For a long while one of the most perplexing questions I could ask was “what do I like about me?”. Beyond the things I might tell others to help them think good of me and past the fabrications told to fatten up my ego, what was the truth? My BS was so deep and so long ago planted a good bit of it came to appear as fact to me, even though a lot of it was fabrication or exaggeration. I had to chip away self-delusion for a long time before I had even slight glimpses into “what do I like about me?”. Ultimately I found the largest quantity of my lies were told to the person who would most easily believe them: ME! That realization was the first big step in seeing myself more clearly and beginning the journey to factual self-discovery.
Getting rid of a delusion makes us wiser
than getting hold of a truth.
“I love you” is three words; not four! When the expression becomes “I love you, but….” it ceases to be a clear expression of my heart. When I qualify my feelings with an extra word, something other than the sentiment of my heart is being expressed. Instead love is being used as a crutch. It took time for me to learn that either “I love” or “I don’t”. There ain’t no “but” about it! An expression of love does not soften what comes after. Quite the contrary. Adding “but…” to “I love you” actually makes what I am saying suspect. If I have an issue to discuss it is best if I show how I feel by conducting myself with caring and concern. If I do my demeanor and manner will express my heart clearly while I say what is on my mind.
There ain’t no buts in real love.
I love you but you need to change.
I love you but I won’t marry you.
I love you but I don’t want your kid.
I love you but my wife won’t understand.
I love you but I will smack you if you make me mad.
I love you but you just don’t understand me.
I love you but I love her, too.
I love you but I want a divorce.
I love you but let’s just live together.
I love you but it’s just for tonight.
I love you but I toss that word around.
So that I can get what I want from you.
There ain’t no buts in real love.
Nan C. Loyd
Much like a mouse can cast a giant shadow when light is cast on it a particular way, what I fear has a way of looming larger than reality if I lend my attention to it. Energy of all types heightens and increases what it is applied to. Applied to exercise I get into better shape. Applied to my yard, landscaping of my home improves. The same is true of bad habits; energy applied to an addiction brings it in stronger form. Applied to what I am afraid of, my fear of it increases and I become unnecessarily cruel to myself. Much like the sun can be concentrated through a magnifying glass, I can focus my energy. The key is to be conscious what I apply the energy of my thoughts toward and thereby increase and multiply. Like a parent corrects a child, telling myself to “stop it” when I am putting energy into my fears yields results when I do it consistently. We are always the parent of the child within.
Obstacles are like wild animals.
They are cowards but they will bluff you if they can.
If they see you are afraid of them… they are liable to spring upon you;
but if you look them squarely in the eye, they will slink out of sight.
Orison Swett Marden
Sometimes it is difficult to accept responsibility for mistakes I have made or wrongs I have done without feeling the need to explain. That’s a reflex action taken with a mostly false sense that an explanation somehow changes what happened. Unless I have been asked to talk about my actions there is no good reason for jumping to rationalize and justify them. In most cases it only makes things worse by reliving the blunder and dragging someone else through it as well. The appropriate words to say are “I’m sorry”; apologize and move on. In all circumstances, feeling misunderstood and the need to make myself abundantly clear usually comes from a weak view of myself; a shortage of self-esteem. Thinking I am what I do as it is perceived by others is not healthy. What matters most is accepting myself as a fallible human being. I am perfectly imperfect and will make mistakes and do wrong things. To see myself otherwise is to expect myself to be something other than human.
If people refuse to look at you in a new light
and they can only see you for what you were,
only see you for the mistakes you’ve made,
if they don’t realize that you are not your mistakes,
then they have to go.
Never have I been arrested nor seen a moment in jail, but I have spent a good portion of many days chained away in a dungeon: the prison of “myself”. There have been thoughts that permeated my being which later proved to be unsubstantiated doubts based on not even a shred of evidence. I have been accused, tried and found guilty by the court of my mind for the same offense, over and over and over. Qualms about the future that never manifested have been frequent conquerors. Fear and dread have held me in their grip when they lacked the power to do so, yet I let them bind me anyway. The judge that sits in my head is ruthless and it’s my choice how much I listen. Unless I chose to pay as little attention as possible I become my own jailer.
Self is the only prison
that can ever bind the soul.
Henry Van Dyke
Until a few days ago it never fully occurred to me that my view of imperfection in others is mostly a shadow of my own imperfectness I was casting on them. Not a single human being on Earth is “perfect”. No amount of success, exercise, education, money, willpower or plastic surgery can change that. I have missed out on a lot because my focus was too much on what I saw as flaws in others, especially women. It is a symptom of a ‘love avoidant’, as I have been diagnosed, to find fault in a subject of their affection. Within such thinking I held imperfection up as a barrier to prevent a woman from even having a chance to become fully emotionally intimate with me. The realization is painful, but the knowing now means I am not nearly so prone to repeat that dysfunctional behavior. As long as I have life, there is always the chance of living it better.
When nobody around you seems to measure up,
it’s time to check your yardstick.
Being pessimistic is a habit that is sometimes a symptom of depression. For some, thinking as a pessimist is just a bad habit. This way of viewing life is a sort of win-win scenario where if things go well, one is right and if things go badly one is also correct. Being stuck worrying is in the same realm of being pessimistic. The different between the bad habit of being a pessimist and the bad habit of being a worrier, is the latter can cause one to become obsessed and filled with dread. Habits can be changed if a man wants to. But when worry and negative thoughts about how things will turn out permeate life every day, depression is likely to be the monkey riding on a man’s back. Just like a toothache deserves a dentist, depression deserves attention also. There is no shame it getting help for what hurts!
When you take charge of your life,
there is no longer need to ask permission
of other people or society at large.
When you ask permission,
you give someone veto power over your life.
Albert F. Geoffrey
To her husband , Virginia Woolf is said to have written “You cannot find peace by avoiding life”. In my time I found my ways of avoiding life by hiding in activity like flying airplanes or photography or juggling several romantic relationships at once. It sounds ridiculous now but I thought I was living life to its fullest. I never found more than momentary peace in any of it. In hindsight, I was actually running away from living by never allowing any real attention to be paid to what I was doing. There was a sense then I’d disintegrate if ever I slowed down to evaluate my actions. While I did not vaporize, those old ways of being had to be stopped before the start of recovery was possible. In more recent times I have become a good “waster” of time and found that peace comes best when it does not have a lot to compete with. Consequently what used to feel like “wasted time” is actually when a good bit of peacefulness is found today.
Running away will never make you free.
Every choice I make each day shapes my life experience. Choosing to get out of bed in the morning is a choice. Going to work, what I listen to on the radio, watch on television, taking quality time with loved ones, how much time I spend checking email, surfing the web, talking to a friend, stopping for a beer after work or making plans for the weekend are all choices. I make hundreds of them daily that combined set the course of my existence. Once I accepted the truth that more than any other force I shape my life, fundamental change became possible. Through a thousand little choices made differently over time small changes become substantial differences. I make choices and then the choices make me.
I do not seek perfection.
I simply seek to remember
who and what I am every day.
I seek the people and places and practices
that support the expanding of this awareness
in my day, in my life, in choices.
Oriah Mountain Dreamer
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