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Vulnerable and uncertain

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  • #39444
    John
    Participant

    Boy is my mind reeling today. Recently I started seeing someone and we’ve really hit it off. I haven’t felt like this about someone in a long time and I’m really hoping that this could turn it into a long term healthy relationship.

    However, I’m recognizing some potential red flares both in the way I react to her and her reactions to me. There is something eerily familiar about this situation. I look at this girl and see in her traits of things that I’ve really enjoyed from past relationships. However, thus far, I’ve been very much attuned to the positive, but some of the negative may be becoming more apparent. I don’t want to judge too harshly too fast and say, “No, she’s not perfect, therefore this isn’t for me.” At the same time, there’s some concern.

    I’ve worked extremely hard of the past few years taking time to be alone, learning more about myself, and strengthening my mind to work for me, not against me.

    However, it seems that in moments of vulnerability and opening up, I expose myself to pain and hurt, which unfortunately, come up much too easily the moment I feel someone says something that could be perceived as a criticism.

    I thought I was much stronger now and yet here I sit, the mind reeling, fearful, wanting to be stronger, wanting to let it wash over me like water off a ducks back, not get so attached.

    Does anyone have any insight on what I might be experiencing right now and why?

    • This topic was modified 8 years, 11 months ago by John.
    #39448
    Matt
    Participant

    John,

    Do we need to be perfect to deserve love? Do others have to be perfect to deserve our love?

    Consider that strength does not come from being perfect, it comes from accepting that we are skillful and unskillful, wise fools, strong in our weakness, unstably stable… learning to grow. So are all of them, including her.

    I’ve noticed you’ve had some difficulties with judging others, which is perhaps the karmic feedback you’re suffering with now. When we judge others, we project their judgment back onto us. Perhaps next time you feel she is being critical, instead of fearing “oh no, this means she can’t be with me” you could ask her what she is seeing. Perhaps she is seeing someplace where you can improve, or seeing something she finds endearing. The challenge isn’t to be perfect, its to remain open and curious.

    Congrats on finding a someone that tugs your strings, there is always a lot of magic and growth in such times! Also, don’t let the hubbub disrupt your meditation practice… 🙂

    With warmth,
    Matt

    #39450
    John
    Participant

    Wow, that’s awesome. Reading your words is like weight has been lifted off my heart.

    You’re so right. I still do tend to judge so harshly and in return cannot deal with judgement or criticism. Is that how karma works?

    I will work harder on letting go of seeking perfection both on my part and those of others.

    Back to the cushion! 🙂

    #39456
    John
    Participant

    Just after thought.

    What I’ve also recognized is that when I perceive a judgement or criticism, no matter how minor, the mind blows it completely out of proportion and that’s when the ruminating starts. What it’s even more crazy is that the mind then starts finding other faults and starts suspecting unspoken judgements about completely different things which spirals into any abyss of self-doubt about everything and anything.

    I have no idea why this happens, but regardless, a lesson has been learned – judgement and criticism of others invites judgement and criticism of you by others and of you by your self.

    • This reply was modified 8 years, 11 months ago by John.
    #39462
    Matt
    Participant

    John,

    Yes precisely! In the west, sometimes karma is considered some type of cosmic judge. My teacher used the word “imprints” because it is about mental momentum… and what we do to them we do to us… see in them, see in us. Projection imprints our mind, habituates it.

    Consider the moments when you’ve seen someone act foolishly and you decide their fate and status from the one little fruit. Like “oh, I know what kind of person yooou are now that I’ve seen you do that/say that.” Consider the mental habit this creates/sustains and you can break the timber. Why beat anyone up like that? Including ourselves!

    With warmth,
    Matt

    #39465
    John
    Participant

    Bang on!

    So often I find myself over generalizing and painting people with a common brush, “Oh, I know your type!”

    Western education teaches us to categorize, label, and lump people together with very little consideration for their uniqueness or potential to break free of any predefined mold that they may be stuck in.

    I always considered myself to be a very good person and “Right speech” was never something I thought I would need to work on. Even in my judgements and criticisms, I don’t intend any malice, but I can see now how my words are harmful not just to others, but to myself.

    I’ll be extra vigilant and bite my tongue when I recognize a judgement or criticism popping up and let go of any self-judgement and self-criticism.

    #39466
    Matt
    Participant

    Nice link to the 8fp, but consider it is right view that resolves it. When we look at people (or any phenomena really) there is an absence of “type” and only impermanent conditions that have causes which bind them together and the potential for ceasing. Like, John isn’t a judgmental person, he is empty of inherent character, with the conditions of judging impermanently stuck in his head causing him to suffer. When the conditions untangle, so does the suffering. See how silly judging is? Its swinging at air and hitting ourselves in the brain.

    Right speech is more guided by “is it true to say, is it necessary to say, is it kind to say”.

    Magic, I tell you! Namaste.

    #39471
    John
    Participant

    The letting go continues. Thanks Matt! 🙂

    #39569
    David Goettsch
    Participant

    John,

    You can’t get ahead of yourself brother! The self-discipline and self-exploration is going to help you immensely in developing a new relationship, and it also will greatly increase your happiness in daily living, but there is one thing it won’t do: prepare you for the actual process of the relationship! The worries and doubts are your brains way of trying to protect you and get you back in the driver’s seat. The funny part is, no one is in the driver’s seat in a relationship! The only way to learn and grow in relationships is to be in a relationship.

