Picture this: your life up until now has been one where you’ve dutifully played it by the rules.
These rules generally speaking, go something like this:
- Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you
- [biological] family comes first
- Go to school and study diligently
- Work hard and your efforts will be recognized and duly rewarded
- Save some and spend some
- Blah, blah, blah
Suddenly, through a series of life experiences, you discover that while these guidelines are worth their weight in gold, they may in fact be holding you back from living into your greatest potential. For example, how would your life be different if instead you had been told to do unto yourself as you do unto others? Herein lies the delicate balance between selfishness and selflessness. Imbalanced, many of us are left feeling angry, afraid, resentful and weary.
The above scenario has been the dominant conversation that I’ve had with family, friends and strangers, over breakfast, lunch and dinner, Skype, e-mail and Facebook for pretty much all of August. Somehow as Summer in the Northern Hemisphere draws to a close and we begin to prepare for the change that Autumn brings, in mirroring our Mother Nature, many of us, myself included, are faced with the choice of changing colors and eventually shedding leaves that have weighed us down for way too long.
Humbly, a few days ago, I was forced to confront myself and my story. Here’s what I learned:
While aspects of my story may be true as far as my perception goes, it’s not the only story out there. The decision and power to change the script lives within me. Holding onto my story for all its worth robs me of living the full life that I truly desire.
Blaming others for what they’ve done or not only serves to keep me trapped in a vicious, toxic mess irrespective of how justifiable my complaints seem. Unless we’re engaged with psychotics—a possibility that I do not rule out entirely—I’m learning that [most] humans are doing the best they possibly can, based on their own experiences. It is precisely for this reason why breaking the cycle of old behaviors and patterns seems so daunting.
There is a general tendency to delude ourselves into believing that our story is the worst in the world. As one dear friend recently reminded me in a most impassioned tone—every city block and every apartment building is filled with people who have issues that they’re trying to sort through, one way or another. In that instant the quintessential penny of acceptance, compassion and forgiveness dropped.
I laid down my gauntlet of self-righteousness and victimization.
Since then, I feel much lighter and brighter.
Let’s make this weekend a Labor of Love.