Monday, October 26, 2015

Mirror, Mirror

When you gaze into your looking glass what or who is it you see? Do you gaze upon yourself with judgment and shame, or compassion and glory? Of course the mirror is symbolic in that it reflects to us that which we feel or believe about ourselves, no matter if there is truth to it. Many try avoid the image looking back at them in the physical mirror as often as possible, and most absolutely refuse to do any internal self-reflection. Why is that I wonder?

I’ve had moments in time when that question baffled me. I personally can’t seem to stop trying to understand myself and grow personally, which some might define as an issue but to me it feels as natural as breathing. Why was I the odd man out?

Naturally, fear could be the only answer. But fear of what? Fear of what one might discover, I suppose. So then, what is the worst discovery imaginable? Universally the answer seems to be, “That I’m not loveable.” On the surface that does seem to make a lot of sense. By definition the process of self-awareness suggests that we are to own and embrace all aspects of ourselves. You know- the good, the bad and the ugly. The majority of us have been taught that the less than favorable parts of our makeup are to be hidden away or denied, and hold far more weight when calculating our “lovability factor” than our sometimes stellar displays.

Yeah, so it all looks like a plausible theory on the surface. If I go digging around and honestly dare to look at all parts of me, then I might get the affirmation that scares me the most- that I’m a worthless piece-o-shit. Or will I? If I don’t, than what is left to be discovered? Good question, no?

Beneath the obvious premise we discussed above regarding peoples’ fear of looking within, lies a find with the power to terrorize. Shall I tell you? Are you ready to take in this truth, do you dare to feel it? Well it’s quite simple, that you are lovable – even more than our limited minds can conceptualize. Doesn’t sound scary as you read the words, I’m sure, but to actively and actually feel and live this concept strips us of all that we’ve known.

The reality is that the goal of going inward is to foster self-love. Never have I watched another take the deep plunge of personal growth and walk away saying, “Well, now I feel worse about myself!” Instead self-compassion and acceptance begin to bloom, and with them comes the heavenly aroma of knowing you are always nothing but remarkable. This is where the shock comes in, because with the dawning of this realization comes the challenge to let go of who and what we thought and were taught we are. As we bask in self-acceptance and claim our splendor we can no longer play small or the role of victim.

No, no, no. We have been called to claim our power, our divinity. What?! Yes, once we catch a glimpse of how truly spectacular we are we can no longer crawl up like a pillbug in an effort to squelch the radiant light that is us. And that, is what I believe stops others from going inward- that they are far more magnificent than they could have imagined and with that, comes the responsibility to shine. The universe put out a casting call, and we each have been given the starring role, no longer to hide in the shadows but instead to step out from behind the stage curtain of life and allow ourselves and our truth to be seen and shared with the world.

I do declare, nothing could be scarier…nor more sublime.

Be well and happy.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Married to Martyrdom

Well, I know we discussed the corruption of kindness just a couple of weeks ago and you might notice a similar message in this week’s post. I see these two posts as close cousins, just bearing a different title that made an appearance in my world once more- and now yours too. So, I ask that you indulge me for a few brief minutes as we peruse the ego and another costume of this sly trickster.

Donning the crown of martyr is hailed in our society. We are fed the notion that unrewarded sacrifice and toil are the makings of a noble soul. Many choose to dine on that message and eventually find themselves emotionally starving as they sit in the squalor of self-pity.

I suppose the truth is to some it is an attractive place because so many relish the false belief that their suffering puts them in line with the imperial rankings. The cries of those in martyrdom calling for attention, “Yes, I will be the one to suffer… No, no let’s just do what you want… I have to do everything all by myself… It’s okay, I don’t need help (deep sigh).” In all honesty we’ve all at least tried on the martyr headdress more than once, some choosing to outfit themselves daily in full regalia, but I can find no redeeming qualities of playing the role of martyr, unless painting yourself as a victim is appealing to you.

From where I stand, the portrait of a martyr looks on the surface to be acts of selflessness, but in truth it too is a very self-centered dynamic, one that is utilized to feed the egos need to believe we are superior to our fellow man. Our ego spouts thoughts of, “It’s all up to me. Ah yes, look at me and all that I must endure. Poor me.” Add in another deep sigh.

Sometimes martyrdom is masking a deep need to control our environment. It feeds a false belief that if we micromanage all aspects and details of our lives and others’, at our expense, then everything will be safe and predictable. I hate to send anyone running for cover, but that is a big ole lie my friends, as very little is under our direct control. Surely you know by now the only thing you truly have authority over is yourself.

I’m hoping at this point I’ve made being a martyr look quite unattractive, because it is. It is not an act of nobility to begrudgingly continue to perform duties and roles and then not so casually shine the light on your hardship for doing so. What it is, is annoying and draining.

If you want to bear the burden of some project alone, deny support from others and allow yourself to be a human doormat- have at it! But, don’t then bemoan the choices you made as an adult. You can say no. You can say yes. You can say maybe. You can ask for help. You can let others take the wheel as you take a back seat. Whatever it is you wish to do, then do it because it speaks to your truth and not as a campaign for personal aggrandizement.

The next time you find yourself about to slink your way into your martyr mask remember its defining acronym that drives it all home- a martyr is:

Be well and happy.

