They sometimes say “expectation is the root of heartache,” which I dare say can be a self-fulfilling truth.
Expecting the best takes a lot of practice. It takes reminders many multiple times a day… But after a time, it becomes more of a habit than it is not, and that’s when the magic starts to unfold. . .
For posts along this topic:
We must – no matter how challenging in the face of the adversary – choose peace and respect in place of anger and fists. It is in choosing this path that we rise above to a higher vibration to reap the rewards of magic and miracles. We needn’t ever stoop to the low levels of those who wish us ill for, if we do, we are neither better than they, nor better off…but rather left wallowing in the same poisonous misery they wish to spread.
To conquer with peace is, in fact, the brighter end for us, and the darker for them…
We always have a choice.
For a long time I believed that respect was earned – its value is simply too high to just hand out, I thought. But over the years I’ve changed my tune. Why suddenly such a shift? Well…it wasn’t really sudden at all…
I grew up believing that doing unto others is the appropriate way to behave – I certainly have my moments of deviation, but they are – by a long shot – the exception and not the rule. I’ve always, therefore, subscribed to the notion that what we give out comes back to us, multifold – Karmic law, Law of Three, whatever you want to call it…I’ve seen it far too many times to have any doubt at all. Add some painful and challenging experiences – and don’t we all have our stories? – my subscription to the idea that “rising above” is the right way to be has multiplied exponentially.
Hate is a good example. I don’t sincerely “hate” anything – in my mind it is a wasted emotion, and it gives far too much power to something I really don’t like (people, places, OR things.) Hate takes as much – or more! – energy than love. . .so if I’m giving that kind of attention to a “dislike,” I’m wasting precious resources, time included!
It took some time to understand that, though. As children we love to say, “UGH! I HATE HOMEWORK!” or “I hate so-and-so!” “Hate” just falls into the two categories of #1, a word, and #2, a negative. Over the years, however, I learned that it was an extreme expression, that it carried too much of a negative vibe to carry around, and that the act of hating in and of itself reflects poorly in my own conduct.
As with hate, respect is something I am putting out – it is part of my conduct and behavior. It occurred to me, then, that believing that respect was something other people had to earn was a really narrow-minded view. I can go around being a tyrant but that reflects on me only. I could also go around being a sycophant or victim-worthy subservient…but that too reflects on me (not to mention gets me into trouble.)
Treating others with respect doesn’t mean I have to give out free passes or put people on pedestals, let’s be clear. What it means – to me – is that I treat others with decency and kindness.
Now…let me also say… I live in a tough city. Even MY buttons are pushed at times, and that says a lot! But I am constantly checking back in with myself when feeling irrational, upset, frustrated etc… If I can’t be respectful (and in certain moments, I don’t feel I can live up to it) I simply do not engage. Easy as that. The only person accountable for what I put out is me, and if I put out something negative…it’s going to get me into trouble in one way or another.
As my behavior is my own, how other people behave is their business. In the modern world (and in a tough city), people might argue that others “don’t deserve respect.” Conducting myself in as positive a way as I can doesn’t mean I don’t see the poor behavior of others, that I dismiss it, that I allow it, or that I’m saying “go ahead and continue acting that way.” It just means that I am putting a positive energetic spin on myself.
When dealing with someone I see often, simply rising above allows me to move forward through my day without the burden of taking on his or her attitude, and neither the weight of being a nasty person (which I don’t want to be.) If, however, it’s someone I’ll likely never see again, I still can move forward knowing that I’ve been upstanding in spite of someone else’s conduct.
Do I do this perfectly? Hell NO! I’ve learned that I’ve got plenty of limits, and that I’m just as subject to bad moods, grumpiness, and don’t-play-well-with-others as some serious offenders. BUT…I know that, deep down, I don’t want any part of drama or negativity. That fact in and of itself means that I can do a lot to avoid it – namely, work on my on attitude, and approach interactions with respect. How others respond to that is totally on them (and the great news there? TONS of freedom not having to take that on!)
