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The New 60: Mind Games

The New 60: Mind Games


One day a few years ago, I was sitting in a bath, and suddenly realized that the only thing standing between me and relaxation and pleasure ... was me. I was holding myself as if I were ready for battle, on guard duty for myself, my friends, my family, my clients.

I let go, I took a deep breath. I am not that important. What a relief to not be held hostage by my history, my ego and others expectations.

For part of this week, I was again at the mercy of my head. I was OK whenever I was fully engaged, usually when I was working, but some of the time, I was hanging out with some old voices that were giving me a hard time. I was feeling isolated and trapped in my roles. I believe that we play roles in life, and like good actors, we bring the authentic parts of ourselves that fit to each role. My roles of teacher, listener, facilitator and writer are a privilege and give me incredible rewards, On the other hand, my personal roles of lover, boyfriend, friend, sometimes get short shrift. Last week, I wanted to have some one to hold me, or make me dinner after an intense day.

We are all complicated and contradictory. I am content, busy, involved, smart, funny, sexy and humble (LOL); I am also complex and, when my mind starts fucking with me, I feel at the mercy of my skewed perception of circumstances.

I have to practice everything I talk about with clients and in this column. I forget who I am. I forget that I am always OK when I am in the present. I forget that my life is filled with such grace and wonder. I forget... then, I remember.

The moment we notice that we have forgotten what we know, we are back. If we are curious, we stay present. If we judge, we are gone again. Curiosity is the antidote to judgment. The mind can't fuck with us when we are truly curious. Remember that!

Working on ourselves does not mean that we will not forget, but that we might remember faster! A client lamented that he had spent 48 hours of obsession over a guy he had been dating, My reply: 'Only 48 hours!' That's progress!

We forget when we compare. We know that to compare ourselves to others is ridiculous, that we are comparing our insides to their outsides, but the most insidious comparison is usually with an idealized version of ourselves. That 'I' who is always graceful and knows exactly what to say and how to finesse any situation. Such an 'I' doesn't exist.

This is the trap of perfectionism, an absolute guarantee for frustration: One must fail if you strive to be perfect. We need to lower the bar. My ex used to point out my desire to be perfect, and how it was not only hard on me, but on him, as he felt he was required to do the same. In response I came up with a new goal: 'Not to strive for perfection, to strive for excellence.' Personal excellence is possible. We don't have to settle for mediocrity and we might even enjoy ourselves!
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Robert Levithan