I just got back from Refuge Recovery, and since the meditation tonight directly applied to my earlier post today, I wanted to take a second to document the process here. Tonight’s meditation topic was “Equanimity,” and during the 20-minute session, there were three phrases that we were asked to contemplate:
- All beings are responsible for their own actions.
- Suffering or happiness is created through one’s relationship to experience, not by experience itself.
- The freedom and happiness of others is dependent on their actions, not on my wishes for them.
Though these concepts are familiar to me, they are very difficult to process and accept on a deeper level. As I repeated each phrase to myself and turned everything over and over in my mind, trying to find a way to soak these thoughts in and make them my own, it all got boiled down to one thing:
- I am not responsible for your happiness.
Suddenly it all started to make sense to me. There are so many things that I have not done in my life because I didn’t want to hurt other people’s feelings. I’m not talking about the obvious things that you wouldn’t want to do, like running over their dog or egging their house. I’m also not just talking about interacting with people I know.
I refrain from doing completely innocent things because I don’t want to upset strangers.
For example, a couple of years ago I was on an adult kickball team. I played one and a half games before quitting. The team captain didn’t think I was a strong player, and called me off the field when it was my turn to play, so I quit. Or at least that’s why I told people I quit. To be honest, the circumstances were rather shitty – she was loudly rude to me in front of a lot of people because we were losing, and I was an easy target, though I hadn’t missed any catches or done anything specific to call her rage to my direction. But that’s not why I gave up that night. I gave up because she (unknowingly, one would hope) validated a thought that is always first and foremost in my mind: I’m letting everyone down. It only took one person criticizing me to feel like my personal opinion of myself had been proven, and I might as well stop before I ruined everything for everyone.
In my daydream during Zumba class, I was vividly picturing a club scene where I tried dancing salsa and looked bad doing it. But when I picture this scene, even if my description fails to hit the mark, the negative aspect isn’t failing – it’s letting those around me down by my failure. There’s a spirit to a room full of people dancing to the beat, a harmony. In the real world, someone dancing slightly off beat in a room full of people hardly gets noticed. But in my imagination, I am the cause of disorder and disarray. And when people stop to stare, I don’t care that all eyes are on me – I care that I’ve ruined their evening with my ineptitude.
Of course, this general feeling applies to my entire life. How often have I ignored my own needs to make sure that I negatively impacting anyone else’s life? How many times have I been steamrolled in conversation? Can I add up all of the things I haven’t done because it might interfere with someone else in a way I can’t even imagine? The deeper down the rabbit hole I go, the more I see that I’m overly concerned with making sure everyone else has a nice day. But what about me? Who makes sure I have a nice day?
Today’s Steps: 18,515 (including Zumba)