Love as Escape

Much of daily life tends to be ordinary and unexciting. Making steady efforts day-to-day can be trying. It’s not always going to be fun. But, when you fall in love, life seems filled with drama and excitement; you feel like the leading character in a novel.

But if you lose yourself in love just because you’re bored, and consequently veer from the path you should be following, then love is nothing more than escapism. What you are doing is retreating into a dream world, believing that what is only an illusion is actually real.

Even if you try to use love as an escape, the fact is that the euphoria is unlikely to last for long. If anything, you may only find yourself with even more problems along with a great deal of pain and sadness. However much you may try, you can never run away from yourself. If you remain weak, suffering will only follow you wherever you go. You will never find happiness if you don’t change yourself from within. Happiness is not something that someone else, like a lover, for instance, can give to you. You have to achieve it for yourself. And the only way to do so is by developing your own character and capacity as a human being; by fully maximizing your potential. If you sacrifice your own growth and talent for love, you will absolutely not find happiness. True happiness is obtained through fully realizing your own potential.

via What Is Love? | Buddhism | Soka Gakkai International (SGI).

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Being Alone And Content To Be

Being alone can be painful. It can also be blissful. It all depends on your level of personal development in this area. A joyful state when you’re alone is attainable. And it is a very worthwhile pursuit.

Once you learn how to be alone you will no long be chained to the desperate need to keep a person in your life even though the relationship is bad for you. Whether the person is a lover, a marriage partner, a friend, or even a family member what good is it if the relationship brings you pain and lower self-esteem? If you can’t bare the thought of being alone you will always be in a position of weakness in your relationships. However, once you learn how to be alone and truly enjoy it you’ll be able to negotiate your relationships from a position of strength knowing that you can end it and be okay.

We all experience moments of intense loneliness. We initially experience this when we are left alone for the first time as children. As we develop and grow we learn not to fear being alone. Nevertheless, there times when we face feelings of loneliness. These times can be extremely difficult at first.

Transitions in adulthood can bring on powerful feelings of loneliness. When we break up, get a divorce, or a partner dies we are suddenly alone. Before this event, we grew to rely on their companionship. We knew that during almost every evening, weekend, and holiday we would have someone to share it with. The sad feelings that you experience can be the same when a close friendship ends.

If your break up or divorce was preceded by months of tension, the separation might come as a relief initially. After a few nights and weekends alone, however, the relief can turn into desperation about being alone. It is at this point where profound growth is possible. You can use the pain of the break up and the loneliness to move yourself past the sometimes terrifying feelings of facing the future alone! Once you breakthrough and find your strength, which is present in you right now, you’ll experience a whole new world of personal power and freedom.

via Being Alone & Content To Be Strong Together – Solotopia.

Dealing with Loneliness: Hold onto Patience, Not the Past

“Patience is not passive; on the contrary, it is active; it is concentrated strength.” ~Edward G. Bulwer-Lytton

Last night, I discovered the tiniest of creatures in my shower: a minute scorpion, no larger than the average human fingernail.I could not for the life of me work out how it had ended up here because I live on the third floor of an apartment building in a busy South African city. Nonetheless, there it was—a little fellow in the corner of the tiles, receiving ricocheted water droplets on his tiny little carapace.My main personal learning theme for this year seems to be patience, and, whether initiated by the universe or by my own hand,  I have set out to embrace it in everything I do.Starting my first job in January required me to apply patience in many ways: in my interactions with co-workers and clients, in driving in to work every morning in such a bustling city, in waiting for a slot between several adjacent meetings to eat my lunch. Most importantly, it required me to exert patience on myself.

Patience has never really been a strength of mine, especially with regard to relationships.

I was a serial monogamist since I was 17, bridging each ending relationship with a romance that I could immediately start. Even small gaps between these adjacent relationships were filled with several casual physical interactions just to ensure that bridge was securely built.

But somehow, it has been over a year since my last romantic commitment to another human, and I have learned to curb my need for somewhat less committed relationships to a great extent too.

On the second night since the little being’s arrival, I could not find it anywhere. I bent down to examine every crevice, every dimple, every crack. Nowhere.

I was concerned it may have ended up under my duvet, but decided to deal with that concept closer to bedtime.

For now, I could remain blissfully unaware.

I got into the shower and, after a few moments, the scorpion appeared to me mere centimeters from where it was discovered.

I picked it up with an ear bud and it reared its tail and claws at me, before promptly turning and marching straight down the hard plastic rod away from me. I decided it would be best to release him outside, where he would hopefully find a decent meal and undergo less stress.

After a good couple of flicks of the ear bud outside of my window, he let go. I released him to the external world knowing that the large tree ferns below my apartment would cushion his fall.

I suddenly felt sadness wash over me for a reason I could not instantly grapple. It was such a transient little creature and I had so little to do with its life—nor did it have very much to do with mine. So why did it make me pause to feel and think?

It became clear that the metaphor had struck my subconscious mind and was allowing me to work through feelings, those that I had previously not fully embraced, in a safer environment.

The scorpion was akin to many a romantic partner: showing up from seemingly nowhere, planting themselves in the heart of our lives for a moment, and then inevitably vanishing from our existence.

And sometimes, when a romantic partner gets ripped away, we panic in the void left behind, and make hasty decisions to fill it with something or anything at all.

When my last relationship ended, I felt so terribly empty, as if part of me had evaporated alongside him as he walked away from me for the last time. He told me that I was not “the one.” I translated this as him saying that I could not be loved by him because I was innately flawed, beyond being lovable.

So I threw myself into an active social life. I met people while out in bars—people who seemed to see the beauty in me—and established whatever form of connection with them they would allow me to have.

