Being Present, Comparison, and Facebook

All of you following along get that I’ve been influenced by my recent meeting with Buddhist teacher and priest Cindy Beach. True to her calling in life, she rang out the familiar cry to be present in my life. I chuckle, because I’ve given her a fake voice in my head with a lot of attitude. I hear myself saying, “Cindy, this is where I want to go!!!!” She says, “Giiiiiiiirl, you ain’t even here yet, talkin’ ’bout where you wanna go. Mmmm.” That is not at all like what she sounds like, but it makes me smile.

I’ve also been watching Brene Brown’s talks on the OWN network. She is the author of Daring Greatly and The Gift of Imperfection, and what I’m taking from her is the importance of vulnerability. Here I am, folks. It’s tough.

IMG_4267I have been paying attention to my mind the past few days, and it reminds me of a failed art assignment. The colors are muddy, and the details aren’t being communicated well. My first assignment was to get my thoughts focused on what I am doing at any given time. My cold has made me focus a lot on blowing my nose and on what I consume.

Last night I took a shower to literally try and clear my head. I figured being present would be easier surrounded by white tile and steam. There I was staring at the corner of the stall when all of the sudden I was aware of my vision coming into sharp focus, like I’d adjusted a camera’s lens. Oh my gosh, I thought. I was away and thinking of something. What was it? A song, maybe. I looked at the corner in sharp focus and took deep breaths. I adjusted my posture to the “Bird Girl” Cindy Beach referenced during our visit. Was energy moving better through my body? Could I just ask to have my spirit guides do energy work on me, and would that help clear my sinuses? Crap! I was off and thinking again.

I have to believe that being present will get easier with practice, but it is much harder to do than I imagined. I’m finding little spells of it, a few breaths of it at a time. That’s it! Through this process, however, I am learning what doesn’t work. This brings me to vulnerability.

If I am honest with you and myself right now, I’ll tell you that Facebook has become my crutch for validation throughout the day. I enjoy sharing my photos. That’s fine. I enjoy hearing about your lives. Fine. But there is something else I don’t like to admit: it re-enforces what I’m trying to avoid. I’ve lived a life of comparison, and I’ve come to agree with the Buddhist perspective that comparison equals suffering. I’m having trouble blessing where you are, because I’m not feeling accomplished enough right now. I’m having trouble with not finding a full-time job. I’m having trouble with the idea of me being undisciplined, and I’m having trouble seeing clear paths versus road blocks. Facebook charges me with that feeling over and over throughout the day, and “likes” make me feel like I’m in a room full of like-minded people for a while. “Likes” make me think that you’re all people I can count on for a phone conversation, for a heart-to-heart, and that you all would just as soon seek me out for the same. That’s not true though. Relationships are cultivated in person. They are cultivated through shared experiences, and they are not cultivated with icons, photographs of food, or even a buffet of hilarious comments.

Do I hate Facebook? Nope. I’d rather see what you’re all up to than tend to the dishes in the sink. I’d rather focus on making you feel better than me. A little balance is all I’m speaking about. Nobody should wait around to be “liked.”

 

Self-Talk: The Mean Girl Inside

I am not a super competitive woman, but I find that I compare myself to other women a lot. It isn’t that I need to be better than everyone. I just want to know what you are doing that is working for you. I like you. We’re alike in many ways, but it feels like you are more accomplished. It feels like you are getting stuff done better than me, and I want to know why?
IMG_0491For many years, I have assumed that you have more discipline than me. It’s why you go to the gym more often. It’s why your house is cleaner, and why you have more money. This is my self talk on a light day.

My best friend, a woman I’ve known since we were both 14, is very different than me. She has a graduate degree in business. She has a very good job that pays well, and she has a happy marriage with two healthy kids. I admire her accomplishments so much. What in the world could a woman like that include in negative self talk? What was a woman doing so much right telling herself was wrong?

  1. She never gets everything done. This makes her unhappy.
  2. She wishes that she had enough time and money to give 100% to her family, work, home, and friends, and charity. She doesn’t. This makes her unhappy.
  3. She wishes she could enjoy watching her two children enjoy a movie. She can’t, because she’s worried about what should be getting done during that time. This makes her unhappy.

But wait, she’s getting stuff done better than me. Her mind is tearing it down though. Her thoughts are running the show, and  they are providing the entertainment for an ego that chews self-worth like a garbage disposal. But she’s got a Master’s degree, and I’m just a writer with a B effing A degree?! Her laundry smells better. Whatever. It doesn’t matter. Her internal dialogue is needling away, just like mine. Where are we while this is happening?

We’re not in there. We cannot experience joy, otherwise known as peace, when we are absent. Imagine your body on the couch. Your family is gathered around for movie night. There is popcorn, a sleeping bag unzipped on the floor, the smell of butter in the air. The kids have wet hair from their baths, and you have a lap full of their bare feet. You aren’t really mom though. Your body is there,  an empty tennis ball can. You are the tennis ball. It’s up rolling around the laundry on the bed. Next it rolls down to the kitchen and the dinner dishes. Next it rolls to the bills on the ledge. Next it rolls out to the car that needs to be cleaned out. Next it rolls to the husband that hasn’t truly had your inner goddess in who knows how long. You roll under the furniture and see the dust, the forgotten areas, failures. By the time you’re back in the can, you’ve missed out and fed your ego a seven course meal.

Your self talk is now a tennis ball machine firing other people’s voices at you, those of your family, friends, coworkers. All you wanted to do was watch your kids watch Cinderella. Now you understand that you’ve been rolling all over the place. It’s time to work on staying present. Stay where you are and experience it to its fullest.

Stay tuned for the next lesson:  You aren’t even the ball.