... about our autopilot: freedom or failure?
“You can’t go out and play, until you haven’t finished your homework!” — I heard my mom say so many times, during my childhood. True, that I have slammed each door on my way to my room — just so she can sense my dislike, the result was always the same: I sat down, wrote my homework, and if there was still time to play, I left the house with the speed of light. I sometimes tried to negotiate, to be able to go out and play during daylight, thinking, that homework can be done during nighttime too. The thesis was the same: “until you have not….”.
I was already in college, when one of my colleagues asked me:
— Why didn’t you come to the exam?
— Well, I cannot go, until I have not learned all lessons perfectly.
He looked at me with a raised eyebrow:
— But you have studied so much already. The topics were so easy. I am sure, you would have aced it!
Deep down I knew that too, but I still didn’t go to take the exam. Why? Because I did not know the lessons perfectly. What a load of cr@p! Looking back we are all smarter, and I know now, that there is no such thing as perfection, but at that time it seemed like a plausible excuse. In my final year, before the final exams, my advisor told me, “Eri, the more you study, the more you realise how little you know.” Thanks, mate! You could have started with that at the opening ceremony!
So why didn’t I go take my exams? Because there was still another appointment available. So, as long as I could put off facing my imperfection, I did just that. I put it off, until there was no other option. And in the meantime, I did not become any smarter. Because if you know the material, then there is not much left to learn. Still, I stayed at home, looked at my books, and pouted, while all were out partying and going to the beach. I kept telling myself, that they are satisfied with being mediocre, and I am better, because I strive for perfection.
I finished the University and Life started. Mom is not there, so I am telling myself: “I cannot go outside and hike, until I have not finished cleaning the house.” This is my weekend. As long as I am inside, cleaning the house, the sun is shining. As soon as I am ready to go out, storm clouds gather and rain starts pouring. That’s my life. That’s all that I deserve! The whole Universe hates me!
Who knows this feeling, knows what I’m talking about. You know, to what depths these negative thoughts can spiral downwards. If you never felt like this, be happy and keep on keeping on! 🙂
So one day the phone rings. It’s mom:
— Yes. I am home. I am cleaning the house. The sun is shining, but I can’t go outside, until I have not finished cleaning. It’s Saturday. — said me, pouting.
— Why can’t you go? You can clean the house after, right? — asked my mom wondering.
Wait. Whaaaat? Suddenly I realised, that what I believed to be an expectation my entire life, was not. I grew up, I became a free woman, and I am welcome to do whatever I please. Instead, I am still slamming invisible doors behind me.
It’s both a blessing and a curse, that these permissions and injunctions that we receive from our parental figures, are recorded. It’s a blessing, because we receive a basic life thesis, based on which we can live our lives, without needing to invest too much effort. I basically know, that I want to be a good person, I don’t want to be in anybody’s way, and if I can’t do good, at least I should do no harm.
It’s a tragedy, because we can get “stuck” in these beliefs. We cling to them with our strongest conviction, even if they don’t serve our life’s purpose anymore. A cobweb that we cannot see, only feel. A restraining force that keeps us from moving forward, despite our best efforts.
The good news is, that they can be rewritten with a success story. If you feel you are being held back by something, but don’t know what, sign up for coaching. Understanding is half the battle. The other half is hard work. On ourselves. 🙂