One of the most healing things you can do is recognize where in life you are your own poison .Steve Maraboli
“Why does someone else’s success threaten you?” my friend said.
Arrrgggh! I couldn’t even hate her because she spoke the truth. Faithful are the wounds of a friend.
And wound me it did. Like a surgeon cutting out the infection of an injury that refuses to heal, she pinpointed the unhealthy competition I used as a smokescreen to cover my heart.
My friend’s question has hounded me for many years.
The answer to why was threatened is that I wasn’t in love with my life. It’s hard to fall in love with your life when you don’t like yourself.
I tried every easy, formulaic solution from the self-help gurus that have crossed my path: self-actualization, acceptance, gratitude, self-punishment, and discipline. Please don’t get me wrong. Each of these methods has its time and place. The mistake I made and still make is to apply the answer before I’ve answered the question. I hurry to fix the darkness in my heart, in this case, jealousy, before I get to the root of it. If I can eradicate that ugly stain, I will be loveable.
The key to falling in love with my life is understanding some things about myself:
My deepest needs are love and security
These needs are not unique to me; they are the driving force in every person that has and will live. I’ve done all sorts of crazy, hurtful, irrational things to get those needs met. The need for love and security doesn’t mean I’m weak; it means I’m human. Welcome to the human race, Kate.
The road to freedom is inside
The hunger to be loved and secure in that love drove me to pursue the best intensely. But I wasn’t satisfied with being the best I could be. I had to be the best. If anyone was better than me at something, it threatened the security of my place and, in turn, threatened love. The insanity of this logic nearly drove me insane. But then, that’s the power of hunger and pain if left untended.
It wasn’t enough to acknowledge and dissect the events, emotions, and evils in my heart.
For healing to occur, everything must be brought into the light and looked at for what it is. It is only light that reveals the truth. I fear the light because I fear the truth. Will the light show me that I am unlovable? But what if the truth did the opposite? What if it showed me that despite my flaws, I’m worthy of a secure love? Could I handle it?
These fearful questions are a tripping point because my old coping mechanism is to fix problems immediately. This sends me back into the cycle of performing and pleasing, all of which serve to keep me from healing. It’s not about fixing. It’s about embracing. As I look inside, I see it’s more important to embrace what drives me than it is to fix it. Repair comes after wound diagnosis.
Embrace myself as I am
What does it mean to embrace? For me, embracing means, I receive myself exactly as I am. It is acknowledgment without judgment. Recognition is critical for healing, yet it necessitates a great deal of courage.
As Paul Tillich states so well in The Courage to Be:
“One could say that the courage to be is the courage to accept oneself as accepted in spite of being unacceptable.”
Falling intensely in love with my life is a byproduct of healing, achieved through self-awareness and acceptance.
What a remarkable side effect to be freed from my propensity for unhealthy competition and to rejoice wholeheartedly in another’s joie de vivre!