It is always up to us how we want to feel, what we associate with, what we allow… Acting disrespectfully reflects negatively in every possible way, and speaks volumes about one’s character. To show respect even when it doesn’t feel warranted, however, also says rather a ton about a person. I aim to be the latter, if for no other reason than to me it is a noble pursuit energetically, as in terms of self development. I have a ways to go too but you can be sure I try to check myself. Often.
A long-time friend of mine recently posted this and it gave me quite a smile. Not only because I had the fortune to have been raised with the same principles (and family and friends who also observed them), but because those dearest to me inherently abide by every single item mentioned.
The distinction of “gentleman” isn’t awarded lightly (the word itself is imbued with class, grace, poise, and dignity – aspects that are rarer, perhaps, than they should be, and that take true allegiance to be sincere.) It is a way of life whereby one upholds oneself to a rather exacting set of morals and values on a daily basis…ones we would all do well to maintain.
These – kindness, respect, common decency etc. – needn’t, therefore, be relegated to one sex above another…but remain an aspiration for us all.
I loved this sentiment because the reality of life is that none of us are, nor ever will be, “perfect.” Bound to countless socially and personally imposed definitions, the word “perfect” encompasses far too much for any one person to attain. And to what end would we wish to achieve the title? To appease our inner critic and absolve ourselves of any future self-deprecation or doubt? To impress someone else in effort to quell the internal need for belonging…or to bathe in the external, social rewards?
It’s a tough path to travel, the one to “perfection.” The word itself is saturated with such infinite criteria – as defined by everyone in a different way – that it would be nigh impossible to satisfy all conditions.
We are, as human begins, all flawed and fragile. But, it is in imperfection that the world then becomes so beautifully diverse. Our quirks and eccentricities may in fact be what others can relate to. So too can our personal struggles and challenges be what brings others into our circle, or to look to us for advice. These things allow us to connect to others in the world, and therefore provide us an opportunity to inspire every day.
How do we handle adversity or when things that don’t go our way?
Can we be the bigger person and admit when we are wrong or say we are sorry when appropriate?
Can we treat others with respect and kindness, even when we disagree or are upset?
Do we approach the world – ourselves and others – with an attitude of acceptance and appreciation that we all have our “stuff”? (e.g.: we aren’t perfect, we are learning.)
Our behaviors and actions can inspire others to “rise above,” to find strength in tough times, and to do what they can to see the positives in each day. We don’t have to do those things perfectly ourselves, either – remember that others may be inspired because they see YOU trying your best. They see you struggling but still holding on to hope and working hard… They see you being the bigger person in the face of another’s poor behavior…
Those things might give others the support and strength they need – they see that it doesn’t HAVE to be executed perfectly to work (and that’s the whole point.)
We will never be able to achieve the grandiose “perfection” because it is a word that has no single, defined definition. Perfection is many things to many people and it – by default – leaves no room for humanness, for growth, or for mistakes. Mistakes, however, are a huge part of life, as is a human vulnerability that we all possess. How we approach life on those terms, however imperfectly, can be even more inspiring than if we were the “ideal individual.” Why? Because if we can do it, in spite of a world that is ever-changing and challenging, then so can others – seeing the effort in the face of difficulty is why those actions ARE so inspiring.
So fear not if you falter, if you have flaws, or don’t make your mark every day. Because you are always working towards your goals in a positive and meaningful way in spite of your missteps, “mess-ups,” other people’s poor behaviors, you are inspiring others to do the same. You are inspiring others by being exactly who you are – unabashedly – and that in and of itself is empowering.
Beyond the fact that I am utterly fascinated by human behavior, this particular “syndrome” is one I am especially interested in. Why? I have it!
