong really matter?

I’m talking the sense of right and wrong we give in judgment of ourselves and others.

Many of us carry guilt, obligation or shame, especially when we feel a good amount of our decisions, words and actions are wrong.

And when we have someone in our environment reminding us of how wrong we are, it becomes an even bigger struggle.

What can be done about the internal and external battle of right vs. wrong?

When it comes to everything under the Sun, short of violence or harm, right and wrong are subjective.

The internal battle of right vs. wrong, has much to do with your upbringing.

Were you often in trouble? Were you constantly reminded you were bad or wrong? How your opinion or reason didn’t matter and you needed to keep quiet, because what you said would be used against you?

Therefore you felt a sense of shame that you were just bad, unworthy or wrong?

Yup!

That’s the edge of the cliff you live on whenever unrest, arguments, blame, or any form of mental arm-wrestling shows up in your life.

You become that kid again.

And you try to protect yourself by shutting down or “out-arguing,” your opponent.

Maybe you’ve tried different tactics like agreeing to take all the responsibility or stonewalling the other person.

Any tactic short of honesty will never make YOU feel better.

Maybe you don’t know why you become engaged in battle.

Your childhood is an important marker of how you act or react in confrontation or in trying to make your point.

Is there a constant critic in your head telling you that you did right or wrong, good or bad?

Sometimes it’s loud.

The voice can provoke us to start inane arguments or focus on characteristics of others, which we feel are bad or make us feel bad. Comparison, anger, bad treatment or believing the other person is better or worse than us—forces our hand.

Even if you win the argument, the internal battle continues. The sense of shame, second-guessing and feeling bad starts to sink in as soon as self-righteousness leaves the building.

And for those who have to prove they are right at all costs, your very sense of self, identity and confidence rests on the shoulders of claiming your prize in a total K.O.

For those who base everything on their sense of feeling right, ending up “wrong,” can shatter the very sense of self they hold as valuable…they feel they may never recover.

The battle is never won, because you feel like crap inside.  You may argue about meaningless things, but you need that win to re-establish some feeling inside of you that means you are “okay.”

Except it doesn’t last, so what? You won and someone lost….until the next time and there will be a next time, because no one likes to lose either.

And here’s the rub.

No one is right or wrong.

Nope. I’m not talking about driving down the wrong side of the street. I’m talking about trying to feel good or get your sense of self-esteem from other people at their expense.

Who cares what you think is right and they think is right.

There’s probably validity to the points being discussed, but can’t we just focus on that, instead of “I’m right; you’re wrong?”

Can’t we take our misled ego, bruised confidence and self image right out of the equation?

Can we recognize what is missing and say to ourselves, “You are okay, just as you are…flawed….screwed up…lovable…goofy…smart, etc…” instead of pointing the finger and deriving our mood, decisions and emotional contentment from being right?

If you believe strongly in something with conviction and are about to engage in an argument with someone who is as convicted as you, wouldn’t it make sense to focus on what is really being said, rather than, which side is right?

I know when people start “agreeing to disagree,” and can “hear” what the other person really needs (whether it is a sense of validity, to be listened to or loved) and answer the “need” rather than making it into WWIII, everyone feels better. No one feels disconnected and it can be healing for all.

Open your mind and heart first to yourself; be aware of that inner dialogue.

When it flares up, look at those parts of yourself that you’re making wrong. Are you really wrong?

When you’re so sure you’re right and no one can argue with you, ask why is it so important that you make this statement out loud?

What is it you really need?

The stories we tell…ourselves and others

Umberto Boccioni -Dynamism of a Man's Head.

How do you tell a story in which you can’t remember all the elements?

Is it even worth telling when some of it is misty or musty? Or do you just make up new details?

I ask myself this question as I look at what I’ve written and shared thus far on my blog and on elephant journal. I am beginning to realize the journey in sharing experiences has really only begun today.

Like most people, I have been a fairly private person when it comes to details of my life. 

As I let pieces and parts come out in my writing, it seems that others gain something from the excursion.

Which….leads me to this day. The journey to now writing stories that I have long forgotten some elements possibly crucial or maybe more like window-dressing.

And the thought of the word “story”, got me thinkin’ and I decided to explore it a bit with you today.

The “story” no longer defines me as “who I truly am.”

I don’t really have a story anymore, at least one that is set in stone. 

There is no horrible scar tissue that remains, as it used to be what drove me for years.

My view of the past with all its twists and turns on my path, used to convince me I thought I knew me.

I really had NO clue.

And I didn’t know how clueless I was until I was standing in the middle of major epiphanies! Wake up time!!

Do you know what I mean?

How have your past stories changed? And how did those stories change you?

What brought about your epiphanies?

I have epiphanies on a fairly regular basis.

My perception last week may have changed dramatically this week. Thank you light bulb moments!

Its a stretching and realization that everything changes, and when we resist, we’re screwed.

I was contemplating sharing some stories here, because what was painful to me, may be painful to someone else. And some of the things that were painful, may still bite me on the ass. Or in some cases, I may now be the compassionate observer to myself in a state of inner peace (at least in the moment).

We are all connected.

As much as we’d like to disconnect from some people, we remain connected… and to me, sharing our ever-changing experiences is a great place to remind ourselves of this truth.

The thing with stories, is they are just that “stories”, words with our special spin on past experiences, thoughts and perceptions of ourselves and our world.

When you realize you have the power within you to change your story, or destroy it and create a new one…. a whole world of ideas can open up to you.

If I feel like I am a loser and every story I tell about myself and my experiences to willing listeners ends with me “showing” how I am this huge loser….I have taken a story I believe and now given others the fertilizer to think the same thing.

