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October 13, 2022 at 8:31 am #408398
Perfect life: You are at peace with who you are as a person; you have at least one deep, meaningful relationship where you can be your full, true self; you have a job in which you are able to use your best talents and which you find interesting and rewarding both intrinsically and extrinsically (pay); you have a healthy body; you are able to experience the beauty of the world on a regular basis.
Crappy life: You don’t like yourself; you have no real, fulfilling relationships; you are stuck in a job which you hate and which you feel doesn’t utilize your richest talents; you don’t have enough money to support a half-way decent life style; your body doesn’t work correctly (this alone does not make a crappy life); you life in a place that is not beautiful.
I am: a personality that was created as a result of chance and my genetic background. I am unique and beautiful, as is every creature born into the world. I will find the most happiness by discovering my own unique gifts, developing them, and finding a way to share them with the world. Gifts are provided at birth to everyone. But nature can make the living of this life difficult. There are threats and pitfalls all around us. So we have to develop strength and wisdom in order to protect ourselves and our gifts and survive in this brutal although beautiful world.October 13, 2022 at 11:58 am #408406AnonymousGuest
I re-read what you shared back in July 2021, and in this thread, Oct 2022, including a reply you submitted to another member back in April 2014. This will be a long post. I hope you have the patience to read it:
“I have lived and continue to live a shame-based life. Everything I do is an effort to get rid of the shame… grew up in the Mormon church… I did feel a very strong faith in God from a young age, and I truly believed he loved me and that I was special. At the same time, I was reminded continually that our family was broken (the family is the primary focus of the church)“-
– as I understand it, the origin of your shame has a lot to do with the Mormon Church People in your early life (I’ll refer to them as MCP) looking down at your family for being what they considered to be a broken family. From an early age, you needed to believe that you were special enough, talented and gifted enough to make the MCP value your family. In your child’s mind, that would take GREAT talent and GREAT professional prestige and material success. Being anything less than perfect, performing less than perfectly was not acceptable, it was not part of the plan. For a child, it is easy to imagine great perfect success. Perfect success became your life mission.
“One thing that always brings me down is a sense that I have failed in life. I really feel that I have. I was one of those gifted children, and I thought I would achieve so much! But here I am having so little“- when you say that you failed in life, I think that it means that you failed your life mission. Although you’ve been far removed from the MCP for many years, the mission remained to achieve great perfect success through great talents gifts, failure was not an option. As you went about life as an adult, your performance was not as great as you imagined it would be (it is so easy to imagine but very difficult to make perfection happen). Every failure added to your sense of shame. When your efforts to achieve moderate success failed as well.. that further added to your sense of shame.
“It’s as if I’m saying, ‘I’m not going to be happy unless I have a perfect life, and I am pretty upset that perfect life hasn’t been presented to me yet!” Hahaha – but seriously, that is sort of the attitude underlying all my disappointment“- I think that the evolution of what you mean by “perfect life” has been from a life valued and respected, even admired by the MCP=> the feeling of being valued, respected and admired. What remained the same is that inadequacies and failures were not an option in your mind. In your child’s mind and onward, it would take one perfectly performing i-am-one to fulfill her life mission.
“It’s when we start thinking we have to live up to some imagined competition that we get into trouble. If you are living a lie, you need to own up to it and speak your truth“- you believed that you were perfect and superior because you believed that this is what it will take to accomplish your life mission. I think that the lie you’ve been living, the conflict within you, is that on one hand you believed that you were perfect and superior (because you needed to believe this so to fulfill your ambitious life mission), but on the other hand, evidence contradicted this belief.
The answers in your recent post read to me like answers that the college student/ Academic Iamone (I’ll refer to this version of yourself as AI) would hand in to be graded in college. Excellent answers (A+), if I may say so, but far removed from what I imagine the petulant, yet precious young girl would answer (I’ll refer to this version of yourself as PG ). In the following, I’ll quote AI’s answer in italicized print and PG’s answers (the way I “hear” her answers) in boldfaced print:
Before I proceed please don’t negatively judge PG, she is a young child and her words and emotions come from an innocent, loving place. She is a good girl with a mission that is too great and too ambitious for a child.
1) I asked: “would you like to define ‘perfect life'”? AI: “Perfect life: You are at peace with who you are as a person“. PG: perfect life is when everyone knows how special and talented I am!
AI: “you have at least one deep, meaningful relationship where you can be your full, true self“, PG: Everyone knows how special and talented I am!!!
