In looking back on last week’s first lesson on Finding True Happiness, I am admittedly disappointed in myself that I just plain forgot to utilize the lesson’s exercises and what I promised to do when things get stressful, overwhelming or frustrating: Deep breathe, check in with my body and observe what I feel physically … emotionally… and breathe…
I am disappointed because I’m so desperately searching for ways to change any negative patterns and avoid toxic circumstances – or at least deal with them in a way that promotes understanding, love and inner peace. I really could have benefited from remembering to practice self-care in this way this week.
Our company shut down, unexpectedly and with no warning on December 5. We were all told we had until the end of the day to pack up and leave and that would be our last day of pay. We were given a print out of FAQs in order to navigate through the muddy, and uncertain waters that lay ahead: Collecting our last paycheck and information about whether or not we would receive unused sick time, vacation and floating holiday time, whether or not anyone from HR would be available to answer any questions (NO), etc. Blind-sided. Shocked. Devastated. Terrified. These are the most relevant words I can use to describe what I felt; I know my peers felt it too. I know the over 19,000 students, trying to finish their programs, felt these things as well. And not a soul from the organization was committing to sticking around to help anyone through their questions, feelings of betrayal and loss. I guess in retrospect, I don’t know if I would have known how to breathe deep. I felt like I was drowning. I’m just sorry I didn’t try. How beneficial it would be to remember to breathe and take time to be aware of what I am feeling, slowing down my mind and getting control of my emotions.
Tonight, I’m sitting down to read lesson 2: The Second Key: Finding True Self-Esteem. This is a short lesson that focuses on two concepts:
- Happiness comes from self-awareness and knowledge of your true self. Being unhappy comes from confusing their self-image with their true self.
- Object-referral vs self-referral.
The idea here is to try to get to know your true self and rid yourself of the addiction to the feeling that happiness is connected to self-image. Self-image is a product of what life’s situations, others, society and the environment around you, imposes upon you and it leads to ultimate unhappiness (need to make more money, do more things, have more things, etc.). This is what object-referral is. It’s an addiction to creating an ego based on external factors.
So, we must learn to operate in self-referral mode vs object-referral mode allowing us to be more in touch with our true self and less concerned with self-image (ego).
“True being has five qualities, which does not depend on any external factors at all:
1. Your true being is connected to all that exists
2. It has no limitations
3. It has infinite creativity.
4. It is fearless, and willing to step into the unknown.
5. Intention from the level of being is powerful and can orchestrate synchronicity (a meshing of outside circumstances to bring about your intention.)” (Reinventing Happiness, DailyOm.com)
The lesson teaches that the contrasting five qualities of the ego identity are “completely rooted in the external rather than in the internal:
1. The ego needs outside validation in order to belong and have worth.
2. The ego fears that its helplessness will be exposed.
3. The ego prefers habit over creativity.
4. The ego fears the unknown.
5. The ego assumes that without struggle, its needs would never be fulfilled.” (DailyOm.com)
As we learned in the first lesson, awareness is paramount. This lesson piggybacks that theory by learning to engage in life through your true self and not falling prey to object-referral based, self-image habits and behaviors.
Something this lesson conveyed really resonated in me today, as I struggled deeply to not feel overwhelmed, stressed out and abandoned.
“And instead of repressing old thought patterns of neediness or dependency, we must allow ourselves to be with the feeling until it completely dissipates. When we keep doing this, we make sure that we will not fall into the same pattern over and over again because we remind ourselves with a new awareness that remembering old hurts does not help anyone.” (Reinventing Happiness, DailyOm.com).
In other words: Don’t wallow. Rather, be aware of what you’re feeling. Feel it. Be with it. Let it go and realize staying in that negative space helps no one; especially not you. Be with yourself with no judgement and no pressure from object-referral (outside pressures of expectations) and be with your true-self and move forward into it – whatever that feels like, or looks like for you.
We’re asked to observe ourselves in difficult situations, begin to be aware of our motivations, and to contemplate what moments we are acting on our ego versus our true self. We’re asked to look at something that happened in the day and ponder: “What can you do in the future to increase the times when you are acting out of true self rather than self-image?”
There isn’t a single day I know I’m not operating in object-referral mode and pushing or judging myself, in self-image mode, based on what I think I should be accomplishing or doing in my life. I know that the vast majority of people around me live this way too. It’s so very hard to find that fine line between knowing your true self and living your life in that space and not offending people around you because you’re not subscribing to what they think you should be doing or how you should be living your life.
I turned 50 a couple of weeks ago. If I had a quarter for every time I’ve said, “I haven’t made anything of myself…”, I’d be rich. It is this very mentality I seek to change.
It’s a work in progress for sure but I know that awareness is indeed the first step. Then, put some of the observational techniques in place to breathe, feel, and let those negative self-image based feelings pass, so that you can make way for a healthier mindset and growth towards inner peace.
If anyone reads this and can relate, and would like to practice more mindful habits but gets stuck like me, please feel free to reach out. I’m a firm believer in surrounding myself with like-minded, positive people, to set a new pattern and help to achieve a goal.
Peace-seekingly grateful for the support and community!