this past week i read two articles; this one by Danielle LaPorte on “why self-improvement makes you neurotic” & this one by Jacki Carr called “mind games in human interaction”. yet it wasn’t until today that they struck me hard.
both articles perfectly depict everything that’s resonated not only far back in the back of my head, but deep within in my heart. i couldn’t agree more with both of them.
LaPorte talks about the difference between accessing your innate power vs. improving your sorry self.
We’re too busy feeling “broken, screwed up, neurotic, defective, sub par–take a number.” So we relentlessly continue doing whatever it is we think we need to ease, mitigate, and transform those states of being; seeing a constant need to be “fixed”, “get better”, or “self-improve”. For example:
“You show up at your therapist’s office to access your power.
You go to church to access your power.
You put on your heels, or your power suit, or your lucky charm to access your power.
You call your friend for advice to access your power.
You pray, dance, let go, breath, unplug, run, bend, drink smoothies, go on retreat, clear the air, ask for help, get enough sleep, get up early, train, set goals, affirm, chant, rock out, climb, hike, sweat to…
access your power.”
I don’t know about you, but I can for sure hear myself in that.
I’ll spend hours pinning through the World’s Largest Gorge (aka the internet), logging into social media sites an inordinate amount of times a day, proclaiming a need for material items, trying out the latest fads, constantly checking my phone for texts, but rarely sending them. Rarely picking up the phone to call. Occasionally reaching out to friends to get together, but only when I’m not being…well, you know…too busy.
Carr says: “Real human interaction, as defined by me, is the truest connection within eye contact, the ecstasy in a high five, the act of listening, and the slowing of the heart beat in an embrace. It is actually irreplaceable. Nothing behind that computer screen will actually fill my soul like human touch.”
Yet again, I don’t know about you, but I absolutely hear that.
It’s far too easy to become busy with activities that really don’t fill me up, but instead only make me feel like there is already something wrong with me, something that needs to be fixed. Activities that having me craving connection, but ridding me of exactly that. “It’s as if my mind (is) playing tricks on me, telling me that I am actually participating in a new form of human interaction. That ‘like’ on that page, that comment on that photo, and that retweet will keep me connected to this grand universe that is being created online – as if there is a sense of belonging I seek and, simultaneously, this fear that I cannot be left behind. In all honestly, it feels like an addiction. (Carr).”
An addiction to busyness. An addiction to never fully being seen.
Our ‘cures’, our ‘improvements’, our ‘remedies’ are just ways of keeping us busy. Too busy to acknowledge the truth. Busy enough to live in denial about what we do and don’t have control over.
Busyness is being preoccupied with your phone in the checkout line. Busy is scrambling to finish something, too hurried to look up and acknowledge anyone else in the room. Busyness doesn’t intentionally listen –to others or yourself.
It’s almost easier to be caught up in busyness. It’s definitely laziness’ antonym, but i’m willing to argue that it’s not superior. Busyness is an act; laziness is an act. For when we go to far on either end of the spectrum, we’re missing the real action.
Busyness can be nothing more than an addictive act to mask our vulnerabilities.
But action, not busyness –now that’s a different story.
My intention is not to harp here, but to show that there is actually nothing wrong with me, just like there’s really nothing wrong with you.
Yes, we are fundamentally flawed and “of course there’s something to improve — always will be, life is an evolutionary equation. But liberation is about consciously choosing your perspectives, moment to moment…choosing viewpoints that are advantageous and give us warm fuzzy, encouraging feelings (LaPorte).”
Like consciously choosing to spend my time otherwise and pick up that phone to call a loved one anytime I want. To keep challenging myself to make real interpersonal connections, real self-assertions. Not when I “fix myself” first. Not when I finally lose the anxiety, the fear, the discomfort, the inability to know it all, the crutch of busyness.
Whatever your remedy, whatever cure you default to ‘needing’, you know it well. LaPorte challenges us to: “approach those rituals and remedies as ways of getting to your power — no fixing and no anxiety, rather, a trip to the Limitless Well of Knowing and Reliable Awareness.”
But if one of your rituals is in fact prayer, may you also pray to the big guy upstairs — who thank Heavens, has far more power than you and me.
to dropping the ‘act’ and acting in power,