Who are you doing your best for?

If you have a perfectionist streak it probably seems self-evident that you should strive to do your best in every situation.

But for submissive or people-pleasing types, doing your best is not a point of pride but a distorted sense of responsibility to others.

“Always do your best” but who are you doing it for?

I recently discovered this flawed premise operating in aspects of my own life. The words “always do my best” really meant “I have to rise to others’ expectations”.

I wasn’t doing my best so I could be proud of myself and appreciate my accomplishments, I was submitting to a vague yet compelling demand that I do the best I could do in every situation.

And in practice that meant taking on burden on top of burden; if you can do something, you should do it. If something can be done better, you should find a way to do it better.

These are all subtle yet insidious interpretations of “do the best you can” and rather than try to unpack them all, the simple question is: who am I doing my best for?

I wasn’t doing my best for me, but for the accountability of nameless others who might judge me for my insufficient efforts and imperfect results. Doing my best was a defense against accusations of laziness and, worse, bad priorities.

Doing my best was a demand issued by others to meet their expectations and please them.

The truth is I don’t care about doing my best because I’ll never do my best, because my best is always changing and expanding.

What I care about is pleasing and satisfying myself, because nothing else is a reliable or accurate measure of success.

And so I conclude that it feels really good to stop doing my best, stop trying to please others with “the best I can do” and let that pleasure be my measure instead.

As I reached this conclusion, the words of an old song came to mind:

Ring the bells that still can ring, forget your perfect offering. There is a crack, a crack in everything…that’s how the light gets in.

F***ing meditation!

Sorry for the profanity, but it proved necessary!

Everyone finds meditation difficult, or so we’re told. I found it so difficult that for years I gave up on it.

But my need for meditation is now too great for me to try and fail and give up again.

I need it, because it is the easiest and most direct way to get into what Abraham-Hicks call “the receptive mode”.

The receptive mode is a state of mind where we let go of resistant thoughts and come into alignment with our inner being.

Why is this so important? It’s important because we have spent our whole lives asking for things, but so little time receiving them. The backlog of things we have asked for in life is immense, but most of us continue to live in the asking mode – focusing on what we don’t want, and thereby holding ourselves apart from what we do want.

The question and answer exist on different levels. We can’t solve problems with the same thinking that created them.

Fuck meditation!

When I meditate my breathing goes very shallow and brief. My whole body feels tense and uncomfortable and I feel agitated and oppressed.

Sound like fun?

For years I’d read stuff about peace and tranquility and relaxation and slow deep breaths.

No one said it was ok to have short shallow breaths or to feel deeply uncomfortable and riven with tension and unpleasant somatic sensations.

If they did acknowledge this kind of experience it was quickly subsumed in the exhortation to persist and non-judgementally allow the sensations to pass, with the promise that it will eventually improve.

Forget about a tranquil smile and serene expression; my meditation face is an angry scowl, prompting my wife to ask if I’m okay.

What the fuck is going on?

What’s going on is that I have a lot of tension and stress and resistance in me, and when I meditate it all comes to the surface.

This is not a problem, it’s the whole point.

Yet I tried to feel serene and tranquil and force myself to relax and breath deeply.

So I’ve arrived at the blissful conclusion that meditation is fucking horrible, and that’s good because it means I already feel fucking horrible and at last I’m giving myself the space and time for that resistance and tension to resolve itself.

…which is something I’ve been “asking” for, and in my meditation am beginning to receive.

So forget about feeling good and forget about any rules. Meditation, I’ve recently confirmed with a professional, is simply about anchoring your attention on something and keeping it there.

And from the A-H perspective it’s that time spent without resistant thoughts that gets you into the receptive mode, so you can finally let in all the wonderful things you’ve been asking for all your life.

Anxious to please

People who are anxious to please others are by definition insecure.

The desire to please comes from either an attempt to gain approval, or an effort to avoid disapproval.

In either case we fear how others will respond if we don’t at least try to make a positive impression.

You create your reality

The best antidote I’ve found to these fears and efforts to please others is to assert that we each create our own reality.

This helps in two ways.

First, since I create my reality, the outcomes I fear will only arise if I’m a match to them. No one can assert anything into my reality.

Second, since others create their reality they are not in fact dependent on me for sustaining their mood or the consistency of their experience. I can’t assert (or withhold) anything in their reality either.

