Live your best life …
Most people would probably agree that the best interactions between people are ones that have no hidden agendas; that ideally, honesty is the best policy. However, there are times when we agree to do things which are against our better judgement. We are often too polite; feel insecure; think we don’t have the right; make judgements about our goodness or badness; refer to religious beliefs such as self sacrifice; or give in, to justify our decision. All the afore mentioned reasons may be perfectly legitimate, or not, depending on the MOTIVE behind the decision.
When we do something against our better judgement, even if it is for the best of intentions, warning bells begin to ring. We are alerted that all is not well by that uncomfortable feeling that floods our bodies. This feeling tells us that a thought, belief or idea is being challenged. When these thoughts refer to how we should or aught to behave and we feel obliged to acquiesce to these standards, we experience anxiety and/or fear. Instead of investigating the stressful thought, we navigate the situation by doubling up our effort at pleasing or giving or withdrawing. We are under the impression that this gives us some control in that situation. Byron Katie reminds us that, ” It hurts to believe you’re other than who you really are…” When we ‘ bend ourselves out of shape’ to please another, we are not ourselves; there is an impostor present. Until the thoughts that caused us to be uncomfortable or to suffer are investigated, we will continue to respond with the same behaviour. Reflecting on past experiences, many of us draw the conclusion that such discomfort or emotional suffering is an inevitable part of life. It is not. Investigation leads to clarity and peace.
You might say that it is perfectly understandable to want peace and harmony in one’s life. The problems arise when the method of acquiring these goals is suspect. It is amazing how many of our motives, hidden from conscious awareness, are active in our every day decisions.
Consider the following examples.
A parent who is far too accommodating because he/she fears the disapproval a refusal would entail. On the surface, the choice appears to be between harmony and disharmony, but is it really? This is not an honest exchange. So what does the parent want? What is the motive that is being driven by fear? What is the parent prepared to ‘trade’ in the name of harmony?
The parent is trading his/her integrity and self respect for approval and harmony. But there is little comfort in gaining approval in this way. It does not work. Depending on the approval of another creates anxiety. The approval is always conditional under these circumstances. Depending on the approval of others is disempowering.
Doing ‘the right thing’ is often problematic especially when unreasonable demands are being made. Giving in to demands under pressure may well be a role some of us have learnt to play. Surely, peace and harmony are better than the resultant hostility especially if the demands were to be challenged? Maybe. Once again, if there are uncomfortable feelings or resentment accompanying this decision, all is not as it seems. Something valuable is being traded here in order to gain approval, appreciation, love and/or friendship.
I would suggest that honesty, integrity, and self respect are being traded. When put like that, it becomes abundantly clear that trading self respect, integrity, and honesty for peace and harmony cannot possibly succeed. How is harmony possible without self respect? How is harmony possible without integrity or honesty? It is not. At best, this type of trading is a temporary ‘fix’ and the situation will keep recurring for an honest resolution.
We are each responsible to love, approve and appreciate ourselves first of all. When others add to that, it is a bonus but it is not a requirement. I would encourage you to heed the warning signals of discomfort when faced with decisions. Give yourself some time before you answer so that you are able to check in with yourself, gauge your feelings and explore your motives. Wouldn’t it be freeing to say, ” I want to say yes to your request but my gut is telling me that I need to be clear about my motives. I’ll let you know.”
Be kind to yourself
Loving What Is, Byron Katie, source of quote
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