“Peace is the result of retraining your mind to process life as it is, rather than as you think it should be.” ~Wayne Dyer
Many of my friends are getting married and engaged, and when I compare myself to them I feel that I’ve somehow fallen behind. I scroll through my social media accounts and feel that my life is not as exciting or meaningful as theirs.
This belief of inferiority moves me out of the present moment and into a turbulent stream of fear that I won’t live up to what I perceive others have lived up to, or what I believe I could live up to. It makes me feel lacking and empty in the present moment, even though the eternal now is overflowing with abundance.
Recognizing this, I decided to change my belief. I may be single, but that doesn’t mean something is wrong with me or that I’m not good enough to be with anyone.
It means I’ve been given the opportunity to work on myself and to understand my goals, passions, and purpose, as well as to develop other types of relationships in my life that are not romantic in nature, including the most important one of all: the one I have with myself.
When it is the right time for me to share with someone, I will share myself with him completely, and with a deep appreciation for the beauty and sacredness of such a relationship.
As long as I fully accept this and don’t feel insecure about it, there’s really no problem.
Feeling like I should change brings me down into the low vibration of fear, and that is not conducive to attracting or sustaining the nurturing relationship I want.
A boyfriend is not a trophy, and I don’t want to have one for this purpose. I also don’t want to be closed off to new romantic interests because I feel inferior for not having as many previous partners as most people my age, which has become one of my biggest barriers to being vulnerable.
As long as I fully accept who I am, insecurity falls away, and I can be authentic with other people, including potential romantic partners.
Making this kind of shift in perception is not as easy as it sounds, but it’s the most important step toward developing self-understanding and ultimately, achieving self-liberation. And by that I mean placing your higher self in the driver’s seat with your ego-self as a passenger rather than the other way around.
Your perspective is powerful, and it is the prime cause of excessive anxiety and fear. When my negative, ego-based judgments fuel an unhelpful cycle, I lose sight of the present moment and shift into an obsession over how I think my life should be.
Often, our ideas about how we think our life should be come from other people. Others may be insecure or unhappy about their own life, so they judge ours to make themselves feel better, or they may genuinely not want us to make the same mistakes they did. Either way, they are seeing things from their own lens, which reflects their experiences, not ours.
We can also get stuck comparing our personality, skills, and progress to what we think other people have achieved—as I often do when I use social media—and then think we are lacking in comparison. But the people we compare ourselves to are on completely different paths than us, and in reality they provide no accurate benchmark for our own journey.
The only person to which we should ever compare ourselves is our previous self or what we’d like our future self to be. Doing this in a nonjudgmental way will help lead us toward growth. But if you’re cruel to yourself by being harshly critical, you’ll be more likely to become your own worst enemy.
Sometimes we need to be critical of ourselves, but it’s important to do it in a loving, compassionate way that seeks real, deep change, not in a way that debilitates us from taking any active steps.
If I’m harshly critical of myself for not having as much romantic experience as I think I should have by my age, I won’t be open enough to connect with others the way I want to. It isn’t the lack of experience stopping me, it’s my judgment about what that means.
But my past doesn’t have to mean anything about my worth, and I don’t have to see my present as something to lament.
What we call “lack” can just as easily be seen as opportunity for growth. If you see the present as a failure and merely the means to an end, it can make you feel like you won’t be happy until you have something more, and you set yourself up for pain.
That pain is an indication that your pattern of thought is not conducive to becoming your highest self, and it acts as a trigger for you to change and/or heal the aspect of yourself that needs healing.
When we move toward our greatest self, we clear all the blocks to the natural peace that exists in the present moment, in our hearts.
While I want to grow and expand my perspective, I also know that I am perfect just the way I am right now. Fully feeling this frees my energy so I can use it to achieve my goals rather than wasting it on worrying that I’m not good enough.
When I allow myself to fully feel the present moment, no matter what it may encompass, and accept myself just the way I am now, I begin to feel peace coming back to me. I could choose to think about all the things I wish were different, but all that does is make me unhappy, and it certainly doesn’t facilitate the clarity of mind and heart required for changing any of those things.
Often, all we need is a small shift in perspective to realize that challenges are opportunities and our greatest teachers.
Be present now and experience the complete spectrum of the human experience as it unfolds. Feel the great fullness of this life. All is as it should be, and you are perfect just the way you are.
Sit with your pain. Sit with your joy. They both serve you.
Learn from the past. Plan for the future. But live only in the present.
Do this and you will remove the barriers to clarity and peace of mind. As the great Alan Watts succinctly and beautifully put it, “The future is of use only to those who live in the present.”
About Jacqueline Handman
Jacqueline is a native New Yorker, graduate of Hunter College, and a passionate writer who enjoys using the creative process as a means of self-expression, self-reflection, and occasionally self-mockery (a good laugh can do wonders for the soul). She hopes to help others in their own journeys of enlightenment and personal growth. Visit her at Whispers That Echo.
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