Today I came up with a new idea: You’re only doing as well as the despair that that one person can drive you into. I spent a wonderful weekend in Glasgow at a Hay House I Can Do It conference, listening to amazing, uplifting speakers, including Dr Wayne Dyer and Louise Hay. I came home feeling positive and present and full of self-love. And yesterday, just one sentence out of one man’s mouth flung me into self-doubt, anger, tears and a whopper of a headache.
We all have periods when we think we’re doing fantastic. We’re getting things done, our confidence is up and life looks pretty good. We think we finally know who we are and what our purpose is. Spiritual teacher Ram Dass said: “If you think you are so enlightened, go and spend a week with your parents.” Because, if your foundations are even slightly shaky, all it takes is that one family member, friend or co-worker to topple it all.
In my case, I feel fine with everybody else but this one particular man. I can be myself around everyone but him. I’m never totally at ease with this man because he is my biggest mirror. He reflects back to me all the things I dislike about myself or about my current situation. He has a knack of saying exactly what will annoy me most. He is my greatest teacher. I realise that I will not have arrived until I can be myself around this man, until I don’t care what he thinks, until I can tell him to F off with a wink and a smile, and until nothing he says or does or even the way he looks at me has any impact, negative or positive on the foundation of who I am.
Today, I woke with the remnants of yesterday’s pounding headache so I took myself for a walk in the morning sunshine. It occurred to me that I still want to appear perfect, that I don’t want others to talk ill of me or think less of me. And this means that I must not be totally sure of myself because, if I was, nothing anyone said would make a difference.
I wanted this man to acknowledge how well I’m doing, how much progress I’ve made, and how much potential I have. But he knew more about how well I’m doing by my silent reaction of anger, disappointment and self-flagellation than any positive words I’ve spoken or written, any praise I’ve received from clients or family members, or any qualifications I’ve attained.
Today, a part of me broke away – the part that needs approval. This man, my teacher, broke me with his off-the-cuff remark. And that is the best remedy for growth. For when you are broken down, your limiting beliefs break off too. Then, you have room to build afresh. From now on, I’m choosing to build an authentic self, one that holds true to herself no matter what.
Life is a series of lessons. And if you’re lucky enough, you’ll find yourself some excellent teachers. But it is what you do with those lessons that will determine how much you will grow. I believe that the message behind every lesson is love. Love for others and love for oneself. Rumi wrote:
“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”
Yesterday, I found another of those barriers. I had told myself (unconsciously) that I would not love myself unless that man validated me. And I would not love him because he mocked me. Today, in awareness, I decide to love myself (and him) anyway.