Part 2 of 4
I’ve been lied to, cheated on, put down, knocked around, ripped off, put off, disregarded and treated with many unloving behaviors from the people who told me they loved me. I’ve learned that people don’t always walk the walk they like to talk, not always personally, but also by the experiences of others. These lessons were the creators of my fears, expectations and assumptions as I moved through life. I often hear people saying (or see them posting) about they are walking away from the past yet can see them (and have seen myself) carrying the negativity like they are fashionable shackles. Fashionable because most of us believe we are reasonably entitled to apply our lessons learned to each new moment of life, regardless of what it causes for others and it seems acceptable to openly talk about what “THEY ” taught us, how “THEY” changed us and how it is all “THEIR” fault. I found myself wondering if maybe some other people are a lot like me and don’t even realize that we have allowed these lessons to create new beliefs that our contradict our deepest beliefs ?
I started to realize that I had contradictions after I asked myself how often what I think , say or believe and act- are rooted in fear and not love? It was quite often so I followed up the answers with why’s? Why would I say that I walked away from my past yet my past is right here with me at times, shaping my new experiences? One thing I learned along the way was that I have cognitive dissonance ; that sometimes I contradict my own beliefs with my outward behavior and its a nothing but a hindrance to love.
For example, look at this every day socially acceptable scenario:
Friend1 : “How have you been” ?
Friend 2: “Fine ”!
Friend 2’s Internal Dialogue: I’m actually barely surviving, heartbroken, I have insomnia and Im trying to be grateful that I can at least afford noodles even though my poor nutrition is only adding to my feeling exhausted and causing additional health problems.
I think we all have or do participate in that example.
Now, I fully believe I am an honest person yet I was lying regularly because I have been taught that it’s expected of me. I have learned that people do not Really care to know “how I am”, when they ask me this question. I am programmed to assume that “how are you” is really just a common courtesy. So , on one hand I believe that anything other than the staple, “I’m fine, great, dandy, okay or fantastic ” is a response that will be ill received and is socially unacceptable while on the other I don’t believe that I lie. So I abandon my oath to honesty every time I respond to the question dishonestly and tell myself that I am not guilty of lying because I have to… “They” make me . I tell myself it’s okay because at least when I ask someone the question they don’t actually have to lie to me because I actually do care how others are doing and I’m interested in their lives and what they might need or what they are experiencing. I scapegoat “them” and avoid accountability for behaving contrary to what I believe is right.
Cognitive dissonance plays a huge role in creating my perspectives and my behavior regularly. Do you have any cognitive dissonance going on in more serious ways?
Here is another one (more serious) that I fell into and see others falling into regularly:
I believe I am worthy of love,
I believe that love is kind, attentive, honest, reliable and feels good to receive.
I say I am worthy of love yet I repeatedly submit my trust to others who ignore me, lie to me and hurt me in the same unloving ways repeatedly.
I’m trapped! Trapped by believing that they HAVE to love me because they say they love me. I don’t feel the love that I believe I am worthy of coming from that person’s actions, yet, I keep saying I am worthy of love. I will try 50 shades of everything to get the point across that I expect to be treated well while I actively stay planted in relation with someone who hurts me, sometimes chasing, begging or even demanding that the speakers of, “I love you” act as if they love me . I’m not seeing that my own statements that I am worthy are contradicting me as I consistently show them that I will accept just the words with contrary actions over and over again. When will I realize that I am not walking the walk that I talk and ask myself why?
Please ask yourself how you responded to the question, “how are you”? , prior to being met with invalidation, judgement, rejection or some other negative response or someone teaching you that it’s unacceptable to spill your beans?
How often are the behaviors of the people that harmed you altering how you interact with everyone in the world around you? How are past pains controlling what you believe about yourself? Do you say that you are okay even when you are not? I’m not suggesting that beat yourself up about it , just that you locate it.
You see, I realizied that I hadnt just “learned” lessons the hard way but that my responses to the lessons didn’t produce behaviors that were for the best interest of myself or people in my future; I recognized that the lessons taught by those who harmed me were altering my morality and self image; that I was using past experiences as excuses for present behaviors– as a scapegoat to excuse my unwillingness to be wholeheartedly invested in giving new people the same kind of chances I gave people in the past.
I concluded that every time I react based on an assumption formed by someone who taught me anything contrary to love I was handing my past a place in my present. It’s not as if it was loving to teach me that others don’t truly care how I am when they ask! It’s not as if I am being a bad person by answering honestly so long as I do it lovingly. I’m only responsible to and for myself and I’m not able to believe that I am honest as I lie just because it’s acceptable any longer . It’s a bullshit rule and I don’t have to adhere to it , especially since it’s causing me to lie to myself.
When I compassionately reviewed my daily life, I could see that my character and my new experiences were inundated with these types toxic thoughts –negativity toward myself and others, all rooted deeply in some fear created by traumas or the projections of someone who didn’t necessarily mean me well. These inconsistencies in what I believe and what I do took years to learn and it will take time and willingness to observe myself to find them.
I don’t want to live in fear where I used to be free. My ability to love was/is often restrained by my perspectives which are tainted with the expectations, projections and opinions of others . I don’t want to be loved hesitantly, yet, I caught myself excusing my own hesitancy and instead of giving of my love the way I would like to receive love. That’s not fair to me or anyone else so … I will no longer be blaming my past for my fear to love. Sure , it’s going to be scary but its my responsibility to be free from my past and my past doesn’t deserve to steal my joy, hope and chances at love today. My past should not be stealing love from the people currently in my life or that I will meet. I’m learning how to be free.
Freedom from cognitive dissonance requires we locate the roots growing deep within our psyche and that we investigate to see if these roots are attached to a dead tree. Are our pasts currently producing poisonous fruit in our present?
Each of us have our own experiences that planted seeds within our hearts and minds. I cannot honestly tell you that what I personally realized about myself is true for you. I can only tell you that if you find the roots of your own fears and address the manifestation of them that you will reap what lies on the other side of fear. You will begin to create your own reality instead of living in the reality painted by those who have hurt you. I CAN tell you that it’s really beautiful on the other side of fear and I can give you some tools that helped me overcome my fears about conquering my fears. Most importantly , I can tell you that the opposite of fear is “JUST LOVE” .
Part 3 will give you some ideas about what to do to stop letting the past dictate your present because I know how scary vulnerability looks .