I’ll submit: the name of this essay is rather severe.
It sounds monstrous and horrifying, as if we are actively looking for ways to hate our lives.
That’s not what we’re trying to do. We are always looking for a way out of suffering. Sometimes we just don’t know how to do that.
But when we find ourselves in relationships and in moments of self-sabotage, those are the times where we attach to thoughts that are created by fear.
We aren’t looking to be scared of anything. It’s just that relationships are these places that we show up to again and again, and we relate with these people over and over, day in and day out. By the sheer physics of proximity and time spent together, we are going to encounter ourselves in a million different ways.
Some of those ways might be fearful.
Fear is something that we make up. We know this because when we set two people on the edge of the cliff and tell them they can’t turn back, they will both feel differently about it. Maybe the two particular people in question will both feel fear, but someplace, somewhere, there is a person standing on the edge who feels only love. And because of that, we know that fear is something inside of us—we make it up.
The cliff is not fearful. The edge is not fearful. It is us on the edge who either chooses fear or love.
Our fear gives us the illusion of protection.
Our fear controls our choices according to the belief that if certain things happen in life, we will not be okay.
We will always be okay. Even when we die—even when we die, we will still be okay.
Fear is wonderful because it gives us the opportunity to be brutally honest in our self-conversation. If we aren’t observing our fear and discussing it with ourselves in meditation, then we are living inside of it—allowing our thoughts and behavior to be guided by its logical fallacy that we must behave in certain ways in order to protect ourselves.
Even in our most loving, kindest relationships, we find ourselves in moments of fear. We know this because those moments don’t feel so good. In fact, they feel scary. They feel like it is no longer safe to be exactly who we are.
We know that this is just our thoughts doing this, it’s nothing else. We only must understand why we have our thoughts in order to move beyond them. Fear can stop us here, too.
Not today, though. Today we’re ready to get into some thoughts:
“If I’m not perfect, they’ll find someone else who is.”
It seems very natural for us to get into relationships and think that we should be better (or at least different) than we are.
Insecurities arise as we brood over our shortcomings (which are really just opinions we develop of ourselves), and work to hide them.
All of the false core beliefs that we have about ourselves—the ones that tell us, there’s something wrong with me; or, I don’t deserve love; or, nobody likes me—go double duty as they become internally highlighted and straight into hiding.
It’s as if we feel we must be perfect for our partners, and so it becomes difficult (or downright impossible) to stay completely open and vulnerable about the thoughts that make us feel shitty to be ourselves.
We forget that our partners are not here to receive us in perfection (whatever that means)—they are not here to add a flawlessly matched accessory to their lives (but if they are, perhaps this is the point of rethinking our partnership).
Our partner is our mirror—they are here to help us hold ourselves spiritually accountable, which is really just another way of saying: they are here to give us space to come into the version of ourselves that is completely in love with life.
Perfection is not only missing the point, but it also just straight-up doesn’t exist. Our idea of perfection is based on our own assumption of how our partner wants us to be. None of that is real.
Becoming perfect will absolutely never happen. If it will absolutely never happen, then we have absolutely no reason to spend more time with this thought.
“I can’t say this to them because I think they’ll judge me.”
Why do we have things to say and then not say them?
Let them get pissed off. Let them judge the hell out of it. Let them have their feelings. That’s what their feelings are: theirs.
Of course, there are ways of framing our thoughts into words that are kind. We can frame the same truth in an infinite number of ways, and we can run the gamut from taking responsibility for our own thoughts and feelings, to blaming others for the things we feel inside of us.
It’s usually not what we say, it’s how we say it.
But regardless of how we say things—if we feel like we can’t say stuff around our partners, then what are we doing there?
We need to say everything—if they get pissed off a hundred times, they get pissed off a hundred times. If we break up, we break up. It’s not the end of the world (literally: our nixed relationship will not end the world–let’s remember this).
What is the alternative? To just stay bottled up, like a little corner-strewn genie lamp, left untouched for thousands of years.
The container of words unspoken is too small for us. It’s too cramped of a living space. We become busy and on-edge, as we sort through things that can be said versus things that can’t be said.
We become distracted with relationship management, instead of engaged in love.
“My needs are not important.”
To us, relationships don’t feel simple.
Even our simple relationships require attention, and it is of course us who decides whether we look at that as work or play, but either way—we place attention into our relationships. Usually, a lot of it.
Sometimes it feels complicated to take into consideration another person. This is because we are never taking into consideration them as an actual person—we are taking into consideration our idea of who they are.
This means we must create an image of who they are, and then we assume we know what their wants and needs are because we are using our image as a reference guide. Even if this image is fairly accurate (like there is such a thing), it is still an idea—it is not reality.
We can get lost.
We can get lost inside the thought that anticipating someone else’s needs and providing for them is more important than becoming quiet—that we sometimes don’t sit still and call out to our own cells with our own God-voice, “Dear Self—how can I provide for you right now?”
Maybe we have always quietly believed that our needs are not important, and this gets amplified in relationship. We know that when we come into relationship with someone else it’s like taking a bullhorn to our thoughts, and the volume just keeps turning up until we really hear ourselves.
These are not the only fearful thoughts that we find ourselves touring, and they won’t be the last.
In fact, they will probably never stop altogether.
And this is why the ending of self-sabotage is not in the ending of fearful thoughts—it is in the reorganization of our relationship to our fearful thoughts.
As long as fear is inside of us, it is part of us. We must learn to be kind to ourselves in regard to that. Because otherwise, we are punishing ourselves for feeling fear, as if that will somehow make us feel fear…less?
Sometimes our logic is a little screwy.
Our lives are to be lived exactly the way we’re living them.
How we can work together in our relationships:
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Bryonie Wise
Photo: Wiki Commons