I’m sitting down at my desk on a Sunday morning to write this blog. The room is bright with sunlight, I feel at home in this beautiful space.
There is a picture of myself on the desk.
I am four years old.
I’m bright and awake and happy.
There are certificates on the wall in front of me, all of my credentials – whatever that means – and pictures of Mozambique, of Cathedral Peak in the Drakensberg and a very small mountain called Rhenosterkop, which I used to look at from my home north of Johannesburg, many years ago.
I’m thinking about what I should write for my next blog. I’ve written dozens of them in the last 18 months and I know that they just come to me unannounced, spontaneously, out of nowhere…or perhaps from Pure Consciousness.
They come as a gift to me. Largely speaking I don’t have to work out what I’m going to say. More and more I sense that there isn’t a particular ‘me’ that is doing this, which is why they are just a gift to me and hopefully, to you.
Yet subtly beneath this trusting and knowing that what I want to talk about will come of its own accord there is, every so often an anxiety. Much softer and more subtle than in the past, but there nevertheless, lurking and wanting to pounce and dilute the true magic of this creative energy that comes through me.
“What is the right thing to say, what is the right topic for this week and what is the right way to say it and what is the right way to present it? Will it be good enough, will it gratify you, will it gratify me, my monster conscience, at war with Mark? ”
Is There A Right?
The big question: is there such a thing as right?
Is there a universal good?
Have you noticed such a tendency in you, in your work, in your life, in your relationships?
My mother was a Time Magazine addict and I became one too when I was about 10 years old.
In those days they had a page at the front of the magazine called the Letters Page. It fascinated me endlessly how every week there were letters about last week’s edition and these letters would start with a pro and then there would be a con and then a pro and then a con, around whatever the particular topic was.
One person would say that Richard Nixon was a wonderful guy and then somebody would say what a terrible guy he was.
One person would support the Vietnam war and somebody would be against it. One person would support a particular economic policy and somebody would attack it.
As a kid this puzzled me because everybody was so certain that they were right in their opinion, but it was impossible for them to all be right. I think this is one of the things that turned me into a psychologist.
It just felt so painful, the experience of everyone thinking they were right and trying to convince everyone else that they were wrong.
So much conflict.
So much pain.
Perhaps the biggest problem of all for me, was that the only way to get out of my pain was to try and give the people in power, my parents and my teachers, what they wanted.
I had to agree with them.
To do the right thing by them.
But what this created in me was indeed an unending anguish. I didn’t know it at the time but I was trying to be the person these people in power wanted me to be.
If only I had known that they were acting out of ignorance, I might have saved myself an immense amount of pain. They did not know what they were doing when they squeezed me into the mould fashioned in their image.
Their image of what was good and right and pure.
Their image of the truth.
I gave away my power and let them pulverize my Self-Esteem.
This is the source of much of our psychological pain – the rest of it comes from our parents disengagement, their inability to hold us and love us when we are sad, when we’re not getting what we want, when our body is sick and it hurts.
A System Of Energy
We are system of energy which is innocent, creative and filled with love and power. At times of course it is willfull and selfish too.
We want to move into the world curious and filled with joy but as soon as we believe that we have to get it right we tumble uncontrollably into self-doubt and uncertainty.
We fall from heaven into hell.
It is so simple and yet so difficult to do, to return to heaven is to no longer believe the stories in our heads about how we should be and how we should live.
So many great knowers of the truth have been ridiculed and rejected by our culture. From Copernicus who said that the earth was not the centre of the solar system, to Jesus Christ who was crucified by my forefathers, to Pythagoras who was laughed at when he said the earth was round, not flat.
This having to get it right happens in multiple major areas but it also operates on subtle levels too.
We all know the fear of failing in our work, of giving a bad presentation, of seeing a project crash and burn, of losing an intimate partner, of not looking attractive enough or smart enough or not being rich enough.
But have you really considered the ways in which you doubt yourself that are so small and fleeting that you hardly notice them and most importantly, you miss how when these small things are added up they crush your Self-Esteem immeasurably?
“Do I make sense when I speak? My needs are selfish and petty, I have a pimple on my face, I’m not fashionable, I don’t have enough friends…”
The freedom and energy available to us when we begin to drop these fears is immense.
As Gloria Gaynor so beautifully sings, can you really, really begin to say, at every level of your being, “I am what I am and what I am needs no excuses.”
And then she adds, “Life aint worth a damn until you can say, I am what I am.”
Making sure that others are happy…just doesn’t work.
The problem is that it feels great to say this and mean it, but come the moment when someone looks at you judgmentally and says, “You’re not telling me you still use a Blackberry?!” That’s when the rubber meets the road.
If you can feel completely and utterly in that moment that I am what I am, you have arrived.
Of course mostly we ‘arrive’ and ‘leave,’…’arrive…and…’leave.’ That’s the way it works.
You also need to be able to say it when somebody judges the fact that you love watching reruns of the Jerry Springer show, or when you speak ill of the dead, or you admit that you don’t have a bucket list.
The world really wants to control your every move and your every thought and if you want the world’s approval you are toast.
So, can you just picture the person who criticises you the most in your life. Can you picture them saying that one thing which hurts you the most, which makes you feel really stupid or slow or inappropriate or unsuccessful and can you feel over and over and over again I am what I am and I need no excuses!
And you need to do it over and over and over again, because hundreds and thousands of times you have believed that they were right and this is not fixable in one magical moment.
There is also an internal element to this issue. So many of us in this first world, driven culture, are fragmenting ourselves with our anxiety about getting everything done on time and perfectly.
We threaten ourselves constantly with the things not done and half done.
“I have to get my inbox clear, get started on a project, finish another one, always driving, clenched-fist-jaw-neck striving to be complete and at rest, at peace.”
Can you simply ask yourself what it would feel like to:
Let all things be as they are, resting in incompleteness.
Can you just feel this energy filter down into your body, into your heart, letting it soften and open and flow with the imperfections and endless incompleteness of life.
If you would like to have a face to face or Skype consultation about any issues raised in this blog, please contact me at email@example.com