It's a bit of an oxymoron yeah?
I've learned in recent months that much of what I think I'm getting from other people i.e. emotional feedback, information, perceptions etc are really just my own projections of what I THINK I am seeing, not the actual truth per se.
In the book I've been reading "Bonds that make us free" (see the link on the right of the page), I've learned much about the tendency for people to self-deceive in relationships. I know I am on constant alert for opportunities to justify my feelings, often blaming other people for the way I feel.
Logically and intellectually, I know its me who makes me feel what I do. You do not cause my feelings and emotional responses. I feel these things myself. The thing I need to become aware of now is how do I react to my own feelings when they occur?
In what kind of mindset and particularly heart-set must I place myself, so that I can love that other person despite what they do, think about, say or not do towards me?
It seems the key to being Lovely, is to forget about being it at all.
You see, it's when we forget ourselves that we finally begin to see others as they really are - and love them anyway.
When we forget ourselves, we are open, we do the right thing the moment it occurs to us - without rancour or bitterness; we seek to benefit the other before us, because they matter - simply because they do; we are kind, gracious and spontaneous in giving of our time and resources, all for no personal gain and we do not seek gratification or reciprocation for any of our actions. We are simply being ourselves without being conscious of ourselves. It's an attitude of Love that is quite different to actively choosing to "be nice" to people!
The Self is a rather petulant child within us. It likes to be adored and it really does hate being wrong or being assumed to be wrong. When we screw up our perspective of other people, we assume they see us as being very wrong indeedy and our insulted pride and competitive child suddenly thinks its not HER fault for the way things are! Our internal Self loves to cry foul and "It's not fair!" when we feel shamed or wounded in some way.
It is "our fault" so to speak!
In all relationships, the buck stops with us. We own the obligation, in full, in the way we respond to other people and to our feelings about them! There is no blame on them if it goes awry! (I'm not talking about being physically or psychologically abused by another person here, that has different ramifications I won't cover in this blog post). No one else is to blame for our reactions and responses to the feelings and emotions we generate.
Sure! Emotions are spontaneous and we simply feel them without any real thoughts or intentions as such. They simply occur within us in response to our perception of the world. They do rise unbidden from our depths and they can take us by surprise when they are painful and powerful. Emotions are necessary components of the human life, they can no more be denied existence than the air we breathe!
However, we confuse the issue here: Emotions are necessary and a wonderful part of our persona. This is true! But, it's what we DO with our emotional responses that makes, or breaks, our relationships and it's here that our full obligations lie.
So! How does one become a paragon of selflessness then? How do I drop my internal and often competitive dialogs that keep trying to place me in a position of advantage over other people, blaming them for what happens in my world? I want it to stop but how?
Again, the harder I try to focus on my SELF, the less likely it is I will achieve what it is I seek!
Many self-help books fail in this aspect. The right attitude of heart is the key to becoming a "better" person, but much of the self-help movement is very selfishly tied to focusing on our individual wants, needs, aspirations and intentions. There's rarely much in them to explain just how we open our hearts to loving other people. Even if the self-help gurus' advise the step of opening our hearts to being loving, they make it sound like it's something that's obvious and as easy as pie to do! It's not.
Becoming unaware of our selves so that we feel neither less than, or seek to be more than other people is extremely difficult until this change of heart occurs.
The really stupid thing about this is that we can't actually make that change of heart happen deliberately - it just occurs within us when we become aware of the other person in an attitude of total acceptance and love.
But we can make the conditions for it to start to happen more easily! We can adopt an attitude that seeks first to love others before we focus on our Self! The attitude of love that isn't self gratifying or self-seeking is the aim here.
Seeking to let go of our internal Pride Barometer, which is usually on constant alert for opportunities for self justification and glorification is the first step. When we refuse to accept into our minds, accusations against other people for the way we feel and perceive, we can begin to loosen the grip of self-deception on our hearts and open it toward becoming loving and lovely. When we simply choose to DO the right thing by other people when it first occurs to us to do it, we are on the road to learning how to love with joy!
The world really does need Love.
Love that is outwardly focussed, not a manipulative by-product and after thought of our inner child trying to make ourselves look good!
That's the irony in trying so hard to be unselfconscious. Letting go of the Self in all things, while remaining focussed on this process is akin to a dog chasing its own tail.
Awareness of how we self-deceive is the clue to this letting go. Remaining aware of our inner thought processes in an attitude of love that flows outwards to other people will do very much more to improve all our relationships, including the one we have with ourselves.
Being aware of, but not focused on! This is the strategy I think. Being aware of how I treat others; being aware of when my conscience is deciding between doing the right thing or not by others and choosing to do the right thing anyway; being aware of my emotional responses and taking responsibility for them; defocussing my intentions to be "better", "wiser", "richer", "warmer", "nicer" and "more honest", when in fact these attitudes are, more or less, ways I'm trying to bring more affection and attention towards myself.
By being defocussed on the Self and opening up the heart to allow other people to be themselves without blaming them for it is NOT easy, but I do think it is necessary if we ever hope to create the world of Peace, Love and Hope we aspire to.
How ironic is that? We actually end up feeling better about ourselves when we just forget to try and feel better about ourselves! Go figure!