Friday, May 06, 2005

Authentic life

My wife noticed a difference in me sometime last year, telling me that I had become “easy to love.” Now, I have been a lot of things in the twenty years that my wife and I have been together, but “easy to love” was not among them. Even as a psychologist, I could not control my emotions as I desired. And since I was not in control of my emotions, they controlled me.

I used to be a moody, irritable guy. I expected perfection out of myself and those around me. I had little patience for mistakes. When I became sad, I would stay down for days or weeks at a time. Life scared me. My muscles were tense. Inside, I was quietly angry much of the time.

It was like my emotional gas tank was filled to the brim with irritation and exasperation. Outside of my family, no one would have ever guessed of my unhappiness. I tried everything to escape from my perfect façade of a life – drinking, counseling, overachieving, medication, meditation, education – and none of it worked. Among other things, these attempts did not work because none of them addressed my life as a whole. They were a shotgun approach to a complex problem – the problem of human existence.

Now, peace surrounds me. My patience has grown. There is joy in life’s nuances. The essential areas of life are in balance – physical, mental, relational, ethical and spiritual. The difference between the old “me” and the new “me” is that I am now, finally, comfortable and peaceful in my own skin. Stick with me and I'll share with you bit by bit how I went from floundering to flourishing.

Nelson Mandela once said, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us. It is in everyone. As we let our own light shine we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear our presence automatically liberates others.”

The first step is to recognize your fears.