What is Imposter Syndrome? It’s what is often described as a “phenomenon” (versus a mental disorder) whereby an individual feels he (or she) is not as accomplished as he is in reality. As such, there is an overwhelming feeling that he presents as something he is not. Or, in other words, those suffering from this syndrome feel like a full-on fraud, a sheep in lion’s clothing, and completely unworthy of their accolades.
This article on Inc.com actually made me laugh – I wasn’t laughing at myself (nor anyone else who’s experienced this phenomenon), but rather because it’s so on point. The article, along with a few others out in the ether, suggest that this occurs for about 70% of the population – that, my friends, is no small sum!
What got me onto the tangent? I was listening to a discussion the other day on the radio with Grace Killelea, founder of Half The Sky. And… I LOVED what she had to say. I’ve recently been mulling (rather feverishly, I confess) about my direction in life. I’ve found my fit and purpose but how to hone in and progress in a totally new field? How to do it at 40 years-old? How to feel successful without the external hoopla to validate my existence? What about all the accomplishments I’ve fought for along the way that I’m neglecting to acknowledge?
The conversation, needless to say, was one I related to. At one point Grace was sharing her own journey – she talked about having to step back and reevaluate her own needs, attitudes, and approach to her career and life in general. She learned through some introspection that her intense need for approval and respect was disproportionate to what reality allows (the kind of realization that may be a tough pill to swallow at first!) She began to recognize that she personalized others’ responses, reactions and attitudes, and that she needed to let go – not so much of an internal standard, but of the expectation that others would meet her where SHE wanted…or that they really had any clue at all. Other people’s “stuff” often has zero to do with us – it would serve us well to remember that point across the board! She came out and said she had to let go of what “no longer served” her, and that is a phrase I use ALL the time.
Humans have a way of getting stuck in patterns – psychological, physical routines, stale attitudes, outdated opinions…whatever. They may have been what we needed once upon a time, but in some cases our older M.O.s serve only to hinder our current progress, or make a mess of present circumstances in a way we simply don’t need (who, really, needs any extra stress? If a negative outcome is at the hands of a habit we can change, might it not be worth tackling?)
Interestingly, it turns out that Impostor Syndrome isn’t a one-size-fits-all “psychological pattern” (phrase per Wikipedia’s link above) – no, there are in fact several profiles under the Imposter umbrella… This article from fastcompany.com shares five such categories, per author Valerie Young (The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women: Why Capable People Suffer From the Imposter Syndrome and How to Thrive in Spite of It):
- The Perfectionist
- The Superwoman / man
- The Natural Genius
- The Rugged Individualist
- The Expert
If you aren’t sure which type you fall into, there are (perhaps not surprisingly) a plethora of quizzes online. I couldn’t say which one is the best, but if you pop it into google, you’re sure to find a few. I took this one just for giggles…though admittedly, I could have answered a few questions in a few different ways. Whether or not you partake in the game-like fun of online quiz taking, you probably know whether you suffer from this already…
Is it something you are willing to admit to yourself or others? I actually feel a kind of freedom in sharing my less-than-desireable traits and struggles – it allows me to show that I am as human and flawed as the next person. Why is that a good thing?
- It provides me the opportunity to connect more deeply with others (we are never really alone – SOMEone out there gets it)
- It allows me to more fully embrace that I have areas in which I could use some work
- It allows those who matter in my life to recognize that I am aware, willing, and able to address it
- And it reduces the stigma I might feel internally about it (in fact, it may reduce the stigma others perceive as well)
I’m definitely not ashamed of this at all – in fact, I feel like many who know me well would say, “Oh, hell yes, she has that!” with a laugh. Those who know me strictly on the surface would doubt me to the moon, however… We impostors are really good at ACTING the part we *think* we aren’t really cut out for! 😉 What a conundrum!
If you also find yourself in this boat (no doubt a rowboat with a fancy ship facade? 😉 ) fear not… There are plenty of ways to mitigate the falsities your mind is surreptitiously suggesting. This article shares 21 tactics to try, Forbes gives a few tips as well, and this site touts 12 tricks of its own. Keep in mind, you can always google more. ALSO keep in mind that you ought to take EVERYTHING you read on the Internet (including my own diatribes!) with a grain of salt. Take what works, ditch what doesn’t – it is always up to you what you wish to absorb.
