Wednesday, November 30, 2011

YOU Hold the Power

“You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”
Siddhārtha Gautama

Many of us spend a lot of mental energy blaming others for our unhappiness. We are offended when a partner, family member, friend, co-worker, employer, or even a stranger does not give us the recognition or appreciation we feel we deserve. Heck, I can even become quite offended when someone doesn’t let me in a lane when driving in busy traffic.

Ironically, we create our own suffering most of the time by holding onto these apparent offences.  We think, “If only he would appreciate me, I’d feel more loved,” “If only she would listen to me, I’d be happier,” or at work, “These people clearly don’t recognize how much I do for this company. If they wouldn’t take me for granted, I’d feel better about my job.”

I’m reading this marvellous book called “Loving What Is” by Bryon Katie. She writes about learning to love rather than fight our reality. I discovered the book after listening to an interview Katie did with Oprah on her radio show. Download the podcast if you get a chance. It’s fascinating.

Katie was overweight, suicidal and suffered from depression and agoraphobia until she had her moment of enlightenment when a cockroach crawled across her toes. In a flash of insight, she realized it’s not what we experience or how other people act that causes our suffering. Rather, it is what we think about what is happening that causes our suffering. The good news is that we can choose not to suffer by changing the way we perceive life.  

We often blame others for not giving us what WE are not giving to ourselves. We expect others to heap upon us praise, love and recognition yet it is we who are withholding that from ourselves. I am so guilty of this and reading this book really clarified that for me. I can be so hard on myself and beat myself up for not being perfect. Even though I know that humans are flawed and imperfect, for some reason I still expect more of myself. My demanding ego thinks I should work out more, I should  be further ahead in life, I should do more writing, and I should never eat chocolate (clearly my ego is messed up!). Do you know what I mean?  Do you ever withhold love from yourself because you feel like you are less than adequate?

Today, set aside dwelling on the qualities you want to change in yourself (we all have them). Instead, give yourself what you’re hoping others will give you. Nourish your mind and soul with thoughts of what you like about yourself. Take time to care for yourself. Write out five things that you like about yourself (hopefully you will think of more than five). And the next time you think about what someone in your life is not giving you, take a moment to sit quietly and ask yourself what YOU aren’t giving you. You hold the power to change your life by shifting your thoughts, and you can do that in this moment.

If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your own estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.
Marcus Aurelius, Roman emperor (121-180)

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