F T I O
One of the great challenges in my life was struggling against this What About Me? notion that was planted and nurtured in my brain since birth.
I'm not sure when or where I developed the notion that everything should be equal, that everyone should get a turn, that everything should be fair, that my feelings should always be considered, that my wants/needs should always be recognized, and that indeed, everything about me should ALWAYS be taken into consideration.
These notion really messed me up. Through my own life journey, I slowly came to realize that by always asking this question first, 'well, what about me?' I constructed a prison for myself from which I could not seem to break free.
What About Me?
What About Me? put me in a place of always taking, always expecting, always left 'wanting.' My ownership of this idea as a birthright had darn near screwed up every relationship I've ever had (friendships, family, as well a love interests), and has continually thrown itself as a hurdle in front of every goal I've ever set for myself.
Hey, *I* didn't plant that seed there (but I watered it and helped it grow). I was taught this by my family, by society, by the media, by my friends, by my schools, and by my government. And only until I had the courage to say, 'hey, wait a minute, something isn't working here,' did I even know that maybe I had to question my own deep beliefs about things, that maybe I was the one who had it all wrong, and I didn't even KNOW it. I started asking myself, what if I'M the one who's got it all wrong? Well okay... but how to fix oneself when you don't even know what needs fixing?
This What About Me notion has been extraordinarily hard to correct. I'm not saying that I should be completely selfless and always put others before myself (because quite honestly, I always thought THAT was my problem, I didn't stick up for myself enough).
But I've always lived life expecting, EXPECTING that someone else was going to recognize my efforts, recognize my selflessness, recognize my talents, recognize how much I was giving, and DO something about it... whether it be a simple thank you, perhaps return a favor, give me more money for my work, be impressed with my altruism, or back off on their own self-centeredness.
Where I ever got this expectation is completely beyond me. But there it is. And no matter what stage in life I had reached, I was always looking at others wondering why they seemed further ahead than me, why it always seemed easier for someone else, why it always seemed that someone else was getting the recognition, the success, or the encouragement I thought I SHOULD BE getting as well, and wasn't.
Why was it hard for me? Why did I always seem to be the one struggling? Was I not making myself heard? Was I not clearly stating my wants/needs/desires for others? I'd think, "well, I'm doing x,y, and z, therefore, I SHOULD be getting q,r, and s in return, like Bob or Sam over there. And I'm not. This isn't fair. So I'd try harder... which meant that my "what about me" notion only became that much stronger...
This realization was the most heart-wrenching self-discovery I have ever made. Instead of contributing to the interdependency of life, all I had been doing is assisting in ripping it apart, because in many instances in life, it ISN'T about me and was never intended to be about ME and what I was potentially getting out of it. (Doesn't THAT suck.)
The word 'giving' began to take on new meaning for me. I started to understand that maybe it wasn't about me getting something in return. It's about the effort itself, the contribution itself -- way beyond my own limited ability to see the outcome -- that is the most extraordinary of experiences and rewards.
That doesn't mean I have decided to become a doormat for all who are in my life or who come through it from moment to moment. But I understand now that I don't understand a lot. I don't know how it's all SUPPOSED to be.
If I'm not a victim, what am I?
All I know is that from one moment to the next, in life, I am faced with choices, and the more I am paying attention, and stay out of the Center of the Universe seat, do I realize there are far more avenues and paths I can choose to take than I've ever realized before.
I am not a victim of life, I am not a victim for being a woman instead of a man, I am not a victim for not having as much formal education as the next guy, I am not a victim because I don't have as much money as my neighbor or friend, etc., etc., etc. I am NOT a victim, period. No one is.
I Am A Chooser
I am a choice.
Every single solitary thing about me is a choice. A choice in the way I choose to see the world, the way I choose to live my life, the way I choose to respond to ANY given situation, from moment to moment, minute to minute. And whatever choice I make in that moment, will affect the next choice I make, the next action I take. Which only clarified for me that I must be very careful and pay attention to the decisions and actions I am making NOW, at this very moment.
The only way for me to do that was to turn off the 'auto-pilot' and stop living my life in routine. There is no routine. It is merely an excuse. And the more I jam-packed my days with stuff, obligations, duties, and what I thought I was SUPPOSED to be doing, did I realize I was robbing myself of very precious choices, blowing by them as though they didn't exist, and I was left wondering, 'why me?'
Again with the Why Me?
Why me? Because I had not been paying attention. The most exhausting thing you can do in life is pay attention to it. It is far easier to cruise by according to the book of Should Be's than it is to take control of your own life and make it up as you go. It is scary that way because you are the only one ultimately responsible for how your days, weeks and months go by.
There is NO ONE else to blame. And believe it or not, as paradoxical as it sounds, the more you pay attention to life and those who are in life with you, the more blessings you find.
When you do not live your life always stuck in your own point-of-view, when you don't always accept your own thoughts, beliefs, assumptions and feelings as the Bible of You, do you see that maybe there are others paths to follow, other actions you can take that benefit others, yes, but benefit you 10-fold in the long run.
That doesn't mean...
This doesn't mean you never make another mistake in your life. This doesn't mean that your feelings are never hurt again. This doesn't mean that at times you are going to feel defeated, worn down, or beaten by life. What it does mean is you have another choice you need to make, and what's it going to be? Are you going to choose to feel bad about yourself, or are you going to get up and at least TRY to do something about it, and continue trying until you aren't feeling bad anymore.
This has been a real tough one for me. I find that when things start getting 'bumpy' is when I've allowed myself to slip back into 'auto-pilot.' When I start feeling frustrated with life, or with the people in it, it is because I need to make another choice, do something else, but I've gotten stuck again in that whiny, "what about me" seat. When I expect someone else to take an action, or validate a claim or reciprocate a feeling, I have given away every single choice God has so graciously laid before me. And then, THEN, I have the nerve to get mad at Him because I'm in a state of crisis.
I bet God has a sense of humor
I imagine when I do this, God is sitting there shaking his head, a smile upon his face, saying, 'wait a minute. You've gotten yourself into this fix, you've given away all of your choices and your responsibility for making them, but it's MY fault?' And there are times when I've screamed back at him, YES, YES, YES!!
So I imagine Him saying to me. "Okay, it's MY fault. But I'm not obligated to fix anything. So now what are you going to do?" I can stand there in the middle of my life arguing with Him, or I can get busy examining my options and my choices, and MAKING SOME.
This takes enormous EFFORT. This is the effort of life. Our choices. And I . . . am a choice. Thank God.
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F T I O