(Photo and photo credit belong to Variety.com)
I was on the elliptical the other night watching DVR’d episodes of Mad Men and found myself, once again, repulsed by the philandering and deceit that seems so commonplace. It’s not that its just common, it’s that the hurtful behavior is practically expected…especially of the men. The word “misogynistic” kept coming to mind but still didn’t quite fit. These men aren’t fooling around because they hate women. They have this grasping…grass is always greener kind of feel to them. Like life would just be better, happier, more fulfilling if they could get lost in the arms of another distraction.
But distraction from what?
That’s when it occurred to me anew, they are desperate to turn their attention away from their own inability to create true and lasting happiness from within. They turn to a new woman, or a new job, or a new hobby or whatever their individual habit is because it feels good to be distracted from the ennui of their current woman (job, hobby) and then the new becomes the old and it all repeats. This observation is not new but the next layer of this phenomenon is an important one.
The cycle that people go through when they line up a new relationship (job/hobby) before the end of the first one isn’t from a disrespect of their partner as much as it is from an inner terror of the truth about themselves:
- Because if they faced the truth (that they’re not equipped with the emotional intelligence to grieve constructively and get truly healthy on their own independently of the next distraction) then they would have to do something about it.
- And every passing year that they don’t do something about it makes them feel more and more of their own judgement that they haven’t figure it out yet. “I’m 21 years old and I still don’t know how to grow/heal/be happy.” “I’m 40 years old and I STILL can’t do this on my own. What is wrong with me?”
- That judgmental voice gets louder and louder and it actually begins to take on the personality of someone they respect…a parent, a previous partner or respected business partner.
- Before they know it they harbor all of this resentment for people who have no real control over what needs to be fixed…their attitude, more accurately their self-loathing.
This isn’t true in every case. I know some people jump from one thing to another out of exuberance and curiosity…not desperation. But it sure is rings true for some of the situations I’ve both witnessed in others and experienced first hand.
The person who conducts himself this way doesn’t do so because he’s a bad person but because he has never been taught
- how to love himself,
- how to take care of himself in his darkest hour and on his deepest level,
- how to be conscious while life is uncomfortable. Essentially,
- he hasn’t learned how to stop giving his circumstances the power to make him happy (hint: they never will) and
- how to make himself happy regardless of what is going on in life.
How do you break that cycle?
Absolutely everything we come up against in this physical world is an opportunity to practice being Love together. That includes the experiences that drive people to stray in their relationships: frustration, boredom, confusion, etc. All of that inner conflict is arising because it has something to show us, something to teach us or is an opportunity for us to practice the elements of love that we already know but we’re just not very good at yet.
One of the things I do when I feel resistance is lean into it…I know that when I have my fears and doubts come up that they’re a gift because they’re showing me what is left to resolve within myself. When I feel sad and don’t want to feel sad anymore, I do a very counter-intuitive thing…I just feel sad. Until I’m exhausted by it. Then when I’m spent emotionally I go back to my sadness as though it were Sadness (a sentient being) and I ask it what it’s trying to tell me. The conversation usually goes something like this:
“Hello Sadness, you really did a number on me today. I’m all worn out and willing to listen now.”
“That’s good. I have a lot to say. You seemed upset when you expected one outcome and got another.”
“Yes, I was. I really thought this would turn out the way I envisioned. I guess I’m upset I didn’t get my way.”
“What’s so bad about not getting your way?”
“I guess I had expectations…I could see, so vividly, how I was going to get what I wanted.”
“So, you’re sad because you only had the vision for one right way and it didn’t turn out that way?”
“Yeah, I suppose.”
“How can you not be sad next time?”
“I could see more than one way that things could turn out. I could respond differently when they don’t go as expected. I could trust that even when it hurts I get something good out of it because I’m having THIS conversation and it’s helping me see that when I’m emotionally attached to one particular outcome I created a very narrow pathway for happiness.”
To be honest, it’s not really a dialogue like that as much as it as an impression that I get from Sadness. It’s a message from wordlessness, from Oneness, from that inner truth that I came in with as Love. It’s a knowing that I feel guided toward. Life changes drastically when you begin to see Sadness, Hurt and Confusion as mentors. Yes, it’s difficult sometimes because every time we challenge ourselves to push to the next level of any skill it takes practice, it takes falling back down and getting back up, it takes faith that we will one day actually get it. It’s the same thing with our inner world. Grace takes practice and the only way we’re going to get to practice it is by having misunderstandings… a LOT of misunderstandings. Compassion takes practice. Forgiveness takes practice. Once we realize that all of the things we want from others reside within us already AND that we have the power to strengthen those characteristics and support ourselves then our circumstances lose the power to prevent our happiness.
If you’re not practiced at getting impressions from your Expansive Mind like that you can use journaling prompts like:
Name the problem:
What’s so bad about that problem?
What/who are you judging?
Does that judgement help you solve your problem?
What is your REAL problem?
Or you could use Byron Katie’s “The Work” in “Loving What Is”
Or you could simply practice observing your thoughts, “I notice I’m having the thought _________. I notice I’m having the thought _______” over and over again until you realize it’s just a thought and it begins to loosen it’s grip on you.
If you’re a person that is trying to break the self-loathing/mad men cycle (first of all, give yourself a pat on the back for even reading a blog like mine – most of you would be so triggered by the topic you wouldn’t get past the first paragraph) take heart…you don’t have to go far to find comfort, it’s already inside of you it just hasn’t been nurtured into being.
If you’re a person with people like this in your life it can be very tough. Chance are you see goodness and Light in them that they simply cannot see within themselves. Remember, you are NOT their savior. If they’re willing to take the journey and it feels good to you to help them then it is a wonderful opportunity for you to practice grace and patience while they stumble and get confused.
If they’re not willing to take the journey then let them move on. Their Love nature will give them the classroom they need to make them ready to take the journey. You cannot force it. The pain in letting them go will give you the opportunity to get your own message from Sadness. Once that’s done – there is no unhappy ending.
Obviously this is just my interpretation of this kind of person. What’s yours? How do you deal with your thoughts about them? How would you like to? How do you deal with those people in your life? Does that work? Why or why not?