Embracing Life; Growing Through Love and Loss
By Dorothy Briggs
Do you remember the story of Jonathan Livingston Seagull? He learned to dive beyond limitation. And then he wanted to reach out to share what he'd learned. He wanted others to experience the Way. To transcend old limitations. To move beyond the old conditioning. To maximize what is possible. He wanted to share the taste of new wine. Transformation.
This offering is shared with the hope that it may clarify your purpose and meaning. We are each here to make a difference. And I believe that means we use love, loss, life to empower us to more fully give our gift to the world. And in so doing, our own lives become sweeter ... no matter what.
With change one of the few constants these days, this book focuses on how to use change victoriously. It is about overcoming - indeed embracing - whatever. And that requires finding your unique song. Once you find your Heart-song - your purpose - nothing and no one can keep you from singing it clearly.
You are an unrepeatable miracle. A first in the universe. None carbon-copy you. As an incredible gift, you touch many lives. You count. You and I are each asked to let our song be heard ... be it a simple resonance or an aria of grandeur. The size of it doesn't matter. Your particular song does.
Many nugget ideas have fused for me over the years through each person whose life has touched mine, by each happening, by how I've experienced my journey.
With this writing I offer them to you. They are thoughts to mull over. Those you resist most strongly you might want to put on the back burner of your mind for simmering now and tasting later.
I invite you to dive beyond old conditioning, old beliefs. To release old limitations of what you believe possible. Perhaps these thought-gifts will trigger that release.
The healing power of the human mind is dawning. An incredible explosion of what can be is surfacing. That we can make our lives victorious, no matter what, is to become empowered ... to finally come into our own.
When you catch the vision, you begin to see the Way. To see what is possible means to become aware ... to awake. It means using that awareness, that awakened state, to re-frame relationships, loss, life. It means rejoining body, mind and spirit to become fully whole.
For when all is said and done, each of us is a Light. Each of us is being invited by Life to come Home and then go forth as a Lamplighter. Our world needs your Heart Light.
May you let your light so shine . . .
Relationships! Networks to childhood family. To mate and children. To friends, co-workers, neighbors, all those you connect with. Relationship . . . that vibrational stuff that goes on between people. That invisible web line that carries the transactions.
Relationships could be so easy. The issues seem simple enough. How often they are not. What is it we want from them? Where does the snafu lie?
We each need to love and be loved. We need to feel valued and treated with respect. We want to be spared judgment and put-downs. We'd like to iron out conflicts to mutual satisfaction. We want to enjoy and bridge over in meaningful ways. Consciously we want this. Not a tall order.
The sticky wicket begins with our very uniqueness. Each is a "first" trying to connect with other "firsts." This automatically means built-in difference.
Yet, paradoxically, our needs are alike. How does a piccolo connect with a snare drum? A violin with a tuba? A challenge for every composer. The same challenge for every human being. How do two total "differences" connect to create harmony, not discord?
This very struggle consumes so much of our energy, over and over. Our world and how we experience It seems so clear. Why can't others understand? And agree!
As if uniqueness were not challenge enough, there is a far larger hurdle. Invisible, yet powerful, the issue of self-esteem directly affects all our relationships.
If self-worth is shaky, I am a self-doubter. My hidden agenda, often unknown to me, is to gather proof of my OK-ness. I need to orchestrate relationships and life to get such proof.
If self-doubt is intense, I may need to play Top Dog and call all the shots. I freeze on having to direct, manage, faultfind and win. I can cooperate only on my terms. Flexibility and mutuality are not options for me.
If self-doubt is mild, I may need to prove my importance not so much to others as to myself. My hunger is more to gather approval. I am not into "shaping others and life up." Rather I am pushed to caretake, please and overgive. Even at the risk of personal integrity. Unwittingly I may permit others to take advantage or even "victimize" me.
If self-esteem is low, I am a self-hater. Then my need is to gather proof of my Not-OKness. Unconsciously, I set myself up to lose. My energy goes into self-sabotage. I arrange my life and relationships accordingly. I place impossible demands on myself and all others. I freeze on impossible expectations and forever focus on what is wrong. I figure out how to undo all good coming my way - be it relational, vocational, financial.
When self-esteem is low or shaky, difference in close others is a threat. Relating has little to do with what is right or needed. Rather it has to do with who is right, who'll win, who gets done in.
If self -esteem is high, I don't have hidden agenda items. My self-confidence frees my energy for constructive giving of my talents to others and the world. I refuse to sacrifice integrity by placating at all costs. But I am fluid enough to cooperate. 1 see positives and can afford to see others' point of view as well as my own. Developing my competencies flows naturally. I am not driven.
I don't play perfectionist, for I accept my strengths and my foibles nondefensively. I can afford to admit to myself and others when I fall short. I can risk standing up for my beliefs.
My self-affirmation allows me to affirm others. I have nothing to prove or destroy. I'm not into who; rather I am into what is right. I focus on how we can work together.
