Last Sunday, the Modern Love column in the New Yok Times featured an article in which Sara Eckel, a single woman, wondered for a large part of her dating life whether something was wrong with her for not being in a long term relationship for 8 years. See: http://nyti.ms/nfUf5W

 

Have you ever asked yourself “What’s wrong with me?” Most people have at some point. This question comes up mostly when we are uncertain and when we are struggling to understand why something isn’t working for us.
“Why am I still single? Why have I not yet found a job? Why have I lost my job? How come I’m the only one having a problem here? Why is no one writing to me on jdate?! Why did that person not come to my party? Not call me back? Why… Why… why is this night different?” (actually that last one is more easily answered).
It’s very difficult for us to sit with not knowing and not knowing why, especially on those big issues we’ve been struggling with for awhile. But often there’s little choice but to allow the uncertainty because we may never get an answer as to why things are as they are at this difficult moment.

 

The famous writer and speaker on philosophical and spiritual topics, J. Krishnamurti wrote a book called “Freedom from the Known” which discusses the nature of letting go of our mind’s grasp on its ideas and wanting to know!. The Buddhist nun, Pema Chodron’s book is called “Comfortable with Uncertainty…” Clearly guidance in this area is something many of us need.

 

So what do we do in the midst of this frustration when we can’t seem to let go of not knowing? Often when we don’t know, our tendency is to ask why- which usually puts us immediately into our heads and out of our hearts.

We have a habit of trying to FILL in the blanks with one theory or another such as “something must be wrong with me…” or some ideas about what we need to fix.. what’s not perfect about what we did etc….

 

The thing is, when we feel lousy about something in our lives- we sometimes prefer to have what feels like a clear answer “yep I’m just incompetent.. not as smart, pretty….. (fill in your own familiar self critical adjective)..…I’m not like everyone else… I’m odd… I’m inferior..” . These ideas can feel like they give us a sense of identity and sometimes we just prefer to have something to hold onto or pin it on something than allowing the not knowing.

 

But…spinning these tales which the mind is VERY creative at doing- has its risks because it sends us into “thoughtland” ( the less pleasant cousin of candyland) which usually leads to a dizzy spiral which leads to feeling lousy again.

 

So… what if you tried to notice your story telling and instead of buying into it and evaluating yourself, you tried to let yourself feel your feelings?!

 

And what if you didn’t have to entertain the WHY and believe your stories as often as you do?! And how do you stop it?!

 

What if you were to allow there to be a space between something happening that’s upsetting you and your evaluation of why it’s happening. It’s very subtle- and takes some practice- but see if you can hang out in that space and get curious about what comes up. You’ll have feelings and sensations that may include restlessness, impatience, frustration, powerlessness…. but you could learn to feel them rather than fight them. Witness them rather than become them. (This is a process.. I admit, and meditation helps tremendously with this. But it’s do-able and it’s worthwhile).

 

Byron Katie, a spiritual writer, writes- “when I believe my thoughts I suffer.. when I don’t believe my thoughts- I don’t suffer…” This takes time to assimilate. It’s about working on your mind and learning to stay with your experience – your feelings (not your stories ABOUT your situation!).

 

Also what if there is no “why”? You may never get a clear answer about things. Maybe it JUST IS…and the only thing you really can do is live in that space and work on the HOW. How can you make life work as it is- rather than staying in the why things are not where you think they should be.

 

It’s normal and okay to want, to feel sad when you long for something that seems elusive, but when you’re stuck only in the wanting- you can become a victim to the question. It’s how we deal in the not getting that matters most. Do we fill the uncertainty with lots of self criticisms and tall tales? And if we do- to notice how that serves us.

 

One last thing: Many columns about longed for love end with the writer telling you “but I’ve met someone now” as if to say “well now its okay.. .now I know something isn’t wrong with me…” which I find sometimes disappointing. As if we need someone to confirm we’re okay.

 

What if you could affirm yourself? What if you didn’t have to wait for the “proof” and you could begin to try on the notion that you are enough as you are . That maybe nothing is wrong with you? (I admit- this is not a simple thing but to just consider – if you can’t allow this possibility yet- that there is probably a lot that works for you about holding onto that belief that something is wrong; It may be too scary right now to let it go and that’s okay. And yes.. of course therapy can help you unravel this!)

 

Consider this affirmation as something you might try on: “What if I am good enough just as I am?.” Or – “What is right with me?” When I first heard these affirmations- I was deeply touched since it seems that there’s a common human denominator of often thinking we are never enough. Could it be possible to be okay as you are.? Sure you’re working on your stuff. And yes, you want to grow, change some bad habits…but so what? Who isn’t?!

 

We tell our kids we love them as they are…..we tell our friends they are okay as they are…. but can we tell ourselves?

 

Telling yourself something is wrong is just a little story your mind makes up in an effort to comfort you and help you avoid your feelings. You can have some compassion for your mind. It sure does try!

 

If things were just right and fine with you- you’d have a lot of time on your hands. Then what?!! That would be a whole different story (or no story..).

 

Accepting what is, dropping the story, re-considering those self critical thoughts and trying on the possibility that you are ok just as you are even if you don’t have that ‘THING’ you think you need to make it so!

 

Til next time dear readers…..