When observing your frustration as though it were not your own, I believe great things can happen!
While staying in the Ashram in India, Elizabeth has an arduous schedule of meditating, seva (service work) and chanting prayers and mantras. One of these chants, called Gurugita seemed to be the most testing. Everyday she’d enter the room and find it too challenging, too frustrating to sit through and complete.
In seeking advice from her friend, Richard on if she should forgo that part of the daily schedule altogether, he said, “...you should stick to chanting the Gurugita while you’re here, especially because you’re having such an extreme reaction to it. If something is rubbing so hard against you, you can be sure it’s working on you.” (page 164)
This advice also hit me. There are plenty of things in my life that have frustrated me and forced me to ask if I should give up. Some of these things, obvious, some subtle. I want to explore how self-limiting behaviors can set up frustrating situations and how I overcame one of these frustrations.
What do I mean? As far as I know, being human we can all, in the most honest moments with ourselves, pick at least one thing about ourselves we are annoyed or frustrated about. Most likely it is something that we know about and have tried to change. What I am specifically referring to is a pattern of cyclical behaviors that keep us trapped, keep us from realizing our true potential.
I will share an example from my own life. Just about everyone I know likes to get recognized for the work they do, especially in their professional careers in hopes of climbing the corporate ladder, getting a better title, more or different responsibilities and a bigger paycheck. I know I wanted that – but then again, through a series of honest reflections on what I was doing at work, I realized I was sabotaging my own success. Of course, I would always do an outstanding job. I have this annoying habit of not wanting to put my name on things that make my name look bad. Of course, even this record is not blemish free! However, I did learn how to do the job right and even got the distinction of being the one on the team others came to ask for help. Then I was asked to go to a training to be a supervisor! Me, a supervisor! This was a fulfilling feeling. I wanted to know after so many years doing the same job that I could move up, that newbies could come to me for help, guidance, support and advice. But, as I got closer to the new role, without thinking, I started to become relaxed in my work. Some things were missed; some things were not up to the standard they should be to go to the next level.
Shocked, I wondered how I got to that point. I climbed up so far, and was so proud that I could make it so far, but without precautions, I began falling down. I had to stop myself before I lost it – not only the chance at promotion, but everything else that comes with that.
So, I took time to personally reflect on a pattern of long standing behavior. Being proud of achievements, but not feeling confident to go to the next level. Though [intellectually] I knew I could do it, I could not feel it, I could not truly imagine being in that spot. There are many reasons for this, I won’t go into detail about, but I will say that soon as I realized this, I took a serious inventory. I relived all the turning points in my life, and why I took the road I did, and how I could stop repeating that. Not that all past situations forced me to miss an opportunity, in some situations I did make it to the next level. But what was it about the times I did not make it and the times I did? What was preventing me now? I also had to continually remind myself through this process to learn from the past and not relive it. Sometimes it’s easy to get trapped back in that age and continue repeating out of pure habit. I did not want to do that. I made sure, consciously, I did not do that. I realize that though the behaviors and reactions are the same to when I was, say 18, 22, 28, etc., that I am not those ages, I am the age I am now, with all the wisdom and experience that comes with it. That knowledge is power, that knowledge makes the difference in responding rather than reacting.
In this situation, in some ways, Elizabeth had it easy. She had a prescribed amount of time to face the Gurugita, and she conquered it. That was maybe a few months. But, the behaviors we continue to repeat cyclically that prevent blossoming to our true potential go on for years, and sometimes we do not really see what it is that is holding us back. Elizabeth knew it was the Gurugita that was holding her back; do you know what’s holding you back?
Part 8: Blogging Through a Book: Eat, Pray, Love
Related Posts/ Sites: Getting Old
**Images courtesy Microsoft Clip Art.