"The image is of Ananda, the cousin and disciple of Gautam Buddha. He was at Buddha's side constantly, attending to his every need for forty-two years. When Buddha died, the story is told that Ananda was still at his side, weeping. The other disciples chastised him for his misunderstanding: Buddha had died absolutely fulfilled; he should be rejoicing. But Ananda said, "You misunderstand. I'm weeping not for him but for myself, because for all these years I have been constantly at his side but I have still not attained." Ananda stayed awake for the whole night, meditating deeply and feeling his pain and sorrow. By the morning, it is said, he was enlightened. Times of great sorrow have the potential to be times of great transformation. But in order for transformation to happen we must go deep, to the very roots of our pain, and experience it as it is, without blame or self-pity."
The intention I was holding within myself today was about a point of resistance I am experiencing in relation to asking someone to do something with me, for me, that I know they do not necessarily want to do, but I need them to do it so that I can advance on a project. It has always been a weakness of mine, where I will take it to the point of, ‘if you don’t want to do it then forget about it, I’ll find someone else’. But the reality is that, sometimes there isn’t someone else, and sometimes we have to face to music of ‘putting someone out’ because we need support.
Looking a little deeper behind the point, I see that it actually involves not wanting to annoy or displease people, always wanting to remain on people’s good side, not wanting to upset the relationship. If the relationship were to become upset I would in fact feel pain and sorrow, as the card states, but not for the right reasons. ‘People pleasing’ is like a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It seems nice and pleasant, but at the same time, it diminishes self and the other, because in a way, it is manipulative and controlling instead of being self-honest in a relationship.
The point of people pleasing is to get people to like you, and not dislike you. There is a fear that if they dislike you, it is s if a part of you becomes invalidated, as if part of you is lost or has been taken away. If you are liked, then life is good, everything must be in order, you check out according to others.
But the thing is, when I reflect back on my life, how many times have I not spoken, have I seen something and did not point it out, or have I suppressed my expression for fear of it upsetting someone else outside myself. The fear of conflict and the desire to please. This dependency upon the pleasing and approval of others is like Ananda’s dependency on the Buddha, where there is the belief that, without this other person, I cannot be this or that. That without pleasing people I cannot be liked and accepted, if I upset people I may be ostracized and rejected, people will talk in hushed whispers behind my back and not give me a chance to speak and explain myself. Without me explaining myself, gossip and rumors will take over until others think I am something completely different to what I am.
Another reality check is that I cannot control what others think of me. I have power over who I am and making sure that I am consistent in my thoughts, actions words and deeds by aligning them within principles – doing what’s best for all, which includes myself, placing myself in the shoes of others, listening, HEARING different perspectives – and trust that, within this consistency, Who I Am will come though, and I can stand within that and not be moved by any gossip or backchat.
I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to fear pushing others when I need something from them.
I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to fear pushing others because I fear they will say no and then I will be powerless to move forward in my endeavour.
I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to feel powerless in situations where I must cooperate, preferring instead to work alone, instead of learning the tools, techniques and skills of working within a group, speaking up, compromising, organising and arranging, knowing that things might not go exactly how I had planned, but that they will still move.
I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to create a dynamic of dependency and approval, where I think/believe/perceive that I cannot advance if I do not have all the control, thus going into helplessness and powerlessness when I need to work something out with someone else.
I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to interpret even the smallest signs of resistance from another to help me out when I need it as signs of insurmountable defeat.
I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to want/need/desire to control a thing instead of strengthening my skills or working well with others.
I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to think/believe/perceive I can only get something done if I am controlling it, not seeing/realizing and understanding that the starting point of this control is the belief that I cannot confront and overcome my fear of displeasing another/conflict/putting another out for me. A triple whammy of fears.
When and as I see that I am not moving on a project due to fear of conflict/displeasing/putting others out, I stop, and I breathe. I remind myself that I am:
1- Creating consequences in my life such as stress and anxiety because my project is not moving.
2- Accepting and allowing the fear within me to supersede what is best for all as me, because it is halting a project and halting my self-development as well as diminishing myself through unnecessary consequences and reactions.
3- Diminishing myself due to fears that are self-created.
4- Diminishing the self-trust I have worked hard to develop by accepting/allowing fear to stand more steadfast than Who I Am.
I bring myself back to self-direction by reminding myself that Who I Am will always be stronger and stand more steadfast than any thought/feeling/emotion from myself or anybody else, because Who I Am is something , and can be something real, that stands the test of time so long as I am consistent in my application.
Interesting how the self forgiveness statement revealed an even deeper level of control from a starting point of fear – the fear that I cannot stand in the face of conflict, displeasing and putting others out. Right in the middle of writing this blog I became so fed-up with this fear that I literally walked out and went to the person who’s assistance I needed. I went in to it knowing it could go either way, so I was ready for any answer, and in the end, got what I needed, and actually had quite an enjoyable time with the person. It just goes to show how rarely reality matches up with our expectations!
So, like in the card, I must sometimes face some hard truths of myself, walking the consequences of what I have accepted and allowed myself to be and become, and from within the darkest moments and low points, to see the opportunity for growth and transformation. I will red flag this: when experiencing a low, ask myself, what is the transformation required here?
And always remember, this too shall pass, so we'd better make the most of every moment, so that we can carry new gifts into the next moment in order to build and strengthen ourselves in the present, releasing the burdens of the past.