AI: “you have a job in which you are able to use your best talents and which you find interesting and rewarding both intrinsically and extrinsically (pay); you have a healthy body; you are able to experience the beauty of the world on a regular basis“, PG: I will have a job that will show the world that I am very talented and they will all know that I am very talented and special and the best there is and they will finally respect me and my family!
2) I asked: “would you like to define ‘crappy life'”? AI: “Crappy life: You don’t like yourself; you have no real, fulfilling relationships; you are stuck in a job which you hate and which you feel doesn’t utilize your richest talents; you don’t have enough money to support a half-way decent life style; your body doesn’t work correctly (this alone does not make a crappy life); you live in a place that is not beautiful“. PG: Crappy life is when they (the MCP) don’t like us, when they look down at us because our family is broken.
3) I asked: “who are you and who gave you gifts?”? AI: “I am: a personality that was created as a result of chance and my genetic background. I am unique and beautiful, as is every creature born into the world. I will find the most happiness by discovering my own unique gifts, developing them, and finding a way to share them with the world. Gifts are provided at birth to everyone. But nature can make the living of this life difficult. There are threats and pitfalls all around us. So we have to develop strength and wisdom in order to protect ourselves and our gifts and survive in this brutal although beautiful world“.
PG: I am special but they don’t know it yet! I am superior! God knows it.. but the MCP don’t know it yet.. They will find out soon and when they do, they’ll respect and I will be very happy and my world will be beautiful!
Any of this resonates with you?
anitaOctober 13, 2022 at 5:19 pm #408423
Oh man! I answered those questions, but I guess it didn’t save my response. Tomorrow . . .October 13, 2022 at 6:08 pm #408424
Oops – I see it did post my responses.
Your response was hilarious! Yes, perhaps I do have that little PG inside of me secretly directing all my feelings and aspirations!
But – it is not just validation seeking ex-Mormons who are seeking a better life.
It is not JUST that I want others to see my life and approve of it. When I say I’d like to have someone in my life I connect with and that brings out my best, I couldn’t care less if someone sees that relationship or not. A relationship like that makes me feel more alive and makes me happier to be ME.
Same with a job that fits me. It makes me feel alive and invigorated to do something that draws on my talents. It’s also easier for me to work if I enjoy the work I am doing. Yes, I would like to have a job that others will admire. But if I could find a job that I truly enjoy and that pays okay, I couldn’t care less what others think of that job.
So – I’m not sure I totally agree that I should completely throw out my perfect life or at least better life aspirations.
I just remembered that this is “Tiny Buddha.” I realize perhaps you are coming from the “desire is bad” viewpoint. That is the part of Buddhism I struggle with. I’ve tried it, but I think there is an emptiness if you have no aspirations or goals. Someone once said the key to happiness is always having something to look forward to. I kind of agree. Having goals is what gets us out the door to try new things. How would we ever grow without goals?
Tennessee Williams said, “Make journeys. Attempt them. There is nothing else.”
However, I guess I could say something like, “I love who I am and where I am, but I like the challenge and opportunities that come with attempting new things.”October 13, 2022 at 8:28 pm #408425AnonymousGuest
“I just remembered that this is “Tiny Buddha.” I realize perhaps you are coming from the “desire is bad” viewpoint. That is the part of Buddhism I struggle with“- desire is not bad: animals desire food and sex and as a result they live and reproduce, which is what natural success is about. It is desires that cannot be satisfied that are bad, in the sense that they cause us so much misery.
Thank you for sharing your story, a pleasure to have you here in the forums. If you would like my input on anything, please let me know; otherwise, my best wishes to you!
anitaOctober 14, 2022 at 2:40 pm #408473
I was thinking about your situation… I don’t necessarily think that you lack self-love and self-esteem, and here is why: you didn’t feel bad about yourself when the supervisor at your previous job (which you quit) told you you performed poorly.
They thought I was horrible at what I do (I think that was very harsh; it takes time to build up your confidence and become skilled at some things)
That’s a healthy self-protection instinct: you rejected their harsh evaluation and treated yourself with kindness, telling yourself that “it takes time to build up your confidence and become skilled at some thing”. That’s not how someone with low self-esteem would react. A person with low self-esteem would take other people’s criticism to heart and start berating themselves. But not you – you rather dismissed their criticism and called them losers, rather than taking any of that criticism on yourself. That’s why I believe you don’t have a real problem with self-esteem.
