For a good portion of my life, I harbored this notion that I was unworthy of things; success, love, comfort, happiness, you name it. If it was good, it wasn't mine. I know, in retrospect it does seem pretty silly. What can I say? It was a seed planted by someone else into some pretty fertile soil. The soil's always pretty fertile when we're young.
And so this lie grew as I grew - and it was ravenous. I felt compelled to keep choosing situations and people who fed this notion, because it seemed such a faithful friend. It stuck with me - hammering the "truth" home - while I set everything else in my life up for failure from the start. I had to. I wasn't worthy of anything better, or so that's what the people and situations that I chose for myself indicated.
When we've made a decision about something, we don't have to look far for confirmation that we're right. And we really, really need to be right, don't we?
When we accept the idea that the world sucks, all kinds of calamities will appear before us to prove us right. When we think that people are just mean, selfish, narcissistic boneheads whose sole purpose is to make our lives miserable, guess what? Hordes of folks will line up just to hand us our butts on platters. All we'll see and experience are things that confirm our decision's validity. Then we can walk around with this ever-growing chip on our shoulders with our chests puffed out and say, "See? I told you so!" to everyone else.
Won't that win us some glowing accolades? Yes, sadly enough, oftentimes it will - from others who feel they need proof of the same. Misery loves, and breeds, company.
What would happen if, all of a sudden, we decided that we didn't want to be miserable anymore? What if we started smiling and speaking in a new, upbeat voice? Well, our facial muscles would not be accustomed to the change, so we'd probably start out looking like Wednesday in the film Addams Family Values. I know, pretty creepy stuff. And that following we have? You know, the family, friends and admirers who have set up camp under our clouds of gloom? Well, they'll start to get uncomfortable. And then they'll start to get mad. We've disrupted their own brand of self-torture. Suddenly, we'll become the fodder for their anger. We've turned on them and become happy, and they can't have that! We will have to pay. So our former allies will likely walk around with their growing chips, chests jutting out, and toss lots of darts at us for the benefit of their own followers.
Yeah, going positive can get pretty lonely at first. That comfortable cesspool of nasties that seemed so faithful will suddenly get the heck outta Dodge, and leave ruins in their wake.
However, as Elizabeth Gilbert has pointed out, "Ruin is a gift. Ruin is the road to transformation." Indeed, I've found this to be the case. As I slid my weary psyche into this new, much more positive outlook, things began to change for me. And so did the people around me. Some of them stuck around and changed as well. Some of them stuck around, but only on the periphery; casting wary sidelong glances my way. Many of them went away entirely, either voluntarily or by request, but an amazing thing happened when they did.
Others moved in to fill the void. People with much to teach me, and much to learn alongside me, began to reveal themselves in my vision. Not right away, mind you, but gradually...gently. They reflect back to me what I long to see in myself - what I have begun to see in myself. And it is good.
I'd like to say that it's all been smooth sailing since; that I have never been tempted to reach for that cup of Koolaid. Alas, old habits have a tendency to squint into the sunshine and beckon us back into the shadows. I can, however, confirm that I've become so much better at spotting them when they do, and then choosing better.
I like this path much better than the old one. It's warmer, brighter and has greater benefits. And the people - they give infinitely warmer hugs.