Today I was just
sitting around and pondering about life. About my life, about life in general,
about things in life.
I was wondering how come I hadn't "made it" yet, about why I wasn't "successful" yet. I wondered if I was suffering from that mythological syndrome called "fear of success" and if I was, why didn't I feel particularly fearful.
I thought that maybe
what was happening was that, as Marianne Williamson expresses it, I wasn't
afraid of being "inadequate" but perhaps I was scared of being
"powerful beyond measure". Except that, once again, I wasn't feeling
particularly scared or afraid.
Now, I'm not exactly what you would probably consider a "failure" either. I'm a normal person, I suppose I have what some people could consider the signs of success: a job, a home (even if it IS a minuscule two-bedroom-aka-one-bedroom-with-a-walk-in-closet apartment, where the kitchen is so narrow (albeit very looong) that only one person can walk around in it at a time, and the shower is so tiny you can't even turn around in it).
so I might consider this home a little "sparse in dimensions", but it's
also downtown, and I have heard that there are people willing to pay millions –
well, okay, maybe not millions, but thousands, perhaps – for an apartment in
this location. I have very happy, healthy kids. We live a normal life.
What Is Success?
However, for me, "success" means being able to make a living doing what I LOVE to do, and enjoying the luxury and the privilege of being able to spend the entire day every day just dedicated to doing the things that I LOVE to do!
And you can be sure, going to an office job in someone else's company and spending more than half my waking hours there isn't what I could rightfully consider "doing what I love to do"!
So, from my point of view, I didn't really see myself as a particularly prime example of what I could call "successful"!
After pondering on these sorts of hyperbolic, abstract, metaphysical musings for a while, I reached the conclusion that I had always taken pains to avoid success because of (ta-da!): GUILT!
Yes, there was that monster Guilt again, rearing its monstrous head at me once more!
Now, perhaps a little
background explanation is in order right about here.
Moved by Guilt
Guilt has always been the scourge of my life.
Some people are motivated by the desire to achieve, others by a need to please, or a "martyr-like sense of self-righteousness". Some people are primarily inspired to action by curiosity, or a longing to help and be of service. Some of us are moved by vengeance, and some of us by rage, anger and indignation.
Well, I was moved by guilt.
Feeling guilty was always the main motor of my life, and I spent most of my time choosing actions that would specifically help me to avoid doing things that would make me feel guilty.
Now, I'm not talking about any sort of guilt at all or a generalized sense of guilt. I devour three-layer Black Forest cakes when I'm in the mood (not often, chocolate just isn't my thing). All right, so I don't take great relish in devouring three-layer Black Forest cakes. So, well, I devour French fries and pizzas when I'm in the mood. (But I also exercise.)
I go out clothes shopping when I feel like it (which isn't often, since I hate shopping). All right, so I don't go out clothes shopping a lot, but I will buy a book or go travelling when I'm in the mood and not feel a whit of shame, disgrace or the need to apologize to anyone.
No, the type of guilt that has always afflicted me, is guilt that if I did something, some sort of action, someone, somewhere, out there in the world, maybe in Africa or on the other side of the globe, would suffer direly as a result of that action.
Somewhere out there,
someone was being tormented and tortured by so much SELFISHNESS
and SELF-CENTREDNESS and blatant lack of consideration that I was demonstrating
by carrying out Action A or Activity B.
Making Every Decision on the Basis of Guilt
So before I made the slightest move, even something as trivial as standing up or lifting a finger, I would first question myself: "If I do this, could someone feel hurt?"
If the answer was that there was even the remotest possibility that somewhere out there, someone's feelings could get hurt if I made that move, I desisted in carrying out the action.
So I wasted a lot of time sitting around on sofas without daring to move a muscle, because if I moved, perhaps it would distract Jim who was watching TV and cause him to miss the most climatic moment of his movie.
I put up with Arctic air currents and air conditioning set at fifty below zero because, you know, if I asked someone to close the door or raise the thermostat on the air-con a little bit, someone out there was sure to start sweating, or maybe faint, and that was a major NO-NO!
