Ever feel like you're not living up to your own standards, hopes and expectations for yourself? Like you're letting your own self down in some (or many) ways?
If you find that you're "down" on yourself lately, consider this question: Why do you hold yourself to certain standards? Surely for the same reason that anyone does: you have an image of yourself as someone who is (or at least who should be) "good," "caring," "successful," "spiritually evolved," etc., etc. And when you catch yourself in actions that don't conform to the image you've set for yourself, you feel as if you've failed yourself.
The keyword in the last two sentences is the word "image." An image is just that: it's an image, which by definition is a mental representation, idea, or conception. What that means, in essence, is that it doesn't have permanence, reality or true substance, any more than any other thought does. And yet we imprison our own selves with standards and images for ourselves that we've taken on as "musts" from society at large.
No image can be consistently or permanently upheld by anyone. The person who appears "good" one day will, at least to some one or ones, appear to be "bad" another day. One who is "successful" and "spiritually evolved" one day is bound to appear "unsuccessful" and "spiritually immature" another day.
We all know that there's no such thing as a perfect or flawless person. But we like to imagine that we ourselves are very close to perfect and flawless. This is straight ego, that ego-sense that "I" am "special," I am "great," so all of my actions should support this image I have of myself. So when -- surprise! -- something happens to prove that we aren't, in fact, even close to conforming to our pre-held image, we often hate and berate ourselves for it.
If someone were to ask us point blank if we perceive ourselves as awesome at whatever we want to be seen as awesome for, we're usually realistic enough to realize we can't be "the best" at most things in life, and we would stutter out a humble answer. And yet ego tells us we can at least be pretty darn close to the best, if we just try enough. So we expect the highest standards from ourselves and we struggle to achieve them. We have to be a top rate mother, brother, son, aunt, employer, employee -- you name it.
This sets us up to become unhappy when we drop the ball and don't measure up. Likewise, we want others in our life to behave in a perfect and flawless way, especially toward us.
Isn't it time to free ourselves from the idea that we (and others in our lives) should be flawless beings? Rather than trying to hold yourself to a fixed image and fighting with the imperfections, allow them to be there. You don't have to be great, excellent, or even the best at anything to be 100% worthy. Just be you. Leave the super humanness to the super heroes.
Take a second and recall the last time you really wanted something or wanted to make something happen. If you're anything like most people, you probably tried hard to get it or set it into motion (or push it away, if it was something you didn't want).
Now imagine if someone you really trust had came along and told you that if you'd just stop trying, you'd instantly get what you wanted.
Would you have stopped trying, at that point?
Even if it was the person you trust most in the world, you probably wouldn't have. Not because you don't trust this person -- but because trying and effort have such a strong momentum. Probably the best you would have been able to do would have been to try to stop trying. And that's just more trying.
Our entire lives, we've been taught and conditioned that we need to actively make life give us what we want.
But what if we could completely let go of trying to get what we want? (And let me clarify that by this I don't mean to imply that we stop doing anything towards goals and desires... but rather that we go about life doing what needs doing and responding to things as they arise, less all the usual trying and grasping).
If you did this, would all your plans and everything you want and have been working towards in life completely and instantly (or eventually) fall apart?
The point of this blog post isn't to claim that it wouldn't. Chances are, you might find yourself very surprised to see that nothing falls apart in the least. But you also might find that everything does completely fall apart.
But if it was the latter -- wouldn't that just be a telltale sign that what you really wanted wasn't what you really needed? Because you can always trust life to give you what you need -- right?
Maybe that's why we try so hard in life. Because deep down we know life will give us what we need, and we don't want what we need. We want what we want.
But the thing about it is, no matter how hard we try, life isn't going to give us what we want unless it's also what we need. Put another way, life is only going to give us what we truly want at the deepest level, beyond what we think we want at the mind/sensory level.
When we really see this, it becomes clear that trying and effort are just wasted energy. And that we can choose to live life without them. When we do that, we see that without them, life is actually a much more enjoyable experience -- even when it doesn't go like we would have deemed best.
If something is what life has in store for you, it doesn't need you to try so hard to make it happen. You can take the steps towards it without a big hullabaloo of stress, struggle and grasping. It's just in the cards. And if it's not what life has in store for you, all the effort in the world will just be in vein.
Whichever it is, this much is true: you'll enjoy life a lot better if you can take a leap of trust. If you can just trust that life knows what it's doing, already, without any help from you. (Unless, that is, you enjoy all the trying and effort?)
As my teacher, Vinn, has told me before, "Life is simple. Just put one foot in front of the next."
Just a gal experimenting with what it means to live outside of mind.
Read more about Notes to Self, the "manual" on living beyond mind.