Wednesday, February 13, 2008

A question from a myspace friend.....

"I've been under a slight conflict within myself about how much we have not only the right, but the obligation to KNOW what we want in our lives, and ask for it, regardless of all the people we may upset. I seem to constantly work my life around what other people want, and what works for them, and what they believe. I don't seem to do things i want, or that i love because i feel selfish a lot of the time. I'm feeling a little stuck in a big decision i've gotta make pretty soon, and im struggling between choosing an experience i want in my life, and choosing the "right" path, according to my dad. I feel if i go ahead and finally make a stand, in a sense, and do what i want, even if it may seem impractical, or immature for someone at my particular point in time, that i will anger my dad very much, and he will be so upset with me that he will either try to stop me, or just stop speaking to me altogether. Ive never been close to my dad, and actually wanted to distance myself from him because he's a very negative energy in my life, and many others, so as harsh as it may sound, it wouldnt be too big a consequence, but i was wondering whether you would do a blog on this predicament every person comes across in their life. Those times where you are at a crossroads, and almost always it is a choice of, "should i do what i really want, or should i do what this person wants me to do?". We so often surrender the things we truly want in our lives, for which we are entitled to, but dont believe it, because of what other people want."

My response.....

This is a good question and it requires some definitions. First, how do you define selfish. A simple test for selfishness is to look at motivation. Will your decision harm others or self. Is this decision based on your own as well as others highest good. Is the other person being considerate of your well being or just trying to be in control. It is interesting that you say you have never been close to your dad but are threatened by him not speaking with you.

I work with so many clients who made life decisions based on their parents wishes rather than their own. They end up with empty lives and with resentment toward themselves and their parents for not following their path regardless of how impractical it is. What if all the actors and artists of the world abandoned their talent because those two endeavors are impractical in our culture. Life would be a little grayer if this was the case. We would have more of a stepford world than the interesting, messy, tumultuous world that we have.

Safety and practicality are not always the highest ideal to follow. What if Mother Theresa or Gandhi had opted for practicality. We all need to decide what is most important for us. I have always been motivated by security and I have been very fortunate to forge out a life which has provided for that security and I have a modicum of "my way". I work out of my home, I am self employed, and I get paid very well per hour. This enables me to work part time since I don't have a huge need to be "rich".

The essence of the issue here is that it is important to know yourself. And then to honor yourself. Remember that failure in any endeavor can cause suffering, but it is not necessarily a bad thing. Failure, if utilized properly can guide us to further success. It also helps to purify karma. It is important not to be attached to success...this can lead to procrastination or even paralysis.

You indicate that your patten is to work around others in your life to please them. This is classic codependency and it indicates that you might have an "external locus of control". In psychological terms this is not healthy. A good metaphor for external locus of control is someone who gets a flat tire and calls suicide prevention rather than the tow truck. Your case is of course much more subtle but who are you if you define yourself by others approval. If you succeed at that then you are not even in your own body. You will be amazed that when you do what is in your heart, others will love and admire your for it. Those who depend on you to please them will either drift away or reduce their own dependency on you. You will begin to find yourself amongst other kind, independent, creative people. People pleasing actually harms others by fostering the illusion that they are in some kind of control. Control is a poison. It is a creation of the ego and it is delusion.

So be kind, compassionate, bold, brave and courageous in your quest. Remember to be guided by ethics...then how can you go wrong....Hope this helps....

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