I let people smoke like smokestacks around me because I didn't want to encroach on their fun and enjoyment.
Now all that's still, when you come right down to it, pretty trivial. However, the problem came when I refused to do things that I was good at, and pretended to be dumb and stupid all the time, and I didn't tell people the things that I knew, because I was scared of being "too good".
Yes, I discovered that I wasn't scared of not being
"good enough". I was MAJOR TERRIFIED of being "too good"!
Being Too Good
Trying to avoid being "too good" was the main, major, primary motor of my life, most of my life. Trying to avoid being "too good" led me to attract and marry high-school drop-outs, not once, but twice! Trying to avoid being "too good" made me hide my university degree at the bottom of the drawer, dragging it out only when it was absolutely necessary in order to secure a job.
And trying to avoid being "too good" is what still makes me feel obliged to close all the windows and doors in our little, two-bedroom-aka-one-bedroom-with-a-walk-in-closet apartment, regardless of the over-40-degree (well, I do live in a metric country) southern Spanish heat, in order to do the things that I LOVE most of all to do in the world.
Because, of course, if I kept the windows open, then people could actually see me doing things that I actually enjoy doing (heaven forbid, how selfish! Doing things that you like to do? That is SO selfish!) (and no, it's not having sex nor anything even remotely related, I’m that boring). (I’ve got floor-to-ceiling windows covering the entire wall, you see.)
And then that would be horrible, because then they'd all suffer!
Because I would be behaving in a most depravedly selfish, self-centred and inconsiderate way by actually allowing myself to do things that I love, as opposed to, for example, preparing supper for my hungry kids, cleaning the house, mending or ironing my kids' clothes or just in general maintaining a low profile, keeping my head low and not trying to attract any attention.
I mean, let's face it: the whole entire world would be absolutely writhing in agony because I dare to do things I love to do. And that's just the sort of pain that I've made it my life's mission to try to avoid inspiring in other people. Isn't it?
I mean, even Madonna locks her door at night so no one else can see her dancing all by herself.
So, anyways, to make a long story short (as my friends often lament, when I have a story to tell, it's ALWAYS a long one!), at this moment I am in the process of trying to overcome this little problem. So to help you, in case you might also be suffering from similar woes, I will tell you what I am doing about this problem.
The first thing I've decided to try is Bach Flower Remedies, mainly the one called Pine.
Now, therapy. I've already gone through tons and tons of therapy sessions with all different kinds of therapists hailing from all different schools and streams of thought. I do believe that all of them have helped me. However, I still have the problem, so......
YOUR Primary Motivator
Now it's your turn. How about you? What's YOUR primary motivator, the main quality that moves you to doing the things that you do?
you mostly act out of impulse? Or perhaps you need to keep the peace, not rock
the boat. Maybe you were made to feel really, really sad when you were little,
and then ridiculed for it, and then took the decision to act out against that
and become ruled by anger and ire instead.
Whatever your primary motivator is, how is it affecting your life today? Do you feel like you are really free, if your actions and decisions are still based principally on emotional needs that haven't yet been fulfilled and override any other considerations in your life?
Perhaps you labelled yourself as "the Rebel" once in your life, and now, whatever you do, you make sure it's something that no one else is doing.
what happens if everyone else owns a neat pair of designer boots that you
absolutely love – but you can't have it, because then you'd be letting
yourself get "bought over" by the mainstream, instead of striking out
against it, as you habitually do?
What happens if you love your child, your wife or husband, but you can't "let them know", because it isn't manly, or "proper" for a strong woman, or it's "anti-feminist"? Then will they have to live their whole life thinking that their wife/husband/parent doesn't love them, just because you always let your need to appear "strong", "dependable" and "invincible" determine your actions and rule your life?
How did this impulse become the primary motivator in your life?
If you would like to read more articles on similar topics, or be the first to know about it when new articles go up, I invite you to bookmark this site or subscribe using the Subscribe Box in the upper right-hand corner over there. Looking forward to continuing on with this on-going “guilt-defeating” saga and hopefully be able to share some tales of progress with you soon!
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