And the funny thing is…

Number one: I am lying to myself me in my tale of woe, the belief is not true that I am a loser….its just the perception I am choosing, because there is a benefit to me in portraying myself as such a person.

And secondly, stories don’t define anything in terms of authentic truth about ourselves, if they are used to show how we are the victim or the super-hero. There is no true winner.

Either extreme is the ego looking to feel worthy through approval or prove once again that we are unworthy. Both sides of the coin show…we ain’t digging ourselves too much.

Thirdly, stories are from ONE viewpoint. You choose another POV and you have a brand new story.

We walk around exchanging these stories, these one-sided b.s. laden, fear-drenched, sad sack, victim stories. Stories can be very insightful and if you really listen, you can hear the honest truth beneath the words.

I spend a portion of my days as a coach listening to “stories”. And one service I provide is getting to the seed of the story, as to where the pain started by asking questions of my clients. Once there is the awareness of why a story exists, we can give it a broader more balanced perception. And this requires a lot of accepting on the part of the storyteller.

It gives way to freedom when we break out of our old, gloomy Gus stories. It gives us a plank to walk off into the unknown depths of who we are truly meant to be in this life. We are released to take chances and be the rock star we know lives in our heart!

Really, what lives under the weight of our stories is a sense of emotional adventure, passion, unlimited possibilities!

Stories keep us afraid. Stories keep us in suffering and pain. When you decide to change the story of your perception of your life by accepting you and the world, a tiny miracle happens. You stop suffering and you can see new possibilities.

It is that simple.

Compassion is

When I was younger I held the belief that the world was black and white, right or wrong–I rarely questioned this concept. As I have gotten older, I came to realize things are never what they seem to the naked eye and shades of grey rule my existence far more than anything concrete and un-changeable.

I find forgiveness to be easier as I have gotten older too; there isn’t a person on Earth, that I expend energy holding a grudge toward in any capacity of my life. I may have momentary flashes of anger toward a person, though it will usually lead me to introspection and a different perception.

I am not usually motivated to be right; I’d rather be happy. I am motivated through a sense of connection, creation, love, passion and compassion.

I try to stay away from being self-righteous, although it can creep up on a person. The realization that you are on your high horse can be a rude awakening, it takes a heck of a lot of energy to stay in the saddle of self-righteous thoughts and behaviors. And catching yourself in the act can be the wake up call to unhitch the saddle and start walking toward compassion.

There have been times I have built a case against someone. I’ve done it when I’ve been hurt, feel misused, angry or allow myself to be victimized in some way. Examining “why” will lead to change. That is why many of us would rather suffer in the pain, then have the scary specter of the “unknown”. You know… being compelled to take action; create change. We’d rather suck it up. Instead of being there for ourselves, compassionate to our feelings, we toss our feelings aside. The frightening thought that we may have to say something uncomfortable to another who has hurt or offended us in some way, becomes cause for alarm. It scares people!! What if someone doesn’t like us, because we stood up for ourselves? 

It seems to be the way in my life, when it rains it pours (the pitter patter of the Universe waking me up with a 2×4). From family members to friends and clients, I was recently faced with this situation in every area of my life. I realized I had been pretty flexible or unclear with my boundaries, accommodating some at my expense. I decided I could continue each situation and let it go (actually we don’t let it go, we just stuff it in an overstuffed sock drawer in our mind to burst out later when it happens again) or I needed to practice authenticity and compassion.

Communication is the connection; if your relationship cannot withstand honest dialogue, it is probably sinking in quicksand. There are seemingly a lot of unsaid things beneath the surface. It means no real intimacy, truth, respect or friendship when you pretend it is all okay. Again, sucking it up and acting like everything is hunky dory is a huge disservice to all people involved. It continues the vicious cycle of resentment, anger and pain, ugh!! I practice compassion instead. I refuse to pile on the baggage of fear.

For me, each situation provided a different opportunity. The communication was not similar, but the consistency of honesty and compassion were the foundation. Each situation yielded distinct results. I came to new realizations and I am happy. It was scary as I navigated my way to find words, because I was intimidated by what could happen–I took the risk all in the name of COMPASSION. Not just compassion for me, but for others. If I would’ve sucked it up, I would have made the other person suffer in the long run too, because I would’ve been adding ingredients to a “stew” of resentment. Lucky me, now I get to celebrate the freedom in feeling light, allowing me to make clear-hearted decisions rather than block-headed ones. : )

I know many people who suffer from not being compassionate toward themselves. It can be difficult to break patterns. It is hard to set boundaries, especially when you believe your equipped with supernatural power to make others happy. Or maybe you are always the person to accomodate another’s schedule while disregarding your own. Maybe it comes down to making others like you, love you or think you are the bee’s knees. You may have a need and are compelled to be of service to others. Maybe you say “yes” when you mean “no”, or maybe you’ve allowed yourself to be a dumping ground for other people and allow them to unload their issues on you and blame you, if you protest. I have heard these statements from many personally, professionally and from myself in the past.

It is easy to become self-righteous and indignant when you feel you are giving too much. It always comes back to the same thing, giving with no strings attached from the bottom of your heart and not to be IN CONTROL, liked, approved of or validated. If you are depleted, then STOP–back up, danger Will Robinson! Have compassion for the person you will end up resenting because you’ve kept a scorecard and for you, because it takes a lot of energy to keep the score.

Compassion gives you a kinder, gentler, more genuine way to go through life. It is the way to peace for us all. Joy breeds joy and a heart unencumbered by resentment, leads to deeper connections, happiness and opportunity for the positive to come knocking on your door.

Picture is Quan Yin (Guanyin) Goddess of Compassion.