At the same time, you do have a problem, because you do believe you are a “loser”. The reason you believe you are a loser is not because you believe you lack skills or talent, but because you haven’t reached the success you hoped for. Be it material success, or career success or relationship success. So I would like to explore your definition of success a bit more…
This is how you defined a perfect career (a part of your description of a perfect life):
you have a job in which you are able to use your best talents and which you find interesting and rewarding both intrinsically and extrinsically (pay).
The above would mean career success for you, right? Using your best talents in a job that you find interesting and fulfilling, and which pays well too.
At the same time, this is what you said about using your talents:
I haven’t been true to who I am and the gifts I’ve been given.
I really enjoy very little. My entire life has been focused on trying to achieve things that will make others see me as respectable or acceptable.
I paint paintings, but I think I do it to be able to say – Look! I’m a successful artist! rather than because I enjoy it.
There seems to be a conflict within you: on one hand, you would like to do something you enjoy and that would give you fulfillment (and be well paid). But on the other hand, your entire life has been focused on “trying to achieve things that will make others see me as respectable or acceptable”. You haven’t spent your life trying to develop your talents, but you have spent your life (so far) trying to impress everyone. Trying to get their approval and validation.
To me it seems like you’re sitting on two chairs. One is being true to yourself and following your passion (hoping that it would result in material success too). The other is chasing the money and what you deem a “respectable” career (being a lawyer or a doctor), but disregarding your heart’s desire. You are sitting on both chairs and you sort of fell in between them. The result: you have neither fulfillment nor money/career success.
If you want a chance at a “perfect life”, as you define it, I think you’d need to choose. And I think you’d need to choose your heart’s desire (to thy own self be true), regardless of what others will say or how ridiculous that desire might seem to some of the people….October 14, 2022 at 7:45 pm #408478
I think you are right! The problem is, I chose the path of security long ago. I should have followed my heart, but I went for the money and security. Of course I was a single mom making $8 an hour. I desperately needed money. I used to work for a law firm, and I really enjoyed it. One boss said, “I think you really like this job,” and another “I think you write better than I do.” I took the LSAT. I could have gotten in. But I was afraid to take out student loans, and I didn’t see how I could go to law school full time with two children under 5. So I became a teacher. I know that doesn’t pay much, but it was something, and I could be home when my kids were home. Anyway – it was always a deep regret that I didn’t go to law school. And now it really is too late, and I’m not sure I’m up to that intensity now anyway. But I really am glad I’m not teaching any more. I hated it! I was a good teacher in many ways, but it just brought me no joy. I did want to give counseling a try. But, I have to admit, it didn’t seem to come naturally to me. I am stimulated by logical, interesting conversation, and a lot of clients aren’t able to do that. Plus, I’m not there to be stimulated; I was there to help. I thought I would enjoy helping people with their problems, but to be honest, it got old quickly. (By the way, the reason I failed my internship is that in a teenage girls’ small group session I said that if their parents fell short in giving them what they needed, they deserved better. That’s it ( I think, they didn’t actually tell me why). I’m not sure if that is a career-ending sentence or not. I told someone else that, and they said it changed their life. Lots of people feel guilty for the way their parents treated them. I guess it just wasn’t the appropriate time and place to suggest that. Still, that was it – no closure, no comments. Just thought I’d through that in there. ) So – yea – I am now in a place where I could do something that utilizes my best talents. BUT . . . I am tired. I am older. I want to say that doesn’t matter, but it kind of does. I did paint more earnestly today. I have some talent. I’ve started writing a couple of books. I could continue. I am a little afraid of failure. And I am super lonely, so sometimes the motivation to do anything is not there. It’s tough to go day after day with minimal social interaction. But every time I’ve tried to go out and meet people, it hasn’t worked. I do feel better not having to pretend to enjoy teaching. That was soul crushing. I think the art is good. And the writing. I’ll really try and put some time into those. Still, I don’t think I should feel like I need these things to justify my value as a human being.
Another complicating factor is my lost faith. In the Mormon church, the purpose of life is very clear: to become as good of a person as you can so you are prepared to live with God after this life. So that was my driving purpose for the first 45 years of my life. That purpose kind of makes all earthly pursuits not so important. What was important was that I was kind, honest, faithful, etc. When I learned that my religion was based on one man’s lie, I lost that purpose. So I started judging myself more on the world’s standards. I go back and forth, though. Maybe my purpose should still be to become the best person I can. That seems more attainable! I think of my little dogs, and they are such great creatures because they are so loyal and loving. Would I be my best self if I just focused on being loyal and loving? And then, since I am so cut off from other people, can I really live a great life in solitude?
