Fake It Until You Make It

From the airplane

From the airplane

It’s a lot of work to rewire your hard drive, also known as your brain. When you’ve been a certain way for so long, or done certain things for equally as long, it is amazingly difficult to change them. It’s not impossible, but it takes a lot of effort, choice and awareness to not just change for a day, but to make it stick. It is hard for me sometimes to make it stick. It is difficult to stop the constant, endless stream of thoughts that run like a freight train through my brain. Often, these thoughts are not only counterproductive, but probably “wrong.” The steady flow of assumptions and assignment of meaning is exhausting.

I am becoming more aware of what and who triggers negative thoughts and a spiral downwards. I am also becoming more aware of what and who triggers the opposite. Where the dots are still not quite connecting is drawing conclusions from said findings, and hence, actually avoid and stop giving time and thought to those who clearly are triggering negative responses and make me feel bad. The thing is, I am still not “fully developed” the way I want and that means that the wrong influences still have too much power at times.

I have been walking on a tight rope, carefully balancing my thoughts, actions and words to align with the goals I have set for myself. This has worked pretty well in the past few months with only a few setbacks to report. I get in trouble when I overanalyze and things get worse when I assign value to other people’s actions and words, or lack thereof.

It boils down to me trying to make sense of people who are acting in ways that make no sense to me. I still have a bad habit of taking it personal, as if their complete lack of care, consideration or thought of me says something about me. I still do it, and what’s worse, find myself incapable of just walking away. I want to tell people that their actions are callous and hurt me, but then wonder why I would do that, given that this generally doesn’t go anywhere. So, round and round in circles I go, wondering why I am rejected (for example), then trying to verbalize it, while figuring that none of it should matter and that they wouldn’t give a damn if I did say something anyway. I do this for hours at times, seemingly unaware of how much time and energy I waste.

I guess, the good thing is that I don’t act on these thoughts. I don’t call selfish or mean people out anymore. I don’t tell someone, who I feel is using me, that they are hurting my feelings or that I feel used. Instead, I try to quietly sit and observe what is happening inside of my head, then compartmentalize it all into bite size chunks that I can work with, and finally take actions that alter any negative state of mind. I am trying to strengthen the ability to walk away from situations and people that are hurtful and counterproductive to me and the life I am trying to build.

Recently, I was told once again that I am “so intense.” This keeps coming from someone who, quite clearly, doesn’t care at all about me and only seem to remember me when they need something. This statement, along with the callous actions, trigger strong emotions in me and an almost obsessive need to prove my worth. And that is what needs to stop.

I am intense. More so than almost anyone I know. But the thing is that I love this part about me. I want to tell this person that my intensity is not only a huge part of who I am, but a huge testament to my resilience. I want to tell them that it is a miracle that I never turned callous, selfish and heartless after all I’ve experienced. I want to state that my ability to feel so deeply, fully and intensely is my greatest asset. Alas, it would mean that person would actually have to know me and, as always, the most judgmental remarks usually come/came from those who didn’t have a clue about me.

When bad thoughts happen, I am learning now to slowly step away from the abyss and utilizing my two best friends for brain remapping – distraction and delay. I am getting better every day. I am becoming better in faking it, but by repeating these “fake” actions, I am transforming them into new, healthier and better habits. And yes, the transformation of my life so far is quite astounding.

The light is shining through more often than not these days. I guess, it is shining with the same intensity I seem to have. And wouldn’t you know it, that intensity attracts pretty awesome situations and people. What can I say? Lukewarm, mediocre and laid back is just not how I run – and that’s perfectly fine by me. I guess some of us are supernovas and we’re not meant to hang with Pluto.

The Power of Denial

It’s said that the power of love and hate can overcome anything… but I believe that denial is even stronger.

What makes denial so powerful is that it works with its “accomplices” – avoidance, diminishing, and blame. It therefore is one of the hardest habits to break. How can a person work on something that they feel they are not responsible for or didn’t do?

Denial leaves no room for self-awareness, and no room for growth or freedom, but it sure as hell makes life much easier, or so it seems! Denial, after all, is the sister of ignorance, and ignorance is supposedly bliss.

One would assume that it’s easier to avoid responsibility and look the other way. I’ve been in denial many times. And I always ended up paying the price for it. Consequences are what finally got me out and away from the blame game. As long as there are no severe consequences, as long as there are enablers, there will be denial.

I remember having a conversation with my father twenty years ago. He was telling false stories, and I corrected him. He totally flipped out, and yelled at me that I’m a liar. This is the first time that I truly started to grasp denial. He didn’t defend, he actually believed what he was saying!

I have observed this behavior time and time again, and it still leaves me speechless. As a manager, I would present an employee with black and white results, and he or she would look straight at them, claiming that they didn’t do it, or that it wasn’t their fault. I remember reprimanding an employee once for constant personal phone calls. She looked straight at me and told me that she was never on the phone during work hours. I sat right next to her!
Or I would call someone I considered a friend on their bad attitude, and they’d turn around and attack me. And then there’s the downplaying of a situation… i.e. “I wasn’t really cheating on you, we were just hanging out.”

Life seems so much easier when one removes all responsibility, accountability and truth, and when one can point the finger at someone else, claiming that “it” wasn’t a big deal, that they didn’t do it, or attacking the one who called them on their actions. But is it really the better place to be? Would I rather be able to live in total denial? What would my life look like?

What are we without our integrity and strong character? What are we if we can neither receive, nor give truth? How sad would my life be if I had to continuously muster up all my energy to keep my eyes firmly shut and avoid being discovered for the fraud that I truly am?

When I lived in firm denial, there was no bliss. Instead, there was disappointment, tears, anger, sadness and isolation. As long as I couldn’t be real with myself, I couldn’t attract others who were real either; which left me pretty lonely and miserable. The more I’d deny and blame, the more I’d sink into unrealistic expectations and victimhood; which in return would leave me more and more disappointed. With each disappointment, I’d point the finger again for being rejected and deceived. After all, denial fuels one of the most dangerous parts of the ego, the victim and martyr.

There was no happiness in those modes for me. There was no satisfaction and definitely no light at the end of the tunnel. Life would vary from being miserable and sad to being mediocre and bearable. There was not a whole lot of joy and no freedom at all! The few moments of “fun” were pseudo moments of happiness that wouldn’t last, but at least gave me the illusion that I was OK.

I now know that I am not the outsider I thought I was. It turns out that there are quite a few people who get me perfectly well. Maybe it’s easier to understand me when I don’t wear a mask, act from fear or suspicion, or from a place of having way too many expectations? I’m complicated and multi-faceted, but that doesn’t make me unreasonable or impossible to get along with. I’m more open and vulnerable than I’ve ever been. I guess that makes me more approachable and shows my true character. Evidently, this “new” me draws in a lot more people. Not living in denial any longer has given me the true, keen insight needed to stay clear of those who could exploit or damage this newfound open heart.

It’s a bit wobbly out there, but these days it’s actually much more fun, less energy consuming and leaves me with feelings of true bliss.