I’m so excited that Grace Killelea’s segment coincided with my being in the car – it was one of those moments where I did receive some indirect external validation. While of course the idea is that we create our OWN (I’m working on this continually!) it did offer me a moment of I’m-not-alone-ness right when I needed it most. I suppose that’s why I feel so inclined to share…
So many of us go to work each day under what we *feel* is a guise. But lo and behold, if we really reel out the list of things we have accomplished in our lives, the progress we have made as individuals, and the positive impact(s) we have had on those around us…we would be bowled over with a well-deserved “WOW!”
Hold your chin up when you look in the mirror – remind yourself of your multitude of talents, abilities, and achievements. It takes work to bathe ourselves in affirmations, and it may feel a little silly, but do the work – you deserve to feel proud in your own skin because you’ve worked hard to get where you are. So, dangnabit, have I! I’ll be working at it with you.
We’d all be lying if we said we didn’t plot revenge at some point in our lives (internally, in our minds, of course!) It seems to be human nature (and I daresay ONLY human-kind’s nature) to want to “get back” at someone for what we perceive as injustice. Doesn’t matter what it is, or frankly WHO it is…the tantalizing prospect of nudging the Universe from its perch and taking our own karmic control of the situation has a way of rearing its head in distress.
Remarkably, animals don’t appear to have the hangup…though they also fail to drudge around much of the human baggage our brains insist we do. Complex creatures, indeed! We can, as much in this case as countless others, learn from animals about how to best manage an anger-provoking scenario…
Ever notice how animals just carry on? I raised two jungle cats and inevitably there’d be several stand-offs a week with my female. Oh yes, she’d test the boundaries with a fierce and unrelenting gaze in effort to see if she could assert full dominance in our argument-du-moment (for example, removing her giant self from atop my computer cupboard so I could work without any distractions (e.g.: a flying and sharp paw.))
Well, I had to stare HER down to ensure she knew who (momma!) was in charge. And after the showdown when she submissively averted her eyes? Life went on – right back to normal. She didn’t hold a grudge for my stern assertion of I’m-the-bossness – she loved me just as much as before (and in fact, likely had more respect.)
While this is a substantial departure from a person-to-person tango (at work, at home, with a close friend etc), it does offer us another example of fine behavior. There’s no stewing or festering. She isn’t running false scenarios though her mind that I don’t love her, or that I deserve to be bitten in the face. There’s no lashing out because she didn’t get what she wanted… And there’s no toddler-type tantrum (the kind human adults pitch all the time.)
If you think about it, it really IS as simple as that – and it’s applicable. We may be upset about a situation, or feeling hurt (which, by the way, animals can certainly feel too – they aren’t devoid of emotion!) but wallowing in misery or replaying the “how-can-I-retort?” loop isn’t going to help us.
Even better? Moving on and being happy.
If someone in our life is toxic, hard it may be, we have to exit stage left (why left? I have to look that up again. I have no idea!)
If someone has lied or wronged us, we need to let it go and move onwards-and-upwards. (It’s not easy to let go sometimes – I too have been known to struggle with this. The moving ON, however, was always the plan. Chin up. Smile on. Seek out the new and better opportunities.)
When we lessen the burden we carry around – such as the plethora of injustices done to us (and I am sure we could all enumerate at length!) – we make room for more joy, love, and fulfillment in life.
Not everyone IS as nice as you are. Not everyone understands what might feel to some of us like common-sense manners, or decencies. Not everyone, let’s be honest, really cares about others…or if the impact they’ve had on your life has been negative all around.
We have choices.
- We DO get to choose or partners and friends.