Maybe you could share your vision of the purpose of life.
Thanks for listening.October 15, 2022 at 11:06 am #408493
Thank you for sharing some more about your life. I completely understand why you chose security back then, being a single mother of two small children under the age of 5. And why you were reluctant to take a student loan and go study law, even if you enjoyed working at a law firm very much. I think you chose what was best for your children – to have a stable income and convenient working hours.
So you chose to be a teacher. You hated it, but it enabled you to raise your sons, right? You may have not followed your heart’s desire (to be a lawyer), but you followed a sense of responsibility and duty. You sacrificed yourself for your children. That’s admirable.
Now the situation is different. You say you wouldn’t even need to work if you don’t want to:
I have to add that I don’t absolutely have to work. I mean, how lucky is that? I realize I could just call this retirement.
So there is no pressure, or at least not such a big pressure, to make money any more, right? You don’t have to sacrifice yourself for anyone. You can do whatever you want – you are free to do it. Whatever you choose, you may do it (or start doing it) as a hobby, without worrying how you will pay your bills.
I’d say you are in a much better situation now than years ago… because now, if you want to, you can follow your heart’s desire. I don’t mean you should become a lawyer – it does seem overwhelming to plunge into it at the age of 56 (although there are people who get their diploma in their 70s). But you can choose whatever you like, without the pressure of making money.
How do you feel about that? About the idea that you do what you enjoy (e.g. paint or write – you say you enjoy both quite a bit), but without pressuring yourself to make a career out of it? To be famous for your work? How would it feel to just let it flow, without any expectations?
You said about painting or writing:
Still, I don’t think I should feel like I need these things to justify my value as a human being.
You most certainly don’t. You are valuable as a human being simply because you exist. You don’t need to do anything to prove your worth. Even if you wouldn’t do anything for the rest of your life – you are still valuable and worthy. Can you believe that?October 16, 2022 at 10:28 am #408578
Thank you so much for your kind response. Specifically, thanks for helping me reframe my teaching experience. It definitely allowed me to take care of my children. And even though I didn’t love it and it ended imperfectly, that doesn’t take away from my honest and nonstop effort to teach my students well or from what they learned from me. They did have a teacher who was completely passionate for her subjects (literature and art) and who cared about them as people. Teaching also gave me the experience of gaining an abundance of knowledge about art and art history, something I treasure. You are correct that I am in a perfect situation now where I can do anything I want. So I have decided I WILL be an artist! It’s something I’ve always loved but never dedicated myself to 100%. So, now I will. Just in the past two days I’ve spent at least 4 hours a day working, and the exciting thing is . . . I completely enjoy it and lose myself in it. That tells me I am doing something I was made to do. Also, when you have something worthwhile to give yourself to, what other people think of you seems to matter much less. It’s completely irrelevant. Kind of interesting. I have a ways to go, but at least I am working towards it. (I create abstract expressionist paintings, btw. I’ve always been drawn to abstract art.) And I do think I’ll be able to sell my work soon :-). So thanks for your help! I needed someone to hear me and reassure me. I hope you have a beautiful, blessed day. – i.am.oneOctober 18, 2022 at 1:23 am #408649
you are so very welcome! I am very happy for you – that things became clearer and you’ve decided to become an ARTIST! Congratulations!!
In the past, you were passionate teaching art, and now you are passionate making it, so it does seem like a perfect fit for you. Something you love and enjoy and lose yourself in it – indeed, your heart’s desire, something you were made to do.
I am also glad that you realize that when you truly love something and believe in it, it matters much less what other people will say. It seems that your decision to dedicate yourself to art – which you feel is your calling – lessened your worries about getting validation from others. That’s because being true to ourselves is what matters the most!
I have a ways to go, but at least I am working towards it.
Sure, be realistic about it, don’t expect a solo exhibition within a few months period! 🙂 But keep working on it, and what’s most important: keep enjoying it, keep letting the inspiration and the juices flow. Don’t let it become about selling your art as the most important goal…. although I am glad that you feel confident that you can sell your work pretty soon. That’s awesome!
I do wish you lost of joy and lots of success in the creative process – and please, do let us know how it is going.
Rooting for you, dear i.am.one, the Artist!