Self-confidence frees me to enjoy and facilitate others' triumphs as well as my own. Solid self-worth gives me a base that makes jealousy, threat, possessiveness and hostility places where I choose not to dwell. My very self-confidence lessens such needs.
So relationships are a great challenge by their very nature: uniqueness and the degree of self-worth come into play in every transaction we have with all others.
Yet a third, less prevalent, factor can operate to create distress in relationships; physiological imbalances. Chemical and neurological imbalances in the brain and nervous system; the misfiring of brain cells; allergic reactions; hormonal imbalances and tissue damage, all impact to create behaviors that dramatically affect relationships and how one lives life. Such factors need to be checked before assuming that relational snafus are purely psychological.
Barring physical problems, most relationship stresses come from the fact that we connect with others from the personality level - the Conditioned Self.
Because we are single individuals, most of us think we are single Selves. Quite the contrary. Each of us is literally a family of subselves:
The Real Self. This is the essential or spiritual You - the You that is totally unique and unlike any other.
The Rational Self. This is the part that is in contact with reality, that estimates probabilities, that problem-solves.
The Observer Self. It is aware of how the other sub-selves are operating. (In many this Self is too often fast asleep. But it can be awakened.)
The Critic. This part acts as judge, punisher, and looks for what is wrong. It has unrealistically high expectations and is convinced it has all the answers. It's into calling the shots.
The Nurturer. This subself is like a kindly grandparent: firm, yet supportive. It is "for" you. It gives unconditional love. Yet it is not overindulgent. It is empathic, keeps expectations reasonable and sees what is right.
The Playful Child. This Self is free and open, creative and expressive. It is intuitive and impulsive. It may need limiting at times. In many adults this subself is almost a closet skeleton - simply denied. In some it runs wild.
The Not-OK Self. This subself is rebellious or overcompliant It believes it is unlovable or that it is love worthy only on condition that it live up to the Critic's standards. It feels guilty, bad and inadequate.
The Real Self and the Playful Child come with our birth. The Real Self is of God; it is pure Love. There are the rare Gandhis, Mother Teresas and Schweitzers who daily relate from this soul level.
The rest of the listed subselves are often lumped together and called the Conditioned Self - as if it were one, rather than many selves. These selves come into being as a result of the conditions around us as we grow.
Most of us mortals do not relate from the soul level daily. Rather we connect from the Conditioned Self. We relate over old, unmet childhood needs and defenses. Our core belief that we are unlovable and our need to feel important cause us to relate negatively if our childhoods were filled with deficit. Then we tend to "use" relationships to deny, pretend, prove or win. Therein lies the rub. Those hidden agendas mean we may come into relationships with an ax to grind. Or that others have one as they connect with us.
The Conditioned Self - coming from childhood - has holes, deficits, expectations, needs, and scared places that it tries to work out in today's relationships. And old wounds get triggered off by situations today. Often the neediness in one plays off the neediness in the other. And then varying degrees of stress and pain result.
The challenge is to be aware of our own and others' conditioned scripts. And grow free of them.
When a relationship presents problems, far too many these days believe they have only to change the name, the face and the place. And serenity will surely follow. They forget they take all their subselves and unfinished business into every relationship. So, increasingly, we have serial relationships that only replay the same scene - with variations.
Others stay with the same relationship but one wants to change the original contract on which the coupleship was formed. Yet the partner may not go for that idea.
A typical example is the couple with the unwritten contract "Let's you and me take care of me." All goes well until Caretaker tired and wants a new deal. Responsible tires of pulling the weight. But Irresponsible doesn't want to take up the oar.
When a couple lack common values, ethics and goals, there is no glue to hold them together once the games are thrown out.
Changing the lifelong patterns of the Conditioned Self is not easy. But it is possible, especially when pain is strong. That very pain is friend. It motivates us to try new behavior. If negative scripts are not changed, they tend to worsen with age. So when relationships stress, we are given an invitation to learn the lesson. And get free of old, outmoded patterns that imprison.
The sharings that follow are spot ideas to trigger your thinking and study. Hopefully they will spur you to see your script more clearly. And to gather the willingness to chip away outmoded constraints.
As you grow more whole, your present relationships can become more whole. But it takes two to renegotiate and requires good faith.
Sadly, sometimes only one is willing to change. The other remains glued to the Conditioned Self. They want more of the same rather than growth. Then they can continue to act out the same tired script. And reap the same tired pain. Some have a commitment to stress and self-destructiveness. Make sure that is not your script.
Whatever you do to you, you will tend to do to others. All relationships are colored by one's relationship to Self. All each of us can do is get our own act together. And to realize that some are dedicated to nonchange in themselves. Sad but true.
Each of us is, however, only accountable for how we walk in life. How others walk is their answer to God. We are not responsible for their walk. We are only responsible for our own.
May your walk be in compassion and understanding. If you falter in that understanding, work on it. One day it will come.