As I mentioned in a previous posting, it has become very clear to me that everything I do, I do for myself. Always. I can make up a story that I am doing it due to external circumstances, but when I look into it, I see that I am doing it only for myself. This is a liberating realization.
- Paying taxes
The story is that I pay it because I “have” to. “They make me do it”. The reality is that I choose to do it, because I don’t want the trouble that comes with not doing it. I do it for myself.
- Doing someone a favor
The story is that I do it for them, and there can be a substory that I “have” to do it even if it is inconvenient for me or I don’t want to. The reality is that I do it to either avoid trouble (unpleasantness in the relationship) or because I experience a connection with the person and it gives me joy to do something for her/him. I do it for myself.
- I give free Breema sessions
The story could be that I do it for them, that I am selfless and noble. The reality is that I do it because it gives me so much – both during the session and in connecting with people. I do it for myself.
- I go to an event I don’t want to go to
The story is that I go because I “have” to go, it is expected of me. The reality is that I go because I either don’t want the possibly unpleasant consequences by not going (disapproval etc) or because I expect to get something out of it. And I have judged this to be more important than the drawbacks of going. Again, I do it for myself.
Of course, for some of these – such as attending an event we don’t really want to attend – the choice may be different when we realize our real intentions. When we inquire into it, we may choose a different action. In other cases, inquiring just clarifies why we do it and dissipates any sense of ambivalence that may be there.
There is an exercise from Nonviolent Communication that can be very helpful here, along with Byron Katie’s inquiry process…
- Make a list of your top ten least favorable things to do
- Write a sentence for each one of these in the format “I have to … because …” (this is the story you tell yourself).
- Write another sentence for each in the format “I choose to … because …” (this is reality).
And from this, there are three typical outcomes…
- I see that I really want to do it, and the sense of ambivalence is dissipated. I stop blaming circumstances and see that I do it for myself. My attitude changes.
- I see that my reasons for doing it does not hold up, and I stop doing it. My action changes.
- I find another way of doing it that is more aligned with what is comfortable for me. The way I do it changes.