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’ve written about self-improvement a lot, and have done a lot of it. I’m at a point in my self-improvement journey where the devil’s in the details, as they say. It’s the little things that are still thorns in my side, and the daily habits that require devotion.
I have stories I want to tell, and books I want to write. Self-improvement is a great thing, but to what end? My intention is to use it to create art, write books, and play music.
Creativity is a daily thing. It’s easy to forget about it as we get caught up in earning money. Creativity is ultimately a spiritual path.
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.
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.
We can call it giving up, retreating, or letting go, but maybe resigning is a more neutral term for withdrawing our energy from a futile endeavor. The anxiety and worry I’ve felt for as long as I’ve written this blog is like a fitfully sleeping dragon. The cycle of appeasement, in which I throw hapless victims into its hungry maw, is never ending.
Standing Our Ground
It is a process of letting go, of not trying to control the dragon of anxiety and worry. The dragon is obsessive, and the compulsion is to fight or flee. But what if we just stood our ground, and prove to ourselves (once and for all) that we won’t be burned by its flames?
Making the Unfamiliar Familiar
Anxiety and worry can become a habit, and habits can become our identity. The familiar way is to find the anxiety intolerable, while the unfamiliar is to be OK with it. So I don’t think anxiety and worry helps me, but I also don’t give it the power to hurt me, either.
I got home from work last night and saw that my mom had taken out the trash in “my room.” I’m moving into my own place in a week, so I’m not too bothered by anything that happens while I’m staying with her. I’m actually quite appreciative and grateful, but I also felt like my personal space and privacy had been violated.
This incident affected my mood as I woke up this morning. After doing some daily self-improvement habits, I felt better and made peace – not with my mom – but with myself. Being clear about my values helped me to resolve inner conflict.
- Having a sense of purpose allowed me to put things into perspective (I’ve got bigger things to focus on).
- Being resilient helped me to improve my mood after (almost) waking up on the wrong side of the bed.
- Being self-reliant lets me know that I can work on having my own personal space (physically and emotionally).
How have you benefited from being clear about your most important values?
I’m kicking the people-pleasing habit, and since it’s a habit, I need to keep reminding myself that my new habit is following my bliss/inner guidance/the path of least resistance. People-pleasing is actually following the path of most resistance, but people-pleasers don’t realize that until life starts being a real pain in the ass. We train people to treat us the way we believe we should be treated, and people-pleasing says that what we want is less important than what someone else wants, which isn’t true.
As a former people-pleaser, I’m aware of when I feel the need to justify why I’m doing what I’m doing, when the truth is that I don’t need to justify myself to anyone. I’m doing what I’m doing – the way I’m doing it – because that’s what I want to do. Sure, I could try to explain myself to someone, but why?
Kicking the people-pleasing habit is about wanting to live a sincere life. Don’t try to please people, and let them decide how they feel about you. It might be challenging for a while, and people might throw a hissy fit, but so what. Life will become much simpler and you’ll feel a lot better, especially about yourself.