Saturday, November 7, 2009
For some reason this week I have encountered a handful of people who have had a hard time dislocating their focus from the rearview mirror. Let me explain. My life allows me the blessed ability to be in the presence of or obtain the audience of many people, and in that presence, the ability also to engage in conversation. From groups, to one on one, to social networking arenas, to blogging comments I have found it a joy to be able to broaden my contact as well as enlightenment often leveraged by current digital forums.
Life does not allow us the instantaneous muting of one's rants through a "hide" button as does venues like Facebook, and I have found that a quest to try to understand things as opposed to negating them or chastising them is a better way of coping for me. I have noticed that some individuals I encounter perpetuate their circumstances of self pity often by looking backwards, forensically dissecting the misdeads that caused them the most suffering and pain in their lives. Then once a situation has been targeted, a current identity is attached. As it casued me to post and I stand by, "our past deeds have nothing to do with our current identity".
I encounter a gentleman from time to time in a group setting and his circumstancial nemesis is the fact that he is trying to overcome addictions. He weekly states that he (due to his past misdeeds) "is a liar, cheat, and a thief". This not because of current practice, but past intoxicated behavior. This to me is so hindering to one's recovery as it ties you to your past by punishing oneself repeatedly with a negative title that is self chosen and with an ongoing sting. It is hard to be present when your anchor is dropped in the past.
I encountered another beautiful young lady who has dealt with the past identity issues that accompany dealing with weight and body perception issues due to her weight and the opinion of those whom she encountered. The baggage as she mentioned has carried over into her young adulthood, and fortunately she has chosen to let go of that anchor by studying her assets as opposed to liabilities. (Not that they are liabilities at all). She now uses her insight to help others as well as cleanse her past angst.
She learned wisely that "what we focus on is what we see"!
I too in my life found it easy to select "armageddon" as opposed to a "speed bump" should an obstacle appear. I would also attach labels and past experiences as the barometer as to the amount of pressure I perceived it held for me. I found the past haunted me with compound interest when resurfacing for another round of a similar situation.
I also find that I have done many things in the past; many that I perhaps having had the ability to avoid now would, but do not necessarily regret. I also do not attach the labels that are so damning just to give power to a current fleeting emotional uprising.
Having a rough morning does not make my day "horrible". I can start it over again at any time. Breaking up with someone does not mean I have to absorb the identity my "ex" would impose upon me to make them feel better about the separation. ie. "She is a bitch, unreasonable, mean spirited." He is "lazy, worthless, ugly".
Being out of a job does not make us a "loser", and being without money does not make us "worthless". Being fat or out of shape does not make us "unloveable", nor does bald, short, thin, handicapped, slow, fast, black, white, blue, green or purple.
I see our past needs to remain in the rearview mirror, yet our eyes need to stay focused on the road. Circumstances do not at all give birth to an identity, and we must remain aware when we feel this way. I find that when I feel a certain negative way, if I inventory the situation, I decrease its' ability to devour me. I ask, "what am I feeling?" "Why does this bother me?" "Is it permanent?" "Is this real or just how I perceive it?"
"Should I manage this or simply accept it?" These type of questions allow me to digest the situation and de-escalate. Then it becomes harder to attach the damaging lables that keep us looking to the past or to attach lables that not only harm us, but often cause us to follow a path of behavior that supports the label. "Well if I am broke, and a loser, why even look for a job?" "Why should I call him back, I am such a relationship failure anyhow?" "Everyone thinks I am fat, who cares if I eat this?" The dialogue isn't pretty when the labels are flying.
With each encounter of a situation in life comes the ability for them to have a unique outcome regardless of the circumstance's similarity to a prior event. We all get "do-overs". Plus in the past I have taken things that did not belong to me, however I am no longer a thief. I have not lived up to my potential in past situations, but I do not choose the label of lazy or loser. I have lost loves in the past for a variety of reasons, but I do not feel unworthy now. Heck, I crapped my diaper as an infant, but that does not make me the "diaper crapper" now. How long do we hold on? Situations are not identities!
I feel for those who cannot yet see that we often create alot of our pain through our choice of perceptions. It is like we are not satisfied with "what is" but we have to "spin" it to become worse or more enduring than it would if we accepted, learned, and let go. I too have labeled myself with many of the above, and I too have been held down by my own self perception limiting me from bouncing back from my misdeeds or random unfortunate circumstances. I just now realize that I have to stop looking over my shoulder being haunted by the innocence and ignorance of my past, and use it to add insight and stregnth to who I can truly become. As I have said before, " One of my biggest fears is not my inability to practice what I preach, but the inability to become aware when I am not doing so." Eyes forward my friends!