Daily Meditation 01 17 10
The unhappiness we experience is not so much a result of the difficulties encountered along our journey as it is of our misperception of how life instructs us. We may see a failed relationship as an indictment of our self-worth when it is really a lesson in using better judgment, in valuing ourselves more, in expressing greater appreciation for our partner–lessons to prepare us for a more loving and fulfilling union. If we are passed over for a much-anticipated promotion, it may be just the push we need to get more training or to venture out on our own as an entrepreneur. As we rise to meet the challenges that are a natural part of living, we awaken to our many undiscovered gifts, to our inner power and our purpose.
~Susan L. Taylor
I think that Susan Taylor must have known me years ago. Her line about setbacks leading to “self- indictments” hits very close to home, for I spent many years doing just that. Almost anything negative that happened to me led me to get down on myself, and this tendency often led to full-fledged depression. If someone did something unpleasant to me, it had to be because there was something wrong with me, because I was worthless, because nobody cared about me r what happened to me.
The sad thing was that these feelings on my part often served only to perpetuate the cycle, as my negative feelings led people to avoid me at times, for even though I tried not to let my negativity affect others, it was there and others could feel it.
To make a long story short, I finally found the source of those negative feelings, and I’ve spent years trying to work my way past them, but they did affect me for a very long time.
Since I don’t do that to myself any more, I’m able to see the profound truth in Susan’s words. How we see what happens to us definitely affects our perceptions of our selves and of how the world treats us. If a coach sits me on the bench during a game, it’s not an indictment of me as a person, but a statement on how I’m playing. If a teacher puts red marks all over a paper of mine, it’s not because that teacher sees me as a bad person, but because that teacher is paid to respond to my writing and make corrections. If I take these things as statements about me as a person, I am doing damage to myself.
Somehow–and I find this to be particularly true in the United States–our culture teaches us to take things personally. If someone says they don’t like my shirt, then that someone is rude or arrogant or uncaring, and it can lead me to be angry at or uncomfortable with myself. But perhaps that person considers himself to be my friend, and feels comfortable enough around me to be able to express him or herself honestly. And more importantly, if I like the shirt, why should it matter to me a bit if someone else doesn’t?
We can take lessons from everything that happens to us, even those things we see as negative. If we spend our time berating ourselves, though, we can blind ourselves to the good that’s imbedded in the situation, and we can lose a wonderful learning experience. What other people do to us is a reflection of them, not of us, and what the world does to us is a reflection of the world’s complete neutrality, not of our self-worth. Only we can build our self-worth.
What makes us discontented with our condition is the absurdly exaggerated idea we have of the happiness of others.
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