Finding Things We Hide from Ourselves

Can we find what we can not see? And a deeper question, can we find what we will not see? By ‘will not see’, I mean what we won’t permit ourselves to acknowledge. We know something is there, but we willfully avoid looking at it.

It feels too threatening to us, so we shift our focus. After all, there are so many things that beg for our time and attention and it’s easy to tell ourselves we’ll get back to it when we have more time.

This happens to me quite frequently. It’s as if the hidden things want to see the light. They are insistent and return over and over until they wear me down and I feel forced to pay them heed.

One of my recurring themes is the idea of meeting others’ expectations of me. I need to be a bit more precise here. It’s not just about meeting others’ expectations of me; it goes further than that. It’s about meeting my ‘perception’ of others’ expectations.

This added challenge increases the difficulty for me, because I don’t really know what anyone else expects from me. I believe this is true, even if they tell me what they want, because they may not really know. The answer(s) may lie hidden and difficult to find.

It’s easy to see how unlikely it is for me to unravel this.

When I add my tendency to doubt myself, thinking I do not have the power or control to provide what they want, or my perception of what they want, it becomes harder still.

I also must confess that I take it one step further. I have another tendency, which is to overachieve. I not only want to meet my own and others’ expectations, but I also want to exceed them. This creates even more internal pressure. Far beyond what is reasonable or helpful. And it ultimately makes it more difficult to find the hidden meanings I’m searching for.

When I experience moments of clarity, I realize that overachieving is an attempt on my part to maintain or improve a vision of myself, whether necessary or not. It feels like I’m trying to prove my worth and that I am enough.

Before I began writing these posts, I decided that I would reveal what felt true for me, regardless of how it made me appear to whoever chose to read me. Honesty, within me and as expressed to you, is important to me. I want to be open, and I encourage you to do the same thing with yourself, in the hope that we can find some answers together.

So, the question that surfaces is, what to do next? Is there a remedy for uncovering what lies hidden from view within us?

I offer you this for your consideration.

Set aside your fear of the unknown. There is nothing inside you that is there to harm you. In fact, all hidden things are there to create light for your path forward.

Embrace a sense of trust, that you have an innate goodness. A goodness that can be directed first, toward yourself and second, toward others.

Ask for guidance from whoever or whatever you regard as sacred and divine. Ask for clarity and confidence in finding the hidden things. Ask for their meaning and purpose to be shown to you.

Open your heart and allow yourself freedom to choose to see what wants to be seen.

Release any need to control the outcome. Simply give yourself space for the worth of the hidden things to materialize in your life.

And, as much as is possible, believe that all your hidden things are there to serve you.

When they come, welcome them, and accept what they have to offer.

Expectations, the Thief of Joy

It seems that I am constantly at odds with myself over the expectations I have. Does this happen to you too?

I set them up in my mind and then when they don’t come true as I expected, it creates a cascade of emotions. There is sadness, anger, disappointment, frustration, and confusion. All of them, thieves of joy.

I don’t like this part of my earthly adventure.

The obvious question I need to ask myself is, ‘why do I continue this thoroughly unenjoyable experience?’

There must be a better way.

Perhaps if I chose not to have any expectations about anything, maybe that would solve the problem. But how likely is that?

For me, not likely at all. I’ve tried this repeatedly without success. It ends with the same result. Even though I say to myself that I’m not going to care about the outcome of something, some part of me ignores this ‘suggestion’. It has already recorded my expectation and won’t let it go. So, when it becomes obvious that my expectation is unmet, it repeats the cascade.

I know this doesn’t make sense, but it is what happens. At least, most of the time.

I do believe that experiences, such as this, will continue to arrive in my life because they bear messages for me. They hint at things I would benefit from and that would improve my life. They come to offer me gifts.

So far, I’ve missed their value. And because of this, I continue to suffer. I realize this is my choice and that if I opened myself up, I might be able to see more possibilities and maybe some real answers.

How is this to happen?

I know there are numerous excellent self-help books that probably address this issue. They no doubt have many valuable suggestions to make and have provided a great deal of assistance to those prepared to try them. I sincerely congratulate those who read them and adopt their recommendations. It would be wise if I would join them, but something stops me.

It may not be the wisest approach for me to take, but it appears that I like to struggle. That may sound foolish, but I know it is the case with me. I have to personally confront whatever issue stands before me. I have to feel the weight of it. And, I have to wrestle with it until it breaks apart and shows me some truth.

So, I lay myself open and I ask for divine guidance to enter and assist me with finding a way forward.

And, what comes is this, I want joy. I want it as a centerpiece in my life. Joy goes far beyond happiness. Happiness is fleeting, but joy is truth. I believe each of us came here to earth filled with joy. It is a part of our natural state and a reflection of love.

I see how setting expectations puts limits on joy. It declares there is only one right solution and when it is not met, there is a price to pay. I see how setting expectations is looking for value outside of me. And my sense of satisfaction with life becomes dependent on what happens outside of me. Is there anything more fragile than this?

And so here is the message I’ve been waiting for. It is always about what is ‘inside’ of me. I can never reliably find what I’m looking for outside of me. This is at the heart of all my expectations, a desire to be fulfilled by what lies beyond me.

This will never happen because it is what is inside of me that matters. The wonderful news is that this is where all the good stuff is. We came here with all of it. If I close my eyes and slow my breathing and look inside and remember who I truly am, a part of the divine, I can awake to the knowing that I am made of love. I am whole and complete, just as I am. No outward fulfilled expectations will make me more than I already am.

