Renewal Twenty-Two : Our Guidance Doesn’t Fail Us, Our Fear Does
It is strange how we attract things into our lives, things we often don’t even want. It is like giving an obnoxious child candy to shut up, we inadvertently reinforce a behavior we were in fact trying to avoid. We put our energies into things we don’t want and we seem to get exactly that, what we don’t want.
When substitute teaching in elementary school, I learned that one does not tell a child a negative like “don’t run.” Children will often stop running and do the next closest thing to it, like skipping. The idea was to tell a child what to do, like “walk.” That boxes them into a corner.
It appears our psyche is very similar.
So, the idea in relationships was to identify what was wanted and what was not and then to be careful about how we programmed that information into our psyches. If we were living lives we did not individually or collectively desire, this process would separate the chaff from the wheat and we would wind up with what was wanted.
Certainly this plan seemed reasonable, the three women in my life had traits that I did want and I apparently had traits they also wanted. So, like sculptors, we had only to chip away what wasn’t needed to get exactly what was envisioned.
However, metaphors, by nature, do not describe a thing directly, they circle around the essence of what is being attended to.
The sculptor metaphor seemed to work for a while. The three women seemed comforted by the sculptor machinations, and they claimed that my perspective enriched their lives. But, people don’t like to be worked on, especially when they claim to know what they want to be, when, in fact, they don’t have much of a clue. A person-project (the human fixer-upper) in this kind of situation can be the makings for a lousy intimate relationship.
And, unlike a sculpture, chipped away pieces don’t always stay chipped away. Eventually, the traits in these women that didn’t work for me came thundering back and I was left wondering about all of that hard work. Naturally this started the three women on a crusade to fix me up, or at least to let me know that I needed it. And we eventually wound up focusing on negatives.
So began the quicksand of relationships, times three.
Now I’m trying to remind myself to focus on what I do want and give up focusing on what I don’t. While the mind will come up with the limitations to this strategy, what it boils down to is that I don’t have to worry about it.
What I don’t want, my body will let me know. Nothing is new in that, it always did. Ignoring what my body told me, mostly because I was afraid that to walk away would leave me without, only bred ignorance. And that had a nasty habit of making me feel stupid.
My body, our bodies, are geared to let us know when we are getting what we want. That’s the most efficient modality. The object was to pay attention to what I wanted. That was the guidance system. If what I didn’t want arose in myself or another, I had only to pay attention to what I wanted. The probability is that what I don’t want would just go away, because it was not given any energy. Besides, it would be overshadowed by the increased probability that I would get what I did want. Not only would this free up a lot of my energy, it would faithfully keep me focused. It worked very much like the “walk” command given to elementary school children.
And then I had to also remember to compare what I had with what I wanted. Sometimes we get answers to questions we should be asking, rather than answers to questions we actually are asking. I can want an ongoing, reciprocal, loving relationship, but perhaps I found myself in relationships that were not what I wanted simply because I was not ready and/or clear about my desire. In such a case, I may be getting what I need to learn to be in a relationship built on true love rather than on illusion.
Spending all of that energy commanding the school child of our psyches to avoid this relationship pitfall or the other only resulted in a focus on pitfalls rather than on beauty. I also don’t think it much occurred to us that the pitfall focus was the true measure of our individual and collective intent, instead it seemed only like beauty had been snatched from us when that was not what we wanted. And that realization only further intensified our efforts at avoiding pitfalls, which really only separated us all the more from the beauty we thought we were pursuing.
So, upon reflection, perhaps the guidance system was always there, I (at least) just wasn’t utilizing it. My fear of not being loved overrode that system, working like a computer virus to change the operating system. The most efficient guidance system never failed me, my fears failed me, warping the efficient into the inefficient.
It was and is an elegantly simple principle. It is amazing how easy and “logical” it is to head off into another entirely different direction.