I was sitting here this morning thinking about friendship and a memory popped up from when I was about 11 years old. A girl from my class and I were playing at her house, and when it was time for me to leave, she walked me home. I was about to go into my house when she said, “Now you should walk me home.” I didn’t want to do it and told her that. I can remember feeling like it was a courageous thing to tell someone that I didn’t want to do something that they wanted. She then told me that I wasn’t a friend and that I wasn’t nice. I was devastated….and so I walked her home.
It seemed like I spent the next 40 years of my life trying to be the kind of friend, sister, daughter, mother, wife, employee…(the list could go on and on) who other people wanted me to be, until I lost myself so completely that I feared if someone was mad at me or didn’t like me, I would be somehow cast into the outer darkness of life. I know that this sounds dramatic, but it is how I felt. I wanted to meet everyone’s expectations of what a friend should be, but since everyone was so different, I was living in a constant state of anxiety that I would somehow fall short.
What I had also done, because of my fear of being unliked and unloved, is I’d drawn very critical, unloving, people into my life. I felt like I could never be good enough and so I drew to me people who mirrored this belief and reinforced it. Fear is a powerful force when it goes unrecognized.
As I became more conscious of this, I began to search for my authentic self. I sensed that “she” was inside somewhere and that she wasn’t this insecure, oversolicitous, anxious, person that I had become. I made a decision to discover her and to spend the rest of my life honoring this part of me; to look for what I was doing right instead of wrong and to honor my inner voice instead of trying to get others to like me. When the fears about what I thought someone was thinking about me crept in I would say to myself, “It isn’t important if ‘they’ like me or not. It is only important if I like me.” I began to try to think kind thoughts about myself and to try not speculate about what others were thinking about me.
The more that my mind cleared (and the mind will always clear when we begin to think thoughts of harmony, kindness, happiness and peace) the more I could see that these people, who I had tried so hard to please, were not just unhappy with me. As I took a step back, I could see that they were pretty much unhappy with everyone and lived in a state of conflict and struggle with the world…just as I had. I also realized that they had played an important role in my life; they were simply the outpicturing of my thoughts about myself…and often my thoughts about them.
I don’t want to make it sound like now, I don’t care what anyone thinks of me or that I am totally serene and secure within myself at all times. But what I do now is I catch it sooner when I am feeling like I am wrong or bad or unlovable. When I find myself in one of these unhappy states of mind, with a little investigation, I can see that these feelings are coming from my own thoughts about myself or others and I know that it is time for a course correction…it’s time to take my own hand and gently direct myself back to the path of loving, gentle, kind, encouraging, thoughts.
“One day a girl told me of her difficulties in working with her employer. She was convinced that he unjustly criticized and rejected her very best efforts. Upon hearing her story, I explained that if she thought him unfair, it was a sure sign that she herself was in need of a new conversation piece. There was no doubt but that she was mentally arguing with her employer, for others only echo that which we whisper to them in secret.
She confessed that she argued mentally with him all day long. When she realized what she had been doing, she agreed to change her inner conversations with her employer. She imagined that he had congratulated her on her fine work, and that she in turn had thanked him for his praise and kindness. To her great delight, she soon discovered that her own attitude was the cause of all that befell her. The behavior of her employer reversed itself. It echoed, as it had always done, her mental conversations with him.” Neville Goddard
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