This morning, I woke up to a gorgeous day. I am healthy and so are the people I love. I am loved by many and in all the ways I enjoy (romantically, motherly, sister-like). My dogs, Chaya, Teddy, and Basty, are overjoyed simply because I am alive. I live in the house I’ve always wanted to live in. I get to do the only work that I’ve never grown tired of doing. All of my needs are met and all is well.
Yet, this morning I almost went what I call “unconscious.” Unconscious to me is when I lose focus of what really matters to me and succumb to negative thoughts or beliefs that aren’t mine. These are the remnants of habituated beliefs from times long over and vestiges of living in a tightly woven culture of competition, inadequacy, superficial value, and constant comparison.
Over the years, I’ve discovered several joy-sucking modes of self-sabotage are common among us:
1) Jealousy – Whenever you look at what someone else has and yearn for it so badly that what you have, or are, feels worthless, you’re in the deep waters of jealousy. You’ve taken the appearance of something you think you want and handed it over to your imagination which quickly fills in the gaps in with idyllic and unrealistic perfection. You’ve abandoned reality and yourself. The truth is that every wonderful life experience is rife with challenge, discomfort, and work. The greater truth is that nothing is closed off to you. Your feeling of jealousy is the thing that will stop you from creating something wonderful for yourself. Instead, see the thing you are jealous of as an indicator of something you’d like to create in your world. What is it that you’d like to bring into your life? More love, health, beauty, romance, sister-hood, freedom? Say yes to it and decide to transmute your feelings of envy into fuel for your dreams.
2) Regret – This type of regret shows up as spending our present moments looking backward at what we see as unrealized potential and unfulfilled dreams. It’s impossible to know that the life you wish you had lived would be better than the one you have lived. Chances are you’d be no happier. Studies show that human happiness is determined by how we interpret and respond to circumstances, not the circumstances themselves. Fantasizing about a past that might have been is a colossal drain and sabotages a future that could be exactly what you want. Remind yourself that regret is wasting the extraordinarily creative power of your imagination on the past. Turn it on your future instead.
3) Comparison – We all know the game. It’s where we square off against another (typically a woman, if you’re a woman) and tick off all they ways we are superior or inferior. I wrote at length about this in Resurrecting Venus:
“’She’s fat, gorgeous, skinny, hideous, tacky, rich, trashy, etc. I’m more (or less) beautiful, ugly, or fashionable than she is.’
The comparison game is maddening. All players lose sooner or later. There is always someone younger, older, richer, poorer, thinner, fatter, and so on. Every critique is an attack on the sisterhood and the inner self, sending self-loathing messages of inadequacy and lack.”–Resurrecting Venus (If you’re prone to this thinking, read the book!)
Our comparisons are never accurate or helpful. They suck us into a mode of thinking that is tantamount to standing in line for slaughter. When you catch yourself comparing, release it and realize that you’re drawing conclusions based on your ego’s attempt to distract you from your power. You are a unique individual with your own interests and path. Your power lies in focusing only on you. As my yogi says, “Stay on your own mat.”
4) Conditioned Happiness – I’ll be happy if _________________. NO. Happiness doesn’t work this way. You might like it if “X” happens, but it won’t make you happy. Happiness is an inside job that begins with a choice and a determination to spend the days of your life in gratitude, appreciation and celebration of life. Choose to be happy, now.
5) Hopelessness – Hopelessness is the sinking despair that lies over your shoulders like a wet cement soaked blanket and convinces us that things will never change. It’s the bleakness of the belief that it’s over for us, it’s too late, we’re too broken, and things are too bad to shift. It’s never as true as it feels. So long as there is life in your body, there is hope. NO MATTER WHAT. Sometimes it’s too much to ask someone immersed in hopelessness to see a brighter day, but there is one indisputable truth even they should be able to grasp: everything changes, including feelings. Not even hopelessness can last forever. The sooner we accept this truth the sooner hopelessness will lift.
I’ve become aware of the signs that I’m falling unconscious and I’ve learned to recognize them in others too. We all go there sometimes, but when we understand what’s happening we can make the trip brief and see it for the fantasy it is. We can observe ourselves and the presence of the false thoughts or feelings as something existing within us but not identifying us. We can know that like a storm, the negativity is a weather pattern and will move on through, IF we don’t attach to it.