Again and again, all they allowed me was a material connection based on physical need. I was fooled by them wanting to see me again. All they wanted was a repeat of the night we met. All I needed was to be deemed loveable.

When they saw this need in me, they ended their connection without contemplation or care, and I didn’t always see it coming. But I was dragging this behaviour out of them. I was the cause and the effect. I was the sole player in the game. They were not to blame.

Lovers and partners may exit in innumerable ways: they may aggressively march out of your life, they may gently release you, or they may leave you breathless by their abrupt and unjustified departure. They may leave this earth physically altogether. You may do the equivalent to your lovers and partners.

I wandered into three considerable outcomes, and justifications, of patience.

Only patience allows us to fully understand why important people in our lives come and go.

Only patience allows us to reap the lessons of a past emotional interaction in its entirety.

Only patience from the point of solitude onwards will allow us to wander into a truly constructive circumstance with another human being.

To liberate others is to liberate oneself. And vice versa.

I then recognized that I had been holding on to some things (or someones) for a long time. People that I consciously remembered had left my world, but part of whom were still with me.

I held onto their messages, gifts to me, and belongings they had left at my apartment. I held onto the things they said to me out of sheer gratitude and love for me, and replayed these over and over in my head, out loud. I held onto the smiles that I had caused. I held onto the idea that they would come back.

These were not the full, whole, and meaningful parts. These were exoskeletons—something left behind that the person no longer needed when they moved on, but that I held tightly in my grasp to reassure myself that I was not alone.

And in no way will these parts ever be that person. In no way will these elements ever represent the entirety of a being. In fact, they are warped memories that are left by your mind to comfort you and nourish your wounds, but are anything but true.

My last romantic relationship’s end had been the most peaceful departing that I had ever experienced. He had gently released me. But for a while, I was lost—with the shell of him, and (seemingly) as a shell of myself.

The fear of not being complete when solitary can be devastating. You are more inclined to stick with people who abuse and degrade you. You are more likely to pass up opportunities that may lead you to fulfilment in your career and personal life if they don’t allow you to stay with the person you’re bound to.

Your confidence and lust for life diminishes when you are alone, and you may make harmful and self-destructive decisions.

The time I have spent “alone” has been remarkable. I have embraced my deepest fear: loneliness. I have been afforded the opportunity to see my courage, and my scorpion-like perseverance.

Now that I hold onto patience and not the past, I am more free. My confidence has been amplified, my sleep and concentration have improved, my moods have stabilized, pursuing my passions has a daily place in my life, I show more love to the people that matter, and I am a more easy-going person. In an interesting way, this all sets me up to meet the right people as a side effect.

I encourage you to hold onto patience, and not the past, too.

One of the easiest ways to instantly gain patience is to carry out a kind of on-the-spot meditation. When you are feeling overwhelmed or flustered by guilt, sadness, or regret from your past, stop your thoughts altogether and focus on the tension in your muscles, especially your face, neck and shoulders.

Blink slowly, and let this tension go with a deep breath. You are not your worst mistakes. You are not the person from yesterday, or last month, or the previous year. You are present in this moment as a full human being. You have the ability and freedom to make new choices.

via Dealing with Loneliness: Hold onto Patience, Not the Past.

Where Are You on the Hamster Wheel?

I had a conversation with a Human Resources friend of mine years ago and she gave me a piece of advice that I’ll never forget. She said that in our professional lives we are like hamsters on a wheel. No matter how fast we run, we eventually come full circle. “How many times can you run around the same wheel without getting bored?” she asked me. My answer is four.

In my experience every job has four cycles that provide opportunities for success and sanity. On the fifth time around the wheel, boredom and restlessness sets in. High-performers start looking for a new wheel to run on.

Where are you on the wheel?

The first time around the wheel corresponds to the honeymoon period of a job. Things are exciting and new. You don’t know enough yet to get bogged down in details or office politics. On the first time around the wheel, you’re simply having fun.

The second time around the wheel is the learning curve. The honeymoon is over and you’re in heavy-duty learning mode. The learning curve can be short or long depending on your specific job responsibilities and your previous experience. As stressful as the learning curve can be, most people enjoy the intellectual challenge of this cycle.

The third time around the wheel is a time of confidence. You understand your job well and you have a feeling of mastery over day-to-day responsibilities. You are comfortable acting as an expert in your area. The confident period is a time of high job satisfaction for most people. Your confidence in this cycle gets you ready for the fourth cycle on the wheel.

The fourth time around the wheel is the time of giving back. You are tapped to lead, coach, and mentor others. Most of your time in this cycle is spent in teaching mode. This can be a very rewarding period for many people, and can last several years under the right circumstances.

The fifth time around the wheel is when boredom and restlessness start to set in. Job satisfaction and engagement rapidly decline. You’ve seen the view from this wheel and have experienced what it has to offer. Your job feels stale. You crave new challenges and new learning opportunities. You become aware that even the finest wood chips lose their flavor after a while.

How long does it take to complete all five cycles? There is no one answer for that. It’s different for every person in every job. With that said, the typical high-performers hits the boredom cycle every five to seven years unless something occurs to interrupt the natural progression of the cycles.

Think merger and acquisitions, think changes in high-level management, think broad sweeping organizational changes, think promotions. All of these are examples of interruptions that break up the natural progression from honeymoon to boredom. These interruptions can be a very positive experience. They can help re-engage a top performer in her job, send her back to the learning cycle, and propel her career forward.

If you are a top performer in your organization who is going around the wheel for the fifth time, ask for new challenges immediately. With the right strategic interruptions, you can continue to enjoy job satisfaction within your same organization for years to come. Without it, you’ll be looking for a shiny new wheel to run on very soon.

via Online Coaching and Leadership Training for Women.