Sunday, October 6, 2013

Another "rule" from the article, 30 Things to Stop Doing to Yourself : Stop being jealous of others. – Jealousy is the art of counting someone else’s blessings instead of your own.  Ask yourself this:  “What’s something I have that everyone wants?”

Years ago, I was in therapy (I know that revelation surprises no one.) and the therapist asked me on a Monday morning to describe my weekend. I guess it was a way to get the conversation started. I told her we'd been biking in the mountains. These were the days when I was fit and trim although I still saw myself as out of shape and fat. We'd been to the Citico area and biked on a road that had been shut down because of the damage done to it by massive storms and a subsequent fire several years before. It was closed to cars and other motorized vehicles but it was easy to get a mountain bike around the barricades and the perfect place to ride since there weren't any cars or other motorized vehicles to be concerned about. It was also ideal for mountain biking because it was rocky, steep, curving and a bit treacherous which are all things normal people avoid but mountain bikers see as a fun challenge. I did feel a bit accomplished by making the thirty mile climb up the mountain which took us nearly six hours and exhilarated by the ride or flight down the mountain which took a little over twenty minutes! Yeah, you do the math. I could have told the therapist about that but it was only side story to what I did tell her about the people we encountered on the trail who were coming down the mountain as we were going up. They were a friendly, extremely attractive couple and I described them as "perfect people." They seemed to me to be everything I wasn't, fit, trim, beautiful, tanned, athletic, and stylishly dressed. The therapist asked me what I meant by "perfect people" and I told her that they were the type of people I envied, the ones who evidently had their whole lives together. She started to laugh which at first offended me deeply. Then I asked her, "What are you implying? Surely not that you see me as one of the "perfect people"?" She said, "I think you would be very surprised by how many people see you and your life that way and by how many people envy you." If that is truly what people thought of me, I wouldn't have been just surprised but shocked.

That was an eye opening experience because I realized then that many of the people I envied actually envied me. I realized also that their envy was based on an unrealistic romanticizing of my actual life and so, it would be reasonable to assume that my jealousy of others was based on the same irrational ideal. I'm not saying that I don't still feel envy from time to time but my envy isn't usually based on the material things that others have or what they've achieved in life because I really could care less about those things and I'm happy to see my friends' successes. No, my envies are all about life style. I see people out having good times with their friends and family and going places and doing things that I never do and I can get very jealous. But I am finally realizing that jealousy is very telling. As my life has spun more and more out of my control.... That therapist also told me that any amount of control I ever thought I had over my life was a complete allusion. It took me a long time to accept that...... my answer has not been to deal with all of my problems but to hide away and I stopped living my life. In fact, it has seemed at times over the years that the very effort to try and live a "normal" active lifestyle was so exhausting that I simply stopped trying. Of course, it was the stress I was putting on myself which was actually exhausting me but it has taken me too many years to learn that lesson. So, my lack of a fun social life or any social life at all is basically, no one's fault but my own. I've hidden away, I've driven friends away, I'm sure, with my constant whiny soul searching while I was finding myself, and I've basically just given up on life. That proclamation, in itself, sounds all gloom and doom but the extreme stress and losses of  the last few months has brought about an eye opening revelation for me, life is always changing and we can either change with it or, as a good friend said to me this morning, just grow old. She too has been through some very traumatic months of life and she too has decided to opt for change and living life rather than giving up and giving in. I'm tired of looking at others and envying their life, counting their blessings when I have so many of my own. I have ambition for the first time in a long time, I have ideas and dreams to start working on and I have been working and making progress for the past few days which is something that has been a very long time coming. I've decided to stop planning so much and just start doing. My goal is not to live up to any one else's standards but to make me (as trite as this sounds, truth is truth) the best me that I can be. So, I'm marking this day and I'm setting goals. I hope when I look back on October 6th, 2014, that I can say, "For this last year, I've truly lived an envious life full of gratitude, joy, wonder, and generosity...with a bit of adventure and lots of laughter thrown in."

No comments:

Post a Comment