Challenges Of Life – The X-factor, The Needs Of Our Hearts And Souls

I recently was talking to a man who’s difficult for me to listen to because he assumes he knows more than me on everything.  He’s not aware of this.  I unfortunately am.  Nevertheless, there we were in conversation.  He said he hated doing what he was doing for a livelihood, and told me about the things he had tried and couldn’t succeed in.

I interrupted him with “You’re not letting yourself even think that there might be other options, you’re shutting the door on yourself”.   I suddenly heard myself.   He was telling me about his challenges but I was discounting them and saying “I know better than you what’s right for you”.   As it happens I was wrong.  He was just telling me about the stuff he’d discarded because it didn’t work for him.  When I heard myself, I apologized and let him talk.

He’s designed a prototype for a solar panel but can’t afford the patent, and doing work he hates is soul destroying.   He wants to act on his creativity and succeed in it, but at the moment he can’t see the solution to his lack of resources.  As I listened with empathy instead of judgment I watched his spirits lift.  He came away with hope and belief that a solution existed somewhere.  I had a flash of insight into what stops me from listening to others and what really empowers people.

Our needs are the truth about us and whether we should or shouldn’t have them is utterly irrelevant.  I call them the X-factor; they’re what people don’t always see or understand, and what we can’t always express.  A couple of blogs ago I wrote about wanting to look for funding that will allow me to finish the writing projects I’ve begun, but which have been flagging lately as my financial circumstances have gotten tighter and tighter and my self esteem has been increasingly eroded.

The option I’ve already explored is getting work here at $20 a day, working from 8.30 through to 6 without lunch or tea.  If I work 7 days a week I still can’t earn enough to pay for rent and very basic food.  When I come home in the evening I have to do a second job online.  Then I’ll be able to pay rent and eat.  The thing that people can’t see about that, the X-factor, is what it takes out of you, and why it does.

Maslow said that our basic need is for shelter, food and sex, I think.  Right at the top of his hierarchy of needs is self actualization.  We all make this mistake of saying “you have to eat first, and pay attention to your heart and spirit next” but actually it just isn’t so.  I think it’s because we’re spirits house in bodies, not the other way round, and our spirit is the energy generator.

We all know what it does to people when they don’t have enough food and security.  I know what it’s doing to me.   But we also can’t lose sight of what happens to us when we spend too much of our time doing something we’ve got no passion for – particularly when we’re being exploited at the same time.  It depletes us to the point where we can’t even be creative.  What does that do to your soul and your capacity to flourish as a material being in a material world? I think it has everything to do with it.

Maslow got it wrong.  We have to pay attention to the needs of our hearts and souls as much as those of our bodies.  For me I’ve come to realize that if all I can do is stay alive by being exploited and working just to survive, then I actually don’t want to stay alive.  It’s too big a price.  It’s physical survival at the cost of my soul.  I don’t know why it’s so for me, but it is.   It’s my X-factor.

Asking for what you need so you can receive it

I got the response I needed yesterday to restore well-being.   I needed to hear I love you and to be told I’m okay for who I am in this moment now, that the messages from the past aren’t the truth, that I can overcome them.   Today I can still feel them resonating, but they don’t have the power they had yesterday.

It’s hard to acknowledge vulnerability.   Ingrained into those old messages is the sneaky one “for god’s sake stop whingeing and whining, other people have it much worse than you;  it’s so damn boring when people feel sorry for themselves;  nobody’s going to want to hang out with you if you’re so self-obsessed;  I don’t have the patience for this; vulnerable = victim” etc.   V. strong, those ones, especially the last.   Bloody hell.

Yesterday, once I’d had the responses I needed, I could feel the old ideas within doing battle with the new ones.   The old are ingrained, massively habit-driven and feel comfortable and safe at some level.    But they stop you from flourishing, having healthy relationships, establishing boundaries and your own turf, from everything that is about fulfilling dreams.   They stop you from even having fun.    They feel like death.

I felt as if I was standing on the edge of insanity as the internal battle raged.   The battle of the ideas that defined my world for 45 years (you’re nobody), and the new ones which are about 10 years old (you’re as much a somebody as everybody else).

But strong, ingrained and habit-driven as old ideas are, and powerful as the early experiences that created them were, they’re not more powerful than the part of us that needs to live.   I think I have to choose, though, life over death, which means I have to recognize death and figure out what life is.

