Welcome to this glorious Friday, November 22, 2019. How do you plan to engage in this rare and precious day that will never come again?
As most of you know and some of you are attending, I’m facilitating a day-long silent meditation retreat tomorrow. There’s still room 😊 www.turningleaffoundation.com Earlier this week, I sent out the schedule along with a few other suggestions. Not long after, I received a few emails and messages from attendees stating how grateful they were for this opportunity and offered genuine appreciation for me and my efforts. As one who has done a lot of work to overcome the harms of insecurity, these compliments were greatly appreciated and validated my intention for offering this event. These (sometimes inflated) comforting feelings stayed with me throughout the afternoon. Then!
That evening, I received an email from a group of folks who signed up together stating they needed to cancel. Bam! Insecurity. Low self-worth. Fear. All the warm, fluffy bunny and kitten feelings from earlier in the day, gone. Just like that. I discover that I’m doubting myself, my abilities and thoughts of canceling the whole thing infiltrated my belief that it was going to be a very special day. It didn’t matter that these fine folks who canceled didn’t offer a reason as to why. They just canceled. With no evidence whatsoever, my mind made up a story. It had to be about me!
It didn’t take long before this story wasn’t sitting well with me. Though it seemed compelling, it seemed accurate, I had a deeper awareness that something wasn’t quite right about what was happening. Deep down, I knew it was just a story. Soon, I recalled how I felt earlier in the day having received appreciation for my efforts. I chuckled.
I’m incredibly grateful for a mindfulness practice. The stories I tell myself about what I think is happening just don’t carry the same significance that they used to. Oh yes, occasionally I get caught up in them, but not for the duration nor intensity that I used to.
The stories I used to tell myself, like a stone, had weight and solidity. It was as if I could hold it in my hand, wrap my fingers around it, and squeeze. That story wasn’t going anywhere. My mindfulness practice has helped me to break many of these stone stories down into sand. I can pick up a handful of sand, it has weight and it feels real. In many ways, it is real. But it’s not as solid as I think it is. When I try to squeeze and hold on to it, sand escapes through the cracks between my fingers. Eventually, only residual grains remain. And, if I leave these grains of sand on my hand long enough, they ultimately become a source of irritation. When they become bothersome enough, I wash myself clean and let the story go.
Reflecting on that day, there was a surprising deeper lesson. Maybe I should say a ‘re-confirmation’ of something I’ve already discovered about myself. The self-deflating inner dialogue wasn’t the only story that produced a false sense of self that day. There was a story of ego-driven pride that was generated from the kind and thoughtful messages from retreat participants which also created a false sense of self – an inflated self.
As I continue in my Mindfulness practice, I’m really starting to recognize how much my happiness, self-worth and peace and ease has always been dependent upon outside circumstances – getting confirmation and praise.
This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t feel good about ourselves when someone gives us a heartfelt and genuine compliment. We should. It does feel good and we’re likely worthy of it. But if my happiness, peace and ease is dependent upon getting that praise, I’m in trouble. Likewise, if my happiness, peace and ease is dependent on not being criticized or expect that people won’t cancel events that they’ve signed up for (for whatever reason), again, I’m in trouble. In either case, though the feelings generated feel real, they can’t be the source of my happiness. When I try to squeeze and hold on to those feelings, they sift through my fingers and leave only enough truth to be irritating – either wanting more or none of it.
Any enduring happiness, peace and ease must come from within by doing things that we feel good about; things that are in alignment with our values and are supportive of a life that we each get to define as meaningful. I obviously have more work to do, but I’m learning to see through seemingly solid rocks and brush off the sand.
I love you and there isn’t anything that you can do about it.
With Bows of Appreciation,
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