So, when the next one comes, I will remind myself of this truth and release the expectation and in remembering to do this, will center on the joy inside of me.

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Finding What We Look For

I understand the necessity and value in wearing a mask these days, but I really miss seeing people’s whole faces. It just isn’t the same.

I used to think you could tell what a person was feeling and thinking by looking at their eyes. That was before I lost contact with seeing their mouths. Now I understand, you need both.

So much is revealed through facial expressions. All the little hints and cues we read without realizing it, which help us to connect with others. To have some ideas about another’s mood or concerns, gives us a way in and opens a quiet door for us to be a part of another’s life.

What I miss the most is seeing smiles. I’ve seen a couple artistically drawn on the outside of a few masks, but they are a weak substitute for the real thing.

I’ve had to search in other places to find hidden smiles. The picture at the top of this post is one of my favorites. Every time I look at it, it makes me happy and gives me a little jolt, a kind of rush, knowing it’s there waiting for me, right in plain sight.

In case you aren’t familiar with this device, it’s one of those swiveling binocular machines that you put a few quarters in and look through to see objects that are far away. Most of the time they’re at look-out points, and you can use them to see distant mountains and lakes.

What I love about this device is the face I see. I think it’s adorable.

I have a whole collection of faces. I find them in the strangest places, like a child’s booster seat or a house doorway. I also create some on my own, mostly when I’m making lunch for one of my grandchildren. It’s really fun to arrange the food on their plate into a funny face and watch their reactions.

When I have a group of ‘face photos’, I make copies and send them to a friend of mine. She says it makes her day. To me, that’s a beautiful thing. It’s part of why I feel I’m here on this earth, to make a difference in someone’s life.

I’ve discovered, and you may have too, that it is so much easier to find something, if you know what you’re looking for. I’m sure that I would have missed many, many faces, if I hadn’t believed they were there waiting for me.

It feels like the truth to me, that all of life is like this. That we miss what we’ve convinced ourselves is not there, rather than opening to greater possibilities.

I wonder what would happen if I believed that whatever I wanted to show up in my life could be just like those faces I find.

When I reflect, I see that if I am fearful then a host of fearful things will enter my life. They are easy for me to find. They pop up instantly in front of me. It’s not really what I want to happen, so I have to stop and ask myself, is this what I want to find? Of all of the things in the world, is this really what I am looking for?

The answer is almost always, ‘no, definitely not.’

So, I encourage myself to make a shift. To remember to find smiling faces and then, the other things that light up my world. I close my eyes and imagine all of the things that would make me happy or give me joy that I could pass along to others. When I open my eyes and walk through my day, wonderful gifts are revealed to me. I discover that the surest path to finding what I am looking for in my life, is believing that all of what I seek is already here for me, waiting to be revealed.

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Do Overs

When I was a kid we resorted to the strategy of ‘do overs’ a lot, finding countless opportunities to take advantage of this practice. And why not? Everybody makes mistakes and wants a chance to do better.

It starts pretty early in life.

I remember one hot summer day when I received a beautiful cold sweet ice cream cone. I was so excited that I didn’t pay enough attention as I took it from my father. You can probably guess what happened. Yup, the ice cream scoop fell onto the ground and I was left holding the cone. I don’t remember whether I screamed or cried, but I got a do over…another ice cream cone. Go Dad, you rock!

Funny thing is, that do overs are programmed in to some things, kind of a recognition that everything doesn’t always work out the first time. Take our national pastime of baseball, for example. If you’re really good or perhaps, really bad, you can stand at homeplate all day long and hit foul balls. You get to keep trying till you hit the ball between the first and third base lines. I guess Abner Doubleday liked do overs a lot.

And sometimes in school, on rare instances, if you flunked an exam, you might get an opportunity to take a make-up test. I’m not sure how this gets decided, which ones you do and which ones you don’t, but I know it exists. Not that I ever flunked a test (wink wink).

I recognize that we are usually under some kind of pressure to perform tasks and that there are often expectations attached to our results. Supposedly, some people thrive under these conditions, but more often, I believe we’d feel much better if we knew there would always be the possibility of a do over.

What if life was like tennis, where you always get a second serve. Or even golf, where you can take a ‘mulligan’ (a well-loved, but unofficial opportunity to hit your shot over again), in case you drove your golf ball into the woods. I realize this doesn’t fly in professional tournaments, but in my opinion, life isn’t a tournament

Once you transition from school to the work world, you encounter all sorts of new experiences. Sometimes there’s latitude for errors and sometimes not.

I worked as a bank teller for a few years before moving up the ladder. At the end of each shift you had to ‘prove’, meaning that all of what you took in had to equal all of what you gave out. If it didn’t match, you had to find out why. This could be a very tedious and unnerving experience, especially if the amount was significant. Surprisingly, $100 differences were not uncommon. This happened to me a couple of times. We eventually found most of them, but imagine if every teller had to be perfect every day with no allowance for mistakes. No do overs.

And then there is the world of relationships. We all make so many mistakes no matter how hard we try. Of course, we can apologize and ask for permission to try again, promising to do better and hope our do over is granted.

I feel it would help us all if we remembered that each of us is a giver and a receiver when it comes to do overs. The giver can extend mercy and compassion. They can offer encouragement and express love and leave the door open. The receiver can promise to be more thoughtful or careful. They can show gratitude and love for their second chances and do those things that they promise.

I’m going to take some time over the next few days to pay attention to giving and receiving. I’d love to have you join me, and if you’re inclined, let me know how it goes with your do overs.

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