Sunday, March 16, 2014

Be Comfortable In This Light That Surrounds You

This morning I did a quick new guided meditation (finally - I've been slacking!). The title of this particular meditation was Growing Your Light.  Throughout the meditation, the speaker instructs you to picture a ball of gold light within your core, expanding withe each breath. Eventually, you are to picture the light expanding beyond the boundaries of your body and stretching out as far as you can see. Pretty basic guided meditation stuff, I'll admit. What struck me, though, was a particular phrase that the speaker used: "be comfortable in this light that surrounds you".

It occurred to me that, while I've never put the words to it, I'm often not comfortable in the light that surrounds me. I touched on this in a previous blog about how, as much as we strive for it, we often have difficulty allowing happiness. When something is going well, I'm leery. When someone compliments me, I feel like I don't deserve it. I think something like "boy, must have them fooled". Sometimes I'm joking, but there's always a bit of truth in there. It's not that I'm intentionally trying to fool anyone - if you know me, you know I don't exactly have a "sneaky" type of personality. I just don't feel comfortable in the light. I've never had much overall confidence or self esteem, and because of this, positive things, especially as they relate to who I am and what I can do or be, always feel a bit like I'm playing dress up.

To be fair I'm equally as uncomfortable with the negative, the difficulties, the downsides. As much as it's hard to believe that I can be great at something, I don't love always feeling like I'm not. I don't strive for depression or anxiety. I'd love to be one of those people who feels content and successful and like they're worth it, whatever "it' may be. It just seems so elusive that it feels like it can't actually happen to me - which of course as we know is a self-fulfilling prophecy. It's the old "whether you believe you can or believe you can't, either way you're right." Basically, I feel in a constant tug-of-war, wanting to be happy and confident but not knowing how to handle it when it happens.

As I listened to the meditation, I realized that what I need is to be comfortable in the light that surrounds me. I need to accept the positive, the happy moments, the compliments and accomplishments without wondering when the rug is going to be ripped out from under me. Of course, I have to be logical and intuitive about it - I don't want to be blindly trusting or naive - but I also don't need to constantly pushing it away, afraid of feeling undeserving. And when the difficulties arise, I have to be comfortable in those too. It doesn't mean I have to like them, or that I shouldn't try to do anything to improve the situation. It simply means that I can't deny who I am, and the ups and downs of life. I think it's in the struggle to do so that depression and anxiety gets the worst of me. So from now on, I'm going to try to be more aware of this light. Not only do I believe it will help me personally, I believe that the more accepting I become of it, the more comfortable I am with it, the more I can radiate it outwards, and positively impact others. 

Monday, March 3, 2014

A Little Question Goes A Long Way

Do you remember when you were a kid,and you got invited to a birthday party or a slumber party that you'd really wanted to be included in? You felt all important and RSVP'd right away, right? Then remember in high school and college when this happened again? If it wasn't a party, it was some activity or special interest club or fraternity or sorority or whatever it was. I bet it felt good to be invited, , even if it wasn't something you were particularly excited about. . It made you feel like you were wanted. Remember when your boss trusted you with that first high profile project, or the first time someone nominated you for an award within a professional organization? In a more adult way, this probably provided a similar feeling. It feels special when someone specifically thinks of you and reaches out.

But I'm seeing a funny trend these days, and it's a bit disconcerting to me. It seems the majority of people no longer ask. They no longer invite. They don't nominate you for something. They don't check to see if you want to be part of something. They expect you to volunteer, to invite yourself. It seems to be thought that if you care about something, you'll stand up and say "pick me". Now don't get me wrong, I think it's great that some people have the courage and confidence to volunteer, or to even ask to be invited or included. But the problem is, not everyone has this. Some people feel that if they're not asked, they're not wanted. Or they don't believe they have the skills needed for the project. They don't realize people are waiting for them to raise their hands.

I blame, in part, the use of technology to announce everything these days. First off, not everyone uses social media, and even if they do they may not see it (nobody understands who sees which posts on Facebook, really). Secondly, this kind of "ask" is very impersonal. Think about it...when someone invites you and all 784 of their other Facebook friends/people on their eblast list to participate in an event or project, do you honestly feel like they care what your reply is? I can say at least for myself, the answer is no.  In addition, the people who do believe you care and raise their hand up high in reply aren't always the right people (ever created a Facebook status with "I have an extra ticket to...." and get only the people you'd rather NOT go replying, for instance)?

The bottom line is, people like to be asked. Maybe it's because they want to know that they're actually wanted. Maybe they need that boost of confidence. Maybe it's because they just don't see it if they're not personally asked. Maybe it's some other reason. It's fine if you want to put invites and the like "out there".  But if you really want someone included, or you really think someone would be great for a project or position or something like that, reach out to them personally. If you're worried they'll feel obligated, let them know that they're not. I frequently say to people something like "listen, no obligation but (insert invite). I know you're super busy/hate toga parties/have no idea how to play parcheesi, but I just didn't want you to think I wasn't including you." This way they're not on the spot, but know you were thinking of them.

So I'd like to present a little challenge. Next time you have an opportunity - social, work, personal project - write a list of five people you'd really like to include, and personally contact them. Even if they're not available to participate (or choose not to), I bet they appreciate being personally considered.