    You are going to find all kinds of traits and things that bug you, and they may even be legitimate, but as you said you are prone to do, we tend to blow them out of proportion to what really matters. If she is fun to be around and you two have chemistry, then stop your brain right there. Relationships are supposed to have a little conflict and differing views, it will help you grow more in the end. The meditation and exercises you use to better your mind can be used to re-direct your focus in the relationship. At the exact moment you find yourself dwelling in “worry” land on traits you are worried about that she may possess, nip that thought in the bud and redirect it. Those thoughts aren’t going to help you to develop your relationship at all, and really don’t serve much purpose. Acknowledge that you had that thought, and move past it.

    Not to mention plenty of traits that you find adorable and amazing in your partner initially are some of the traits that come to drive you crazy later on! Its all part of the journey, so don’t worry yourself over the small details, just be a human being with her and exist. Learn from each other and let go, let the chemistry do the rest. I have a few exercises to help retrain your focus if you need on my blog, feel free to check them out!

    -Dave
    http://personal-growth-project.com/

    #39580
    John
    Participant

    Thanks Dave.

    I appreciate your response. In so many ways, I am getting ahead of myself.

    Like a primitive animal, I can see my mind ruminating and reeling as it plans, anticipates, expects, get apprehensive, excited, anxious, and stresses about the future of what may or may not be coming around the corner. It tries to control and predict the situation and as you said drive to a particular outcome or vision of what the future should be. So many should’s, could’s, would’s, continue to float around in my head. So much more letting go to do.

    When I started this thread a couple of days ago, I was really taken aback by my reaction to what was ultimately a perceived potential uncertainty, a fabrication of my own mind as it blew whatever was heard completely out of proportion and spiraled out of control. I got scared of myself. To be honest, I thought I was past that. I thought I was stronger. I’ve been working so hard over the past couple of years to gain confidence and not to get so attached, reactive, passionate, obsessed, idealistic and here I was back to square one feeling very much affected, hurt, disappointed, over what? Nothing! An observation. A remark. Not even directed at me, but simply a general observation that I then took very personally. So much more letting go to do.

    Matt’s comments earlier have also helped me recognize that being critical and judgmental of others exposes me to the judgements and criticisms of others. So much more letting go to do.

    #39581
    Matt
    Participant

    John,

    I’m reminded of a drop of dew sliding off a leaf. Sometimes while that drop of dew is in the mind, it seems like quite a big thing. Its not, there’s no need to push it, pull it, resist it or hate it… it forms, and then it slides past. We all get pulled into thoughts like that, and meditative development doesn’t stop them from forming… it opens up the space around them.

    Aversion (gah, why do I think that way!) or clinging (these thoughts are who I am) just makes them feel sticky… but they simply arise as the perceptions we have condense into “me views” like moisture from the air. They’re not you, they don’t mean you’re not past them… it just means there is still a pattern of clinging. As we become more aware they seem bigger, more potent… but that’s just because we can tell the difference. Said differently, when karma ripens it seems like quite a big thing because it is painful, but it goes without a need for us to do anything. Practice isn’t about stopping thoughts, its about making the mind pliable, open… so as the drop of dew slides back into the pond the mind doesn’t need to ponder “what was that” or grab for it “wait, come back… something important was in there”.

    With warmth,
    Matt

    #39588
    John
    Participant

    Thanks Matt.

    That’s exactly how I feel. Waxing and waning between aversion and clinging, like a pendulum swinging back and forth. Constantly pushing away, pulling in. It’s not easy to create that space you described, but I have felt it before so I know it’s possible.

    I don’t want to stop the thoughts. I know that’s not possible. I just don’t want to be pulled into their current whenever they rage like a rapid river pulling me away from the here and now and leading me away into fantasy, the past, or the future.

    Oh, just to be here and now and free. That would be heaven!

    #39589
    Matt
    Participant

    Well said! There is freedom at every step, though! Perhaps consider it is like pooping. We digest, we poop (with all sorts of sensations), we clean up (return to the cushion) and keep going. Why all the aversion to aversion? Why the aversion to clinging? Perhaps insecure that you’re doing it wrong? Afraid your spinning is eternal? That’s just insecurity, that’s just fear. A “second arrow” if you know that story from the Buddha.

    It reminds me of when I was a kid and I used to hate to clean my room. I would sit and weep and feel my mom hated me and on and on I would lament over it. Now, if its dirty I clean it when its ripe to do so. Why all the fuss? 🙂 Its not the cleaning that is painful, its the aversion. “Ha! I was sucked in again, what a hoot! Silly rabbit, trix are for kids.” Sometimes your inner “John” takes himself way to seriously!

    #39590
    John
    Participant

    I have to admit, it’s really funny when you look at it. You can’t help but laugh at all the churn one creates out of nothing for nothing.

    LOL! 🙂

    Aversion to clinging. Clinging to aversion.

    I’m actually laughing as I write this. It feels good. 🙂

    I don’t know the “second arrow” story. Please do post a link.

    #39593
    Matt
    Participant

    I know, right? Sometimes its like “what in the world is going on in here!” 🙂
    Here is the sutta… this translation is “dart” instead of “arrow”

    http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn36/sn36.006.nypo.html

    In this context (as used in vajrayana explanation for karma begets karma) the uncertainty of criticism was the first arrow, which lead to the uncertainty of development, the second arrow. 🙂 Dum de Dum de dum, along the trail we go…

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