- We DO get to choose how we manage situations
- We DO get to choose our behavior, our actions, and our responses (note that I didn’t say reactions…which are often quick and less measured than a response. Semantics, yes, but an important distinction.)
- We DO get to choose how we carry ourselevs
- We DO – big one – get to choose happiness (it’s the ultimate DIY! Read other posts on this here, here, or just browse the rest here.)
We get to decide to detach. To let go. To let Karma do what she does best…and right a situation of her own accord. I was taught that people “fall of their own weight” and boy…I’ve seen it time and time again. We don’t need the burden of weighing in. It is neither our right, nor our responsibility. And ooooh, the freedom in getting to focus on our own happiness instead? Talk about a GIFT!
There are certain tenants by which I live my life – though I may fall short of my own (somewhat lofty) standards at times, I know that gratitude, kindness, acceptance, patience, respect, honesty, and empathy will always be at the top of my list.
I’d rather be kind to someone who isn’t in return than meet them on a lower playing field. The Universe has a way of righting paths without my intervention…so I allow it, and Karma, to do their thing.
I am 1,000% responsible for my behavior – good, bad, and otherwise. But I will never have to own anyone else’s.
It’s a simple phrase – two words, to be exact – but it can have a profound effect on how your life unfolds. I’ll share an example below…
It is a human problem to get caught up in “should,” in “what is,” and “what could be” – everyone projects at times, and everyone worries. We also often mix up what we can change with the multitude of external influences that we can’t. Here’s a not-so-secret secret:
CONTROL WHAT WE CAN – US
Yes, I know…humbling. But, so true. We have absolutely ZERO control over anything but ourselves. Don’t lose hope, throw in the towel, or begin assuming that means we are on a predestined path-‘o’-doom just yet, though. We aren’t! By controlling ourselves – the only sphere in which we truly have power – we are able to affect what goes on around us.
Think of the ability to impact our surroundings, therefore, as the positive byproduct of managing ourselves (our reactions, our responses, our non-responses, our attitude, our actions…) It’s kind of like lead by example…only the student to follow suit in this case is destiny...
OUR INTERNAL DIALOGUE MATTERS
As per my post yesterday, Speak Victory, Not Defeat, the conversations we have internally can literally map out how our path unfolds before us. Positive thinking, energy, and words can – oh yes, quite literally! – attract the good you are hoping for. Ever heard “be careful what you wish for”? There’s a reason people say it…because enough people have experienced the “hoping-for-the-worst-and-that’s-exactly-what-happened!” Another sterling example of how life is shaped by the input we provide it – I’m willing to bet you’ve been there.
The energy we put out tells the Universe what we want – without judgment it tries to match our “desires.” The intense focus and power we give to our thoughts is like handing over a blueprint to the powers that be. “Thoughts become things,” they say… Yes. They do.
SHIFT OURSELVES, SHIFT THE UNIVERSE
I’m not saying it’s wrong to want to buffer oneself against disappointment, by the way. I also don’t think it’s necessary that we lower our standards. Rather, it’s about altering our own perceptions and expectations. When we see and expect great things, they often find their way to us. When we don’t, life can become a merciless tidal wave.
So how do we shift that little thing called the Universe? We rephrase. Instead of “I can’t afford that,” we could say “I have more than enough to do all the things I want and need to do.” Instead of “I can’t” try, “I can do anything I put my mind to – I attract positive opportunities all the time.”
Here’s an example from my own life…
Somewhere around three weeks after meeting my husband, I told him a story about magic and miracles. Until I finished speaking, I’m not sure he knew I was referring to him…
We were having dinner at a diner in our hometown, and I remember – wholly unabashedly – explaining how I had (only a few months before) announced to the Universe that I was all-in for a change. A complete overhaul. I was so committed to being happy and healthy, that nothing was to stand in my way. I had decided that either:
- I’d go through life solo, and be 1,000% okay with that (and I was) OR…
- I’d meet a man who was everything I ever hoped for, and the man I would marry.
Yes, I was that specific.
