Forgiving yourself

Compassionate toward yourself,
you reconcile all beings in the world.

-from Tao 67

I hesitate to be so vulnerable in an online space that employers could and are likely to see, but I think that every single person faces insecurities in this world.  If that’s true then pretending to have none is denying who and what we really are, and who needs that?  Anyhow I’ve been struggling for years with my need for approval.  It’s always been a part of me and when I realized the fact that what drives me in life isn’t some internal fire like heroes in movies but the need for affirmations and pats on the back it created all sorts of odd behaviors.  I went through phases of intentionally being unlikeable, refusing to be political in anyway, doing away with any small talk… Other times I’ve tried meditating and mantras and things to break my default mental cycles.  I’ve heard (what the bleep do we know) that these emotional cravings are actual addictions, like a drug that you’ll find ways to get into your system or face withdrawals.  The subtext here is that I never accepted myself or even forgave myself for having flaws.  I’m not kind to myself in this way, I’m over critical in my idealism.

For example: I work a lot and no one but me really knows the emotional cycle of my work days.  There are essentially two modes in which I’ll be extremely productive: 1) under guilty deadline/expectation pressure or 2) adrenaline and excitement because someone I respect is taking an active interest in my work.  That makes everyday another step in an internal emotional roller coaster, which isn’t very sustainable.  I’ve been producing some cool and difficult things but never am I producing them in some sort of relaxed state.

Since moving away from all of our friends and family we’ve had to make new friends and we live this semi-nomadic life.  As a result there’s fewer and fewer people who can give me pats on the back and reassurance that I’m doing fine.  As a result of this absence I can see the impact on my emotional eco-system of life with less approval. Less days of type 2 and more of type 1…  Further, without a set of well defined peers or a crew of any sort I’m more free to define my own sense of values.  I am really getting in touch with my morality, but to follow your own code means a) that it fits well within the parameters of the people closest to you or b) that you have the emotional strength to be yourself despite pressure to conform.  This extra dimension creates a formula for  a storm.  I want to live a life in accordance with my own values which are not particularly the values of the mainstream.  I need approval to fuel the engine of my life.  This is what creates my anxiety.  I’ve been searching for a stronger worldview, a way to feel at peace while pursuing my own way.

So that’s the dark side of it all, now to my title.  I started to read Krishnamurti’s Education and the significance of life which rocked me a bit.  He claims that seeing the world through the filter of idealism and utopias takes you away from seeing things as they are and sets you up to be a type of tyrant.  Furthermore, ideals are molds that dehumanize their subjects; in the sense that trying to mold yourself into an ideal takes away who you are where you’ve been and squeezes you into the ideal.  i.e., A way that one should be is what creates Malvina Reynold’s “little boxes” in the first place.  OK so I don’t want to be how the world wants me to be, but by pushing myself to fit some other concept of how I should be is no different; ‘meet the new boss same as the old boss’.  So I think, on some level, that I’ve been denying myself over the years while trying to mold a better Andy.  I’m OK, I’ve got quirks so do you, and I want to forgive them.  There are things about me that not everyone will like, that’s cool.  There are things about me that I don’t like.  I also have some amazing gifts and I’ve had some fantastic experiences.  Life is subtle and complicated and I’ve been treating myself too industrially for that.  Anyhow it’s worth a shot, and needed to put down on paper.

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