Thursday, August 25, 2011

Trust Your Struggle

I admit it: I don't like feeling pain, I don't like to hurt, I don't enjoy grieving, I don't like feeling sad and disappointed, and I don't like feeling disrespected, taken for granted, or being taken advantage of. Who does?

I've blogged before about how having too many expectations leads to a lot of unnecessary suffering, so that it's wise to keep your expectations realistic. Still and all, you can't move through the world without having some expectations. If you didn't, you'd let everyone know that you'll take anything from them. You'll be perceived as a pushover, someone with no self-respect. Any boundary you draw will promptly be stepped over.

The trick for me lately has been in trying to locate the boundaries that work for me. What do I expect from this person? Is it a reasonable expectation? (If not, adjust. Anything higher is just a hope, not an expectation, so don't fixate on the hope.) What will I not tolerate? Is that a fair boundary? (If so, set it, and stick to it.)

This strategy has helped quite a bit in maintaining my own serenity and peace of mind, but still accidents happen. It's when I feel the difficult things I don't want to feel that I try to figure out what went wrong in the expectations/boundaries department. Did I let someone get away with crossing a boundary? If so, why did I do that? Sometimes figuring out why I did that eases the pain and the indignation. Or, was an expectation simply not realistic because I let too much hope encroach into what I wanted an outcome to be? And if I did that, what was behind my attachment to that outcome?

One thing's for sure: we judge most harshly in others the things we most hate in ourselves. For example, if someone is selfish and that drives me crazy, then I'm learning that in some ways, my anger is also me being all self-righteous about how I don't let myself be selfish because I think that's unforgivable, or that a part of me knows I am selfish sometimes and I may very well have done the same thing I'm judging them for had I been the one in their shoes. How many people who set off your gaydar open their mouths and spout the most hateful things about homosexuals you've ever heard? (Methinks they doth protest too much.) So when I'm struggling with difficult feelings, I'm finding that almost every single time, at the core of the struggle is something I'm having difficulty with myself.

Our struggles are a reflection of our own internal state. So trust your struggle. There's something valuable you'll be able to take away from it.

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