Living life in a world that challenges me on every level to not react to what I see and feel, but instead to observe and respond, was not something I did well in my teenage years, or for many years after that in actual fact. Reaction was my go-to response, a response I did well, often in many ways leading to more conflict, unsettlement and tension than I had originally felt. The awkwardness in my body constantly left me in a drive, a momentum that moved me from one task, emotion or issue to another; a fantastic and well master-minded delay from feeling what was really going on in my body.
Then came a focus on my choices, how I responded to situations and the way I expressed and moved myself, a slow and at times uphill battle, one that was too often left by the wayside to instead ‘do’ life, and do life I did, very well most of the time. But in doing life well, I misplaced the quality of being in how I did it. My life was all about ticking the boxes, keeping up appearances, looking great, working, raising a family, keeping a house, always being there for others, all the while attempting to live up to my unreal standards and expectations – standards that were not based on self-love or self-care that would have supported the quality in which I was living.
Over time, with a focus on and awareness of my attitude to life, my reactions lessened… or so I thought. But instead, my outward and often harsh reactions had become internalised, not expressed but bottled up, adding to the already enormous amount of tension I was feeling.
This tension I felt never left. I added to it, attempting to ignore it, but no matter what, there was always a constant struggle against myself. I was so busy doing life, ticking the boxes, striving for perfection through control, I had not allowed myself to remain connected to my own body, honouring how it needed to move and be. I held a whole gallery of pictures inside me that supported my focus on what I thought I should be or be doing, rather than allowing me to simply be or move from what I was feeling.
My reactions were not directed at anyone, anything or any place, although they were a great distraction at the time: they were from my own unsettlement, not allowing myself to be all of me by moving with a flow and ease, connecting to and appreciating who I was just by being me. There was no allowing or understanding of others or myself.
Appreciating what I brought without having to be or do anything has been a gradual unfoldment. The doing for me has been the most difficult thing to let go of. My worth was based on what I did and not the quality in which I did things. You could say I had to retrain myself, to know I was enough, that I did not need anyone else to confirm that I was all I needed to be.
I could feel how, even though I did not think being me was enough, I had placed myself above others and saw them as also not being enough. In a weird strange parallel, I had instead opted to see myself as greater than others rather than an equal. For whatever reason, unintentional or intentional, I was judging others, comparing myself to them, placing even higher expectations on them than I had on myself, forever looking for and focussing on their faults and reasons why I could not let them be close to me or to love me. Through my own lack of self-worth, I started seeing others as less than worthy also. Of course, this was measured. There were many I placed on a pedestal, including myself at times, but generally though, most would come close to equal or less than me. I have come to realise the overwhelming power of those pictures we carry around inside us in shaping our expectations. When they are not met, I am left feeling devastated and those I have judged are imposed upon by the energy that is always felt from my judgements.
It took a long time for me to realise I was doing this, and it was not something that felt great in my body once I did.
A friend was sharing their experience with me of how they kept people at bay, their own judgements and expectations, and from this I was able to see how my own choices kept people out. The conversation was a trigger for me to become more honest about how I approached and was with others.
The letting go has had to start first with myself, letting go of the doing, giving myself space to feel what is needed next, knowing it is okay not to be perfect, and to not always have to get it right or be seen to be busy every second of the day; allowing for the imperfections to be seen, to embrace all that is on offer; opening up to the possibilities another may bring and allowing them the space that I am now allowing myself to experience, appreciate and deepen into.
The deepening is from what I understand and feel it to be, a forever exploration and never-ending opportunity – an opportunity to receive the world and view it without the filter I once had; to see everyone and everything as if for the first time, no judgement, a willingness to allow everyone and everything the space to be where they need to be and be okay with that.
Without putting myself or another on a pedestal, I am developing a deep and true love for humanity. My journey is far from over and many times when I think I’ve got it, I realise I have only just begun.
By Nicole Serafin, 47 years old, Tintenbar, NSW