I woke up from a dramatic dream at 3am and consulted the I Ching about its meaning. That led to several more questions, and the answers had to do with blocking my own progress, needing to maintain equilibrium, being impartial, and prioritizing. I want to make myself, my life, and my work a top priority.
Things have shifted on a deep level. It’s easy to lose focus, so focusing needs to become a habit. It’s all about priorities.
Pretty much all I do these days is a way for me to focus on making myself a priority. Stop putting others first to the detriment of my own life. I’m learning to value myself in a healthy way.
I begin writing this with no preconceptions or preconceived notions of what I’m going to write. Sometimes you need to let go of preconceptions and assumptions and expectations, and let the thoughts and words flow. That’s how all of this began, and that’s how it’s going to continue.
Structure is a good thing, in the right amount. The unconscious is like an out-of-focus lens, and consciousness is the focusing of the lens. We have the ability to focus and defocus, zoom in and out.
When things get too complicated, the best thing to do is simplify. Get back to basics. Start over.
Writing and publishing this post will be an achievement for me. It’s helpful to consciously acknowledge when something would be an achievement, and when something has been achieved. An achievement is something we’re proud that we accomplished.
Appreciation is also something we can consciously acknowledge. By “consciously acknowledge” I mean it requires mental focus, and by focusing on the things we appreciate, we attract more of it into our lives. Appreciating is consciously acknowledging and savoring the beauty, worth, and value of something.
Achieving and appreciating are powerful self-improvement techniques. By using both of these mental skills, we can truly create a more positive experience for ourselves, and by extension, a more positive world.
I asked the I Ching:
“What can I do to have courage and strength?”
The answer was so powerful that I had to write it down in my journal so I could internalize it, and I also wanted to type it up on my blog to share it with you, because it’s just good advice in general.
Hexagram 40 Line 5
It is time to eliminate bad habits and behaviors and free yourself from relationships and situations that drag you down. Deliverance requires inner resolution and perseverance. You alone can save yourself. No one else can do it for you. But if you stay the course, people who undermine your self-worth or have an unhealthy influence in your life will see that you cannot be taken advantage of and they will withdraw of their own accord.
“Delivering yourself” means treating yourself with respect and developing a positive attitude toward who you are and what you do. Deliverance requires a narrative of redemption. It means believing in a vision of yourself and in a story of your life in which things can get better. If you hold fast to this vision and make this story your story, your life will indeed improve.
By believing in yourself and becoming committed to your deliverance, you will no longer attract harmful people, and you will no longer get yourself entangled in unhealthy behaviors and difficult circumstances that you could have avoided.
Jack M. Balkin, The Laws of Change
I need to stay focused on this message, because I need courage and strength in order to stay on the right path. After a lifetime of approval seeking and people pleasing, I finally know what it’s like to be free, but there are still backsliding and self-sabotaging habits that I need to be aware of. Only I can save myself.
Sometimes I wonder why it’s so quick and easy for me to focus love onto others, but focusing that same love on myself feels foreign. It’s one of those unfamiliar things that I’m devoted to becoming familiar with. As I look upon myself with the same admiration, esteem, friendliness, and respect that I afford others, I feel at peace.
Choosing to no longer seek the approval of (and trying to please) others may be the most challenging thing we ever face. Sometimes anger is our only way out, but when the anger subsides, we can feel the familiar pull of old habits. However (and whenever) it happens, turning the corner is the difference between night and day.
The Great Equalizer
Happiness is the great equalizer. We can never really tell if anyone else is truly happy. We can never truly make anyone else happy unless they really want to be happy.
I have to admit that as focused and (authentically) happy as I am now, through everything I’ve learned and overcome, there’s still pain and resistance to being happy, which requires all of my wisdom (as well as others) in order to find peace. It takes a deep and abiding appreciation of the journey and the process of life. We weren’t born to please others; we were born to be true to ourselves, and the sooner we realize that, the better we’ll feel.
I’m focused on embodying myself these days–really feeling what it means to be me–so I’m not trying to use my intellect to be happy. Intrinsic motivation is the only thing that’s truly fulfilling. Life flows into open spaces.
I’m enjoying art, writing, and music. There’s nothing for me to solve anymore. I’ve gone through the tough stuff, and now all I want to do is appreciate everything.
I know that whatever has gone away can be replaced by something greater. This is what it means to be a (better) man. That’s what it means to be human.