‘Why do you rely on that teaching, that method?’ a friend asked me kindly. ’What does it give to you that you don’t already have?’
For a brief second, my brain froze up, struggling to wrap itself around the question, but I relented shortly. She was right to ask it. Indeed, I had recently named someone my teacher and adapted myself to many of her teachings and truths.
My mind flooded with all the teachings and methods I had been soaking in and toying with for decades. Buddhism, tantra, taoism, bioenergetics, transpersonal or sacred this and that. Each road had ended in a kind of a disappointment, a disillusionment. All of them had promised to be, but of them had been ‘the one teaching to solve all my problems’.
All of the almighty knows that I still had problems. But why did I still think that someone else had the power to solve them? Why was I following blindly once more?
From the depths of my soul, my thoroughly conditioned inner child of light smiled a weary smile and raised her hand.
She was the one who had been taught to believe the strongly voiced opinions of her parents and teachers above her own quiet inner voice. Told that she shouldn’t be so smart, shouldn’t do all that she wanted, shouldn’t trust herself above all the adults and authority figures who obviously knew better. Well… they looked so strong and smart and set in their ways of the world, didn’t they?
I softened into the blue eyes of my kind friend and said, ‘I feel like without a teaching or a method to follow, I’m aimless. Like I’m worthless and nothing on my own. Like someone has to tell me what I should do and if it makes me feel good, I’ll do it.’
‘And that’s how they all get you,’ she responded with a knowing, wistful smile. She knew what she was talking about. She had been got as well. We all have. We still are.
Way to uncover a shadow, Helen. Ouch.
I sat with myself and felt into the consequences of giving someone else’s truth authority over my own, reinforcing my smallness and dependence. I could sense the delicate game of gathering and growing with the wisdom that my teachers had to share. I winced when I felt my inner light paying the price as soon as I agreed with their rigid convictions of right and wrong, while ceasing to listen to my own inner guidance.
‘But I’m not worried about you,’ my friend assured me. ‘You always seem to get out when time comes. Your own path won’t allow you to stay trapped for long.’
I sighed in relief. She was right. Toppling authority figures off self-raised pedestals is something I knew well. A recurring theme in my life. I guess the time was right for another.
Who’s your boss?
After my friend left, I began the process, by playing the seeking-game that I’ve named ‘Who’s your boss?’
The objective of the game was to identify all the people and systems to whom I voluntarily gave my energy in order to feel better about myself, to please someone else, look better to others or somehow feel myself worthy of the blessing of the world.
I needed to find the people who’s word I seemed to trust more than my own feeling. Who’s deeds or opinions had the power to affect the way I feel about myself or about the world.
To where and to whom I was willing to sell my mind, body and soul to feel accepted, valued, belonging, learning, growing or protected.
And above all, the million-billion-currency-equivalent question: Why?
What hold did those people and systems have on me?
What inside me was fuelling this submissive smallness?
My soul-searching continued for half a day until I arrived at a sudden realisation.
I am what I believe I am.
The power of belief
My entire way of life, including my personality, is made up from my beliefs. My beliefs are the lens through which I interact with the world outside of me. As long as I believe I’m small and insignificant, I believe I need someone else to tell me how to live… or give me permission to be alive.
When some belief no longer serves me, eg when my belief system experiences a strong enough betrayal, I will change what I believe in. I’ll topple some pedestals of authority and call it growth.
But when my life is just comfortable and gentle enough, I probably don’t want to rattle my cage too much. So I have to rely on the kindness of friends, strangers and the world to point at the walls that I’ve placed around me.
As I sort through my beliefs, I see that the name of growth and personal freedom, I believe in the necessity of pressure and adversity; in the necessity of betrayal, painful situations with difficult questions and hard-to-digest answers.
It must not be easy to be an authority figure…oh it might feel nice for awhile, but there is a sense of burden to it and it probably comes with mountains of karma to work through eventually.
In this light, I realised I can easily forgive the people and systems who I have allowed to boss me around. I can forgive the people who tried to guide me and tell me what to do while I stumbled with my pants of self-confidence stuck around my ankles. All those parents and teachers, captains, masters, leaders, presidents, senpais, gurus and superiors.
It’s easy to forgive them, because I believe we all learn and grow and make silly mistakes that we can giggle about in our old age together. And because I believe in love.
If you’ve read thus far and your brain isn’t too twisted yet… See if you want to dance to my tune for five minutes. Do you have answers to the following questions?
Who’s your boss?
Who’s advice do you take above your own?
Who get’s to decide how well you sleep at night?
Who get’s to affect the way you feel about yourself?
Who has a say about how you have to spend your day?
Who’s beliefs do you follow without looking too closely?
Do you see their faces?
Now what do you believe, deep inside… that makes you think that those people – those fabulously fallible and stupendously stupid human beings – have a right to tell you how you should spend your precious moments of aliveness on this planet?
What do you want to believe?
Right now I feel like taking that last question – what do I want to believe – and chewing on it for lifetimes to come while rejoicing in the futility of whatever arises as an answer.
Except for love.
In love I choose to believe in down to my very gooey silly core.
Love could be my boss any day.