Our readers inspire us the most – your latest brave answers have inspired Pat to share his experiences.
Thank you for all the courageous statements, they have inspired me to share some of my own experiences. I present some ideas that have worked for me – some of them can work for you as well.
First of all, feelings/emotions – are only temporary, they are not yourself.
They change, come and go like weather – so when you notice them, don’t get too attached and don’t identify with them. Let’s also consider “attitude”, which for me constitutes more “permanent” state than feelings (in fact, our attitude can evoke our feelings), so it is better to work on it. The attitude may result from the decision we made years (decades?) ago concerning somebody/something that had happened once, and we have this attitude/opinion in us since then – but now it is needless. Consider what opinions/attitudes you have and check if they could be refreshed to a newer version which would be more beneficial for your life… Using a computer jargon, why should you stick to the 1.0 version of Yourself if you can be Yourself 7.3? This can help when different feelings emerge. Attitudes/opinions can be compared to climate, whereas feelings are like weather, which works kind of “under the umbrella” of that general climate, which dictates the patters of weather behaviour. For example, I live in the UK – it’s always raining here! If I really don’t like the rain (or think the rain is unfavourable), I can struggle with every single drizzle that happens and become quite angry/disappointed/(insert your own negative emotion here) by doing so… OR, what is much easier, I can make one decision and choose to change the climate I live in (move a few kilometres, move to another area or even to another “emotional country”!, so as to go back from the climatic metaphors to the emotions and attitudes). Attitudes/beliefs can be consolidated more deeply than feelings – it’s a bit like with ice and water, or dry concrete and liquid concrete.
Additionally – one last thing… Labels – be aware of them. Someone has used the phrase “we, Addicts”. 1. I suggest not to label yourself (or anyone else) with this “A” word – it does not help anyone. This can be used as an excuse not to change yourself, or as something that influences your identity (“I’m just an A…, and A…s do this and that”). Instead of calling myself an “A”, I seize this attitude: all of this has happened due to the emotional problems I have experienced in earlier phases of my life, in which I have chosen something that would make me feel better. With time I started to use it even more, because at that moment I didn’t have a better knowledge of myself and of the alternatives. I used this thing until it came down to the background of my life and became a habit. Finally, I noticed that this habit limits me in many areas of my life and I tried to get rid of it. At last, I have met Craig and started to work carefully on this habit. Now I work on my emotions (and the attitudes/opinions that result from them) which constitute the basis of the habit, and I change my lifestyle so as to strengthen new attitudes and opinions.
The next issue – borders – you have to be sure that you see the difference between yourself and others. Draw a circle on a piece of paper and write “I” on it, then draw a second circle and write “someone else” on it. Separate, distinguish, fill out. If there are holes in your circle (no borders), someone may access and manipulate your personality – you have to decide for yourself whom to open yourself to and to what extent! By the way – you have to find a balance between complete turn inward (being an emotional island) and healthy communication and interaction with other people – play with the process of searching for that balance! Make sure you know your 6 basic needs (listed below) – you have to know them like the back of your hand. Then, when triggers appear, it will be easy for you to see what a given component of personality really needs (in any order: development, being important, stability, contribution to the lives of others, diversity/excitation, love/intimacy), and to provide it in one way or another. Communicate with your components – don’t fight and don’t try to remove them! They are a part of yourself and will always be. It is exactly the variety of personality components that make us human and each of us has them in one form or another (they are probably quite similar, but they manifest themselves differently for each of us – after all, we all have the same basic needs, and they express themselves, or are embodied, by our components in a different way for each of us, depending on our history and personal experience). It seems to me that our needs are like projectors that display various components of our personalities on a screen (as in the cinema – we have different actors), communicating with us by this means. Our needs cannot speak in words, so they project characters moving on the screen of consciousness in order to communicate with us… Try to transform/change your needs and desires into something positive and proactive: for example, I have a component which I call the Rebel (he likes to disturb and to cut himself off from others and then stand by and laugh proudly at what he has done). My relationship with the Rebel was a mixture of love and hatred, since he disturbed me whenever I tried again to do some tedious task at work. Now I understand that what I need in such situations is diversity, so I read something interesting, or I focus on another task when he appears. Moreover, I want to be sure that his needs are fulfilled, so in my free time I look for an opportunity to write comedy skits and to develop my entrepreneurship – I try to do anything that constitutes a positive, creative break from my duties.
Another issue – goals – I recommend the SMART method completely, however, it is worth to remember that these goals should move you, be something important and inspire you to act (otherwise you will not undertake them!). I will mention the need for authenticity and emotional commitment below. SMART TMI (Smart me?) would be a great abbreviation for remembering this. Choose goals (active attitude) instead of receiving them (passive attitude). Even if in front of you there is only one option that you are not entirely happy with, choose it actively, bestride it, tame it like a wild horse and enjoy the ride. And do it (like everything else) in an authentic way. Watch out for masks (or faces, as Gombrowicz liked to put it – translator’s note), doing something in secrecy and the lack of authenticity. By this means you will avoid being passive, a victim, someone to whom life only happens, someone who feels sorry for himself or herself, and you will become someone who lives the life and opportunities to the fullest.
The Authenticity/Integrity is everything – be present, choose actively and participate fully in what you have chosen (instead of simply doing things in a least-effort way) or don’t do it at all (again, active choice)! I see it a bit like the wheel on the bike – if all the spokes are strong, the wheel moves and everything works fine… but if one of the spokes is weak, the wheel does not move so well and riding becomes a struggle. It’s easier to repair a wheel than to deal with it for the rest of one’s life! Short side-note: The Integrity/Authenticity is not the same as Morality! The authenticity means something that works for you (like in the example with the wheel), not necessarily something that makes you a better person (this task belongs to the Ethics, which is a separate area of life).
Be careful to criticize others in your head – it is very tempting but it is only an excuse to feel better with yourself. This, of course, happens to everyone and do not beat yourself in your mind for that – just always notice and improve, notice and improve, notice and improve – so it goes on and on, ad infinitum. Be present and emotionally available to the others (choose ACTIVELY to be present and emotionally available instead of simply being absent and distanced). This will protect you from being emotionally cold, which for me, personally, is always a reason to throw myself into P. Look at the breakthroughs (you have already had a lot of them and you will certainly have even more!) and enjoy the lessons that life gives you each time…
I hope this will help someone… If not, I am sure that such resourceful people like you will certainly find inspiration elsewhere! Don’t give up!