And…even more so…
I made a vision board and described – to a T – the man I was sitting with that night, and the man I married one Halloween a year and a half later. I described qualities that I so desperately wanted in a partner, but ones I never had. I described a man who was loyal, honest, gentle with my heart, accepting of me in spite of my quirks, who would respect and love me more with each day. I described the kind of person who would be as excited about my passions as I was, for no other reason that they brought me joy. I described the kind of man anyone would want in their corner because he’d have a heart brighter than the sun…
And then? I took it further. I embraced the “AS IF.”
New Years passed and I not only continued to remain committed to myself, but I made it a point to practice daily. I thought about what it would be like to come home to someone who was actually happy to see me at the end of the day…because no one else ever was. I acted AS IF that actually happened, and I’d hear him in my mind coming home and speaking to me with kindness. I’d make myself feel what it would feel like to be held, and loved, and cherished…AS IF I already had those things.
I not only focused, thought, spoke aloud…but I believed. I believed I was worthy and deserving. I believed those things AS IF. It took some practice as I had not known what such things felt like…but I did everything in my power to try.
I remember the look he had in his eyes when I finished speaking that evening. I remember my voice saying that I had dreamed so deeply that my thoughts became real, and that in a moment of magical manifestation, he walked out of a snow storm and through the door at the coffee shop where we met. I remember the hug he gave me before I got into the car after dinner, and the feeling of safety, comfort, warmth, and joy.
STAY IN THE DRIVER’S SEAT
I was never the kind of person who needed to be in a relationship. I never felt that I needed to be “completed,” and I wasn’t desperate to be in another situation after so many that had failed. I was a shell of a person for a long time, and it still takes work to be a better human being each day – something I ever strive for. But I decided that the only thing that would hold me back is ME – my thoughts, energy, action, and words. I needed to do an about-face, jump back on the positive bandwagon, and to act AS IF the things I wanted had already come to pass. When I did, my life shifted dramatically…
I remember, also, when I shifted jobs earlier on in my career – I remember whenever I started to feel unappreciated, not challenged enough, or that I wasn’t growing on the trajectory I had set for myself, something else came along. When I think about it, I was envisioning being promoted, or being eagerly offered something new. And opportunities always managed to materialize. Maybe I was young and felt naively impervious – that may be true. But I recall not having the sense that I couldn’t – it just felt like opportunity was there and I could have it. (I also, by the way, remember leaving my last job in Fashion…which was horribly unpleasant. It was, however, something I sincerely believe I “wished for.” Tale for another day, but let’s just say, I was heard by someone upstairs!)
Life is tumultuous and we have no way of knowing what is to come. We can stay worried and stressed, which is a horrible way to exist (we rob ourselves of joy and the ability to experience life!) OR…we can practice positivity and act AS IF. Trust me, I’m working on it too – being an Empath means I feel my own emotions (rather loudly!) and everyone else’s too. I have to work at not taking things that aren’t mine, and finding the space to breathe. But…I DO. I turn the radio down and talk to myself ALL. THE. TIME. I make it a habit to say something nice to myself, and to act AS IF as much as I can. Even when we know it’s the best way to be, it isn’t easy! But…it’s possible, and it’s the “possible” we want to aim for.
- Focus on what you can change, not on what you can’t. That means getting to know YOU intimately.
- Speak victory! Try shifting perceptions and expectations to GOOD and GREAT. Expect wonderful and you might just find yourself having a better day, or presented with exciting opportunities.
- Think about times when you got what you “wished for” – good, bad, otherwise. This might reveal quite a lot…
- Rephrase everything you say and think to positive statements.
- Remember that you are worthy and deserving of good things.
- Picture all the wonderful things you want in your life AS IF you already have them. Be specific. Be clear. Focused intention can bring about miracles.
- DON’T GIVE UP! Keep practicing. Fake it until you make it. It takes time to shift our thinking but…everything is possible, and the Universe will follow suit.