In big and small things, I have to consciously reject death and reach for life.   It’s different for everybody, but I’m able to choose life when I get receiving unconditional love.   It’s the power switch.    Well, I can’t receive unless I ask.   I can’t ask unless I know I need.   I can’t know I need unless I feel.   I can’t feel unless I listen.

Ka-ching.

So, back to singing, writing, playing piano.   Back on track.   I don’t really need singing lessons, especially with someone who isn’t bubbling with life and enthusiasm.   I do need to be moving forward in a direction that keeps my own bubbling alive.

It seems to make more sense to buy whatever those things are that you download music from the internet onto, than to get CDs.   And to maybe buy home recording studio thing.    That lets me listen to lots, do my singing, mix it, get backing tracks from internet, put it on my blog.   Possibly even make my own demo cd.   Sounds like a lot of fun.

I’m not having much fun just singing along and doing exercises.    Need the fun, need to engage that part.   So I need to do new costing of all that stuff.

If yesterday’s crisis was about learning that it’s okay to be vulnerable, it’s okay to reach out, it’s okay to receive;  and also seeing the reality of that teacher’s attitude and unenthusiasm and how it crushes me;  and finally experiencing love, and seeing that there’s another road to take, then it was a day well spent.

Thanks to everybody who responded so generously and warmly.

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How Much Do You Want It?

I just realized how when people talk about something that bothers them I sometimes give advice.   I believe I’m doing it with the best intentions, but truth?  I’m just not really listening to them, I’ve gone directly to “let me fix this” mode.  I’m offering rational thought when a) they didn’t ask for it and b) it may not even be useful.  Imagine if they follow my advice, and it turns out to be wrong for them.  Oops, sorry, didn’t think it through all that well.

Ackshally, advice is a bit of a control thing.   Probably got something to do with the fact that their emotional state, or their ideas or whatever have pressed my buttons, make me uncomfortable.  Instead of saying “ooh, this makes me uncomfortable” I say “you’re doing it wrong”.    Okay, that’s enough now, I know I’ve been a bad girl.

People are looking for an emotional response when they reach out.  If they want advice they know how to ask for it.   Bit of a wake-up call, to see that I do what I don’t like other people to do to me.  Oh.  Right.  Life’s lesson number six thousand two hundred and fifty one.  Pick a number.

And that’s enough being spiritual for today.   I dug up a collage I made a few years ago, when I first started re-singing.

It’s pretty, huh?   Lousy photo, though, I know.   I did it as part of a lecture series given by Robin McCaan of the Human Potential Development Center.   The homework?   Pick something you desire, and make a collage.   I didn’t have a preconceived idea, really, just started looking at magazines.  I was astonished at how this picture developed before my eyes, didn’t even know that that was what my desire was about.

Scared the hell out of me.  I want that much?  I want it that bad?  Lord, to get that dream I have to step so far out of my history that I’ll step right off the planet.  I’ve got one part right.  The woman sitting on the steps drinking coffee.

The listener

Here’s a part of my history that feels like a very sticky sucky bog.  I’ve got to a place where I can at least move, and I can see how when I was completely trapped, it was about me and the messages I put out. Now that I’ve begun to change, I know intellectually that it’s still about the message I put out, but I can’t catch myself doing it!  Crap.

It’s about the role I take in any relationship as the listener.  It would be funny if it wasn’t so frustrating.  Since I started this process of changing my life, I’ve become aware that in any conversation with anybody I take the back seat, I don’t claim my power, I don’t talk.  I just listen.

For much of my life I’ve been tormented by people I’ve drawn into my world who needed to talk and didn’t want to listen.  I couldn’t do anything about it, I’d listen and listen and listen, while my frustration rose until I wanted to explode, and I was powerless to say “I have to go now, or it’s my turn to talk”!

I knew it was about me, and the signal I put out, a signal that said “you can talk and I’ll listen” but I couldn’t actually see myself doing it.  How is it possible to be so utterly out of touch with the reality of your own behavior and of the things that drive you?  Weird.

This is how it goes sometimes.  I’ll see somebody and they’ll be thrilled.  They’ll talk about themselves, or their ideas etc, and I’ll listen.  They’ll be very animated.  Then when I say something that’s about me they deflate in an instant and pretty soon they have to go.

It’s enough now.