Hi, and welcome back to Second Chance to Live. I am so glad you decided to stop by and visit with me. I have been thinking about a truth that can easily be forgotten. As a person with an invisible disability I can easily be duped into believing something other than the truth. My deficits and limitations — especially when I filter my reality through critical eyes — can delude my perception. Consequently I may be led to believe that I need to justify, answer and defend who I am in this life, instead of just being who I am in this life.
When I am led to believe that I am not enough, my tendency is to focus on my limitations and deficits. When I use my intrinsic energy to appease those critical and diminishing messages I validate those messages. When I buy into what those critical voices say about me, I live in fear. When I am motivated by fear I buy into the notion that I desperately need to justify my worth and value to those critical voices. In the process I am led to believe that what the voices are saying about me are true. In the process I abandon me.
Critical voices can come from parents, siblings, teachers, employers and from clergy to mention a few sources.
When I do not take the time to be present for myself I find myself agreeing with those critical voices. When I seek to defend, answer and explain why I am — in my attempts to appease the onslaught of critical and devaluing messages – I am slowly led to believe that what I think, feel and believe is not important. In the process I am led to believe that I have to give up parts of who I am – especially those parts that displease the critical voices.
In the process, I slowly shut down emotionally in an attempt to protect my damaged self-image and self-worth as an individual. My fear of being criticized is internalized and I become reactive in my attempt to stop the critical messages. In the process I abandon myself emotionally and sometimes physically.
Slowly, my creative energy is diverted to maintain a dance of contrition. The ludicrous nature of this type of contrition mandates that I deny parts of who I am in order to find peace from without and within. I am conditioned to believe that who I am does not matter as much as fulfilling the requirements for contrition. I am led to believe that I must first calm any and all critical messages before I can have peace with myself. In the process I learn to do a self-defeating dance.
The dance entails an arbitrary set of steps with a similar outcome. The dance stipulates that I am not OK unless you are OK. Essentially, I am led to believe that if you are not OK with me, I need to fix you, so that we can be OK, so that I can be OK with myself. My energy is focused on making you OK. My motivation is to dispel any and all critical messages that tell me that I am not good enough to be loved and accepted just for who I am. In the process, I revert to becoming a human doing in an attempt to justify my being.
Ironically, in the process of participating in the dance I am reinforced with a stark reality… that no matter how much I try to fix you, I will never be able to do enough or be enough to fix you. Consequently, as long as I participate in the dance I willingly participate in the notion that what you think about me is more important than what I think about myself. As long as I believe that I am responsible for you rather than responsible to you I will continue to buy into the notion that I need to do a dance with you in order for you to be OK with me.
When I stop doing the dance, I cease to be at war with myself.
Through my process – over time – I have come to realize that no one wins when doing the above dance. I have come to realize that I need to be responsible to and for my own feelings, needs and wants in life. I also need to give you the dignity to be responsible to and for your own feelings, needs and wants. I recognize that I simply can not fix you or anyone. In my struggle, I have come to recognize that unrealistic expectations — of God, of you or of myself — undermine my capacity to trust the process, a loving God and myself.
Through my experience, I have learned to question my motives. In the event that I have a compulsion to “fix”another person for the purposes of making them OK (so that they won’t be critical of me) so that I can be OK with them, so that I can be OK with me — I need to step away from the dance. In so doing I avoid behaviors that would otherwise promote anxiety and fear in me. In the process I am able to keep the focus on myself instead of taking responsiblity for what is many times none of my business.
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