Monday, October 12, 2015

No More Invertebrates

I got a little hot this week, folks. I’d like to share with you the impetus for the foul taste that was left in my mouth, and this week’s blog.

I came across a picture of what appeared to be a monstrous black lump of coal being transported on an 18-wheeler truck bed. The caption for the post read: “I-90 will be closed tomorrow across South Dakota. They are hauling a 200 ton lump of coal so they can add Obama to Mount Rushmore. They couldn't find a 200 ton piece of shit.”

First, let me say that I am not here to defend President Obama or his politics and policies. This is obviously not a political blog nor am I a political activist in any way, shape or form. I am fully aware that the president did not receive the post and proceed to weep inconsolably at the desk of the Oval Office. What I am here to champion is common decency and more importantly, our need to stand up for its existence in our world.

I found the post to be offensive on many levels and I was itching to respond with a message that said just that. I was encouraged to just let it go so that I didn’t cause any unnecessary conflict. Lord knows I didn’t want to offend the offender, right?! Yes, initially I must admit that in my state of anger I did want to spit a bit of venom in the direction of the person responsible but I knew that would only leave me standing in the same hateful place as them. After a bit of thought and contemplation I found that I did not, and in fact could not, let this one slide. It felt uncomfortable and made my insides cringe when I envisioned a complaisant stance.

I set my temper aside and I crafted a very simple response that did not attack the attacker but called into question the necessity of their actions. Verbatim I said, “Really? Whether you like him or not, is something like this necessary?” My goal was not to change that person in any way but instead I chose to be the voice that challenged an act of childish cruelty. I made the decision to stand out from the crowd, the many others that found the post hilarious, and risk that I might be seen in a less than favorable light by the masses. That was okay with me because that felt much more tolerable than how I would see myself if I said nothing.

In school I learned that we humans are vertebrates and I believe that sometimes we need to use the backbone we’ve been given. It’s not always an easy or comfortable thing to call out an injustice, no matter its size, but we each must stand for something. When we choose to remain on the sidelines we are not innocent bystanders but instead become silent supporters of malice. I feel confident that each and every heart and soul on this planet calls us to rise to the occasion, somewhere at some time, and speak from our truth and not sit idle in fear.

While answering a call to action may not always get us friends, it most certainly will leave us with some semblance of self-respect.

Be well and happy.

Monday, October 5, 2015

The Corruption of Kindness

I would never suggest that we shouldn’t be kind. Obviously, our world could use a tad more kindness, on both a personal and global level. But several Facebook postings by others this week made me realize that many are misusing the notion of being kind.

The postings went something like this: “It doesn’t pay to be kind. People just use you,” and, “Being so nice always bites you in the ass! I should just start being a bitch!” or, “People are so mean. They just walk all over you when you’re a good person.” Their remarks inspired others to commiserate with them. My response is a big ole, “Ugh!” Each one of those statements is loaded with victimization and expectations.

It leaves me to wonder what the motivation is behind their supposed kindness. Is the issue with the receiver or the energy which they approach the situation? I’m leaning towards the latter and it makes think that a refresher course on acts of good will might be in order.

There are two distinct and very different forms of giving, whatever it is we wish to share. While both are about “doing” for another on the surface, one is actually selfish in motivation. Yes, being kind can actually be rooted in selfishness if one’s motivating factor is to hear our praises sung by another. If we perform what we perceive to be altruistic deeds in the hopes of hearing how wonderfully generous and loving we are, well then that’s not very loving at all. Our acts are not meant to boost our self-esteem but are an outward expression of what we already know to be true about ourselves. If we expect another to return the favor, as though we now have some unbreakable bond with them, we have engaged someone else in a contract that they have entered unaware but are now seemingly beholden to fulfill. 

Of course as human beings we enjoy appreciation and acknowledgement from our fellow man, but this should not be the impetus for our behaviors. If it is what fuels us, we will often be left unfulfilled and bitter, as are the people I mentioned above. The others in the Facebook post have forgotten one very important truth, they have a choice! If someone continually takes advantage of our generosity it’s because we allow it. If through their behaviors they are saying. “I don’t value what you do or have done for me,” then we should believe them and make our next choice accordingly, which might be to stop being so charitable with that individual. If we continue to give, give, give without limits or boundaries we aren’t being kind, what we are is foolish and lacking in self-love.

Now that we now what kindness is not, let’s discuss a conscious, healthy and truly loving approach.

The second form of kindness originates from the heart, not a wounded ego. The reward in this type of kindness is not in the accolades but the pleasure is derived in the act itself. Simply put, it feels good to do it just for the sake of sharing or giving to another. There is a benevolence in the energy and the action when it comes from the space of an open heart. With this energy we don’t crave recognition, only the joy we receive in knowing that we came from an authentic space. This approach is not some school yard version of an I.O.U. system where we hold others emotionally captive until they’ve paid their supposed debt.

Of course another may still choose to greedily consume this type of giving as well, but it doesn’t sting because we were not looking for a kickback. Even more importantly, when coming from this point of reference, we will and can more easily make the shift to pull out of those interactions in which we are not respected because an open heart allows us to tend to ourselves as well.

So by all means, spread the love- but leave the neediness behind.

Be well and happy.