Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Moving Forward in Gravel Face-Plants

Over the last month, I’ve contemplated my life and my choices over the last three years, and everything that’s happened. There have been moments where I felt resentment towards Life itself for “pulling the rug out” from under me. Other times I’ve felt that it was everyone else’s fault that things didn’t work out in my life – loss of a parent, my business, a relationship, my financial affairs, etc. And then there are those crystal clear moments of absolute self-awareness in which I realize: I am the one living my life; I am the one making the choices and decisions along the way, and; I am responsible for my current state of affairs which I created through my choices and decisions. Well, shee-ott!

Unfortunately, a large percentage of the population remains unaware of how powerfully they create the state of affairs in their life. We sleep walk through life, unaware of the simple fact that every choice, every decision, every action (including NOT taking action), and every word we speak influences the outcomes that we experience in our lives. For forty years of my life, I spent most of my waking days in this state of unconsciousness, completely unaware that everything I do or didn’t do creates a cause and effect. If this rings strange to you, then I invite you to participate in a reflective exercise. Consider your life as the boat, and you are the captain at the helm navigating this journey. Each decision you make as the Captain takes your boat into the direction of calm waters or stormy weather. If you willingly take an honest yet objective look at every crossroad of your journey, you will begin to see how your choices have influenced the current circumstances in your life today.

Lets it break it down in a simple example: You come across a stranger who for no apparent reason in passing gives you a dirty look. You can A) take it personally and immediately decide what a jerk that person is; B) think to yourself, hmmm, someone isn’t very nice or friendly; C) shrug it off and go about your business without giving it another thought, or; D) give him an equally dirty look clearly expressing your displeasure that you are the target of one’s scowl. In this scenario, there is no right or wrong answer; EACH ANSWER IS A SIMPLY A CHOICE that will yield an effect or consequence!

In our society of self-righteousness, in which we must label everything as “right or wrong” in the name of morality, socially-defined acceptable norms, and what I call “the Joneses standard”, the bottom line is there is no right or wrong choice, just choice. Each choice yields an outcome or result, and in the example above, there’s not even one absolute definitive outcome. Why? Because each person making the choice brings a unique memory filter of past experiences to the situation which influences the choice made. Choice A may leave you with hurt feelings that nag at you for the rest of the day, telling one or more people about how awful that person was for giving you a dirty look for no good reason. In this case, your choice is to carry the other person’s emotional baggage that he dumped on you via a dirty look, thus turning yourself into a victim, a role that you really put yourself into by taking it on. Unless you asked the other person as to why you were getting a dirty look, you have ASSUMED it was about you. This self-righteous arrogance (because you instantly made it all about you) indicates insecurity or a low sense of self. Choice B frees you of the burden of the other person’s baggage, but places you in the seat of Judge, thus passing judgment on WHO the other person is, based on one look. Judgment is another self-righteous act, and makes us feel better about ourselves when we “put others” in their place, mentally or verbally. Debbie Ford, author of “The Dark Side of Light Chasers”, states that when we are judging others, those we judge are the mirrors of our own self reflection. Choice D reciprocates the dirty look, which creates the potentiality for a further unpleasant experience via your invite for confrontation. In this choice, you are dumping your emotional baggage of insecurity, etc. on to the other person. In any of these choices, one is taking the dirty look personally and making a huge assumption that it has anything to do with him or her. Perhaps, the person just had a fight with a loved one, is in physical pain, just lost a loved-one, or received bad news that he or she is losing a job? Or maybe s/he is just angry at the world and is taking it out on everyone!

Regardless of the reasoning behind the dirty look, Choice C invites us to simply dismiss the dirty look and not assume anything by it – a.k.a. not take it personally. Unfortunately, most people shift into automatic pilot and take other people’s opinions, thoughts, expressions, words, and actions VERY personally. Why? Because we are trained as humans to rely on external influences to feel good about ourselves. It’s why we overeat, shop beyond our financial means, have extramarital affairs, have revolving love relationships, or bitch and whine about how miserable our lives are so people can tell us we’re okay. We look to our parents to make us feel loved, friends to feel included, and lovers to know our worth as loveable. When someone looks at someone the wrong way, or says something unkind, most will take it personally because it’s a statement held in our insecure psyche that says “you’re not ok.”

When we are secure in our own sense of self, we are not easily influenced by what others say or think. We are willing to take more risks, stand by our truth and authenticity, AND be willing to fall flat on our faces when and if those choices don’t work out. When we play it safe doing what we always do, never taking responsibility for our life experiences (despite the fact WE made the choices), and/or placating others with whatever they expect of us (say, do, choose) so we feel accepted, loved, and “okay”, we stick our heads in the sand, and close ourselves off to being judged as failures, losers, etc. In doing so, we also squelch our heart and soul’s desire to fully express the joy, harmony, peacefulness, love (for self and for others), wisdom, abundance, and freedom to express authentically. Regrets, Judgment by Others and even Self-Judgment are the faces of Fear that grips many when making choices that take them “out of the box” to do something different rather than do what the they've always done or what the "Joneses" are doing. And while Fear always creeps up regardless of how self-aware and –confident one is, those who are grounded in a strong sense-of-self and self-awareness will find the courage to recognize Fear as illusion. Fears are as real as the monsters that live under our beds.

So, as I pick myself up and dust myself off yet again, and rethink my game plan for reaching my heart’s desires in this life, I’m comforted by Victor Kiam’s quote when the monster Fear rears its ugly head: “Even if you fall on your face, you're still moving forward.” I reflect upon past experiences, recognize my responsibility of making past choices, and I mine for the gold nuggets of wisdom. With this wisdom, I am more conscious to how I may choose more productively, understand where my pride and arrogance tripped me up, and humbly return to the Drawing Board to create a new navigational map that offers an even better and more abundant life than I’ve enjoyed thus far.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You left out choice E) kick him in the groin ). Just kidding Carolyn. Not taking things personally is an ongoing challenge for me and each time the opportunity arises, I can choose and deepen my awareness. Thanks for you insights, Lar