by Heligirl on February 23, 2013

in Beyond Mommyhood

AlligatorWhy is it that we sometimes put so much stock into acceptance from others? As if the very validation of our existence hangs on the approval of one person or a handful of people?

My rational self reminds me the only person whose opinion of me I should ever consider is my own. I should never give any one person so much power over me, be it a parent, a boss, a client, a prospective client, a friend and certainly not a stranger. My barometer of success should come from my own sense of whether I did my best and learned from my mistakes.

Sounds all well and good. Right?

But then, I’m not in my rational mind a good percentage of the time.

I live my life from the heart, for better or worse, and while most often this doesn’t necessarily lead me astray, it opens me to pain far more often than if I simply followed my rational mind.

Add to that the ever frustrating fact that I am a consummate perfectionist, forever expecting more from myself than even I can deliver. I possess the remarkable talent of pulling off what I once thought was impossible, only to walk away disappointed because I didn’t catch the bad guy AND win the girl, so to speak.

And in there lies the failure: putting stock in the “girl” giving a crap in the first place. Something is clearly wrong with me when I’m focused more on what a potential auxiliary player thinks than simply basking in the success of a job well done.

It’s times like these I’m reminded of a poem I read when I was a teen, Alastair Reid’s “Curiosity.” So captured was I by the prose I saved it and refer to it from time to time. It so closely foreshadowed my life, despite the fact that I often consider myself more a dog than a cat.

I was recently accused of being a romantic. Quite ironically, it was by the very person who I am sure quite literally couldn’t care less should I suddenly suffer a horrific end via rabid alligator upon my next stroll in the park. Though I must admit, as much as I despise giving credit at this point, the observation is quite accurate.

I am a romantic because rather than listen to the rational mind, which would keep me safe at all times, I follow my heart. And with it comes the ample opportunity “to die and die again and again, each time with no less pain,” as Reid puts it.

Failing is only a chance to learn. And what I’ve to learn is this: only my assessment, my feelings about my work, my understanding of how great my accomplishment, are all that need matter. Another’s failure to recognize all the wonder that is me, all my hard work, all my fantastic skill, all my value, all I can accomplish when I set my heart to it, all I’ve done, all I hold dear, everything that I am, is purely that person’s loss.

I will go on, working hard not to take others’ lack of acceptance of me the least bit personally. Easier said that done. But certainly made easier when one accepts the other person is a narcissistic, self-centered, conceited hairy armpit of a tree sloth.

That aside, these words from Alastair Reid I know for sure:

“And what cats have to tell
on each return from hell
is this: that dying is what the living do,
that dying is what the loving do,
and that dead dogs are those who do not know
that dying is what, to live, each has to do.”



{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Mary February 24, 2013 at 9:05 am

Very well said, Jen … There is nothing wrong with being a romantic. Its far better than being a narcissistic, self-centered, conceited hairy armpit of a tree sloth any day of the week and twice on a Sunday … ask anyone (except maybe a narcissistic, self-centered, conceited hairy armpit of atree sloth who might beg to differ)!!!


Twitter: Heligirl
March 3, 2013 at 8:49 am

Oh Mary, you’re such a doll. Being a romantic is definitely the way to go. Love you girl!
Heligirl recently posted: Curiosity


Trish March 1, 2013 at 11:17 pm

Thank you for writing this. . . . I definitely needed to hear that someone else suffers from the same malady of life. The monster is stirring in myself currently.


Twitter: Heligirl
March 3, 2013 at 8:51 am

Hi Trish. You’re welcome. I figure if I’m feeling this way, I bet there are others in the same boat. May you gain a reasonable amount of control over the monster, but at the same time not too much. It’s following our passion that leads to the best parts of life. Grab the beast by the horns and hold on!
Heligirl recently posted: Curiosity


Susan March 16, 2013 at 9:15 pm

I have been learning about listening to my intuition and connecting through my heart. A truly heart lead life, in the end, will always take you further than listening to all the voices in your head (people telling you that you “should” do this or that). Tell that old demon called Judgment, to take a long hike of a short pier!! (Why is it that we sometimes put so much stock into acceptance from others?)

I was recently lead through an exercise that began with me becoming totally frustrated at my son’s difficulties when trying to get him to do his homework (I can get too worked up about this)- and ended up discovering that when he has this trouble, what’s really going on is that something in me is telling me that I’m not ok.

I was instructed to close my eyes and sink down into my heart. Then I began by looking at this situation that brought up these feelings, and was asked, “What’s beneath the frustration.” Sadness and anger. “What’s beneath sadness and anger?” The belief that if my son does well in life, then I’ve done my job as mom and I’m ok. But, if he doesn’t do well in school or life, I’ve failed and I’m not ok.

I think there may have been another step along the way, but it was very revealing. There was a time or two where I wasn’t getting an answer, but when I just sat quietly and asked myself the same question and waited, eventually the answer came to me.

Pretty cool to see what’s really going on inside the monster!
Susan recently posted: How A Chick From Maine Changed My Life


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