What this means in practice is that my fears are unlikely to be realised. The reality I’ve created is one where I fear criticism and attack, but not one where criticism and attack actually happen. I don’t attract criticism and attack, I attract fear of them.

And likewise my efforts to please others…well if others are attracting pleasing circumstances they’ll receive them whether I contribute or not. And if they aren’t pleased by my efforts that’s because they aren’t a match for being pleased anyway!

The simple fact is that most people are emotionally consistent within a range, and they filter and actively engage with their reality in ways that vastly outstrip our efforts to please them – or not please them.

Sudden change of character

The bottom line is that you get back what you are broadcasting. If you stop trying to please people, but feel terrified of the consequences then rest assured you will find some consequences that terrify you.

If you soothe your fears and gently allow yourself to remain centred and content, then you will be able to let go of the urge to please them and you will see only positive and affirming consequences of your own interior change.

Living in the flow

I used to do this thing in kung fu, inspired by various writings on Zen, Daoism and Confucianism in the martial arts.

It was a trick, or so I thought…

When sparring with an opponent, let go of any thoughts of winning or losing, any desire to beat them or fear of getting hit.

Be open, unperturbed like still water, and entirely present without motive or agenda.

Take your mind off any particular thing, be aware of your full surroundings, and see your body as just another object in physical space.

Then when your opponent moves you will know in full clarity and detail the angle and trajectory and strength of his attack, and without any reason thought or effort your body will move in perfect time and technique to neutralise the attack.

I worked on this trick for a while and explored its limits and conditions. The trick would fail if I tried too hard or if my mind got caught up in any particular thought.

I also noticed other people could have stronger intentions and expectations that sapped my confidence and made me lose this feeling of fine balance.

It’s not a trick

It’s finally dawned on me in my study and practice of the Abraham-Hicks material that this wasn’t a trick after all. Rather, it’s what they are referring to as alignment, freedom from resistance, and opening up to the broader perspective of my inner being.

I’d thought I was simply honing my reactions but it’s much more than that. Because my being in that state was also influencing the actions of my opponent.

I was, in Abe terms, attracting from them attacks that I could easily counter, attracting from the whole exchange a joyful feeling of being connected and balanced and aligned, best of all a feeling of relying on something within me that was more powerful than my conscious efforts.

The state of consciousness I put myself in is exactly what Abe advocates for everyday life. Learning to rely on the ease and power and leverage of my inner being, not just when I’m sparring with someone but for all kinds of interactions in all aspects of my experience.

There’s no context in which it is preferable to be tense and uptight and doing things the hard way. There’s no situation that benefits from being weighed down by thoughts of profit and loss.

Because in the context of a friendly fight I didn’t have to tell myself not to get hit. My desire to not be punched in the face was already firmly activated within me. Likewise I don’t have to keep telling myself not to cut myself while preparing food and not to burn the food when I cook it.

As Abe says, we’ve already launched enough desires to last us twenty lifetimes. We don’t need to keep reminding ourselves of the outcomes we desire.

Living in the flow

I’m so excited about this because I have such a strong and personal experience of success in finding alignment and trusting my inner being in the context of kung fu and now I’ve connected the dots between this personal touchstone and what Abe have been saying for years.

Everyday life can flow like that. Everyday life can be shaped by that unparalleled feeling of being switched on and allowing responses to come forth from within with precision and timing that just feel like perfection.

All it needs is for me to know that’s what I’m doing, and let go of the thoughts of winning and losing, the clinging to outcomes that throw me out of balance.

Am I religious?

Someone asked me recently if I am religious and I struggled to answer them.

“Spiritual but not religious?” they offered.

But I don’t want to be a walking cliche either, and what does SBNR mean anyway?

From the perspective of an irreligious person I guess I am religious. From the perspective of a religious person I’m not.

Transcending religion

The problem is that I’ve read too much into multiple religions and tried to see the world through their eyes.

Like learning a new language, I know that people have different names for the same things, but they also have names for things that other languages don’t have.

They cut up reality in slightly different ways.

And so do religions. They talk about this one transcendent experience in different ways and translate it into different forms.

People get fixated on whether Buddhists believe in God or not; but people also get stuck on whether Christians from the same denomination worship the same God if they differ in their fundamental conception of Him.

Why not just say that Buddhism and Christianity both contain something transcendent, and they try to describe it in their own particular ways?

