Friday, August 25, 2006

Friday, August 25: Don't Be Too Good

One of the ways we can ramp up from low functioning robot to high functioning robot is to be good. We can say “Please,” and “Thank you,” and look people in the eye when we shake their hands. We can open doors for people and let other people ahead of us in lines.

All this is good. All this is fine. If we are awake while we do this, then it is all part of a delightful game of making the world a little easier for the people around us as we go about our business of following our breathing and sensing our feet and arms and spine and noticing how our voice vibrates in our chest and throat and head as we speak. If we aren’t awake, then at least by "being good" we are less bother to other people and probably have a better life than if we always rushed in front of others and didn’t bother with the minimum of manners.

But what of those times when we want to scream at our children, or clobber our mate, and burn down the boss’s house. We have these impulses and we can clean them up later with the Byron Katie work, since these impulses always come from expecting the world to be different and more us-centric . Us-centric is the old familiar wish that the world be set up to make our life easy and wonderful and full of flattery.

Oh, well. Let's say that this isn't always the way things are.

And so, we have those "days," days when we want to slug our mate, or scream at our kids, or do something criminal at work. What do we do? Admit it to ourselves. Feel the urge and what it does to us. And then what? If we can tell our mate in a non-demanding way, a non-blaming way, that is a huge step. “I really wanted you to come with me to the blah, blah and now you are saying you won’t go, and I’m all bent out of shape about that.” If part of this statement can be something like a sense of humor about how we are bent out of shape for not getting our way, then the conversation might really go somewhere.

On the other hand, the old blame way, as in -- “You are doing it again. You always say you’ll do things and then back out. How can you do this to me?”-- and we all know what happens. Things go from bad to worse.

Funny, when we are us-centric, the talk is all about the other and how badly they are making us feel. When we wise up a little, the talk is about us, and if we are really wise, we talk about how badly we are making ourselves feel.

Another option is to visualize humorous and non-harmful aggression toward the other person. Like this: visualize throwing them into a lake, or giving them a thick creamy pie in the face, or having them magically shrink to half their normal size. None of these would really hurt the person, and to visualize acting out our aggression is to begin to get some release. (Notice here, a distinction, even in visualization, between aggression and violence.)

Another option is to humorously and non-hurtfully, act out our aggression. My favorite is to punch Marlie’s aura. I get to act out anger. The air and couple of feet from her head gets punched and we can laugh at the situation.

A final option for someone against whom you are so steamed you can’t do any of the above: write their name on a piece of paper and tape it to the bottom of your shoe and walk around that way.

The point is this: if we pretend to be ‘gooder’ than we are, we will probably either get sick, or end up blowing our stacks way too much at some totally awful time. If we take the usual route and find gossip buddies to talk about how terrible our mate is, or how terrible so and so is, we are wasting our time churning the waters and not really admitting or feeling the anger and annoyance in us.

Is it good to do this? Is this just another trap, a way to be good about being not good? Who knows. I don’t think that’s the way to think about it. I bought both my kids punching clowns when they were young. If they were angry at someone I suggested they go punch the clown. That gave them something to do with their anger and they didn’t have to stifle themselves pretending to be little angels.

Now that we are big and still not angels, we can do push ups, or get our own punching bags, or try any of the above. Then we’ve got a chance of waking up to the love of life and the love of being present that is in or near our cores and is always waiting and wanting and wishing to come bubbling to the surface when we get present and happy and peaceful again.


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