The thin line between arrogance and insecurity teeters on foolishly thinking everyone else believes you’re great and greatly overthinking that everyone else believes you’re a fool.
Present (every now and again)
I like to think that I can be present every now and again, but then I think about that expression and realize it’s a lie.
Every now = always
Again = and then some
An expression that’s intends to convey “once in a while” really means the opposite, and serves to demonstrate how we allow ourselves to believe what we hear instead of seeking to understand what something means beyond the surface.
Moments like this remind me of Byron Katie’s 4-questions, and the importance of the first two questions: 1) Is it true? and 2) Can you absolutely know it’s true?
Think of the world we can create if before reacting, we all sat with those two questions first, taking the needed pause to consider what’s really being said or done.
If someone approaches you starving and dehydrated, there’s likely something you can do in the moment to help assuage their deprivation. However, if someone approaches you deprived of truth, even if you provide it objectively, they may still walk away unsated. Our stomachs require nourishment, our minds seek truth, but our egos and ignorance only seek validation. Seeking validation over truth is fasting with the expectation of fulfillment.
There’s a difference between comparison for the sake of rivalry and comparison for the sake of proximity. When it comes to material items, either is a futile pursuit. When it comes to personal growth, it becomes more about awareness of one’s surroundings. The company we keep tells us a great deal about who we are, where we are and where we’ll be.
Conversations can replenish our emotional buckets. But the same conversations and the same stories told ad nauseam point towards stagnation.
I heard a saying the other day, “When it comes to pebbles in a shoe, the only correct number is zero.” Any one relationship can become a pebble in our shoe over time, and although it may not be inherently unhealthy, it can get uncomfortable and bothersome. Too many of these types of relationships and your pebble-filled shoe makes taking another step unbearable.
Sometimes we need to remove our shoes and shake the pebbles out. Other times, that’s not an option because the relationships may be with people we can’t avoid or cut out of our lives (co-workers, family members, etc.). In those instances, we can do our best to remove our metaphorical shoes before entering into their space. Therefore, the discomfort only lasts as long as the interaction, and we walk away with the only correct number of pebbles in our shoes.
We have all experienced those moments where we’ve become so frustrated, we feel the impulse to put others in their places. Impulsivity doesn’t care about foresight, so it becomes a matter of training. If we are to spend time crafting the perfect verbal retaliation, the response is no longer an impulse – it’s a knowing act of an irrational mind and/or bruised ego. Thinking that what we say will make us feel better is not as important as knowing it will surely only serve the purpose of making us look worse.
If the only person you could learn from for the next year is who you are today, what would be the first lesson? What did that person learn and what then will they teach tomorrow? Who will that person be in a year?
The Spinning Wheel
Our impatience peaks when the little spinning wheel o’ doom appears on our computer screen. How dare our computers need time to process what we commanded them to do? Perhaps that pause is something we can learn from. Maybe a self-imposed spinning wheel of o’ doom is exactly what we need to make sure the behaviors we are about to execute in response to our thoughts are indeed right actions.
A tree planted in a protected environment and deprived of environmental challenge will never develop roots strong enough to support its growth. Strong roots are a tree’s basic need, and adversity is thus essential to serving this fundamental need.
For humans, the same principle applies. However, there is a paradox when the basic need is belonging. Self-worth, developed by oneself as a response to not being fed reasons of worthiness through experience, may look like roots from the surface, but lack the strength to firmly grip the dirt.
Future roots are possible; even in isolation. It will take self-reflection, forgiveness and self-acceptance. It will be painful. But alas, struggle and conflict are key ingredients of fertile soil – proving once again that in order to grow we have to live through some fertilizer. The irony is that we are never alone on this journey – there are forests of trees in the same situation. All of which deserve strong roots, and with any luck, their roots will connect under the surface, where most of what makes life important exists.
When my list of wants is noticeably longer, it’s no mystery that my tether of self-care is taut. Sometimes it’s scary to ask why, but it’s more favorable than choking.
The Recipe for Starvation
Honor your instincts with the same intensity as you honor your excuses – and listen to them with the same intention as you do you fantasies. Do so, and be well. Do not, and be wanting. You’ve done the latter long enough, and yet, here you are – knowing better, yet not living better. Writing a recipe has never fed a soul.