Wheat and chaff

But I’m making my own assertion here: that what is of value in any and every religion is the transcendent and otherworldly aspect of it. Not the afterlife so much as the new life, the qualitatively different experience of life in this world.

I have zero interest or time for a religion that is merely a set of rules unless those rules promise to deliver a tangibly improved relationship with reality.

It’s worth bearing that in mind, because to some people outward adherence to a creed or membership of a community is more important than some kind of obscure or, worse yet, esoteric experience of transcendence and joy that some people get and others don’t.

Some people don’t want religion to be universal unless it’s all under the one creed.

But my experience is that we are all operating on a personal creed, whether we admit it or not. And mine has evolved through familiarity with the thought of a half-dozen religious streams.

I don’t have the common ground of fellow-believers who sit together in their churches or mosques and provide a range of social reinforcements to their faith, but I probably don’t need it either. If I wanted to belong I probably wouldn’t have such a strong desire to explore and push past the boundaries of other people’s conventions and comfort-zones.

I can say for sure that life is meant to be enjoyed, and though i know that rubs some people the wrong way I have less and less concern about that.

Perhaps in writing this I’m letting myself have less concern about religion too; letting go of my awareness of all the varied and intricate issues within and around religious practice and belief.

Does it matter what I call myself or what others call me? Religious or not, the label doesn’t change anything for me apart from how I think others see me. And how I think others see me is…probably the least important question that could occupy my mind.

His God is a douchebag

My friend Dtcwee looks back on his past effort to come to grips – if not to terms – with the Bible, or should I say a Bible, via a no-holds-barred reading plan that spanned an entire year. His conclusion?

“The bible is not what anyone says it is.”

For me that means: it is not cohesive or consistent. It does not evidence God’s fairness or mercy. The New Testament ideals of love and fellowship were not novel, even at Jesus’ time, and are rather shallow in his expressions…

But what you were taught in Sunday School is different to what I was taught in Sunday School. Following the Plan was more about examining and articulating my own beliefs than trying to work out what the Bible was attempting to communicate. The bible has been more a mirror than a window.

http://dtcwee.blogspot.com/2019/09/the-annotated-bible-reading-plan.html?m=1

I really enjoyed reading this again, some years on, and it’s more relevant to me than ever, speaking to my own lacklustre impression of the source material and more pointedly the subjective weight of any one person’s interpretation of what it all means.

I’m choosing to feel good

All day we think thoughts and those thoughts prompt in us a feeling: positive or negative, enjoyable or not enjoyable, depending on the harmony or disharmony between these thoughts and our own inner being.

Our feelings are perfect feedback on the harmony or alignment between the thoughts we are focused on and the thoughts in our inner being.

Many of us learn to disregard this feedback. We are taught, both in words and by example, that some things are more important than our feelings.

Mostly we are taught “do as I say!” is more important! But there are many other things too: how others see us, working hard, being successful, being respected, following the rules, conforming to societal conventions, being realistic; we each have our own personal account of what is more important than feeling good.

But these thoughts do not feel good. They do not serve us. We do not benefit from ignoring our own feelings. And the best proof of this is that the ultimate justification of all such rules is “and then I will feel good”.

If I am perfect, then I will feel good. If I am successful, then I will feel good. If I please people, then I will feel good. If I work hard enough, then I will feel good.

These thoughts themselves do not feel good; but no one ever taught us to pay attention to that feeling and accept its guidance.

What might your life look like if you listened to that guidance and stopped believing things that don’t feel good?

I don’t have to work hard

I don’t have to be perfect

I don’t have to please anyone but myself

I don’t have to be “realistic”

I don’t have to explain myself

I am meant to enjoy life

My life is meant to be easy

I am creating my reality

I am choosing how I feel

I am directing my attention to thoughts that feel good.

I am enjoying this process

Everything I want is coming to me easily

I’m getting better and more practiced at choosing my thoughts and directing my attention.

Things I have wanted are coming to me easily as I feel better, and coming to me in ways I appreciate and prefer.

The world I’ve been creating has changed and will continue to change. It will always be in a state of evolution and becoming, expansion and enjoyment.

It’s a really nice day today

Recently I learned that I’d been approaching my work with a basic premise that didn’t serve me.

The premise was that if I understood myself and reality I would know how to avoid suffering and find happiness.

But some friends helped me recognise that this premise is just a belief, and that holding onto this belief did not feel good.

What if instead of seeking objective truths to believe in, I chose to believe things that feel good to me?

After all, the only reason I wanted the objective truth about reality was because I thought I would feel better.

Even knowing the limitations of knowledge and the dubiousness of objectivity…

In fact, my definition of “objective” really meant “keeping my feelings out of it”. So I was looking for truth to set me free, but dismissing my own emotional guidance as I examined truth after truth, hoping to find an answer that would “objectively” allow me to feel a subjective state of happiness.

It’s funny.

Imagine instead if your whole view of life was constructed out of thoughts that felt really good to you!

There’s no downside to that – there can’t be, because it wouldn’t be included among your beliefs.

Imagine feeling supported by every one of your beliefs, every thought in your head.

It’s a really nice day today, and I’m feeling very good.

The resistance is in me and you

There’s no resistance in reality, just resistance in me and in you.

Everything in reality is drawn to us by law of attraction.

It couldn’t persist in my reality unless I was attracting it to me.

That goes for everything from physical aches and pains to the tone of relationships, economic conditions, and even the ideas that come to me.

When we blame reality for how we feel we disempower ourselves. Resistance can’t survive in our reality unless it is alive in us.

If we start paying attention to the vibration of everything in our experience, we tune into how the law of attraction is operating.

What are the vibrational frequencies of the objects, people, circumstances and interactions around you? Can you feel them? They are nuanced, multifaceted, and constantly changing; but what you are feeling is a direct indicator of your own vibration.

If you can start tuning into the vibrations of things, asking “what is the vibration of this?” “What vibration am I attracting to me?” then you are no longer activating your own resistance.

Dynamic

As you start feeling the vibration of things in your reality, you are already changing your own vibration, which in turn changes your reality.

Relationships are a great example of this. I might be frustrated by my toddler’s behaviour, and if I try to feel the vibration of her behaviour I see that it matches the frustration and impatience in me.

But the moment I tune into her like that, I’m no longer activating my own vibration of impatience and frustration, and almost immediately I feel a different vibration from her. My openness to vibrational reality and my willingness to take responsibility for what is coming to me releases my resistance and I can suddenly appreciate her in a different light.

What’s actually happened is that my vibration has changed and law of attraction is bringing me an aspect of her that is a match to my new vibration.

Becoming aware of the vibrational feedback law of attraction is bringing to me tunes me into the whole dynamic and simultaneously improves my vibration, thereby allowing me to witness law of attraction in action.

It’s good to understand that we create our reality, but we also need to practice it somehow. Tuning into the vibration of what we are already attracting is a powerful way to release resistance and begin mindfully creating.

It’s a game…23!

Learning to have fun

When we are fixated on solving our problems or getting what we want out of life, things can seem pretty heavy and serious.

But as our emotional set-point improves, that heavy seriousness doesn’t belong anymore.

I’m discovering as I find myself more and more frequently feeling contentment that the path forward is completely different.

It’s like spending months in painful rehab and recovery and you finally have the strength to stand and walk, and now what? Painful rehab is not the purpose of life. That was just what it felt like to regain movement and strength, but when you’ve regained them life should not continue to feel like painful rehab.

In the Abraham-Hicks teachings the way forward is enjoyment and fun. Enjoyment is an essential part of our reason for being here, and the enjoyment of life should feel like fun.

Resistance to fun?

In years of life defined by negative emotions “fun” was never a welcome answer to my problems.

People told me I should just have fun and enjoy life. But their lives didn’t look like fun to me, and my own experience of fun didn’t seem to offer any answers to my problems.

And I was right: fun was not the answer…relief was the answer.

But now I’m in this turning point where relief has to transform into something else.

It’s like working hard to get out of debt…and then what? You’ve eschewed all kinds of luxuries and enjoyments for the sake of paying off the debt; what do you do with the money now?

How can fun be the answer?

After years of fun not being the answer, now it is the answer. Because when you feel good rather than bad, you’re ready to enjoy things in life.

I guess my problem is that I’ve spent so long looking for the deep and meaningful answers to life that I’m not tuned in to the levity and lightness of real enjoyment. I even overtly rejected fun and enjoyment because meaning seemed more important.

I’m recalibrating, tuning in to fun and enjoyment as the most important aspects of my experience, looking for enjoyment with the knowledge that whatever I focus on becomes bigger in my experience.